I fucking LOVE shooting boudoir.
I really, really love it. It feels like I have finally found my soul's calling in life. I love planning sessions, talking to clients and getting them excited, adding special touches that they may or may not notice on the day of, but that I know contribute to the overall success of the day. I like making a big deal about people. I love seeing the look on a client's face when I show them the back of the camera. Image reveals bring me a burst of dopamine unlike anything else. I like being a part of someone's journey.
That being said, 2022 was a very rough year for me. I took maternity leave at the beginning of the year, and then the usual summer slowdown left me feeling scattered and spread too thin. I felt like I wasn't being as active on social channels as I could have been (with three kids at home for the summer though, I may have been putting too much pressure on myself). I felt like I was letting my clients down by not keeping up with the newest boudie trends and fads. And the more I got down on myself, the more I felt I needed to do to "fix" it, and the more terrible I felt. By September, I was definitely wallowing in what I perceived as failure. You know that feeling? Where you're convinced that you're just running into a brick wall, over and over and over? I didn't know what to do. I felt like the universe was trying to tell me something, but I just didn't know what. So, I tried everything. Keeping up with the trends. Offering minis based on viral shoots. Recreating ideas of other photographers.
It was so frustrating! Just tell me what you want me to do, and I'll do it! I trust you, but I have no freaking clue what you're saying to me! The more I tried to force it, the further I felt from any sort of clarity.
The irony is, I've never felt more confident and happy with my actual work. I felt like I've truly gotten a perfect rhythm down in the studio. I know how to pose and guide clients. I love the colors and tones that come out in my work. I adore the images we create together. I know I can work with anyone in my studio and produce an amazing experience and images I'm proud of. Yet still, something wasn't right. Something was blocking me. That damn brick wall.
I had been talking to another boudoir photographer about this, someone I'd met in a group for professionals. She was where I wanted to be; incredibly confident, doing her own thing, and happy. When I told her about this brick wall, she surprised me by admitting that she had felt the same way lately.
"What if we went in another direction for awhile?" She posed this question to me one night as we edited and chatted, talking about nothing new in particular. Just the same old brick wall stuff.
"What do you mean?" I was tired as usual, barely following the conversation, and running through a to-do list in my head that never ever seemed to get any shorter. And nothing on that list was bringing me joy.
As she explained exactly what was going through her mind, my head cleared. My heart was racing, and my mouth may have literally dropped open. It was something I had been secretly dreaming of being a part of since I had started boudoir. More speaking engagements, conferences, workshops, shoot outs...working in the same world, just in a different capacity. Less Photographer, and more Body Image Ambassador. But still...could I do that? Give up the studio, Femquarters? Give up that high from creating a session from nothing and turning it into a significant event in someone's life? Let go of doing things "my way" and join a team again? Be on someone else's schedule?
As fall approached, I kept this idea in my mind. I kept quiet about it, not sure how real it could be for someone like me. And still, the universe kept sending me signs. It felt like I may have found a door in that brick wall.
It's not something I'm ready to jump into while I've got a baby at home. So I made myself, and the universe, this deal. If this door is really made for me, it will be open in another year. 2022 was spent trying to play catch up, feeling frenzied and fatigued. 2023 is going to be my senior year. No trendy mini sessions. That is not at all what lights me up creatively. I'll let you in on a little secret...
I hate witch sessions.
I know, right?! Miss Halloween just doesn't get into them. I don't care for quick little rapid fire sessions, at all. I like planning a day. I like working one on one with a client and going BIG! I don't mind curating a witch session for a client who wants to do it big, do it with a BANG! But a group shoot? Nah. Not my jam. I like go give my clients 100% of me, and I need to connect with my client one on one to do that.
That's what I love. That's what I'll do. No more banging my head against a brick wall trying to fit a mold that I think people want. I know what I do, and I know how to do it well. 2023 is going to be treated as my "farewell for now" tour, and I'm going to do it the way I want to do it. The way I know I can do it best. The way I want to run my studio.
I'm not saying I'll definitely be leaving photography at the end of 2023. It's a tantalizing idea, seeing what could happen next. But if the universe is truly pushing me through that door, then I'll know. And I'll be happy knowing that I gave the very best of what I do to get there.