I’m so thrilled to be able to share Jen’s words about her Spark Experience today! She was first a client, then became one of my Spark Squad members, and is now working with me at the studio as my Production Manager. I believe her words will resonate with your heart like they did mine!
Being of a certain age that some proclaim as Middle (though I’m told it’s The New 36) I somehow started to have notions of recapturing my distant youth. Some choose to have an affair, buy a sports car, take up an extreme sport or do something outlandish in order to bring a few fleeting yet terrifying moments back into their lives. As if child-rearing isn’t enough to do that. Me? I got blue highlights in my hair — professional and age appropriate, which people of a Certain Age can afford — and I became interested in boudoir photography.
I have never been too much of a showy or explicit person. Though boudoir doesn’t have to be just those two things, it does force one to go outside of whatever shell they have, or simply enhance layers already there. I find it gorgeous, indulgent and able to shine a light on parts of people seldom revealed. These revelations can be kept for oneself, shared sparingly or broadcast to whomever wants to see. They are empowering at best, prove to us personally just how far we’ve come — emotionally, physically, sexually — and to recognize what things we’ve conquered along the way.
I felt that I finally felt good enough, strong enough and confident enough to be in front of a camera in such a way that I had never been before.
It was out of my wheelhouse, but that was the point.
Lindsay shared a passion for all the things I’ve mentioned, as well as a calm, caring spirit and willingness to give of her talent while helping her subjects recognize their own. I did not know what to expect, spent weeks preparing by selecting outfits and combing the internet for the types of clothes I have never worn before. Staring at myself in the dressing room mirror of the boutique in a lace bodysuit didn’t bring about the best self-love talk in me, but I was willing to go that far in hopes that the magic of good lighting, hair and makeup could dissuade my perceived physical shortcomings.
This also made me explore the idea of perceived physical shortcomings. Why was I putting on false lashes, extra makeup and styling my hair more so than I normally would? Were the angles from which I was going to be photographed supposed to make me better than I am out in the world everyday? Do people see me from the ground, looking up at a 45 degree angle on a daily basis? Why do I not really believe I am better than I am?
When I opted in for my boudoir session, these questions all came to the forefront as I faced my body — in the dressing room as-is and then behind the camera with every tool available to me to fix, cover, enhance.
Lindsay encouraged me to include my husband in the process as much as I felt comfortable or as much as he was willing. He talked on the phone with her and described what he appreciates about me in what he sees every single day. After 19 years, that amounts to quite a lot. He was present for the reveal of my photos; we all chose images together for my album and he offered up his thoughts on what he considered authentically Me.
I came away feeling really awesome about myself, my marriage and the whole experience.
I wanted to share it with people!
Initially, only four other people besides myself and my husband knew about the shoot. Now I have 75 likes on Instagram from my friends (for the record, even my kids haven’t even garnered that much enthusiasm). While this has all the caveats of social media, does that mean those 75 people have noticed something they had not all along — or was I able to conform to the standards of beauty we see all around us 24/7 and then get noticed? Did people already see this in me but finally had a non-weird way of telling me (hitting the like button)? I don’t want to go down a social media rabbit hole here.
If I don’t share with a wider audience, is that a purer form of self-love?
I still don’t have answers, I continue to ponder. For my boudoir shoot experience I brought with me a mind full of thoughts about beauty and self-expression. I left with no more answers than I had before, just different questions; not to mention a badass set of photographs that reflect a day in my Middle Life. Most people would say that’s not the worst of problems.
Adapted from Jen’s Medium post: What I Learned from Boudoir.
I left my Spark Session on a high from the whole experience, waited eagerly in anticipation to receive my artwork! It was a truly unique experience–to design my artwork with Lindsay in the comfort of the studio on the very same day as my shoot. The digital images were crisp and reflected the day as it happened, but when I looked at everything in print in my album, they just came alive. Seeing them in print made me solidify my feelings about the whole experience: that I really AM the person I see in those photos every single day.
While my album offered the opportunity to share with others in a more intimate and one-on-one setting, I opted for some wall art when I had my second shoot done. I had already mostly worked through my feelings about showing them off from my first session (see my full Medium post), so for my second session I was ready to commit to some wall art. Living in a small space, I definitely wanted it to be intimate. Lindsay worked with me to design exactly what I wanted with the images I loved the most.
The wall art is truly Art: beautifully hand-crafted in Italy (!) and they make my photos come alive just as in the album. The unique thing about the wall art is that it is there for everyone to see–the prints hang over my dresser and are one of the first things I see when I walk in the room. My kids didn’t recognize me or at the very least were surprised to see me all dolled up!
I think that is why it is called a Spark Experience–everything from the first contact to the pickup of artwork rolls into one whole celebratory Experience: all about ME!