International Women's Day
In honor of International Women's Day I reached out to the amazing women who have allowed me to photograph their boudoir sessions. I know how much courage it can take to be so vulnerable in front of the camera, especially in a world that can make you feel not good enough for even the slightest flaws. I also know how empowering it is once you've done it and realized just how truly beautiful you are.
Each of these women were brave enough to give me their "Why" for doing their boudoir session and then chose their favorite images from their session (with complete permission to share).
Here are their stories...
"For me doing this session, was a gift to myself. After leaving an emotionally toxic situation I thought, what better thing to do than to bare it all. It was a liberating thing to do. To take all my flaws, put them on a forever image & learn to love it. I hope more women let curiosity take over and they try this out. Michelle has a way of making you feel like art. On a day like this, and everyday we should be reminded we are just that. Artwork. ♥️"
"Being a mother of four, I had a million reasons as to why I shouldn't be doing this photo shoot. I had stored those thoughts of being sexy along with this years hand-me-downs on a shelf somewhere in the basement. Reluctantly, I listened to that inner voice that told me to follow through and I'm so happy that I did because it felt good to think about being sexy again, to feel sexy, and to see sexy."
"Every woman deserves to feel confident in her own skin and this is the first time I have felt that way in a very long time. Seeing these pictures of myself reminds me of how far I've come and also empowers me to be the person I've always felt that I was."
"After dealing with a long battle with postpartum depression, I needed something to change the way I looked at my body. I was 30 pound lighter than before I was pregnant but I hated my body's new shape. I decided to take part in these sessions to help make my body image a more positive one. I was so nervous and cried several times before arriving to the photo shoot. I was shaking almost the entire time I was getting my hair and makeup done. I felt like walking out. I am so glad I didn't! Michelle made me feel so comfortable and I felt beautiful! The shots turned out wonderful and it was just the boost of self confidence I needed!"
"I was super nervous going in, but the whole experience was great and empowering. It was super fun getting my hair and makeup done. Initially I decided to do it for my husband but it turned into so much more! Women are so hard on themselves, me included. It truly was empowering. After kids it was hard for me to see the beauty in myself, the beauty that others see. I got so wrapped up in being a mom and a wife, I stopped doing things for myself. This shoot helped me to see the beauty in myself and was a huge confidence boost! I left feeling confident, sexy, strong, and beautiful. The whole experience was really fun!"
"If you are insecure or nervous about doing boudoir, think again. I went into my session with flannels and sweaters to "cover things I didn't want to show". By the end of my session, the clothes were FALLING OFF, okay I was taking them off.... But it was such an amazing experience, confidence booster, and a lifetime of great photos to look back on! Michelle rocked, and never pushes your comfort level."
"Being pregnant for the second time in two years, I felt pretty miserable in my own skin. Doing a boudoir shoot gave me something to look forward to, and boosted my confidence in myself and what my body was going through to grow a baby! It was a time for me to pamper myself and be proud of my body."
"At first I was skeptical. I didn't know if I would be comfortable because I don't like to be unclothed but the photos I've seen were so beautiful I had to try it. I walk into this beautiful setting where I feel confident and comfortable from the start. Being all dolled up I felt so beautiful... All to be made to feel even more so by you (Michelle). I didn't feel anything I thought I would.. I felt amazing! And once I got the photos back.. I said "Damn! That's me!!" I would recommend it to any woman that hasn't done it because it is a conference booster and it's focused on you... Which we all need a little bit of that!"
“If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.” - Maya Angelou
"This is how I feel about my body. I can't change it, so I've learned to love it."
"Being 8 months pregnant with my 3rd child, I didn’t always feel “beautiful” and “glowing” as people would tell me. With two active daughters, most days we’d be running out the door – hair thrown up on top of my head, minimal makeup and sweatpants. Pregnancy is life-changing, and some days a challenge. I wanted to be able to look back and remember how beautiful I felt that day. Hair and makeup done, feeling confident in the body that was growing my son. This is not the body I used to have and, it probably never will be again, but it’s a strong body that is beautiful and worth loving."
"I’ll be 100% honest, I was definitely nervous going into this shoot. However, on the day of my shoot, Michelle immediately put me at ease. From getting my hair and makeup done to Michelle’s great photography skills, I not only felt beautiful - but BELIEVED I was as well. It was such an amazing experience and the more the shoot went on, the more confidence I had in myself and the more I felt comfortable in my own skin. It’s so easy to talk your way out of a nervous situation - that’s why every women should schedule a boudoir session at least once. Take the opportunity to see yourself as your loved ones see you--strong and beautiful."
"One day, she remembered that the only person who could make her happy was herself! So she took her power, reclaimed her place in the world and shined like never before!"
“Hating your body will never get you as far as loving it will”
"With leaving an emotional abusive relationship, that frowned upon doing a session like this, what better way to lift yourself up? To look stunningly beautiful and to capture it was always something I've wanted to do. So I did it! Made me feel so empowered and sexy."
"I was very nervous before the shoot, and I finally talked myself into doing this after years of contemplating it. This is not something I would do! Michelle had great ideas for poses and it actually was really fun, and the pictures turned out amazing! Totally at ease. I'm glad I stepped out of my comfort zone and did it!"
"Now, I couldn't possibly ask these girls to share their "why" without sharing a piece of myself as well. I braved a boudoir session with the amazing Elanem Photography. I had always felt that I couldn't possibly tell these women I was photographing not to worry without having gone through the experience myself. As someone who is always on the back side of the camera and let's just say a "plus size" woman, this was completely out of my comfort zone. The first minute was near anxiety attack for me, but after that it was shocking how good I began to feel about myself. For the first time in years I remembered what it felt like to think that I could be beautiful. I will never forget this session and the way it made me feel. Completely and totally empowering."
*Once in awhile, blow your own damn mind.*
When I look back on my photographer career thus far, there are certain sessions and moments that have shaped who I am as a photographer today. The difference between those sessions and my time spent with The Harder Family is that I knew this was a pivotal moment for me as it was happening, it didn't take hindsight to see that.
I was honored to be invited into their home to capture such an important time in their lives. Grateful that I have a career that allows me to witness these private moments. Somber at times, thinking about the reason I was there. Humbled that I was not only photographing the evening, but also invited to sit around the table and eat along with them. I felt admiration for the family, especially their mother and father. And as I drove home, although my eyes were tear-filled, I felt content knowing I had done all I could do to provide them with these lasting memories.
The video is a little lengthy, but worth the watch. Thank you Harder Family. I was truly a pleasure.
If you have trouble viewing the video - CLICK HERE - to view on YouTube.
Haack - Party of 5
Brad and Korrina came to me for their first child, Charley's, "first year" package. I was so happy to heat they were coming back for round two when they became pregnant again. You can imagine my surprise and excitement when they found out that round two would be for TWO babies! TWINS! This next year will be a fun one with the quickly growing Haack Family.
Congratulations Brad, Korrina and Charley. <3