I met Argentina at her Shoes and Schmooze event. I was there with S-factor, a pole-dancing studio we both attend. As a therapist and PhD student in Psychology who focuses on women’s issues, I spend about 12 hours a day thinking about women’s empowerment. It had not occurred to me before meeting Argentina that boudoir photography could be an instrument for women’s empowerment, but then again I had thought that about pole dancing before I started it at S-factor.
I spent an hour talking to Argentina about our shared passion for empowering and uplifting women, and I decided to do my own shoot. We scheduled it for December 14th, which gave me month to prepare. She suggested I bring my fiancé, Camilo, with me to the shoot, as couples often find it a fun and romantic experience.
I had tried boudoir photography a couple of years ago with another studio and had a miserable experience. It was an hour of me trying really hard (and unsuccessfully) to look sexy. The make-up artist was inexperienced, the photographer did not give direction, and the room was freezing. I was able to find a few pictures I liked, but still haven’t hung them. I still see the awkwardness on my face. In my opinion, if I don’t feel sexy, I don’t look sexy.
But, Argentina has a way of making people feel relaxed and confident, so I decided to try again.
I had a month to get ready for the shoot. I was spending two of those weeks in South America on vacation, so I had to get creative with exercise and healthy eating. I tried to avoid sweets (my nemesis) and stick to healthy desserts like fruit. I brought exercise videos with me and did pre-breakfast cardio every morning in the hotel room. At night, Camilo and I would lift weights in the hotel gym.
I shopped at a wide range of stores for lingerie, but ended up buying two outfits at the faithful old Victoria’s Secret. Camilo came with me to shop and we spent a lot of time asking, “This looks great . . . but how will this photograph?” I opted for a corset (suck in the middle, lift up the chest) and a bra and garter set.
Thankfully, on the blog, Argentina has listed suggestions for preparing for the shoot. Otherwise, getting a manicure would not have occurred to me. I also waxed my bikini area, sprayed on a tan, and touched up my roots. The last few days before the shoot, I avoided salty and bloaty foods and got lots of sleep.
The night before, I packed up a bag with my lingerie, shoes, jewelry, and some snack bars. I felt fit and ready to go. Before going to bed, I sat down and made a list of all the things I loved about my appearance. Like many women, I have spent years focusing on the flaws, but at 35, I have decided to love what I’ve got. So, to prepare myself mentally and emotionally, I made a long gratitude list.
Hair and Makeup
We arrived at the studio at 9 am with no makeup and un-styled hair. Argentina welcomed me with a big hug and introduced me to her make-up and hair artist, Angelo. We did a “before” picture (Argentina likes to take them in good light, so her clients aren’t too traumatized by the “before” picture), then Angelo spent 45 minutes making me gorgeous. I had a great time chatting with him and trying to remember all the make-up tricks he was teaching me.
Forty-five minutes later and I looked (and felt) gorgeous! I popped into the dressing room and put on my first outfit. So far, I felt surprisingly relaxed.
My biggest concern during photo shoots is what to do with my face. My “sexy look” is more constipated than smoldering, so I usually grin in every photo. Thankfully, Argentina gave me very clear and detailed directions, “chin to your shoulder, look up with just your eyes, breath through your mouth.” After a few minutes I started to feel less worried about how to look sexy and started to actually feel sexy.
Having Camilo sit in on the shoot made it even more fun and relaxed. The three of us chatted and he jumped in to help with wardrobe changes and to spot me on the pole climbing shots.
We spent almost two hours shooting pictures, but it flew by. What a world of difference this experience was from the one a few years ago! I felt great!
Picking the Shots
After the shoot, I sat down with Rose and Camilo to choose 23 pictures, out of the hundreds Argentina took, to put in my photo book. I expected to be a bit horrified by seeing myself in my skivvies up on a bigscreen TV, but I looked hot! It was extremely difficult to choose just 23 because almost all of the photos were gorgeous. Thank goodness Rose was there to patiently help us through the process of narrowing them down.
Rose is going to touch up any flaws (aka cellulite) from the pictures before printing, but even untouched they look nearly flawless. I looked like me, but so alive and colorful and sexy. We finally narrowed it down to the pictures for the book and picked the book design.
After the Shoot
I walked out the studio feeling beautiful and empowered. I had a wonderful experience.
Given my previous experience with photo shoots and all my research into the objectification of women in our culture, I had wondered if I would feel empowered or objectified. The verdict: EMPOWERED!
There is something very powerful about a woman choosing to boldly embrace her sexuality and beauty. Too often we are objects to be evaluated, never measuring up to an ideal. But, true beauty is found in embracing our unique sexy self. Argentina gives women a way to celebrate their unique beauty and to feel pampered and special.
I still feel a warm glow thinking about the experience. In fact we had so much fun that Camilo and I are planning a couple’s shoot for the summer to celebrate getting married.
I want to give big thanks to Argentina, Rose, and Tracy. I am so grateful to women who use their gifts to uplift the women around them. They make a world a more loving and beautiful place for all of us.