"I hate the way I look in photos, but I really want to do a session like this for my husband."
Stop. Stop right there. I've heard a variance of that line probably 60+ times. I am not joking, I am not over exaggerating.
Ladies, this post is about to get real.
I need to hit a nerve with you, yes, you reading this, because I NEED this to sink in.
You are beautiful. You are valuable. You are worth showing up for.
When I was around 12, we had a group come and speak to my school about risky behaviors I think. I honestly don't remember what the initial topic was, but I remember that they split us up, boys with boys and girls with girls, and had a little breakout session. The man who talked to us ended our session with 3 of the most profound and powerful words I have ever had spoken to me, over me, about me: "You are valuable."
I'm not entirely sure why that sunk in so much, because it wasn't like I had had a shitty life or didn't know I was valuable, but for some reason it did. I've carried that with me for years, thinking back on it when I've felt like I needed a jolt. Imagine if this guy knew what an impact he had had. Imagine if he understood that what he said to a room full of 12 year old girls so many years ago would help mold me into who I am and what I stand for. Imagine if this man could see that those very words inspire my business the most.
I have to believe that if he knew that, he'd never stop saying them. Maybe he hasn't. Maybe he knows what a difference it can make to affirm someone's value. I do, and thats why I shoot boudoir.
Your value is not in your pant size; it is not in the number on the scale. Your value doesn't fluctuate depending on if you've laid in the tanning bed this month or if your skin is particularly ashy today. Your value does not decrease when you're bloated, nor does it increase when you camouflage your flaws with makeup. Your value is not a variable.
When you walk into my studio, into whatever space we're shooting in, you have to understand one thing: we are both human. We both have bodies we love to hate and we both have flaws we'd rather not showcase. This is where we have to change the narrative.
No, I will not photoshop you into something you're not. No, I will not obsess over hiding your body behind things. No, I will not stop joking around with you because you hate your smile. No, I won't be that photographer who only shows up for the check.
Yes, I will embrace you exactly as you are. Yes, I will showcase your best assets, and help you believe that you are absolutely beautiful. Yes, I will tell insanely cheesy jokes and laugh with you at myself when I try to demonstrate a pose. Yes, I will be your #1 fan.
In front of my camera, I need you to practice self love. I need you to believe that maybe just maybe, you're perfect the way you are.
Quinn Barlow is a natural light boudoir photographer based out of Knoxville, TN. She focuses heavily on body positivity and self love, believing there is no "wrong" size/shape/color/age for boudoir. For more information, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org