I recently asked my clients if they would want to blog about their experience at the studio and the reasons behind why they decided to do a boudoir session. The JT Noir Studios, located in Palatka Florida, has been told to me to be a beautiful addition over the years to the downtown area. I take pride in decorating the front store space with a classy, tasteful decor, along with a rich representation of my work.
What many do not know is what happens behind those double doors. Some may think it could be scandalous, some may think it is downright dirty once someone walks into my studio. Thankfully I have never heard anyone say this, but I assume someone must not not my work (I know I am sure cool but not everyone is going to love me:)
BUT the best part about the mystery is that what happens the moment you step beyond those doors is not what you gain, but what you leave behind. You leave behind the pressure of society to be a certain look. You leave behind the constraints of feeling it is vain to love yourself. And most importantly you leave behind any insecurities that may linger in your mind.
When Courtney booked her consult to celebrate her 30th birthday I was very excited! I have known her for many years just around town, or even on facebook land but never truly knew her in person. She came in saying she was nervous but later told me that I made her feel "at home". She wrote " I did not feel pushed to do anything I was not comfortable with and it came more natural than I thought it did. Jennifer was very patient and had so many creative ideas to go along with what I wanted"
She went on further to mention that anyone thinking of doing a session "you should absolutely do it!" It brought out a side she wrote that she did not even know she had. Her words to describe the studio and her experience said it all.
"It was an experience I will never forget"
Marcy came to her session after seeing so many other clients in the private forum of the studio. She came in with the intentions to shoot for her husband but left with a confidence she didn't know would come from it. After leaving with her amazing albums from the Palate Studio, I asked how she felt about her experience.
"Not one time did I feel uncomfortable which was surprising and such a a relief considering the intimacy of the shoot with someone you have just met. Jennifer guided me through the entire shoot and knew exactly what position needed to be shot to make my body look its best in the photos" Marcy wrote in a testimonial.
She was so excited to see her images but it was so hard keeping them a secret she told me. "Jennifer's decor and talent made the photos look like something out of a magazine" She also noted the safety she felt during the shoot. " The studio is also very private and has a locked door during the shoot so no unexpected visitors can walk in mid-shoot" I take pride in knowing my clients' images are safe with me but also during the shoot as well. I lock all doors and have even been known to help you up on the piano, assist with your garter belts and even string up corsets!
The studio is a fun carefree environment and I was so glad to read Marcy's testimonial knowing she felt this experience was just what I hoped to have given!
If just shy of three years ago you would have told me I would be posting a blog about me taking it all off for a session I would have said you need to lay off the drugs. But here I am, year two into an annual boudoir session and loving every minute of it.
I photograph women daily and preach self love; loving your body, your mind and your soul. Yet for me I felt it was unnecessary. I mean I am one of the most confident people around right?
Dead wrong. I may not be a overly emotional person (no seriously if you cry around me I do the Sheldon "there, there" pat on your back and hope it fixes it all), I may not express openly just all the things about me I do not like, or I may not even seem like the majority of what is said bothers me.
But inside I am just trying to hold it together. As a mother of two, sole owner of a business I created from the ground up, writer to one of the largest online photography sites, and doing everything in my power to make every client feel like a million bucks.
So im almost 40 and finally feeling that "age" thing everyone barks about. I use to think big deal. Age is awesome. Until you start to feel those cricks in your neck when you wake up. Those grey hairs fighting harder and winning against your hair dye. Or my favorite recent one; "let me get my spectacles" when the kids ask for help on their homework.
Throughout all the crap we are dealing with just trying to get by in life, why are looks anything we should be worrying about? Bills, house repairs, cars breaking down, making sure we aren't fucking up those kids ( because no matter what we do we always feel like we are screwing them up). I can keep going but we get the point.
So yes. Majority of the day, I look like complete shit. Hair in a ponytail, no makeup, dressed like I am color blind (or fashion blind- someone help there please). But once a year I have had the best friends make me feel like I am not just a bag lady chauffeuring around a clan of minions.
Cate Scaglione and Beth Claire are the best kinds of friends a girl can have. Not only are they the kind that will take the mess that is me and transform it into more than the bag lady, they did it knowing my style, which is , well, lets say less Agent Provocateur and more James Bond girl.
Why do this? Well that is simple. It started out last year as a way to understand what my clients were feeling during their sessions. But then it transformed into a way to see myself as more than just a robot. It gave me back that feeling of self love. We photographers see our client transformed everyday. We know we are apart of that journey and we love every minute of it.
But we photographers forget to take care of ourselves sometimes. We need to see what the world sees of us. So once a year, a boudoir treat for me. It isn't just about taking off your shirt and giving those "eyes" it is about freeing yourself and freeing your mind (insert Matrix montage here). So why show this to anyone but my computer screen? Well if I don't I am a complete hypocrite when I ask my clients to sign a model release.
This is therapy. This is me shedding away my, well part of my, introvert behavior. This is me saying I am not just a bag lady, I am a badass lady who isn't afraid to prove to my clients we are ALL worth it.
A few months ago Elaine contacted me for a boudoir shoot. I showed up to the shoot and see this beautiful woman sitting in my makeup artist's chair. She was quite and shy yet I knew there was a vixen waiting inside her. She said she was nervous but excited as well for her session. She told me about her abusive relationship and that this session was to break free from the shame she was feeling about her body.
I asked her how she felt afterwards about her session. She wrote that she felt "amazing, beautiful and sexy. Proud of my body and of being a woman." She wrote that the studio, my makeup artist and myself made her feel very comfortable and at ease.
Her initial intent of a session was to regain that feeling of comfort in her own skin, but in the end "it is an amazing life changing experience and is a must do" she wrote.
JT Noir Studios is located in Palatka Florida specializing in boudoir and underwater photography. Providing luxury services to all surroudning areas in St Augustine, Gainesville, Jacksonville and Ocala Florida.