Tracy’s boudoir photo shoot

Sam and I have been super pleased with the professional photos Ruth Kivilahti of Ruthless Images took for our book promotion. We have gotten a ton of mileage out of them and I would recommend Ruth in a heartbeat for anyone in the London area who needs high quality images to help promote a project. Here’s one of our faves:

Image description: Street shot of Tracy (left) and Sam (right) from the waist up. Tracy is in a running tank, leaning on Sam’s shoulder with her left elbow; Sam in on her bike, wearing a tank that says FEMINIST. Both are smiling, wearing sunglasses, street and building in background.

I loved working with Ruth on this. She has a knack not just for taking fantastic portraits that feel fun and informal, but also for making the entire experience enjoyable. I knew too that both Nat and Sam had had great experiences with Ruth in a boudoir photo shoot a few years ago. You can read Nat’s story here. And Sam’s here.

Boudoir photography is a genre of photography that captures intimate moments–sexy, romantic, private, possibly but not necessarily erotic.

Last week Ruth posted a call for volunteers. She is rebranding and rebooting her boudoir business and wanted some new material for her marketing. I have been interested in doing this for some time but it so far hadn’t happened. So I volunteered. And Ruth said you’re in!

I showed up at a loft space she had rented. Ruth asked me to bring a few outfits that made me feel sexy. Reflecting on what makes you feel sexy, not necessarily what you think someone else might find sexy, is in itself a challenge. To me, that is one of the things that makes boudoir photography intimate from the start — its focus on an internal sense of sexy, where the best of it manages to depict that in the images. I selected a few different “moods” and threw them into a suitcase, along with some accessories, jewelry, shoes, and boots.

The first order of business was make-up. It turns out that in the end, the make-up was the thing that I struggled with the most. Not the revealing outfits or worries about my how my aging body might photograph, but the make-up (I’ll say more on that in a moment).

The loft was a cool two-story space downtown, with lots of exposed brick and spare, simple contemporary furnishings and decor. As I was getting my make-up done (by Amanda, of Beauty Bomb Glam), Ruth was doing a shoot with Angela. I wasn’t exactly nervous but I did start to wonder, as I tend to do, whether this would work “for me.” Ruth showed me some of Angela’s shots and wow, she looked absolutely stunning. I began to doubt whether, no matter how much talent I knew Ruth had, she would be able to take pictures of me that would capture a sense of “sexy” that was true to who I am (the way it appeared she had done in Angela’s pics).

Anyway, nevermind. I set out my various outfits and we decided to start with a classic slip-style sheer nightgown. Ruth got me into all sorts of awkward poses that she assured me would look natural in the photos. Here’s one from that series, which she offered as a “sneak preview” a couple of days after the shoot:

Image description: overhead shot of Tracy, sitting on the floor and leaning back into the corner of a sectional couch, in a sheer slip with lace edging and spaghetti straps, with her head back and tattooed arms on the couch.

Of the sneak previews I like this one the best because it seems natural and I actually think I look amazing (Ruth is so good with the camera).

After that, I went to some of the more racy outfits, and we had fun with those too. We went all over the loft, taking shots in window sills, against brick posts, on beds and chairs and couches, against walls. Every so often Ruth showed me what she was shooting, and I have to say, they made me feel good.

Ruth’s concept is that boudoir is for everyone. Not just young, thin, conventionally beautiful women. Up after me, in fact, were a couple of guys who were just so incredibly adorable I almost wanted to stay and watch their shoot.

When she posted the sneak previews of my session on her Facebook page, Ruth mentioned that I was 54 and doing my first boudoir shoot. She said:

At 54 she came in to honour her body, to find empowerment and to experience the power of boudoir… and I am SO incredibly glad she did.

Boudoir isnt just for the 20 or 30 somethings…

Boudoir isnt just for women…

Boudoir isnt for when you reach that goal weight or milestone…


Ask yourself, what are YOU waiting for?

I too am incredibly glad I did it. I honestly felt strong doing the shoot and so far, based on the three pics I’ve seen, I like what Ruth captured.

I concur with ‘what are you waiting for.’ I think this type of photography can go a long way to helping create a sense of sensual energy and even power and agency. As I was doing the shoot, Ruth mentioned a couple of times that the men in my life would enjoy them. But to be quite honest, I wasn’t even thinking of that as I did the shoot.  I really went quite inward, which is an odd thing to say about photography, which obviously captures an outward image. But anything that is going to have resonance has to depict something deeper, and I do feel Ruth succeeded in that.

If I have one reservation, it is that the make-up, while absolutely gorgeous, is not me. I am a real minimalist when it comes to make-up. I get that it makes sense to have a proper make-up job for professional pictures. But I do wish I had asked for a slight tone-down, more reflective of my natural look. I’m just not a glamourous woman in my self-conception, and the make-up is glam all the way. I had to remove it before I left the loft because I honestly couldn’t imagine going out into the world with that amount of make-up on. So while the clothes were mine and felt like me, the make-up not as much (this is not a criticism of Amanda who did my make-up, by the way).

Make-up aside, I get that some people might think that boudoir photography is just for straight women who want to please their man or men. That is the furthest thing from my experience. As I said above, though I was happy to share the pics and get lots of positive feedback from men and women alike, the biggest deal for me was how the session and what I’ve seen so far of the pictures has made me feel. At 54, this helped me to feel like an attractive woman who still has a bit of sexy left in her. Considering my long history of body image issues, which I have slowly but surely resolved through the new level of fitness and athleticism I’m experiencing since Sam and I embarked on our fittest by 50 challenge, I’m happy about anything that makes me feel good in my body. This experience has certainly had that affect.

Here’s one more shot, where you can get a sense of the make-up, which is appropriate for the setting, but is more than I would normally wear in my boudoir! There’s one more that has a great view of my legs (which I didn’t realize had visible muscles til I saw that picture) but it’s a bit too much for the blog (in my view). If you’re curious you can go to Ruth’s Facebook page. You can also scroll down a bit further and see the sweet guys I mentioned.

Image description: Tracy standing, looking downward, one hand brushing against the front of her short hair, with lipstick and eye shadow and really long eyelashes, dangling earrings, a long necklace, and a black long sleeved top with sheer bits and a plunging neckline. Exposed brick background.
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