When we opened our studio, back in 2005, it's fair to say boudoir wasn't on our minds. Really any more than it was on the high street. We opened as a 'traditional' family portrait studio - babies, families, pets.
And, it was fun!
When we later added makeovers, it seemed like a small step to also offer boudoir portraits, so, around 2011, that's what we did. We thought we knew exactly what we were doing. We'd seen how other studios marketed boudoir photography - primarily as something to do as a gift for your partner - and we went down the same route.
We thought our clients would be comfortable and confident in their own skin.
We could not have been more wrong.
It became evident very quickly that our clients were not proud of their bodies. They were shy about them. They weren't feeling full of confidence, they were seeking it. Our job wasn't about creating beautiful images to give away as gifts - it was to creating confidence-inspiring images to keep hold of, as a reminder to our clients of who they are.
This had a huge effect on us, and how we saw our business.
For almost all kinds of portraiture, the value (particularly the sentimental value) of images increases over time. You can create for someone the best family portrait they've ever seen, and they will love it, treasure it and hang it on their wall to enjoy.
It will continue to get more precious to them, over time.
But, is it going to change their life, in that moment of seeing it? Receiving it? Probably not.
With boudoir, the meaning is instant. We were able to watch powerful transformations come over women...before they'd even seen their images.
Just coming along for the session itself was building confidence, and changing women's perceptions of, and relationships with, their bodies.
We had clients telling us about the new clothes they'd bought, the new jobs they'd applied for, the way they'd stood up for themselves when previously they wouldn't have.
If anyone thinks boudoir is just 'some nice photos in lingerie', think again.
There are a myriad of reasons why our clients were feeling this way - a major part being that, in coming along for their portrait session, they were doing something wildly outside of their comfort zones, and that is exhilirating. That whole 'feel the fear and do it anyway' thing? It's hugely confidence building.
Being able to make a genuine difference to people caused us to reconsider our entire business, and shift wholly to creating the bext experience we possibly could to women who were willing to trust us with their fragile confidence (and, we are immensely grateful to every single one of you).
From 2012 onwards we started to transition to being exclusively a boudoir studio, and set about tailoring everything to work for clients who were not feeling naturally comfortable in their own skin, and not remotely confident in front of the camera.
We chose to accept that our clients are scared, and talk to them about that fear, rather than shy away from it, and pretend it wasn't there. Instead, we changed everything we do to create a way to nurture women through a journey of body confidence.
Our reward is that we've helped over 3,000 women reconnect with their bodies, and flip their perspective on themselves.
Alongside the studio, we added a body confidence boosting Facebook group for women - because not every woman will find the courage to come along for a portrait session. In the group we are still able to offer a supportive environment women to empower them to become more confident, in themselves and their bodies.
So, if you love the idea of a body confidence boudoir portrait session, but don't quite feel confident enough to have one, you can call me on 01993 210081 and I will give you that confidence, or, you can join the FB group - I'll be the one trying to help everyone feel that bit more comfortable, and confident, in their own skin.