On Starting A Modelling Portfolio - Featuring The Boudoir Diaries, Peek & Beau, and Tutti Rouge
September 30, 2017
When I first started posting about my recovery from anorexia and ensuing body positive journey on Facebook and Instagram, the idea that I might be approached by a professional photographer to start a modelling portfolio was not something that had ever crossed my mind. What started as mental health and eating disorder awareness statuses a few times a year, developed into me sharing my story of body love and hate online as part of The Body Confidence Revolution, and including pictures of myself in my beloved underwear, as a way to show myself and the world that self-acceptance is possible. Through this, I met bloggers and models (and lifelong friends) - and this is how Wayne Kahn, the genius behind The Boudoir Diaries, found me too.
The aim behind The Boudoir Diaries is to photograph women as who, not what, they are. Wayne has shot with three other TBCR ambassadors - Abby, Essie, and Jess - all three professional models, which is why I was extra surprised when one day in April a message from him landed in my inbox saying that he'd love to shoot with me. Me!? Yes, you, he assured me over many messages about body confidence that followed, among banter and lots of swapping of articles about body image. Finally, we pinned down a date in September where my boyfriend would be able to accompany me from Sheffield to Winchester, due to my anxiety, and got to planning the shoot.
Being a complete novice to photo shoots of this capacity, I had a lot to learn. Wayne wanted to capture me as me, wearing things I would choose myself, so asked for my measurements and favourite brands so he could look into getting some samples to be worn during the shoot. These are sent to photographers and models to use free of charge, and are usually sent back after the shoot, the understanding being that they will be used by all parties for portfolios and advertising purposes. I was over the moon when Wayne messaged me a few days before I was due to arrive in Winchester, to tell me that two gorgeous sets had arrived in the post from Playful Promises - my all time favourite lingerie brand. Specifically, these two sets from their Peak & Beau line - the Tallulah Ruched Green Sequin Bra and Briefs (sassy mermaid vibes) and the Major Velvet Tassel Bra and High Waist Briefs (military/sexy circus ring-leader vibes).
Wayne picked me and Scott up from our Air B&B, and took us to his studio at Burcot Farm; a light, airy and comfortable space. I was nervous and excited, but in the car we laughed and joked, becoming fast friends. When I unpacked my suitcase of outfits for the shoot, Wayne was surprised at how much lingerie I already owned, not being a model. "Models usually have all this stuff because they've been gifted them by designers for shoots", he said, and in all honesty, I didn't think my collection was that surprising. Someone's got to buy the products - and that someone is me!
Once we got to shooting, Wayne's great music taste and sweet demeanor put me at ease straight away. Whilst I still may not be the most confident of people, standing in front of someone in my underwear doesn't phase me at all; what I was more worried about was the awkwardness of my face. This is a long time personal hangup, but I soon found that by dancing along to the music, talking about my life, and laughing, I soon fell into the trap that Wayne had planned all along - to get me to be me, and to photograph me at unsuspecting moments.
Many women entering into a Boudoir Photography experience may be worried about creepy photographers. I can assure everyone that Wayne is not one of them. Never did I feel objectified or misinterpreted throughout my shoot, only at ease and respected. The mark of a true photographer is to get the best out of their models, whilst also perfecting set and lighting etc. Wayne took care of everything, even from my poses to facial expressions, directing me expertly with words and at times (hilariously) demonstrating himself. By the end of the shoot I had learned a few tricks of the modelling trade (want a perfect pout? blow a raspberry) but was aching all over from the positions I had twisted myself into. Modelling was a lot more hard work than I had foolishly expected, and I have a newfound admiration for those who do it on a day to day basis. The way our bodies translate on camera isn't always like real life - over accentuating your posture to get the best angle feels weird, but looks perfectly natural.
Towards the end of the our 4 hour shoot, Wayne revealed one last surprise for me - a Tutti Rougue set had also come for me, and I was going to be allowed to keep it! The Jessica bra and Brazilian in scarlet/nude made me feel like a romantic princess. The bra comes with two levels of fillets for a push-up boost (the smaller "soft" and larger "tutti"), but I chose to shoot without these.
Overall, the day was a hugely empowering experience, and the three week wait for the final edits has been filled with anticipation. I cannot thank the brands and photographer enough, and can't wait to shoot again with someone soon! Please contact me via my social media or contact page if you are interested in photographing me, or sending samples to be used.
(Other sets pictured - toruandnaoko.com Juana bra and Simone pants purchased from ellenandhick.com, run by the amazing hcupchronices. ELB Handmade midnight kiss bodysuit - elbhandmade.tictail.com. Marksandspencer.com printed lace non-padded bralet and pants)