feminism

I Had To Write You A Letter Because Last Night You Weren't Listening // WV Boudoir. Photographer

Dear Mr. B,

It was nice to meet you last night, but there are some things you need to learn before we speak again. You behaved badly, and unfortunately for you, I am in the process of learning how to take up space. My taking up space leaves less room for you, and you seemed to take issue with that. My presence, unless it was silent, clearly made you uncomfortable. And instead of sitting quietly with that, you got louder. I am too amazing to allow you or anyone like you continue to react to me in this way.

I have a lot to say, Mr. B. Big things, important things. But my body is small. And my voice is high pitched. And if I raise my voice, I’m a bitch. If I raise my voice just to be heard, I’m pushy. I’m bossy. I can’t take a joke. I’m obnoxious. I’m “a lot.”

But you have no idea what you’re missing. I have thoughts. I have ideas. I have knowledge that would blow your goddamn mind. I have questions you’d love to be asked, and I have inspiring answers to the questions you’d never even think to ask me.

I’d love to tell you how you can improve your behavior, but you’re probably not listening. All I can say is the next time we meet, prepared to feel uncomfortable with my volume, my words, my existence. And this time, I won’t let you get away with it.

Even My Gorgeous, Wonderful Husband Doesn't Get It // WV Boudoir Photographer

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Last night, Ricky and I started watching a show called “Workin’ Moms.” It’s a delightfully honest sitcom about, you guessed it, mothers who work. It’s a goddamn work of art, actually. I’ve seen only two episodes, and during both of them I have laughed out loud many times and cried at least once per episode. It goes deep in a way that most pieces of film are afraid to. Deep in a way that, apparently, only women will understand.


One of the mothers in the show is struggling to produce enough milk via breastfeeding. At the end of an episode, after a long, difficult day of “having it all” (read: working in an office full of men and getting mocked and dismissed for being a MOTHER), her baby fights feeding, but does eventually give in and latches. Her entire body relaxes as she lets out whimpering versions of “thank god.”


The credits rolled, along with the tears down my face. I looked over at my progressive, amazing, understanding husband and said, “do you see? Do you see how much more we have to deal with? Do you see how much harder women have to work just to live a life?” And I was met with a blank stare. Nothing. No words. No emotion. He just stared at me.


To his credit, we were watching a sitcom on Netflix when his wife turned around with a face full of tears, asking him to explain himself and the patriarchy. Maybe he was just stunned. I wasn’t mad. I wasn’t even all that surprised. Women have been alone in this fight forever.

I guess deep down, I’ve known that he doesn’t get it, or I wouldn’t have asked those hypothetical questions of him. We are approaching the years in which we’ll grow our family, and it brings a lot of questions to the surface. Problems that are easy to delay solving now, but won’t be for much longer.


These questions are easy to ignore because my husband IS one of the good ones. He does basically all of our dishes. He does laundry, including my Thinx. He takes care of the cats, the bills, yard, the cars. He understands what emotional labor is, and often verbally acknowledges how much of it he sees me doing. He doesn’t talk over me. He doesn’t talk down to me. As men go, he’s pretty great.

So I forget sometimes, that although he IS incredible, he’s still not a woman.


He still doesn’t understand why I prefer to take the elevator in a parking garage.


He doesn’t know that in the winter, I ran home from my job that was 30 yards away, door to door, in the evenings.


He doesn’t understand how terrifying it is to have an irregular period as a 32 year old woman who wants children.

He doesn’t understand why I’m in such a damn hurry to buy a house.


He doesn’t see other men not making eye contact with me in a group conversation.


He doesn’t know why I hate it when he says he hasn’t noticed the several pounds I’ve put on.


He doesn’t understand why it’s such a goddamn relief that I’ve decided not to breastfeed.


He doesn’t mind, but doesn’t know the power I’ve found in keeping my last name for now.


He doesn’t feel the weight of the government using women’s bodies as pawns in a power game.

He doesn’t, and won’t truly understand any of this. Because he can’t. We can have all of the conversations in the world. He can see me screaming, crying, heartbroken, livid, but he’ll never really know any of it.

I can tell him and teach him how to support women, but the fact is, this will always be a space between my husband and me. This will be something we never have in common.

Computer science

Transformers

Musicals

Understanding life as a woman.



350 Sets Of Stories // WV Boudoir Photographer

I have made boudoir photos for over 350 people.

350 bodies.

350 souls.

350 histories.


As you can imagine, the boudoir experience is a very revealing one. Not just skin, of course. It's a brand new experience for most, and new experiences tend to strip us down to our most vulnerable bones. We are childlike in these moments, hearts open to the newness, minds slightly hesitant of it. 

With every client I book, I am taken aback by the trust my clients place in me from the very start. Before I have written or spoken a word to them, they reveal a little bit about why they want to do a session. Some of them haven't felt beautiful in years. Some are on a wellness journey. Others have stories of abuse, medical issues, bad relationships, suppressive childhoods, struggles with motherhood. 350 unique stories to tell. 

I worked hard to curate the booking process so that my clients can get to know me, and hopefully trust me very early on. I want them to feel welcome, safe, and eventually excited for the experience they're about to have. 9 times out of 10, during the first phone call I can hear the nervousness in their voices fall away. Their language goes from, "I'm nervous," to "I'm excited" in just around 20 minutes. It's really beautiful, and I am honored and flattered every time it happens. 

Every so often I will receive an additional text or email after that first phone call. Having established a relationship, my clients seem to feel urged to share more with me after we speak. This is when I hear the real reasons they want to do a session. 

It's never just about looking and feeling sexy. 

It's about finding yourself again.

It's about healing.

It's about reclaiming something that was taken from you.

It's about celebration.

It's about acceptance.

It's about reconnecting with a part of yourself you thought might be gone.

It's about feeling desired.

It's about a new perspective.

It's about believing you are enough, dare I say, as you are.

I will never take for granted the honor it is to be invited on these journeys. 

To those of you who have shared your story with me, thank you. You fill my heart with love and purpose when you do.


What is your story? What is behind your boudoir session? What would this experience mean to you?

 

Jodi FINALLY Answers: What to Wear For Your Boudoir Session! // WV Boudoir Photography

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NOTHING! Just kidding. You should bring something to wear to your session for sure. 

OKAY COOL JODI BUT WHAT THE HECK DO I BRING?!?!?!

Relax! I'm here to help. I get that wardrobe is one of the most stressful parts of a session. That and hoping I'm not a creeper (I'm not.)

I have been shooting boudoir for five years now, and I have collected a list of stores and pieces that rock any body. 

Before you start shopping, ask yourself, "what makes me feel sexy? when do I feel sexiest? what clothes do I already have that make me feel like a goddess?" Use your answers as a jumping off point, and HAVE FUN!

As you look over this list, keep in mind that your boudoir session is WAY MORE about

YOU

YOUR BODY

YOUR SENSUALITY 

YOUR CONFIDENCE

YOUR JOURNEY

YOUR EXPERIENCES

YOUR RELATIONSHIP W. YOUR PARTNER

than it is about what you wear. If you only brought worn out Hanes and a tank top, we'd still make gorgeous photos together. 

But, if you're interested in stepping outside of your comfort zone and purchasing some fun new pieces for your session, here's my list of Go To places and pieces!


 

PLACES & PIECES

1. ASOS.COM         

I love ASOS for their wide range of sizes and prices. Free shipping and free returns are icing on the retail cake. Here you can find beautiful bodysuits like these:

You can also find  matching sets, silky cami/short sets, adorable pajamas we can layer over your matching bra & panty set, and cute t shirts we can put with no bra and pretty undies.

2. rue21       

Rue21 is your go-to spot for SUPER affordable bras and bralettes. They usually have matching undies, too. We're talking $5 lacy, strappy bralettes! They may not be of the highest quality, but this is a great place to come for new lingerie for your shoot without breaking the bank.

3. Gabes & TJ Maxx

Because you never know!

4. Amazon.com    

There are 3 pieces I highly recommend shopping for at Amazon for selection and price.

First, kimono style robes. SO MUCH SELECTION. If you can dream up a print, it's probably on amazon. Check it:

Amazon is also a fantastic spot for garter belt sets. Many of them come with underwear and tights, but you'll probably want to get those elsewhere, as fit is tricky on Amazon. Basic black undies and thigh high hose can be found at Target. 

The third thing Amazon is great for is retro styles for a vintage pin up look! 

5. Charlotte Russe  

One word: HEELS! CR is great for hella high, hella sexy CHEAP heels. Because let's be honest, you're probably not wearing those things again, so they might as well be inexpensive. 

6. Your Closet!

I know, you're like, "Jodi, wuuuuuuut are you talking about?" But bear with me! You already have tons of pieces that are SO FUN to use for your boudoir session. Cardigans & sweaters, t-shirts & jerseys, button ups, jeans, your favorite sneakers and more! Get creative, bring it all! Here's some inspiration for you:


A boudoir session is a gift to your self. Treat it that way by scheduling time right after you book your session to do a little perusing and inspiration-gathering. Check out Pinterest, my Facebook page, and my Instagram feed for tons of images that will help you figure out your boudoir style.

And HAVE FUN! I promise you that what ever you bring will be perfect. I'm looking forward to making gorgeous photos with you! 


Did this post get you feeling ready & excited to book your session?!

HECK YEAH! Email me!

Brick & Mortar Breakthrough: A Tribute to My Husband to Be & the Dreams He Lets Me Dream


This morning at 12:48am, I fell even more in love with Ricky Hussmann. 

Ricky was seconds from sleep, I was miles from it, as per usual, when I got a new business idea.

This is not a unique occurrence by any means. Entrepreneurial ideas come to me as quickly and as often as sneezes do to a supremely unfortunate cartoon bee. And I act on them as often as a--well, as often as a bride to be with two full time jobs and a penchant for long showers. But Ricky always takes each idea as seriously as the first one he heard. He believes in them and wants them to become reality as much as I do. He takes note of the underlying passions and desires, provides feedback and always suggests “thought exercises” to really work through the nooks and crannies of the idea.


When I get these ideas, my mind moves so fast I can hardly make sense as I try communicating them to Ricky. Words tumble out of my mouth as my hands flit around the air in front of me. I feel glittery, vibrant. Oftentimes, the ideas come while we’re in the car, or on a walk or watching TV, and I talk and talk and talk while Ricky intently listens.

 

This one hit at 12:48am, when my poor fiance’s eyelids were drooping like next-day party streamers. But I can’t help the outpouring of words when these ideas hit. The fire I feel when I get them is so addictive, and if I don’t tell someone the idea, that fire fades. So I talk, and talk.

 

Not only did this saint of a man listen to my new idea despite the hour, but he sat up in bed so that he would not fall asleep while I share the puzzle pieces of the idea with him. He perked up a little as I talked and went through his usual series of questions to lightly test the bones of the idea.

"Is this something you see yourself doing for 5, 10, or 20 years?"

"How many employees would you ideally have?"

"Where would you like this idea to manifest?"

He even suggested his trademark “thought exercise” to ponder while I stretch the muscles of the idea.


Thanks to Ricky's reliable validation of all the ideas I've spewed at him over the last five years, I arrived at a realization in the first couple hours of this day. 

When I flip through the pages of my journals, scroll through my Google Keep notes, think back to conversations with Ricky, nearly every idea had one thing in common. 

 

It was a brick & mortar business. 

It was a charming shop on a busy little street with an inviting sign and even more inviting staff. It was bright walls and wooden floors, exposed shelves holding products & ideas that mean something to people. It was a place to go each morning, to start the music and turn on the lights, coffee in hand. It was a place where I'd greet my customers with exuberance and gratefulness that I get to be a part of their day. It was special events that locals would be excited to attend. It was a place I could bring my babies to work. It was a place my babies would someday work. 

I've had this dream for a long time now, and I have kept shutting it down.

This town's too small.

The start up cost is too high.

It would take so long to grow.

But now that I have started a business, I see that truly anything is possible. More than that, 

I CAN DO ANYTHING.

So stay tuned, friends. It might not be for years, but one day I will have that shop on that street with those walls and those floors, and I can't wait to see you there.


What dreams have you put off pursuing? What excuses have you made? Are they valid or fear-based? What will you do this week to take a step toward your dream?


 

Hollingshead Was Not My Maiden Name // WV Boudoir Photographer

By next Christmas, I will be a Hussmann. By the Christmas after that, we might have a child I’ll one day tell that Hollingshead was my maiden name. 

Hollingshead was my maiden name?

That doesn’t seem quite right. 

 

I became the woman I am today with that name.

I attended and dropped out of college with that name.

I started a thriving business with $100 in my bank account with that name.

I fell in love, soooo many times, with that name.

I made terrible, life-altering decisions that I then rose from the ashes of with that name.

I introduced myself to the love of my life with that name.

I was surprised by visits from my brothers with that name.

I worked behind counters until I could start my own business with that name.

I made the hardest decision of my life with that name.

I learned how to love and please my body with that name.

I drove so many miles and booked so many trips with that name.

I rejected men that didn’t treat me the way my mother taught me I should be treated with that name.

I created hundreds of thousands of images of beautiful, incredible women, with that name. 

I voted for the first black President of the United States with that name. 

I removed my toxic father from my life with that name.

I giggled at 31 years worth of twinkling Christmas lights with that name. 

I adopted my beloved Astrid kitty with that name.

I got laughed at countless times with that name. 

I discovered what singing does for my soul with that name. 

I held my mother’s hand in the hospital more than once with that name.

I showed my work on gallery walls for the first time with that name.

I said “yes” to a lifetime of happiness with that name. 

 

My dear future child, Hollingshead was not my maiden name. 

Hollingshead was my warrior name.

From Barista to Boss // West Virginia Boudoir Photographer

If you'd told me four years ago that I'd be lying in the plush ass bed of a swank ass hotel, blogging for my bad ass business after a fabulous dinner with my fabulous friend, I would have said, 

 "Well, yeah. Of course I will."

Because those were things I wanted. And things I was willing to work for.  

Tomorrow I'm going to wake up in a luxe hotel room to coffee that my fiancè brought upstairs for me from the Starbucks in the lobby. I'm going to drink that coffee while we laugh in our bathrobes and share what we'd like to get done. Then, we're going to take our laptops and sit in the lobby/gorgeous Starbucks and do our jobs. 

I'm able to enjoy all of this because I took one step at a time to change my life. It didn't happen overnight, and it isn't always this glamorous.

This won't be the first time Ricky and I have worked at Starbucks at the same time. But five years ago, when we met, I was on the other side of the counter serving him coffee while he did freelance work from my Starbucks. I was nearing the end of my time there, because I was becoming unhappy with the job. I wanted more. And I knew I was capable of it. So I fucking did it.

I'm telling you to dream bigger. No, bigger. What do you want? What do you want your life to look like? 

Here's some homework for you.

Write down 5 things about the life you want to have, but don't yet. Don't be cynical about this. Of course we'd all like a million dollars and two more days in the week. Dream realistically big. Different job? Different town? More exercise? Better food? More connection? 

Now the hard part. 

Write down 3 things you can DO for each of the 5 ways you'd like your life to be different. Small steps first. You want to make a career change? Polish up that CV. You want to eat better? Hop on Pinterest and make a meal plan and a grocery list.

Now...

Go do it.  

This is National Bosses Day, and you, my friend are the boss of your own life. Go get the life you want, tiger.

Mini Sessions Are a Bitch: Why I Do Them Anyway // WV Boudoir Photographer

Ask any portrait photographer, and they'll tell you that they don't exactly look forward to mini sessions. 

If you've been a customer who has purchased a mini session, THANK YOU. But, step behind the curtain with me for a moment.

Mini Sessions, or miniature portrait photography sessions, usually take place over the course of one, or two if the photographer is batshit crazy, days. These days are generally 8-10 hours long. If the photographer has decided on 30 minute sessions, that's TWENTY families, people, couples, per day. Many of these people are relying on you to create THE MOST AMAZING CHRISTMAS CARD PHOTO ANYONE IN ANY FAMILY ANYWHERE HAS EVER SEEN. I don't care how much you love your job, that's A LOT of people to make/keep happy in a day or two. And don't even get me started on the money. 

That said, we continue to do them. You might ask why we continue to punish ourselves holiday after holiday with these chaotic carnivals of joy. 

I can't speak for any other photographers, but I have one irresistible, unavoidable reason to keep doing mini boudoir sessions. 

I want as many women as possible to experience all that boudoir has to offer.

When I started this business three years ago, I believed in boudoir. But now that I've had over 150 women trust me with these intimate images, I KNOW how powerful a boudoir session can be. 

 

I've seen women in the middle of a 150lb weight loss journey take everything off and dance between the sheets.

I've seen Cancer survivors reveal their scars to me.

I've heard women tell me that they've never believed they were beautiful until they saw their photos.

I've held women as they cried when the weight of the divorce hits them mid-session.

I've celebrated with women when they candidly tell me the best sex she and her husband ever had came after she showed him her photos.

I've high fived modest, shy women when they say YES to the implied nude "sheet shot."

I've listened as brides to be share all the details of the day they'll marry their best friend.

I've received texts just minutes after sessions thanking me for a confidence boost they didn't even know they needed.

I've smiled with mothers as they reclaim their baby body, watching as they become proud of the miracle they are.

 

Every woman has a damn good reason to do a shoot, but not every woman can afford it. 

While I still have to pay my bills, I price my mini sessions as low as I possibly can in the hopes that women who understandably can't swing our normal prices will give themselves this gift.