wedding photographer

Not Every Good Deed Needs Done // WV Boudoir Photographer

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WARNING: If you don’t know me that well, this post is going to seem like a humble brag. If you know me, then you know that it’s just an upfront brag. I’M KIDDING.


Anyway, last week I did a last minute session for a friend who was due to have a baby ANY MINUTE. (This is not a photo of her.) We happened to run into each other after not seeing one another for a while, and she mentioned that she had wanted to do a session but time got away from her. So I asked if she had any time that week (the week the baby was due!), and she did! I was SO THRILLED that we were able to make it happen.


The session was magical. I knew it would be. That’s part of the reason I did it. Since I’ve known this woman, I’ve known her to be kind, warm, and full of a really wonderful innate joy. She is a woman who is in touch with her body and soul, and I knew this session would mean a lot to her and her husband. It just felt so right to do it. The universe gently dropped this session into my arms, much like you’d hand off a newborn baby.

My hour or so with her was lovely. She was not only so genuinely grateful, but she was so tightly embracing of the experience. She allowed herself to get a little lost in it. She immersed herself. That was such a joy to witness and photograph. It truly did my heart so much good to photograph her and her baby. It meant a lot to me to be able to document her body with child. I was so happy she’d have these photos forever.

Photography is an incredible gift to give someone. I obviously can’t do every kind thing I want to with my photography. But I think it’s important to listen to yourself and learn when it’s right to give the gift. It doesn’t just have to do with the recipient. It has to do with what this gift will do for your soul as well. I know that sounds selfish. But if it doesn’t sit right in your heart, then what kind of a gift is it anyway?

This is an important distinction for everyone to make, not just photographers. Unpopular opinion alert: Not every good deed needs done. It is only when the good deed feeds both souls: the giver AND the recipient that it does the world the most good. And in order for it to feed your soul, it’s gotta feel right to you. It’s gotta light you up a little. It’s gotta be an honor. It’s gotta make you sparkle, too.

Protect your gifts. They’ll mean even more when you give them if you do.



Part 2: Okay, I Kind of Lost My Shit When I Lost My Wedding Venue // WV Boudoir Photographer

I think it's safe to say that I had less than 5 "Bridezilla" moments in the first 351 days of wedding planning. (Check my math with my bridesmaids and fiancé.)

Then we lost our venue and the number of Bridezilla moments at least quadrupled. 

I was messaging bridesmaids and family and friends at odd hours, delegating the venue search to as many people as possible, doubled down on bridal shower planning because it was the only thing I could control, and snapped at Ricky when our old venue recommended we get married in a fire hall. (For the record, there's nothing wrong with that, but it was not comparable venue to suggest to someone who'd planned to get married on a hotel rooftop.)

It wasn't just sass and cinnamon that came out, though. PLENTY of tears fell in the two weeks we were searching for a venue. Some of them were happy tears, in disbelief that I found such an amazing man to marry. But not all of the tears were joyous.

There was a moment I will never forget about 11 days into the search.

We'd gotten so many No's, so many too expensives, and if I had a dollar for every time I said in a saccharine voice, "well at least I still get to marry THIS guy!" I'd have enough money to buy out one of these damn venues so it could all be over. I was also eyes-deep in editing, freaking out about booking enough clients in the new year, and facing an inbox FULL of emails waiting for my reply.

I was working from our bed, because I was so mentally and emotionally exhausted I couldn't imagine doing anything else. But overall, I felt pretty on top of things. We'd gathered a short list of strong venue options, and things were looking up. 

Then we got one. more. no. 

It was from a venue I wasn't even in love with, but it didn't matter. 

I lost it. There I was, in our bed, in my pajamas at 2:30 in the afternoon, sobbing. Nothing made sense in my brain. I couldn't even get to my recent calls to call Ricky. My body went limp, and my sheets were getting soaked in my tears and slobber. I barely had the energy to let the cries out. So I just laid there and whimpered for minutes. 

Before you start to feel too sad, know that this had to happen. It was A LOT for one person to handle, even with the assistance of some of the best humans in the world. It was a LOT, but I didn't even notice how much the situation was demanding of me, taking from me. I was on happy little auto pilot. I had a job to do, and when I've got a job to do, I fucking do it. I was moving too quickly and too optimistically to realize just how depleted I was. 

I needed this moment of sadness to sort of reset my heart and my brain. I needed to empty everything out and start over, from a more honest, realistic place. 

From the moment I received the message about our venue, I knew I needed to allow myself to feel the disappointment. I knew Ricky and I needed time to be sad together. I knew that it was permissible to feel overwhelmed and stressed.

I KNEW all of this, but I didn't give myself the time to FEEL all of this. 

Being emotionally intelligent is a little bit like being book-smart sometimes. You can know all the things your mind has to do to process something. (Hell, you can even write a blog about it.) But if you don't TAKE the time to allow it to actually happen, your knowledge means nothing. 

Two days after my mini breakdown, we received the news that one of our top venue choices was available, and we began the process of securing it for our wedding date. It IS better than our original plan. It DID work out in the end. And yes, I still get to marry THIS guy. 

 

 

 

How Not To Lose Your Shit When You Lose Your Wedding Venue: 9 Easy Steps

"Venues book fast," they said. "Book your venue first," they said. "Once you have your venue, everything will fall into place," they said. 

Okay, great. Done. You got that venue. So you merrily skip through all of your other big wedding decisions like a freaking vendor-booking machine.

Then your venue gets pulled out from under you like the goddamn tablecloth trick five months before your wedding.

And when someone attempts the tablecloth trick, what usually happens? 

ALL THE SHIT ON THE TABLE CRASHES INTO A SHARP, STICKY, WET, TEAR INDUCING MESS.

So what do you do? Panic? Cry? Scream & curse at the heartless soul responsible for this?

Or do you take a deep breath, kiss your fiance, and get to work?

Yes. The answer is yes, you do all of that. 

Because losing your venue is one of the most disruptive things that can happen to wedding planning, I've taken the liberty of designing an easy 9-step process to help get you through it without rashly booking your tickets to elope in Cancun. 


 

HOW NOT TO LOSE YOUR SHIT WHEN YOU

LOSE YOUR WEDDING VENUE

 

1. Cry It Out

It feels like a breakup for a reason. You dated tons of other venues, but this one stole your heart. You moved fast. You started picturing your future together, making plans, finding yourself wanting to see it every day. Then BOOM. Ghosted. It just disappeared with little to no explanation. Allow yourself to grieve that loss.

2. Hold The Phone

You and your fiancé need time just the two of you to feel this together. Resist the urge to call in reinforcements right away. Take the evening, turn off your phones, have a nice dinner and just be together. Take a moment to remember that you still get to marry the wonderful human across from you, so where EVER that happens, it's still great news. Wine helps, which brings me to

3. Get Drunk on a Tuesday

It's totally acceptable to get drunk the night you find out. A little (read: a lot of) booze can really clear your head and empty your heart. Which is just what you need when your wedding gets a shakeup like this. Get tipsy and let loose. Let your emotions run wild. Just make sure your phone is nowhere near you so you don't send any messages you'll regret in the morning. 

4. Once You've Completed Steps 1-3, ABSOLUTELY CALL IN REINFORCEMENTS

Start with those closest to you. It helps if you have a baller fucking fiancé and maid of honor. Then when you're ready, take to the internet.

Facebook is a beautiful beast, full of people who can help you. I know you don't want to talk about it, but it is in your best interest to reach out and ask for help on this one. Not only could they have ideas you wouldn't have thought of, but just seeing all your friends and family rallying and supporting you can get you through this crazy time.

BONUS TIP: Write down the names of people who went above and beyond to help you. Make a note to send them a thank you note once the dust settles.

5. The Dishes Will Get Done...After You Find a Venue

Don't worry about letting a few things slip to the back burner. This is kind of a big deal, and people will understand if you need a few days to get your shit together. 

6. Don't Be Afraid to Use Your "I Lost My Venue" Card

You never know when your sob story will come in handy. You should totally include it in all your emails to new venues. People will pull strings for jilted brides. (If strings are pulled for you, be sure to write that name down for thank you notes, too.)

7. You CAN Put Lipstick on a Pig

As you're shopping for new venues, you're going to get a lot of No's, which might lead you to booking a less than ideal space. This is when you need to channel your inner Joanna Gaines and see the potential in places you might not immediately fall in love with. (You KNOW you wanted a reason to troll Pinterest again anyway!) White lights and candles go A LONG way in transforming a space.

BONUS TIP:  Your guests are going to remember how your wedding made them FEEL, not what color the walls were in the reception hall. 

8. #blessed

At this point, it could really do you some good to take a beat and make a list of all the things you DO still have. Your fiance, for starters. Your amazing wedding party, wonderful vendors, friends and family who are still super stoked for your wedding. Focusing on all that goodness is key.

9. When One Door Closes, Another One Opens to the Whitewashed Warehouse of Your Dreams

There is a solid chance that you will find an even better venue. It might not seem like it right now, but remember how you thought you'd be with your high school boo forever? How'd that work out? Chances are, you found someone way more awesome. If you're open to the possibility of finding something better, you will.


As you research and contact new venues, it's okay if you feel the tears and/or rage well up. Let them. But keep referring to Step #8 as often as you need to, and your wedding day will be even better than you'd imagined with that punk ass venue that cancelled on you.


Check back next week for Part 2: What the 3 Days After Losing Our Venue Actually Looked (and Felt) Like

WTF Do I Do With My Photos: A PG-13 Answer to an FAQ

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I get this question a lot. I mean, obviously, or I wouldn’t be writing a post about it.

ANYWAY.

Let me start by saying that it almost doesn’t matter what you do with the photos, because SO MUCH OF THIS—I mean, like, 95% of this--- is about the EXPERIENCE and not the product. You WILL LOVE the photos; you have my word on that. But it’s so much more about giving yourself permission to feel hot. Doing something that makes you feel beautiful. Seeing yourself in a different way. And allowing yourself to believe that you are a sexy, desirable being. We all deserve to feel this way, and boudoir photography is an amazing way to achieve that.

“Okay, Jodi. Enough with the philosophy. WTF do I do with these pictures?”

Just a few ideas:

DISCLAIMER: I’ve been pretty transparent about how open I am about sexuality on this blog. This post is no different. If you have kids, read this after they go to bed. And remember: If you’re having sex, you should be talking about sex. One of these ideas seem intriguing to you but think your partner would never go for it? Just ask. I bet you’ll be surprised. Okay, here we go. (S.O.= Significant Other)

1. Make an album.

- Keep it in the nightstand.

- Leave it on the bed with rose petals and candles to get your S.O. excited about a night of passion.

- Let your S.O. look at your album while you please them in what ever way you choose.

- Traveling? Leave the album on the nightstand with a note suggesting that your S.O. use the book as eye candy to masturbate while you’re away.

- Make an Album Date with yourself—an monthly date with yourself during which you drink some bubbly, give yourself a mani-pedi and flip through those pages to remind yourself what a fox you are.

- Tell your S.O. to pick which photo is their favorite. Ask why. Get into that pose and start foreplay from there.

2. Make prints.

- Have some cute, retro 4x6’s made to stick in birthday, Christmas, anniversary, valentine’s cards.

- Leave a trail of prints leading to the bedroom from the door. Be lying on the bed wearing something you wore during your session, ready for fun.

- Is your S.O. going on a trip without you? Pack some prints in their suitcase to discover when they unpack.

-Frame them! There are lots of places you could put framed photos like these. In your bedroom, your master bath, your closet. If it's an abstract shot, the hallway.

-Mail them to your S.O., even if you live together.

3. Have a canvas made.

4. Make a locket or put a photo in a pocket watch.

5. Have the photo etched into a bracelet, money clip or tie clip.

6. MAKE A CUSTOM VIEW MASTER WITH JODI ;) ;) ;)

7. Have a sketch made of one of the photos.

8. Make your S.O.'s cell phone wallpaper one of your photos.

9. Text them to your S.O. when they least expect it.

10. Show your friends to convince them that they need to do a session, too. ;)

11. Hang one where you get ready to remind yourself how hot you are.

12. Keep a few in your purse just for fun and the occasional confidence boost.

13. Feeling brave? Use one as your IG or Facebook profile pic. (We always do a few G-Rated shots : ) )

14. Feeling even braver? Use one as your Tinder profile pic.

So there ya have it! Loads of things you can do with your photos, but with some wine and ingenuity, I bet we could come up with more.

I reiterate, though, this is SO MUCH MORE about the experience than it is the final product. You're going to love the way you look and feel after this session, and you're going to want to pull these photos out to look at them all the freakin time.

Don't forget to love on yourself a little today.

xo

Jodi

I'm Dating My Vagina

If asked, could you describe your own vagina?

Yeah, me either. That is until a few weeks ago.

I got curious when I saw a video about how a photographer asked to photograph women's vaginas like, REAL close up, but very clearly depicted. She then showed each woman the photos of her own vagina. Most of the women were surprised by the images. They didn't recognize themselves. 

Not only were they surprised, they were disappointed. When asked to describe what they saw, every. single. woman. used negative adjectives to describe her own vagina. 

HER VAGINA. Her life-giver. Her pleasure zone. Her health hub. 

They didn't have any clue how they looked down there, and when they saw it they didn't like it. 

There are a few things about this that made me sad. 

First and foremost, I was saddened by the fact that girls aren't taught that there isn't just one way to be beautiful. If we're lucky, we're told we're pretty by people who love and care about us, but this is rarely accompanied by the explanation that everyone looks different, and everyone is beautiful in different ways. 

This is especially true about more personal areas of the body. No one tells you that everyone's boobs and nipples are different or that butts are shaped differently. And certainly no one tells you that every vagina is unique. 

I come from a pretty encouraging, body-positive household, but there was never talk of this genital diversity. So I can't imagine that it was happening in very many households at all.

And that breaks my heart.

Look, I know it's an uncomfortable thought, talking to your friends and daughters about what your vaginas look like, but this has to change. It might FEEL weird at first, but I assure you it isn't actually a weird thing to talk about. Talking about this stuff with the age-appropriate ladies in your life doesn't make you a weirdo; it makes you a fucking hero! 

But you have to know about yours first.

Maybe if I tell you about my first date with my vagina, you'll feel more inclined to start learning and sharing. 

My fiancé was at work. I was working from home when I came upon the video that started it all. I felt embarrassed that as a 30 year old sex-positive, BOUDOIR photographer and champion of TMI, I wouldn't recognize my vag any more than the women in the video recognized theirs. 

So. I got to work. I grabbed a compact mirror I'd recently been gifted that ironically shouts in red glitter, "BE-YOU-TIFUL!" I took off my sweatpants (don't judge me; i work from home) and Target undies and sat on the floor. 

I'm not going to lie to you; it took a few deeps breaths, lots of giggling, he-be-je-bee-shaking off, and several tries to look into the mirror longer than 3 seconds at a time, and that first date, I think I only reached 5 or so seconds before I got weirded out and clapped the mirror closed. It was when you run into someone and you try to get out of each other's way but go the same way-awkward. We didn't talk much, I was glad when it was over, and I still don't know a lot about her.

But I definitely wanted a second date.

So, here's your challenge for the week, ladies. (Significant others of women, if you're reading this, encourage your lady to give this a shot. Tell her you want her to see what you see.)

Go on your first date with your vagina. It might not even last a full minute, and that's okay. Just introduce yourself. Take a look. Don't be too hard on yourself--or your date. Be forgiving and open minded. See if you want a second date.

The only way to prevent future generations of women hating on what can only be described as their magical genitalia is to start the conversation now.

Next week we'll talk about ways to start that chat. 

xo
Jodi

 

 

Faking It Is Only a Bad Thing Between the Sheets

The moment she assumed her first pose, I could tell something was different about her. She came in a small group of women who wanted to experience their first boudoir sessions together. Even though she was the most reserved of the crew, she was more comfortable in her own skin than any of the women with whom I'd done boudoir sessions. I've photographed some incredibly bold, strong, beautiful women, but her confidence was different. It had very little to do with her physical appearance. It had to do with how she felt.

"He's going to love that one," one of her friends commented. 

"He?" I delicately asked. 

"My husband," my model coyly answered. 

Ah-ha. Not only did I believe it to be influencing her approach to her session, but the knowledge certainly influenced my approach to her session. 

There I was, behind the camera, with the privilege--the honor--of seeing what he sees, all the while discovering the million reasons he chose her. 

She taught me a valuable lesson with her subtle sureness.

The way you feel during your session plays a huge role in the end result.

You have to be open to getting more comfortable and having a great time. Miss S. is lucky. She's got a deeply rooted confidence she exuded during her session. You don't have to be Miss S. to have a successful session. You just have to be willing to let your guard down a little bit and let me in.

I work really hard to help my clients feel comfortable from the get-go. Through information-packed emails to periodic check ins, and even styling and outfit assistance, I develop a rapport with you before we even meet. Then, by the time your session rolls around, we feel like boudoir besties.

"Fake it til you make it," my mother always says. Believe in yourself during your session. Even if you're not 100% comfortable or confident, believe that you are capable of looking amazing in photographs and I bet you'll start to feel it.

How I Know You'll Never Be Ready For Your Boudoir Session or Anything Else for That Matter

 

 

My mother says that if you wait until you’re ready to have children, you’ll never have children.

 

It seems like we’re always waiting to be ready for something. To date, to get married, to go on that cruise, to buy a house, to try that Japanese-Nordic fusion restaurant. To, oh, I don’t know, book a boudoir session.

 

While some of the things we’re waiting to be “ready” for require a significant amount of time, planning, and financial security, many of them only require us to rise above the dangerous mind game we’re playing with ourselves.

 

I want to clarify that getting ready and waiting to BE ready for something are two very different headspaces. Getting ready implies a certain amount of measurable preparation. You have a goal and a ToDo list, and off you go.

 

Waiting to be ready for something, though. That’s treacherous waters you’re sailing. And that’s exactly what we end up doing. Sailing along, and before you know it, it’s five years later and you’ve done absolutely nothing to realize your dream of taking dance lessons.

 

I chose the name, “As You Are” because I believe we are beautiful now. Not three years ago, not after you lose those five pounds, not before you have a baby, not before your hair turned gray, but NOW.  You are more beautiful now than you have ever been or will ever be. Because you can CHOOSE to say to yourself RIGHT NOW, “I love you. You are amazing. You are sexy and desirable just as you are.”

 

Do it.

 

No, really. Walk over to a mirror, look into your own tired, sparkling eyes and say,

 

“I love you. You are amazing. You are sexy and desirable just as you are.”

 

I’ll give you a minute…

 

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:

:

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I’ve lost more than one client to the inner warfare of waiting to be ready. And that’s okay, but they’re missing the point. You see, boudoir sessions aren’t about what you look like.  They’re about how you feel. They’re about making you feel hot, beautiful, sexy, desired. They’re about connecting with a part of ourselves we don’t acknowledge enough. They’re about reconnecting with our partner. They’re about believing that we are worthy of sexual and personal attention. Because we are.

 

What ever it is you’re waiting to be ready for, even if it isn’t a boudoir session, I encourage you to stop waiting and just take ONE step toward it. Want to learn a new skill? Watch a YouTube video. Want to travel to a different country? Get your passport. Want to spice up your sex life? Order that blindfold on Amazon. Want to ask that cutie out on a date? Well, just do it.

 

What are you waiting to be ready for? What are you going to do next?