The Rouxby Boudoir sessions are a team effort, a trio of enterprising women who are each completely committed to their contribution. Mia is the genius behind the hair; the hand waving the magical makeup brush belongs to Jessica. Invariably the marathon days that comprise the event get busy and I am often shooting as women arrive, but nevertheless at every opportunity I hang out in the staging area. A transformation happens there, and I don’t just mean in the way the women look. Mia and Jessica have mad skills, yes, but the real transformation is more powerful: the women sit taller, talk more, look stronger. Sometimes this transformation is slight, other times much more pronounced, but in every case by the time I put my finger on the shutter release the woman in front of me already feels like the most confident version of herself. She and I share a moment—or an hour, as the case may be—that will never exist again. It’s one date on the calendar, one place, one kind of light.
These boudoir sessions are so wildly popular that I’ve spent some time thinking about what nerve it is they’ve touched. In part the answer is obvious: it’s a couple hours that are completely about you, a chance to have a real rock star experience. It’s powerful and it’s fun. But that alone doesn’t explain why these boudoir events sell out practically the minute we plan them.
The reason these boudoir events sell out the minute we plan them is because at their root they are about a beauty deeper than the skin. The women working the event are self-employed, all at different stages of their—of our—lives. We are mothers, wives, and fiancées. We understand what it feels like to feel bad about ourselves, and what it’s like to feel good in our own skin. We are Women. We’ve been there. Actually, we are there.
It’s our job to make you look hot and I won’t hesitate to say I think we all do a damned good job. But it’s also our job to learn what we can about you and to make you feel as beautiful as you look, because ultimately that’s where the real value lays. Monday morning you’ll back at work. You’ll be bleary eyed, and your hair, no matter how phenomenal it looked on Saturday, will look the way it does every Monday morning. You might be ever so slightly hung over from the mimosas. And that unique moment I mentioned earlier? It’s over.
But what does last is remembering how you felt in that moment, remembering how beautiful you are. And because every one of needs a reminder sometimes, or many times, it’s worth having those photographs ever after.
During these boudoir sessions I’ve met and photographed all kinds of women: mothers with little children, mothers with grown kids, women who are just finishing school and discovering independence for the first time, newlyweds, women who have just gotten engaged, or are hoping to be engaged soon. I’ve met and photographed women who are survivors—of breast cancer, and ovarian cancer, and of all the curve balls life throws every one of us.
When a boudoir event comes full circle after the day has come and gone, the photos edited, after everyone has chosen and received their images, when I get to this point where I sit down to write a wrap-up blog post I am totally overwhelmed at how beautiful every one of these women is—and every one of you is—and I can’t wait until the next opportunity to meet a whole new set of women, each as different as the last, each as beautiful as the last.