I was having a bad hair day. As I drove around town, each time I stopped, I would glance in the rear-view mirror and run my fingers through my hair, pulling it this way or pushing it that way.
A little voice piped up from the backseat.
“You mess with your hair more than anybody I’ve ever seen in my life,” my 7-year-old said. “You look fine. Leave it alone.”
I thought of that this week as I talked with Kerri Collins, a local photographer whose unique specialty is boudoir photography – essentially women in lingerie.
The idea isn’t to take sleazy pictures – Collins’ models are more covered up than many women at the public pool – it’s to make women realize it doesn’t matter what they’re wearing.
“When they come in, they’re really nervous; they’re scared,” Collins said. “When they leave, they’re saying, ‘You made me feel so beautiful.’ And they are. They’re all so beautiful.”
Collins, a nurse, was always a frustrated photographer, she said. In 2011, she began a photography business, shooting mostly family portraits and children. She’s not sure how the boudoir work began, but once she started she fell in love with it.
“I am overweight, and all these girls were coming in so skinny, saying, ‘Make sure you cover this part’ or ‘Don’t show that part,’” she said. “Here I am thinking, ‘I would give my right arm to have your body.’ I always thought it was just fat people who were so self-conscious and had such a negative self-image. But it is almost every woman I have ever photographed.”
Most of her clients tell Collins they are having the photos taken for their husbands. It’s also a popular trend for brides to give a boudoir book to their fiances, she said. But many leave feeling like they did it for themselves.
Jennifer Parra, 30, had her boudoir photos taken for her husband’s birthday. When the hour-and-a-half session was over, she didn’t want to put her jeans on and leave.
“At first, my stomach was in knots,” she said. “But Kerri has a great sense of humor, which helped make me feel comfortable, and the photos are very tasteful.”
After having her hair and makeup professionally done before the shoot – that’s included in the session fee – Parra said she felt beautiful, like a bride. By the time the session was over, she said, she “felt like a rock star.”
“I’m not a size 2, so that was something I had to get over in my head,” she said. “It’s something I never would have considered for myself, but I absolutely recommend it. It makes you feel good about yourself.”
Why would having photos taken in your underwear make you feel more beautiful? I'm not entirely sure the underwear is the point, except that maybe it pushes the models out of their comfort zone and forces them to pay attention to their bodies. After having a full hair and makeup treatment and being photographed in flattering light, from flattering angles, by a woman who is gushing over your beauty, clothed or not, who wouldn’t have a little more swagger in their step?
“You’re beautiful with your clothes off, you’re beautiful with your clothes on,” Collins said. “People tell me, ‘I’ll do it, but not until I lose five pounds,’ and then they never do it. You should do this for yourself, so in 10 years, 20 years, you can look back and say, ‘Look how awesome I was.’”
Kerri Collins Photography can be contacted at www.kerricollinsphotography.blogspot.com or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.