For those of you who don’t know, I grew up as a dancer. Hair, makeup, lights, performance; it’s basically in my blood. I’ve grown up in the spotlight (even if I wasn’t in the spotlight), so over the 20 years I’ve been alive (almost 21!), I’ve definitely developed some tricks as to how I get over my fear of judgement and boost my self-confidence.
I hear it a lot from my friends; “How do you do that?”. “What?”, I ask them. “You know, be so cool and confident and collected when all of these people are starting at you.” (I’m definitely embellishing on the compliments, but this is how it sounds in my head).
For a 20-year-old woman, I’d call myself pretty mature. I’ve done some things that a lot of my friends haven’t done. I get waxed, I’ve gone on stage in a bra and shorts, and danced some (a word my mom uses quite freely) raunchy numbers. I’m very comfortable around strangers (in the least slutty way possible) because I know that they don’t care about what I look like, or at least that’s what I tell myself.
I’ve been following my friend Leah Sebben (all of her info linked below) for a while now since she started her photography company. She had done one boudoir shoot prior to this one and I was so disappointed when I missed out.
So, when Leah asked me to come and do this shoot with her, I had not one hesitation before I emailed her back asking for all of the details. I put it in my bullet journal and didn’t give it much more thought. I started telling my friends slowly (I’ll elaborate on this more in a minute), thought about going to the gym more, but didn’t, and I thought about eating “better” but also didn’t. I just lived my life as my excitement grew.
A week before the shoot, I started to think about it more. I planned out my outfits, showered and shaved basically every day, just to be ready, and I started to load on the tan (personal preference, again, I’ll elaborate). Day of, I drove to the location and shot some hot as crap pictures (but for the internet I’ll keep it PG). I loved every second of it. I felt beautiful, sexy, and like it was all about me – just like a boudoir photoshoot should make you feel. Leah and I kept talking about my relationship and how excited my boyfriend should be to see all of these photos. But until then, he hadn’t even crossed my mind (still love you)! I was doing this for myself. I didn’t give a flying crap about what he thought. If he’s really my boyfriend (which he is), he’s going to love the photos no matter what, whether it’s me with a full snow suit on or just a bra.
SO: with all of this said, I want to share with you a few things that I do or think about to help calm myself down and to feel fabulous before anything that you feel you need a confidence boost with.
1. Wear something that you feel comfortable in
This can be leggings and a tee, a bra and panties, a bathing suit, a robe, or your favourite sweats. Something that you feel comfortable moving around in and also something that you can breathe in. Don’t stuff yourself into your favourite pair of jeans if they give you a muffin top even though they make your butt look good. Don’t buy something new just for this event because you think you need it. I promise you that something you have in your closet is enough. This will help you feel more comfortable in your clothes, especially if you pose in something you know you’ll wear again. I highly doubt you’re going to wear this piece of lingerie (unless you are, which in that case: you go girlfriend) under your clothes every day, or every single time you’re intimate. Keep it simple, comfortable, casual, and sexy.
2. Practice posing at home and take photos of yourself
Get used to moving your body through some unique poses. Look at how your head and neck are moving, what angles give you a double chin, and angles that you can use as a go to. Practice making faces at yourself in the mirror. Set up your phone on timer or video mode to see what your poses translate to look like. Get comfortable so that day of, there’s less to get used to.
3. Don’t do the actual shoot in front of a mirror
You should practice posing enough at home so that it feels good in your body. Once you get to the photoshoot, you should have a general idea of how to move so that you won’t be curious as to how you’re looking. Your photographer should give you some prompts or pose ideas, but it’s good to have some in the back of your head. I think that posing in front of a mirror puts way too many thoughts in your head. You’ll be wanting to look at yourself the whole time and worrying about how you look which in turn will probably make you look worse. Try not to think about it. This is why we practice before. Remember how you looked at home. Try to envision what you look like in that moment; pretend you’re shooting for the cover of a magazine. You’re beautiful without trying; a mirror will just make it harder.
4. Play music that makes you feel confident
While you’re getting ready, pop on a playlist of songs that get you moving. I like J Lo, old school Usher sometimes, any song released between 2007-2012, you get the point. Songs that make you feel like you could be a backup dancer is what I go to in times like these. Ask your photographer if you can even play your music during the shoot. This will break the silence as well as give you something else to focus on.
5. Do all the necessary beauty tricks that make you feel better.
A full facial, self-tan, mani-pedi, whatever makes you feel better, go for it. This time is all about you. Even though what’s on the outside really doesn’t matter, it does sometimes help us feel really fricken good. If you feel good without all of the add on features, all the power to you. Personally, I like a good coat of self-tan. I don’t care for the nails, but I did just happen to have mine done for this shoot.
6. If possible, meet the photographer before hand
Posing with little clothes on can be scary, especially if you’ve never even met the photographer. If you’re able, reach out to them prior and meet for a coffee or a sit down. Here, you can talk about what you hope to get out of the shoot, ask them about how they got into photography, or whatever else is on your mind. I knew Leah from many mutual friends and from work, so the session was just like 2 friends hanging out.
7. Drink lots of water
Honestly, this has no effect on your appearance if you only drink water that day. This is more of a week of habit (it’s really a lifelong habit that you should have, but this is a great time to start). Drinking lots of water helps me feel slimmer, helps my skin clear up, and eliminates dry mouth (obviously). Smiling and posing makes my mouth super dry especially because I’m a mouth breather (don’t make fun of me, my nose doesn’t work). If your mouth is open in any poses, you won’t look like you just swallowed a desert.
8. Lip. Balm.
We all want supple lips. Please just wear a good lip balm. Lipstick works too, but it’s not my cup of tea. The camera may be right up in your grill (it will be in more ways than one), and no one wants to see your nasty cracked lips. Vaseline is my go-to.
9. Give yourself a pep talk before and during
Remember that you’re the best cheerleader you can get. You know what you need to hear, when you want to hear it, and when that cheerleader needs to shut up. Remind yourself that you can do this, that you are doing this, and that the photographer does not care what you look like. They want to make you feel amazing. Any tips that they may give you, remember that it’s coming from a loving place and they’re not trying to be mean. Pep talk yourself to the GODS.
10. Keep the experience to yourself
There’s no rule that says you need to share any of this experience with anyone else. This can be a self-growth exercise. This can be a gift to someone else. This can be an excuse to pamper yourself. Sometimes, telling other people can be interpreted as your invitation to them to fill your head with absurd comments that will do you no good. I keep it to myself for a while, so that I can settle with the idea of what I’ll actually be doing. About a week before I tell my friends. Yes, they do express their opinion very openly, but I like to think I’ve gotten really good at tuning people out.
There you have it! I really hope some of these tips help you out. Remember that this isn’t about you trying to look like Kim Kardashian or Gigi Hadid. Try not to compare yourself to other professional models. This should be fun and exciting! Also remember that not every photo is going to turn out how you imagined it would. There’s totally going to be some pictures that you hate; and that’s OKAY! Have fun with this, and don’t forget your lip balm.
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