Boudoir Reinvented

elizabeth-craig-beauty-boudoir-fashion-photography-pittsburgh-001-2“I LOVE this new direction you’re moving in with your photography!” I have been hearing that so much lately I figured I’d better write a blog post about it, because honestly…my recent work isn’t anything new to me, I’m just doing it more than I used to.

I think this new work confuses people and, no joke, I’ve had more than one woman tell me that they heard I’m moving out of boudoir photography. Wha?? So let’s set the record straight, shall we? I’m a Q&A kinda gal so I’m going to answer the questions and statements below and shed some light on my work

I thought Elizabeth photographed boudoir photography? Yeppers, I do. This hasn’t stopped one bit and as a matter of fact it’s still my number one requested genre. My question back to you is, how do you define boudoir photography?

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Are you a fashion photographer? Well…yeah. I think that’s all encompassing when you’re photographing women in any genre, but yes, I loooooooooooove fashion and it’s part of my creative outlet when putting shoots together. Fashion has a voice to me and sometimes that voice is a $700 pair of Prada shoes, or a $10 Forever 21 shirt, or a $50 Victoria Secret bodysuit. Fashion is a huge part of any session with me. It can be super simple, to super avant-garde, to high-end designer, to nudes. Nothing is off limits in my studio.

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What is the difference between fashion photography, beauty photography and boudoir photography? To me, nothing. To everyone else, quite a lot. But to dissect a minute you could break it down like this:

Fashion photography is just that. It’s purpose is to send a message through the fashion in the photograph, as well as it’s combination with whatever set or background pulls it all together. Think Vogue.

Beauty photography is more focused on the subject telling the story than the fashion. It’s more timeless than boudoir and should tell a story about the person, making the fashion secondary.

Boudoir photography is a style that incorporates lingerie and more scantily-clad sets that focus on the message of intimacy, sex and sexual desires. Typically it’s meant to instigate a (loving, sweet, shocked) reaction out of a loved one.

But for me, there really is no difference because all 3 are powerful, sexy, empowering and sends a message of self-acceptance, self-love, confidence and power. I don’t find a woman on the cover of Vanity Fair any less sexy than a woman on the cover of GQ just because she’s wearing more clothing. “Sexy” has to do with how you’re wearing what you’re wearing, how you feel in what you’re wearing and how you carry yourself in what you’re wearing.

If you asked me I don’t think I could tell you if this photo was fashion, beauty or boudoir:

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This photo would be considered fashion photography:

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But I find it no less sexy than this one, even though this one would likely be termed boudoir photography:

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Are you photographing models in your fashion photography? Because they look like models so no wonder people think you’re moving in a new direction. Time and time and time and time again I’ve said it. I’m not photographing models. I’m not saying I never have or that I never will again, but when I do, I tell you. The last time I photographed a professional model was in Paris and before that I have no idea. It’s not that I don’t want to or have anything against models…I just never do. Over the years I’ve learned how to work with everyday women and simply have a preference for it. Why? Because over the years I’ve loved making women believers in themselves. It’s the most gratifying part of my job. So, if you see that my photography is everyday women kickin’ ass in my studio, then you know you can do it too.

When thinking about a session with you as a gift for my significant other, I just thought it would be boudoir. Isn’t that what men want? I don’t know. Is that what your man wants? Is it that you want? If your answer to either or both of these questions is yes then you have your answer. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting traditional boudoir photographs taken of you for anyone, even just you. Boudoir photography is beautiful, sexy and can be so empowering. I’ve seen more than my fair share of women tip toe into my studio and then walk a runway back out after their sessions. There is something so intoxicating about grabbing your own sexuality by the balls and showing yourself whose boss.

With that said, you have to do what you want to do. I’ve also had some women that came in with slinky lingerie in hand and a very real aversion to every piece they brought. They just assumed that’s what you did. Photos for significant other = thong up butt. But that’s not necessarily true. Sexy is what you define it to be and trust me, if you think you’re sexy he’s not going to argue….just saying.

Fashion? Beauty? Boudoir? Why even try to define it? If this were you would you be disappointed with this photograph? Would he? A beautiful photograph is a beautiful photograph. Period.

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What is Boudoir Reinvented? For me, nothing new. For you, it’s opening your mind to understand that “boudoir” can mean a lot of things. Fashion, beauty and boudoir are all encompassing to me and that’s the message I’m trying to get women on board with.

Simply put, fashion/beauty/boudoir is just photography. I want every person I photograph to have timelessness and elegance in their photos. It makes no matter to me if that means a bra and panty set, a $3000 designer gown or full nudity.

I can’t speak for other photographers but I get a lot of inspiration from fashion and that includes lingerie. No big shock here: I’m a visual person. When I saw Ryan I instantly saw a frosty, wintery, fur kind of shoot. When I saw Christina, I saw a regal arrogance and history (not that she was arrogant, but I saw how I could bring that out in her). When I saw Nicole, I saw someone empowered by their own body and a person at ease with their sensuality and instantly saw her in everything lace. When I saw Ellie, I saw power and fierceness that I could bring out by mixing lingerie with street clothes. When I considered the fashion for this shoot, I knew Alaina would be the best woman for it because she was so whimsical. Sometimes I have the fashion first and then find someone to wear it. Sometimes I see the physical characteristics of a woman and instantly feel a direction I want to go.

This is my process. It’s not right. It’s not wrong. There is no consistency (other than my own inconsistency) in my work. I go where my eyes lead me. So far, I’ve enjoyed the results. I hope you have too.

But the message I want you to walk away with is this: You are what you want to be in my studio. I do not judge, I do not control, I do not own and I am no giver of titles. I am there as a professional to guide, nurture and cheer. I want exactly what you want, regardless if that’s lace, a gown, a suit, or nothing at all. I want you to have beautiful photographs. That’s my only motivation. No big secret here. I love what I do and I love making people happy. Combined I’d say it’s a recipe for goodness.

‘Nuff said.

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