Embracing your Body through Portraiture

Maternity has always been one of my favorite types of sessions to photograph. So when I was able to combine my love of boudoir with maternity I knew I had found something that I really really loved to photograph. Bringing the ideas of boudoir and helping women to see themselves as the gorgeous goddesses that they are when they are carrying life was right up my alley. During pregnancy a woman's body is changing a lot and quickly and for some this can be a difficult time to accept themselves and embrace those changes with love and compassion. This is where I come in. I know that having a photoshoot can really shape how you perceive yourself and the power that has over your mental and emotional state. I think every woman should have a boudoir session at least once in her life and every woman should also have a maternity session to celebrate the beauty that she exudes when she is carrying life so why not combine those two. Miss T did just that. After our initial consultation we decided that we would do both a boudoir look in the studio and then go on location for some beautiful non-boudoir photos. We chose the Botanical Gardens herein San Antonio and I couldn't be more in love with the scenery which complimented her gorgeous gown.  I thank Miss T so much for trusting me as her photographer and allowing me to share her photos. Below you will find her own  words on the experience. 

"When I first found out I was pregnant, I was apprehensive at how my body would change and grow. I have always tried to maintain a certain physique and being a Soldier in the US Army ensures that I have to maintain certain standards. I knew things would change as my son grew but I didn't always feel healthy or beautiful. After expressing my thoughts to a friend, she suggested a maternity session and highly recommended boudoir in order to view myself in a different way. This is when I sought out a photographer who could help. Once I found Angela and spoke to her on the phone, I knew working with her was exactly what I needed. The way she expressed her thoughts on maternity photography and implementing a boudoir element made the decision feel even better. Our session together made me feel empowered, beautiful and allowed me to view myself in a whole new way. She documenting a softer side and at the same time a side that showed a different type of strength and beauty I had not seen before. I am so thankful for finding Angela. I encourage anyone who wants to view themselves in a whole new way to try a professional photo shoot."

Just Leap into the Unknown...

So one day at the studio I had planned to be there all day for meetings and then upon getting there I had two  clients that needed to reschedule so I realized I would have a gap in my day.  Not really enough time to go home. So rather than sit there mindlessly scrolling FB I decided I would post a very last minute offer for someone to come by my studio for a quick session. I knew it was a long shot... asking someone to be at my studio in just a couple of hours with no prep and then strip down to lingerie without any kind of pre-shoot guidance. I had pretty much decided it wouldn't happen when Miss B commented on my post that she would take me up on my offer. She asked what to bring and I told her to bring whatever she was comfortable posing in. Miss B wasn't a complete stranger to me. She works as a local boutique I partner up with and we had chatted before on my regular visits to the boutique. But in no way had I ever prepped her for a Photoshoot. So she arrives with some lovely lingerie from Forever 21 (seriously if you haven't checked out their lingerie options, you should). With little time to spare we got straight  to shooting and I couldn't be more thrilled with what we captured. Sometimes we overthink things... what do I wear, how will I pose, what will my expressions look like?  I don't think Miss B had time for any of that. She literally showed up at my studio within a couple of hours of knowing she was going to be in front of the camera. She didn't have time to overthink or worry. She just showed up with an open heart and  an open mind and together we created something beautiful. My point is that while it certainly is nice to have all that prepping time to prepare for a shoot sometimes all we have to do is show up and trust. My yoga mentor always says "Simple is Sacred" and there is beauty in that statement.  Don't over think things in life... sometimes all you have to do is show up and let the universe handle the rest. I am so grateful to Miss B for her courage and willingness to leap into that unknown with such trust. Read Miss B's experience in her own words....

"I have been working at the Sexology Institute (SXI) for 10 months now, where I quickly became familiar with Angela Michelle AKA Raven Red’s work, and there was no doubt in my mind that she was anything less than a very talented photographer. When the opportunity came that she needed models, I was eager to take her up on that offer because so many of my co-workers have raved about the amazing experience they have had with her and I wanted to experience it for myself. (I have been saving for a shoot of my own, but figured a little practice, fun shoot wouldn’t hurt). Going into the shoot was a bit nerve racking because I had no idea what to expect or if I would even fit the image and/or part of what Angela was wanting…that and this was my first photoshoot, EVER! Within 10 minutes I was completely comfortable, and almost forgot I was half naked in a studio! Angela helped position me in ways that accentuated my body and although some of the positions were a little uncomfortable, it was fun and easy, almost as if I was in my own room posing in front of the mirror. She had a way of keeping the conversation light and happy, all while making me feel confident and sexy. I left the shoot that day almost in awe because I was shocked that I actually went through the whole shoot with such ease. It gave me a boost of confidence that I haven’t had in a while, and that was not the end of it. Throughout the next couple of days, I knew it was possible that I would see an image of myself on Raven Red’s Facebook/ Instagram page, and sure enough, 3 days later, there I am. I couldn’t wait to see the other images, and almost as if she read my mind, she sent me a collage of some of the photos from the shoot, which left me completely speechless. I have always had some amount of confidence in myself, but seeing myself through Raven Red’s lens was what I needed to truly, and always feel confident and to embrace every aspect of myself. My sexuality, my beauty, and even my flaws, because without them I wouldn’t be imperfectly beautiful. Although this was my first time behind her camera, it will definitely not be the last. Whether it’s to continue to “model” for her, or a scheduled booking of my own, I will find a way to experience it all over again."

Miss M - Maternity Boudoir

I first your met Miss M when she booked a mini session at the Sexology Institute. While all my regular sessions include a consultation prior to Photoshoot the mini sessions don't have that pre shoot consult. This means the very first time I meet the client is right when I am about to photograph them. I have to quickly relax my subject in a very intimate setting. Miss M was absolutely stunning and I knew she had this sexy vixen underneath her shy beauty. Her photos came out amazing so I was thrilled she was the winner of my contest to celebrate my Best of win in the SA Current.  Then she told me it would be a maternity boudoir session which got me even more pumped. Maternity boudoir has quickly become one of my favorite type of sessions. What better time to love, embrace and celebrate the beauty and strength of your body than when you are growing life. 

"The first time I worked with Angela Michelle was last year, after having my daughter. I wasn't at my "ideal" weight yet, but figured I'd go for it as a gift to my husband. I couldn't believe how amazing the pictures turned out! It was me, but in a whole new way of seeing myself. I felt empowered and sexy, and knew I wanted to work with her again. Fast forward a year, and I won her Facebook giveaway. I was ecstatic! I was 5.5 months pregnant, and I wanted to embrace my growing body as I hadn't taken maternity photos before (a previous loss made my last pregnancy extremely stressful). Angela guided me through the entire process, giving me poses, cues, and suggestions that I wouldn't have thought of myself. I brought what felt like a million ideas and options, and she worked with what she felt would compliment me best. As a normally shy person, Angela made me feel at ease, so much that my husband said I looked relaxed and natural (that was an extra confidence boost). I would encourage anyone who has ever considered having professional photos taken to just go ahead and take the plunge! I promise it isn't scary, it isn't intimidating, and you may be surprised at the fire you'd find inside yourself."

Miss J and What it's Really All About

Miss J is so gorgeous and incredibly sweet.  When I look at her I see all her beauty but I know we can't always see that for ourselves. And if there is one thing I have learned  being a boudoir photographer it's that EVERY woman has insecurities or things we don't like about ourselves but here is the secret.... none of that matters. It really is all in our head. It's the stories we tell ourselves. True beauty and sexiness comes with confidence and accepting our bodies. More than accepting.... celebrating our bodies. Living every day with appreciating ourselves and just how badass we are.  I'm so happy Miss J came to me so that I could help her do just that. 

"My interest in having my own boudoir photos taken grew when I started to see the beautiful work from Angela (Raven Red) on my Facebook feed. It took me a while to pull the trigger because I kept thinking about the negatives- My lack of beautiful lingerie, my lack of cleavage in a push up bra (or anything for that matter), the fact that I don’t have anyone to give an album to, and that I’ve always had some body image issues."

"I’ve never really had to worry about losing weight or toning up easily, but that doesn’t change how I've felt/ still feel about my body at times. Seeing women with six packs, full breasts, well proportioned hips and perfect skin doesn't help the situation at all. I've dated men that have asked if I’d ever consider getting breast implants, or if it bothers me that I don’t have much up top. Of course I stopped seeing and talking to these men, but it doesn’t change the fact that comments like that stick in the back of my mind and come up when I least expect it."

"After a recent streak of bad dates and quite a few shots to my self confidence, I decided I needed to see myself in a different light, I needed to get out of that negative “my body's not good enough” mindset. I’m in the best shape that I’ve ever been in, I make sure to take good care of my body (inside and out), and why not celebrate everything my body has made it through so far? "

"Needless to say, I went through with the boudoir shoot and it did just what I'd hoped. It helped me realize that being sexy isn't all about having large breasts and the “perfect” ass, it’s about being confident with who I am, appreciating everything I do have, and everything I've worked so hard to achieve."

Miss S.... Acceptance, Love and Positivity

When I first met Miss S I knew we would be creating some beautiful work together. She is confident and sexy all on her own. I love her message of body positivity, acceptanceand owning your beauty. She represents everything I strive for in Raven Red. Let her words inspire you as they did me. 

When Angela asked me why I wanted to do a Boudoir Photoshoot, she asked was I doing it for someone special or doing it for myself? Well it was for both reasons. I wanted to do if for myself and I consider myself extraordinarily special!  Although, I must preface this with I have not always considered myself very special. I think like most women, most humans in fact, we all have had insecurities that have plagued us over our years. My struggle was accepting that I was a tall woman and that I would never be what society would consider as skinny. It has taken me many years to accept my body as it is. What I have begun to realize, is that what makes this world so great is the different shapes, sizes and features that make us all special and beautiful in our own way. Right before the shoot I had finally lost some weight after being at my heaviest. However, this time when I lost weight I was doing it for my health and not so other people would view me as more desirable. I have learned to embrace my curves and wanted to show a little piece of it to my world. I wanted to celebrate finally losing weight for the right reason, myself!

One of the things that Angela told me was that she does not do a lot of editing with her photos as far as making people look thinner. I think that this is tremendous! She has an amazing ability to photograph you in a way that shows off the best parts of how your body is now. Why edit a masterpiece that was already created by God, the universe or whatever you believe? Angela, has a way of making you feel so comfortable, even when you might feel self conscious. The results are beautiful images. I found myself almost speechless about what I saw, I was like “is that really me?”

After doing the photoshoot, I decided that I would love to pursue my life long dream and do some modeling. Maybe not as a career, but as a hobby that I would love and enjoy. Modeling to bring a message of body positivity and acceptance. I can’t wait to work with Angela again to create more pieces of living, breathing art. 

Miss M

Before I specialized in boudoir I photographed a little of everything and there are a few clients that have been with since the beginning and are still with me today. Miss M is one of those clients that I have been so lucky photograph many of life's milestones. She watched me blossom to the boudoir photographer that I am today and then one day she wrote me to tell me she wanted her very own boudoir session. I was ecstatic because having known her for years I knew she had this fiery vixen in her and I couldn't wait to show her. Here is a taste of her incredible session we did in one of San Antonio's historic boutique hotels. The vintage vibe was just the setting to showcase Miss M's exquisite beauty. 

My experience with Angela was one of a life time. She's has been our photographer for years now. She took everything from our engagement photos to our  family Christmas photos. Then she started do boudoir photography. I admired her talent and those of her clients. Then I threw in my hat to do a session with her. I was at my heaviest weight and tried to get a little bit more in shape before our shoot. Of course life gets in the way and I wasn't where I wanted to be  on the day of our shoot . I was nervous and a bit shy. When I got to the location coming from hair and makeup Angela and her assistant welcomed me with such positive energy and enthusiasm I felt at ease. Taking guidance from her made me feel comfortable and at ease. When she would show me pictures that she just captured I was at awe. I couldn't believe that was me. Then when I got to see the final product, an album of 31 photos of me I was amazed. She captured the most unbelievable side of me that I'd never seen before. I was amazed by how beautiful I looked. When I gave my husband his personal "playboy album" of me, his response to was "I'm proud of you". Thank you Angela for bringing out the best of me.

The Most Powerful Love of All

So it's Valentine's Day and Love in in the air. We often talk about Love in relation to others but the most important Love of all is the Love of one's self. This is also probably the hardest Love to come to terms with. I LOVE that part of my job is about helping others to love and embrace their body.  

When Miss L first approached me about a Photoshoot I was beyond excited. She is gorgeous, full of positive energy and hella limber which makes posing a dream. She is a accomplished photographer herself and a dedicated and passionate yoga instructor. What is there not to love about photographing her. But what really captured me was that she gets it! She gets what boudoir is all about. It's about self love and honoring our body here and now. I will let her words express her feelings. 

"Every time I would open Facebook, I kept seeing all these beautiful and sexy photos pop up in my feed. It’s hard to explain the longing that I felt for the images to be of me. I had never just celebrated my body in this way. Sure random boyfriends throughout my life had taken pictures of me naked or in lingerie here and there, but they were all inevitable bad lighting, flash eyes and super casual in the moment clearly taken on a cheap camera. They were not this declaration, shout out, fireworks, all out dance party in honor of my body!

And honestly what’s not to love? I’m 28 now, I’m pretty sure that even in 10 years I’ll be wishing I had the body I have now and wish I would have appreciated it when I had it. Honestly, how much of my day do I spend thinking about my body? Minutes, maybe even hours that I could be spending pursuing my passions and dreams or connecting with friends! What was stopping me from just owning my body? And while I’m at it why did I spend so much time thinking about what I didn't like about my body instead of what I did like about it?! Wouldn’t it make so much more sense to focus on what you do like about your body so that real contentment can blossom deep inside. 

Those are the reasons why I finally decided to book the damn shoot already and I’m so stupid happy that I did and that that I honored what my heart really wanted which was that the shoot really reflect the real me so I just went all out and did exactly what I was dreaming about!

I got completely naked and covered myself in gold and glitter and I literally don’t have words to express how freaking excited I am about my images! I will have them for a lifetime! And each time I pass by them hanging on my wall I will remember to celebrate my body instead of criticize it, a constant reminder that this is the only body that I have and that when you embrace your body you let go of all the negative self talk and shame and convention, and instead open yourself arms wide open to the world and to a deep authentic connection to yourself - and that is when the your life changes…"

Miss L can be found teaching yoga at studios across SA. She is a dedicated yogi that is passionate about teaching her students to love and accept their body and push them past what they perceive their limits to be.