A Creative Session with a Contest Winner

Since I just hosted a contest in my VIP client group I thought I would finally share all the images from the last contest winner. This was a creative session and what I love about it is it shows that simplicity can go a long way.  This was one look yet we got a variety of images playing with lighting, motion and emotion.  My muse for the day did an incredible job and  I'm thrilled with what we created. I can't wait to see who the next contest winner is and creating some beautiful art with her.  

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She felt like a Bad ass cause.... She is a Bad ass!!

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Photographing this beauty was a bit of a dream. She is strong, sensual, gorgeous and confident. I was thrilled when she said not only could I share these images but that she would write blog post. She is  a mom, a successful entrepreneur and one of the hardest working and most passionate women you will meet. She inspires other women to nurture their body with her passion for fitness. She is the woman that proves with hard work, determination and self love you can achieve what your heart desires. I loved her story and I hope it inspires others as much as it inspired me. 

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"I've never been the skinniest girl, but I've often been the strongest. As a former nationally ranked athlete who morphed into an adult that became a gym rat, I've always pushed myself physically to achieve. However, a difficult pregnancy with my first child, a directive from the doctor not to work out and a rather generous understanding of what it meant to 'eat for two' meant that I gained a lot of weight. In addition, my husband is active duty military, and at 32 weeks pregnant, we moved to a state where I had neither family nor friends, and the below freezing temperatures nine months out of the year meant that I couldn't even go for walks with my newborn son. I was heavier than I had ever been in my life and miserable. 

During my pregnancy, I had taken prenatal yoga classes and on a whim, I decided to enroll in yoga teacher training. That decision brought me back both physically and emotionally. I started to lose weight, but then became pregnant with our second child. Two children in two years is tough on a body, but I continued with my yoga teacher training, completed it, and then moved on to other fitness pursuits. I became Barre certified, prenatal yoga certified and group fitness certified. Throughout my second pregnancy, I remained healthy and strong. After my daughter was born, I fully invested in a hardcore exercise regime and made changes in my eating habits.

When my daughter was seven months old, my husband deployed, and I decided to take that time to get back to the weight that I was when we had first started dating. I decided to do the boudoir photo shoot with Angela as a 'welcome home' gift to my husband and a 'well done' gift to myself. I am the fittest, healthiest and happiest that I have ever been. I'm still not the skinniest chick out there, but dammit, I think I'm a bit of a bad ass and for the first time in my life, I'm owning that I'm perfect in all my lovely imperfections. It was an incredible, validating experience to work with Angela. If you had asked me two years ago if I would feel comfortable publicly sharing photos of myself in lingerie, I would have empathetically told you no, but today, I'm proud of this strong body that gave birth to two beautiful children. And my husband liked them too. :-) Thank you, Angela."

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Getting Back in The Groove.

As most of you know I am chronically ill thanks to an autoimmune disease that was discovered last year after my Stroke. Well, this year complications from that disease landed me back in the hospital for a total of three weeks. Then after getting out I had to be on bed rest as I recovered from surgery.

Not shooting for that long is always hard on my spirit cause this is seriously what I live for. The long hiatus had also taken a toll on my body and even though my heart and mind wanted to get back in the game my body was weak an on top of that now needed oxygen. Photography is not only my passion but it's how I make a living so it was imperative I get get back to work asap.

But before I took on a client I wanted on test shoot to test my body, learn my limits, see what it was like to shoot with an extra ten pounds from the oxygen machine on my back. So I reached out to this beauty. She was a client I had last year and we had a great shoot then so I contacted her to see if she could come and help me out. She agreed and with very little planning we came together to create these images. It was a short shoot and even so I was worn out after.

I discovered that extra ten pounds on my back was tough and the following day I was sore all over. I always worry when I go weeks without shooting... "Will I lose it? Will I lose my ability to see and create compelling images?"  Thankfully after seeing what we created this day I don't think I lost anything. And this shoot helped me to prepare for future shoots. I learned that rather than carrying the O2 machine the whole time I can prop it up against the wall and use a long hose to move around the studio.

I also learned that having a assistant is invaluable for me especially when my body is still compromised and weak, I can have my assistant move lights, reflectors  and demonstrate poses which allows me to conserve energy and focus on staying behind the camera and creating beautiful images.

So from now on it is my goal to have my assistant at every shoot I possibly can. Some of you have already met my assistant. Her name is Elisha and she has been truly incredible these last few weeks. She is finishing out her internship with me for September then she is coming on board as a regular Raven Red associate as a assistant and photographer. She is one of a few associate photographers I have coming on board. Each brings their own talents and personalities and were hand picked by me for those reasons.... more on them to come.  In the meantime just enjoy this beauty, Lexi. 

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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."