In January 2011, Melanie MacLellan’s body image was uplifted after she lost the weight she had strived to achieve.
As a reward to herself and also a Valentine’s Day gift for her husband, she decided to book a boudoir shoot with photographer Jill Hardy.
The experience was “fun”. She loved the lingerie, getting her hair and makeup done and working with Hardy.
“Jill was amazing. She made me feel so relaxed, I actually, for a few minutes, forgot what we were doing. I was just so at ease. We shared a lot of laughs and she had a lot of great ideas for some simple, yet sexy shots and poses.”
She got her photo album from Hardy about three days before Valentine’s Day. It was hard to keep it a secret.
“I loved them so much. I showed them to some of my best friends before I gave them to my husband.”
MacLellan said on the big day she gave her husband his present that had everything inside.
“I gave them to him in a gift bag with all the pieces of lingerie I’d worn during the session, then the album was at the bottom. He kept giving me strange looks as he was taking the pieces from the bag.”
When he got to the album, he kept looking at the pictures and back at her, she said.
“He said he loved the pictures, but loved the confidence I had now.”
She would do a boudoir shoot again because it was so enjoyable.
“It’s an empowering experience.”
Hardy has been doing boudoir sessions for about four years for all occasions and agrees it’s a wonderful way to boost a woman’s confidence.
“I think it’s so popular because it’s a feel-good experience. Any age and any size can benefit from these sessions.”
The women she photographs have never regretted their experience and she has also done some for single women who just want it for themselves, she said.
“They are proud of how beautiful they look and they always recommend it to friends.”
Hardy enjoys that style of photography because she sees the transformation of the before to the after.
“They come in slightly nervous, but once they get all done up, I see their confidence come out and then we start shooting. I usually show them a few images on the back of my camera and they get excited to see how great they look. I love making them feel beautiful and confident.”
Anyone over the age of 19 can do the sessions and for any reason, said Hardy.
“But the best reason to do it is for yourself.”
Buffie Boily has been a photographer for 21 years. A few years ago she started calling boudoir shoots ‘Diva’ sessions, with a portion from each going to breast cancer research. She thought changing the name would make women open up and wear what they considered to be sexy.
“That may be, for them, in a little black dress, a tank and jeans or her husband’s hockey jersey.”
Some women give the photos as an intimate gift, but she is finding a lot of them are doing it for themselves.
“Maybe they are celebrating a fitness or weight goal that has been reached, others are doing it to celebrate a birthday.”
She has had couples come in for a session together. Sometimes the woman comes in alone or her girlfriends go with her to make a party of it, she said.
“I enjoy photographing these sessions so much because every woman is different and wants to showcase her femininity in her own unique way.”