2023 Year In Review

This month, I’m coming up on 15 years of shooting boudoir exclusively, and I am still amazed every day that I get to do this work that I love.

In 2009, when I signed the lease for my first boudoir studio. It was a tiny little 500 square foot studio in the marketplace in Oak Creek, and it was gloriously ALL MINE. Wood floors, double french doors, natural light, and it’s own little office and bathroom. Looking at those keys in my hand is among the happiest moments in my life.

I’m now in my third studio, and I continue to be amazed at the power of boudoir. For healing, empowerment, confidence, celebration and connection. I’m immensely grateful for this work and for each of the babes that chose me to capture their unique beauty. Here’s to more empowerment, beauty, connection and love.

Want more information about booking a shoot? Start here

Join my VIP Facebook group here.

“I like camp.”

Do you ever read google reviews and wonder about the people who wrote them? Curious about what their photos looked like? Here is a picture of her review and my experience photographing her.

During her pre shoot consultation, she said “I like camp.” Which I misheard as “I like camping.” I launched into this whole supportive explanation. I said “that’s cool – we can figure out a way to incorporate that into a shoot. I’ve even photographed a client with a log before. Her husband is an arborist.” 

Anyway. She very kindly listened before saying “no, like CAMP, like CAMPY.” As in the Oxford definition “absurdly exaggerated, artificial, or affected in a usually humorous way.”

OPE.

She also loves the Golden Girls, Reading Tarot, and Astrology. She gets a little twinkle in her eye when she talks about Brenden Fraser of the Mummy, but she also enjoys a little Rachel Weiss. She’s passionate about financial literacy for women. My kind of girl.  

Not only was she a riot during her entire shoot, but she brought her WHOLE SELF to the shoot. Brought absolutely gorgeous outfits that matched her personality to a tee. I mean. That bull skull. It screams power and sensuality. Is it campy? Not sure. It’s definitely not camp-ING. 

To finish up her shoot, she freestyled topless in a long fluffy pink robe with matching slippers while I photographed her. She even karate kicked at the camera. We were both HOWLING. It was amazing. 

To empower someone to be unapologetically themselves-that is my superpower. And it brings me so much joy. You don’t have to karate kick topless in a pink robe during your shoot if you aren’t feeling it. But whatever your unique idea of sexy is? I’ll capture that for you.  

Want more information about booking a shoot? Start here

Join my VIP Facebook group here.

Sam’s Guest Post

Growing up, my dad told me I needed to lower my standards because I was a “bigger girl.”

He said I needed to wear long shirts because no one wants to see my stomach. I was maybe 15/16 when he said these things to me and it stayed with me until my mid to late 20s. Then I found the self love movement. I wanted to love my body at any size and wanted to capture loving myself as I am. So I decided to book a boudoir shoot.

My biggest hesitation before booking was thinking “no one wants to see this plus size curvy body.” The voice of my dad was in my head. But once I got in the chair and Natalie started doing my hair, I let it all go because even if no one sees my album but me, I am proud of myself. 

I chose Melissa because of the variety of body types on her site. I think it was the secret project that got me. Seeing her shoot every age, every size, every body. She isn’t a “one size fits all” type of photographer. 

After the first shoot, it became addictive. I’ve done three shoots with Melissa and have a fourth on the books! Everyone should do at least one. It’s such a boost in more ways than one. After each shoot I leave on cloud nine. Everything is elevated. I feel good in my skin, I see me. Whenever I am hearing that negative voice in my head, I look at my photos. At least once a month, I look at my albums and my vintage prints and I smile. It always makes me happy thinking back to the days of my photoshoots. 

If you’re on the fence, do it. It’s only scary for a few minutes but once you go through the first few poses and say a few words to make you giggle it’s amazing.

Want more information about booking a shoot? Start here

Join my VIP Facebook group here.

Why I Shoot Boudoir

You could say that I literally made it my job to help others love their bodies as a result of hating my own so much.

I always struggled with self image. I felt I was always just a little too curvy, never had that flat tummy to show off, and after having kids, things got exponentially worse for me. I had a cervical condition that prevented me from exercising during pregnancy but we’ll be honest and say I wasn’t doing a lot of exercise anyway. 

I ended up with an emergency c-section that left me with a floppy belly that hung over my scar. That softness, combined with stretch marks and a changed post baby body left me devastated with my appearance.

About 2 months after having my second baby (and another c-section), a photographer friend of mine asked if she could photograph me because she wanted to try out boudoir. She used the equivalent of a spotlight in a dark room to light the portraits. That combined with winging the posing . . . . . to say the results were bad is definitely an understatement. I cried for DAYS. 

I decided I was SO TIRED of hating my body. I decided to stop giving in to the ridiculous ideas society puts upon us. That we should BE a certain size, that we should “bounce back” from having a baby. That we should conform to their beauty standards. I was done.  

I decided that this could never happen to anyone again and made the decision to start shooting boudoir myself. I didn’t want anyone to ever hate themselves the way I did. I set out to create a space where all bodies could be seen for the beauty they are and could be celebrated and loved. This is why I specialize in shooting boudoir for EVERY body.

A lot of other happy things came out of that day. I joined a gym to show my babies I was a STRONG mama. I started getting serious about my health and got the confidence I needed to leave my unhappy marriage. During that journey I decided to commit to loving my body going forward. For what it was capable of. For the weight it could lift. For the babies it created. It was so FREEING. 

CHOOSING happiness in my body and letting go of all that angst was a huge weight off my shoulders. All of that said, there are still days I struggle. Days I look at my softness and stretch marks and think how I’ll never have flawless skin or a six pack (I need my chocolate). But it doesn’t take long for me to snap out of it and refocus on the gloriousness of self love. 

I want you help you choose love for yourself too. 

Want more information about booking a shoot? Start here

Join my VIP Facebook group here.

Top 12 Frequently Asked Questions

Do you share my images?

Not without written permission! You can choose to keep your images totally private, share them all, or share anonymous images (meaning images that do not show your face or other identifying characteristics like tattoos).  

Do I have to wear lingerie?

No! The point of a boudoir shoot is to wear what makes YOU feel good. If that’s beautiful lingerie, I have a wonderful resource for that. If you prefer boxer shorts, a classic white shirt, your birthday suit or a Hufflepuff sweater, those are amazing choices as well. 

Do you have payment plans?

I offer two types of payment plans! If you are a planner, prepayment plans are perfect for you. You can split up the cost of your photos between the day you book and the day of your shoot. When you take advantage of a prepayment plan, you will get access to a specialty set or free products! Specialty sets you can choose from are: bathtub, rooftop, neon light, bondage, shower or stairs. Click HERE to see pictures of the specialty sets. Free products include things like headshots, fresh flowers, vintage prints and more!

Is hair and makeup included? 

Yes! Hair, makeup and false lashes are all included. When you arrive at the studio we will have a chat with the hair and makeup artists to create a look that you will love, whether that is more natural, glam or dark and dramatic.

Do you photoshop my images?

Light skin smoothing and retouching of blemishes and bruises is included. Anything else is a conversation during your viewing and ordering session, since things like scars are a personal choice. 

Where should I buy my outfits?

Althea’s Fine Lingerie! I have affectionately dubbed Althea “the lingerie fairy godmother,” because she is gifted at getting you the right fit for your body. She carries a wide range of sizes and styles and she has a passion for helping you feel amazing in the pieces she carries.

How many outfits should I bring?

I recommend between 3 and 5 outfits. That’s the sweet spot where you have lots of variety for your shoot, and you don’t spend all of your shoot time changing in and out of your outfits.

What type of print products do you have?

I offer albums, folios, wall art (floats, metal, canvas and framed prints), viewfinders, vintage prints and mini accordion books. During your viewing and ordering session, I’ll have examples of all of these products so you can see and hold them and decide what is best for you!

Do you offer digitals?

I do! Digital files are included with select collections and are also available as an a la carte add-on.

I’m freaking out! How can I calm my nerves?

Here are my top 3 tips for how to actually relax, find your YES, and enjoy your amazing boudoir experience!  

  1. All of the amazing things we do in life come with a little bit of anticipation-and we should embrace it. How often do we get to get out of our comfort zone?  Enjoy that little bit of adrenaline that makes you feel alive and exciting and magical. So embrace the nerves! It’s normal! I’m even nervous before a photo shoot-I make a point to be photographed at least once year so I remember how scary this is and I can put myself in your shoes. It also helps me refine my posing and my process, and allows me to give you the best experience possible.  
  2. Know you won’t be alone. I don’t expect you to know how to pose, move, or even make a sexy face. I help you with all of it. I actually get on the floor/bed/chair and pose right there with you to show you exactly what to do. I help you refine the pose until you get it. I coach you with your facial expressions and give you tips on getting that sexy eye contact, that candid giggle, and those beautiful lash shots.
  3. Allow yourself to feel hope. Instead of worrying that you can’t rock a shoot, how about wondering what would happen if you did? What if you shut down your inner critic for a few hours? What if you felt more beautiful than you ever had? What if you found the strength to be vulnerable, let me capture all the beautiful things about you, and then you were able to see them? How absolutely amazing would that feel? 

Should I get to the studio early?

It is not necessary. Shoots start at 9 am and there is plenty of time to get settled in hair and makeup. 

Where is your studio located?

My studio is in a beautiful cream city brick building at 714 S 2nd Street in Walker’s Point, Milwaukee WI 53204.

Want more information about booking a shoot? Start here

Join my VIP Facebook group here.

Your top four excuses, busted

A boudoir shoot is scary. Terrifying even. I totally get it. And what do we do when we are scared? We make excuses. We convince ourselves we aren’t worthy of an experience we want deeply. We are focused on taking care of the kids, our partner, work, education, aging parents, or those extra pounds we think we need to lose. But what if you felt hope? What if you realized that no matter the excuse, you are worthy of a soul-stirring self love experience? 

“I don’t have enough time for myself”

This is so easy to believe. You hear things like “you can’t pour from an empty cup” and “put on your oxygen mask before you help others” and you think “yeah, right.” And then caring for everyone but yourself puts you in a terrible funk. You stop doing things you love, the things that light your heart up. When was the last time you took a day to yourself? A whole day focused on you and what makes YOU feel good? During a boudoir shoot, you are able to relax, breathe, laugh, and feel beautiful and confident. Those feelings will continue for days, weeks, months, years even. Feeling alive again, seeing your own unique beauty – like a huge mental weight is lifted. 

You really DO need to take time for yourself, why not spend it having an amazing experience complete with a lasting confidence boost?

“I need to lose weight.” 

When I first started out as a boudoir photographer, I heard this all the time. I thought about it and realized it’s because people aren’t seeing THEMSELVES in images in the media. Society portrays one ideal beauty type. One that isn’t very relatable, and can cause so much harm to our hearts, our self esteem, our relationships.

So I decided to change that. I put out a model call, asking for volunteers to participate in a “secret project.” After doing tons and tons of interviews, I assembled a team of 20 different babes, sized 0-20 (one of each size) and photographed them. I displayed the images during a gallery night at my studio. Needless to say, it was a hit. All you saw when you looked at the collection of images was beauty and confidence. You didn’t see sizes, shapes, ages, “imperfections.” Just vibrant beauty, joy and confidence.

I’ve done it three times since then and expanded the scope of the project to include cancer survivors, brain surgery survivors, victims of assault, survivors of eating disorders, trans and non binary babes, an expectant mama, a grandmother and so much more.

You DO have the body for a boudoir shoot. If you have a body – in any state, at any time, at any age, it is beautiful and worthy of celebration. I would be honored to help you celebrate that beauty. 

“I never feel sexy anymore so a boudoir shoot must not be for me.”

This excuse is actually the exact reason you SHOULD do a boudoir shoot. Often times we lose touch with our femininity or sexuality when life gets crazy. It happens a lot and it is absolutely normal and okay! A boudoir shoot is a great way to get your sexy back. When you’re preparing for your shoot, you spend so much time thinking about what makes you feel good – what type of wardrobe you want, what music makes you feel good, how you like your hair and makeup and what poses you are drawn to. I can show you that you’ve still got it. Whatever version of “it” means to you – whether it is lacy lingerie, a classic white shirt, boxers or your birthday suit.  

“A boudoir shoot is an investment and I don’t have all the money right now.”

Yes, a boudoir shoot IS an investment. I offer two types of payment plans! If you are a planner, prepayment plans are perfect for you. You can split up the cost of your photos between the day you book and the day of your shoot. When you take advantage of a prepayment plan, you will get access to a specialty set or free products! Specialty sets you can choose from are:  bathtub, rooftop, neon light, bondage, shower or stairs. Click HERE to see pictures of the specialty sets. Free products include things like headshots, fresh flowers, vintage prints and more!

Want more information about booking a shoot? Start here

Join my VIP Facebook group here.

Do you want that hot, darlin?

Many years ago, when my marriage was crashing and burning, I was feeling very meh and generally unwanted. I decided it might help to get away and take a girls trip. We decided on Nashville with a couple of fun stops along the way. Chicago for Classy Girl Cupcakes. Louisville for The Slugger Factory, and then Nashville. There was SO much Amy Winehouse on the way.

We had an absolutely amazing time and made many memories with our dancing boots on.  

Anyway, on the last day of our trip we decided to go to this trendy coffee shop for breakfast. I got to the front of the line and the most adorable hipster barista asks what he can get me. Oh boy. I order my latte. He pauses, smiles, and in the most delicious southern accent you have ever heard, asks “do you want that hot, darlin?” 

Ooohhhhh.my.goodness.yes.I.want.it.hot….darlin.

To this day I am amazed I didn’t pass out.  

What’s funny about it is that I can’t even really remember exactly what he looked like. I know he was ridiculously hot, but what I remember the most is how I FELT in the moment. Heat. A spark. A little bit of mojo. ALIVE. I found that fire I was convinced was permanently gone.

A boudoir shoot can do that for you too. When you feel so very meh, it’s *wonderful* to take an entire day to focus on you, and what makes YOU feel good. Do you love false lashes and lingerie? Do you like to play with gender expression? Taking the time to think about this and then spending an entire day feeling absolutely amazing will reignite that spark. And the best part? You’ll have a collection of absolutely stunning images of you, feeling that fire. 

Don’t take it from me – check out my google reviews, or join my Facebook group!  

Ready to get your mojo back? Set up a consultation with me and we’ll start planning your shoot!

That Time I Was Humiliated

To set the scene, it was 1992, I was fourteen years old and absolutely in love with my first boyfriend. His name was Rick and he wore a trench coat and combat boots and looked like the kid in Terminator 2. Had the same hair and everything. I was obsessed. He would walk me home from school every day and before I would go inside, we would kiss goodbye on the front porch.  

My dad was in the military and his work supported us financially. The community was pretty small and basically everyone knew each other. My mom worked super part time so she was there when we got home from school. She was the one who shuffled us here and there to appointments. My sister was about eleven and very curious about basically everything.  

One day after school, my sister asked my mom “what is aural secks*?” Who in the world knows where she heard it. School probably. My mom naturally avoided answering the question directly and said “oh honey, it’s just another way of saying kissing.”  

Skip ahead about two or three weeks.  My mom, sister and I are sitting in the waiting room of the doctor’s office for our regular check ups. My mom asks me “do you ever kiss your boyfriend?” Of course, I lie, and immediately deny any kissing is going on.   

Then, as loudly as an eleven year old can possibly speak, my sister exclaims:  

“That’s not true!  You have aural secks* on the front porch all the time!”

I. Absolutely. Died.  

There are not even words to describe how mortified I was. Of course the entire waiting room whipped around and looked at us. I insisted that was NOT having aural secks, on the porch or anywhere else!! My mom finally connected the dots and figured out what happened but dang it was a pretty horrifying five minutes.

All of this is to say… there won’t be any surprises on the day of your boudoir shoot. I’ll clearly communicate everything you need to know. I’ll send you a step-by-step prep guide to help you in the weeks leading up to your shoot. I’ll provide info on where to shop for wardrobe, ideas on hair, makeup and false lashes, skin prep, and more. The day of your shoot, I’ll guide you through every single minute.  

I’ll lay out your outfits in the order we are going to photograph you in them. I’ll pose you head to toe during your shoot. I’ll give you expert tips on how to get that sassy face. You would never guess my best tip. I’ll have you giggling in no time.

I will not, at any point, under any circumstances, accuse you of having aural secks on your front porch.  

Want to know more about a shoot? Set up a consultation with me! There is no obligation to book and you just might find that you are comfortable enough to finally take the leap.  

*if you are wondering why I used “aural secks,” I am trying to avoid this post being classified as something that rhymes with jam. 

Tell her about your butt, Jessie

A few years into my career as a boudoir photographer, I photographed a bride. She was in her early twenties, and like almost everyone who comes in for a shoot, she was both excited and terrified. She brought her mom with her for support. I thought it was super sweet that they had that kind of bond.

We were chatting about her wardrobe choices and what to expect during her shoot. I asked if she had any concerns before we moved on to photographing her. Both of them were quiet. The mom looked at her daughter and said “tell her about your butt, Jessie.”

I looked on expectantly, waiting to hear something like “I just had surgery” or “I have a tail.” Something to warrant this necessary booty confession.

Jessie hung her head and while looking devastated, said: “I have pimples on my butt.”

Oh. Sweet Jessie.

I spent the next couple of minutes explaining to *both* of them that this was quite normal. I explained my retouching services include removal of blemishes (if you wish)!! They both looked relieved, and Jessie had an album filled with beautiful images to present to her new hubs.

The thing is… we all have things about ourselves that make us feel uncomfortable. I see it all the time. Scars, stretch marks, bruises, pimples (on our face or… wherever). But what is really wonderful, is being able to be one hundred percent authentically REAL. To look at the stunning images I create of you and see yourself as a uniquely gorgeous human, “flaws” and all.

Booty acne? Seriously everyone has it. Have body hair? I love it. Stretch marks? They are beautiful. Scars? They tell a story about what you have conquered. And they are all part of what makes you uniquely beautiful.

I recognize everyone is in a different place on their self love journey. Retouching of your images is tailored to your preferences, and we have a conversation about that during your photo reveal. I don’t presume that you want any part of your amazing self edited. If you like, basic skin smoothing and removal of blemishes and bruises is included with your session!

Want more information about how a shoot works? Click here to book a no obligation consultation with me!

Black Friday FAQ

I am so excited that my ONLY sale of the year is almost here, and I am so excited to fill the studio with you beautiful humans! I know that deciding to do a boudoir shoot can be a little bit scary (and a bit exciting), so I decided to cover some FAQs about how the process works!

I am not sure if boudoir is for me.  Can I do this?

YES!  Boudoir is for everyone. Babes of all ages, all sizes, all shapes.    People with curves, without curves, with stretch marks.  People who have disabilities, mastectomies, scars, and cellulite. Humans who are gender queer, transgender, non-binary. ALL OF YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL and deserve an incredible experience of self love.  You can do this!   Still not sure?  Check out this blog post about how terrifying boudoir shoots can be.  

What is included?

This year’s Black Friday Sale includes: 

  • $399 Session Fee – includes wardrobe styling, professional hair and makeup before your shoot, expert posing, same day viewing and ordering session, professional retouching of your images and custom album and wall art design
  • $199 rooftop, bathtub or NEW neon set upgrade
  • $100 off add ons to your collection
  • $25 off $100 purchase at  Altheas Fine Lingerie
  • $25 off any service valued $50 or more at  Clean Slate Spa 
  • $25 off a massage while you wait for your images to be edited

Payment plan options are available for pictures, which are sold separately.

*the first FIVE to get the presale get it for $199 AND receive an extra $100 off add ons to collections*

Get presale access by joining the list here.

Okay, so how does this work? Do I need to know how to pose?

Once you have purchased your Black Friday Session, you’ll receive a confirmation email with info on how to schedule your pre shoot consultation  and shoot date, and info on how to redeem all the extra goodies that come with your shoot!  

I will help you every step of the way!!   From how to prepare, to what to bring, to how to pose (I’ll literally pose you head to toe, including help with facial expressions), I will answer any questions you have and be sure you have all the information you need to for an amazing boudoir experience.

When does my shoot need to take place?

Black Friday shoots must be scheduled between January 4 and June 2, 2022.

Can I use this for a couples shoot?

YES! You will need to notify Melissa before booking and you and your honey will be required to have a pre session consultation in person or video chat.

How far in advance should I book my shoot?

You will want your shoot to take place at least 6 weeks before your need your finished products, and you’ll need to choose a date by January 31, 2022.

So I book my shoot-then what happens?

Once you have booked a shoot, I will send you a step by step prep guide! I am available by text/email/phone or in person if you’d like extra help getting ready for your shoot! 

When do I get to see the pictures?

THE SAME DAY as your shoot!  About an hour after we wrap up your shoot, we have a gallery reveal and ordering session! We sit down, view a slideshow of all your incredible, gorgeous jaw dropping images, and I help you finalize your order.

What do I do with the pictures?

I offer folios, albums, wall art and collections! My most popular collection includes an 8×8 album, your corresponding digital files, a custom password protected app for your phone and an 8×12 float! To see some of my clients’ favorite items, click here!

What if I need a payment plan?! How does that work?

I offer three different payment options for your shoot!  Prepayment plans (which get you access to complimentary bonuses), payment in full on the day of your shoot with cash or credit, or PayPal Credit, which allows you to pay off your order for up to six months with no fees or interest!

When do I receive my order?

Generally between 4-6 weeks after you approve your order to print.  If you have a tight deadline let me know and I will do my absolute best to accommodate you. 

Have more questions?

Email me at [email protected] or set up a phone consultation! I would love to work with you!