I recently started working with a vintage rental company so I’ll have new and amazing sets each month. The first piece is a divine blush pink tufted sofa. It. Is. Glorious. Any time I want to shoot a new set or concept, David and I do a test shoot first. I get to test poses and lighting and angles and create all new images. I have a basic shot list ready and David sits for me in the general pose I want while I get the settings how I want. Then we trade places to create the final test shots.
This also serves to give me the invaluable perspective of my clients. I can see how poses feel, and I can see how they look-is there anything making me feel self conscious or would I prefer my hair lay a different way, things like that. David is a great sport and we always have a wonderful time, even if his expression says otherwise in that one shot with the hat . . . . hahahaha. I mean, you can’t break out the blue steel for every single shot. Sometimes you are tired of playing model on your girlfriend’s vintage rental.
We figured it would be fun to show some of these shots side by side for your amusement. David is the most adorable and talented assistant I could ask for and I appreciate and love him so much. Keep scrolling to see the final set of images we came up with.
The last shot is one of my faves. As I tell my clients, I always love the laughing shots of myself. I feel alive, free and beautiful – and experiencing so much joy. I’ll have the couch through the end of January! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text 414.467.8338 to book! Keep your eyes on my instagram @studiomboudoir for the next vintage piece, arriving in February!
It’s scary. It really is. I have been photographed many times in my nearly 12 years of shooting boudoir. And although it gets easier each time, it’s nerve wracking every single time! Even for me!
Questions that creep up . . .
What will I wear?
What if I don’t know anything about hair and makeup?
What if I don’t know anything about lingerie?
What if I don’t know how to PUT MY OWN LINGERIE ON?
What if I can’t make my face look right?
What if I hate how I look?
I got you. I promise. I have nearly 12 years of experience shooting boudoir exclusively and have worked with every shape/size/age. It is my passion to show everyone how beautiful they are. Including you.
Don’t know what to wear? Shoots include wardrobe styling with Althea’s Fine Lingerie. Althea and I work together to ensure that your lingerie will not only fit you perfectly, but will photograph beautifully.
Never wear makeup? No worries (me neither!). The amazing artists I work with will help you – whether you want to keep things a little more on the natural side or if you want to take the leap and go for a dramatic look-we will check in with you throughout the process and adjust your look until you are happy with it before we start shooting.
Don’t know how to put on that garter belt you bought? Neither do 95% of my clients. For real! I help almost everyone attach their garter belt to their stockings, tighten their corsets, adjust straps, etc. Sometimes this stuff is complicated and we have to decipher where your head goes. Haha.
Worried about your face? You know when you are nervous and your mouth won’t do what you want? I have tricks for that. Really.
What if I hate how I look? This just doesn’t happen. Women are afraid this will happen and every.single.time we have a gallery reveal, women are absolutely amazed at how many pictures they absolutely love of themselves. Narrowing down your images is the hardest part of a boudoir shoot. Something no one believes until they are staring in awe at images of themselves saying “Is that really me!?!?”
A boudoir shoot isn’t just the creation of beautiful images. It’s an experience in self love and confidence. One that lets you feel beautiful, empowered, sexy and alive. Creating this amazing mindset to share with your honey is a gift in and of itself-for both of you. The actual art you gift represents the giving of yourself in your relationship-your happiness, your vulnerabilities, your fears, your hopes, your love, your desire for them. The experience represents your commitment to love yourself-and better love your partner in the process.
This stunning bride visited me to create an all black and white album for her husband to be, because he loves black and white photography (as much as he loves her).
I always say that my job is basically adult dress up. I work with an amazing team to create a look that you love so we can deliver amazing images that fit your vision. If boudoir is in part about fantasy, why not look like a mermaid during your shoot? Natalie (hair stylist extraordinaire) added pieces of crimped hair throughout her loose girls to make S’s look complete magic. Fitting, because S is obsessed with books and recently introduced me to The Night Circus-a completely magical read that I want to erase from my brain so I can read it again with fresh eyes for the first time. Anyone else like this? Anyway, here are some of the beautiful images we created together.
I am absolutely loving golden hour rooftop shoots. The light is amazing, and we get a whole different look than inside the studio. Ideal wardrobe for rooftop shoots is edgy, like this black lace strappy/cutout set, and things with movement-like the robe that catches the wind in all sorts of fun ways. Short skater skirts paired with bustiers would be amazing too! Faux fur, long coats-the possibilities are endless.
For rooftop shoots you have to sort of let go of a little bit of control-we are at the mercy of what the sky looks like that day, and how much the wind will blow your hair. But all the elements combine to make something pretty magical.
Alyssa is a beautiful human whom I consider lucky to call a friend. I asked her to write up some words for this year’s transgender day of visibility. Transgender visibility should happen every single day. Every day should be a human day of visibility. Where we are acknowledged and celebrated for our own unique beauty. Until then, women like Alyssa are lighting the way for others to live bravely, boldly and authentically. Thank you, Alyssa, for being you.
March 31 each year is marked as Transgender Day of Visibility. According to the Human Rights Campaign, it is a day to commemorate “the courage it takes to live openly and authentically”. For those that live in silence, hiding their authentic selves, the day can serve as motivation to share their true selves with the world, if only for that one day a year. For others it’s a day to publicly recognize their journey to authenticity and be bold in bringing awareness to the world that transgender people are human beings like everyone else.
As I look at my own situation, I am one of the fortunate ones that can say every day is a day of visibility for me. I have a supporting family, many supporting friends and a wonderfully open and supportive employer. I am also a very public face in my cyber security community. Daily, whether through social media, public speaking appearances, or other media appearances, I have the opportunity to add the human element to people’s perception of the transgender community.
As a result, when Transgender Day of Visibility comes around each year, I use it as a reminder that not everyone is as fortunate as I in that respect. I tend to reflect on the fact that there are so many in the trans community who are forced to live in secrecy, denial, and fear. In the last three years, after over a decade of improvements, it has become more accepted for that small minority of society to verbalize and act out their hatred toward transgender people. As a result, many who may have opened themselves to living authentically have instead kept themselves hidden way.
It’s for this reason that I choose to be open and public about my identity. The platform I’ve been given allows me to have a two-fold impact. First, as I mentioned previously, is giving the trans community a human face in the public space of society. Humanizing transgender people is one of the most effective ways to combat the hate in our world. Second, my daily visibility can serve as an example to others that they don’t need to live in fear. That it is possible to be successful, have a career, and be vocal and open about our identity. It’s not something we have to hide but rather something we can embrace, something that makes us powerful.
So, this year on Transgender Day of Visibility, I want to remind us all that being transgender isn’t a weakness. It’s a unique power that we possess, a vision of the world that few get to experience. We have access to a truly unique perspective that society needs us to share. We stand as clear examples that gender does not define one’s capabilities. We have the ability to transcend the prejudices that divide our civilization. We are the ones that demonstrate a better way to understand and appreciate the uniqueness that every human brings to the conversation. Sure, we experience significant hardships, we feel pain, we endure discrimination and hatred. However, it is in overcoming those challenges and contributing to the world around us that our strength truly shines.
While I truly wish that each of my transgender siblings could embrace this day and share themselves authentically, I also understand that some just are not ready for that yet. That is ok. Please know that those of us who do have the privilege of being visible in our daily lives are working hard to support you and make the world safer and more inclusive for all humans.
I have always been a hopeless romantic. As a teenager I was obsessed with the poetic words of ee cummings (I carry your heart, I carry it in my heart). It didn’t stop there- add in lyrics to indie love songs (me and my girlfriend don’t wear no shoes, her nose is painted a pepper sunlight), romantic novels and movies (Lloyd Dobler anyone?) and you have a full blown hopeless romantic. Maybe that is part of why I love boudoir so much-the romance and beauty of it all.
When you are getting married, a boudoir shoot us such a beautiful way to celebrate your wedding. You get to take a few moments for yourself to get pampered, feel sexy and take a break from all the craziness of wedding planning. You walk out the door with an incredible sense of self love, feeling more confident than ever (good as hell, as Lizzo would say). THAT is a true gift to you and your partner. And if that isn’t enough, you and your partner can look back at your gorgeous album every year on your anniversary, for years to come.
If you have talked with me about boudoir for more than five minutes, my love for Susan of Clean Slate Spa no doubt came up. I have seen Susan for close to 20 years now, and she did the makeup for my first ever boudoir shoots at the Iron Horse 11 years ago! I recently sat down to talk with her about skin care, since my own skin is changing with age (thanks hormones), and I needed to switch up my skincare routine.
SUSAN’S SKINCARE TIPS:
As we get older, our skincare needs seem to change. How often should we be switching up our skincare regimen? Everyone’s skin is unique, and it’s constantly changing and adapting to its surrounding environment. This is why it’s so important to know how you should be switching up your skincare, not only for the seasons, but also according to your age. It isn’t necessarily about turning back the clock or trying to hide every wrinkle or mark, it’s about having healthy skin. As we age, the collagen in our skin is beginning to break down, and producing less oil. We want to look for rich skincare formulas that are really hydrating. I love skin brightening treatments, which compensate for the lack of moisture and duller looking skin. Now would be a good time to introduce Vitamin C to your morning routine, which is arguably one of the most potent brighteners and antioxidants!
My Top Tips:
Start Hydrating: As we age, the molecules in your skin that retain moisture are breaking down, which means your skin is likely to be dehydrated. That is why a hydrating mask once or twice a week for extra moisture is so important. Look for products containing natural humectants like aloe, hyaluronic acid, and glycerin, as these will draw water to the surface of your skin (plumping your skin), while also
delivering nutrients and moisture deep in the dermal layers. Switch from a drying foam face wash to richer cream cleansers and cleansing oils.
Use Retinol (Vitamin A): It’s a good time to ask your dermatologist for a cosmeceutical strength retinol as it’s stronger than the retinol you can buy over the counter. Super important to apply it around your neck and collarbone too, as this skin is extra sensitive to collagen loss (dreaded turkey neck).
Use an Eye Cream: Pay extra attention to your eyes and apply a high-quality eye cream every morning and evening. Look for an eye cream that contains anti-aging ingredients like retinol and hydrolyzed collagen, as these will help strengthen and smooththeskinaroundtheeye.Itshouldalsocontainp eptides,aspeptidesboost collagen production, helping reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Eat Plenty of Protein: I advise all my clients to “eat plenty of protein”, as this will help your body build strong collagen and elastin tissue. Remember beauty starts from within! You can also try drinking collagen powder, which is a super easy way to add protein to your diet, and the results are amazing!
What is the ideal time between facials? Because our skin cell turnover cycle is 28 days long, a facial once per month is the most ideal time frame. Nothing we do at home can replace professional products and attention. Also, your skin may be reacting differently depending on the season and your lifestyle. Having a monthly check-in with a professional ensures you are getting the best treatment for your skin’s needs. If a monthly facial does not fit in your budget, I recommend facials 3-4 times a year as the seasons change.
What are the most common questions you get from clients about their skin care?I get a ton of questions regarding products, skin conditions and concerns. Two which I get the most often are: “I have acne on my chin. How do I get rid of it?” I have a wealth of knowledge in this area and would be more than happy to elaborate. The other question I get frequently is, “ how do I get rid of hyperpigmentation (brown spots) on my face?” There are amazing treatments I offer to help with hormonal (melasma) or sun-induced hyperpigmentation. Please DM me if you want more information!
You are always up to date on the latest treatments-what’s the most groundbreaking treatment in skincare in the last year or so, in your opinion? I love this question!! There are so many answers…Product discoveries, new modalities and equipment and non-invasive approaches to skincare and beauty are all the trend. I see one of the biggest trends in skin rejuvenation is stem cell therapy. Research has revealed the role stem cells play in tissue repair, particularly the skin. Human (not plant-based) stem cells reactivate the skin’s natural regenerative properties by utilizing stem and growth factor cytokines derived from human bone marrow, the most natural and powerful option to restore youthful skin. This trend will grow in popularity and eventually replace more invasive treatments and procedures. ** Stem cells are harvested from young, adult donors** Please DM me if you want me information on stem cell therapy treatments!!
Is there a REAL way to minimize cellulite or is it all phoney? Before we talk about treatments to reduce cellulite, we need to discuss that cellulite is not a fat issue. It is a connective tissue, known as fascia, and a circulatory issue. The reason fat (i.e. cellulite) has lumps and dimples is because the fascia bands have thickened and stretched under the surface of your skin, while the fat underneath begins to “pop” through these bands causing the dimpled look of cellulite. 80-90% of women have cellulite in one degree or another. It is also a genetic issue. If you mom and grandma had cellulite, most likely you will too. So, to answer your question, creams, lotions, drinks may be a temporary fix will not work to eliminate/reduce the appearance and exercise. Diet (reducing salt intake, avoiding alcohol and sugar) and exercise (weight-bearing activities to produce more muscle) can also help. Massaging cellulite ridden areas has proven to increase circulation and dry brushing is an excellent way to stimulate the area. These are often temporary too. HIFU (High Intensity Focused Ultrasound) is a non-invasive treatment which focuses ultrasound on the area with cellulite. The ultrasonic waves reach under your skin to heat up the fat and muscle tissue. This causes your muscles to contract which helps your body produce collagen, ultimately making the skin appear firmer and younger. This treatment is in the $400-600 range and can highly effective. There are also several ways to reduce the appearance of cellulite which cut the fibrous bands. Cellfina and Cellulaze are invasive procedures costing $3500-8000 and performed by a medical doctor. These treatments actually use a laser fiber and a vibrating blade to cut away at the fibrous bands. There can be uncomfortable and there is downtime associated with more intensive treatments.
How do I take care of white/black heads that pop up!? How do I minimize pores without the crazy chemical laden products out there? Great question! Unfortunately, pore size is genetic, increase as we age, and are more prominent with certain skin types (oilier skin for example). Open comedones (blackheads) are nothing more than dead skin mixed with oil which oxidizes and causes it to turn grey or brown. The aging process is often the biggest culprit, as well as smoking and sun exposure. As we age, our collagen and elastin structure starts to lose its firmness, ultimately causing our pores to expand. Your pores cannot be made smaller or open or close your pores, but what you can do is reduce the appearance of their size. “Pore-shrinking” products cannot claim “smaller pores”, but can tout “refined” or “reduced in appearance”. Dirty pores, oily pores, or pores clogged with debris also tend to look bigger, so general-skincare advice applies if you want your pores to “appear” smaller. I highly recommend exfoliating products, such as serums and moisturizers, which contain salicylic acid. Salicylic acid plays a vital role in eliminating blackheads because it can penetrate deep enough to unclog pores and restore a normal flow of oil on the skin’ssurface. Gentle scrubs are also effective by polishing the skin. In addition, retinol products, when used consistently, can also help with removing dead skin build up and oilin the skin. Retinoids help skin turn over faster, leaving you with fresher and cleanerpores. If you are interested in more aggressive treatments, chemical peels, microdermabrasion (all in the $100–200 range) are perfect to tackle the blackhead issue. A right combination of treatments and products can make a huge difference.
I need to know more about the whitehead question!! Is it a closed comedone (milia or solar comedone) or is a white pustule? Where are they predominantly located? It is difficult to recommend products or treatments without knowing more information. They are all treated very differently.
Best moisturizer for face with combination skin my nose looks oily but at thesame time flaky so frustrating! I would like to to know more! Are you seeing redness or inflammation on your nose or cheeks? Are you experiencing the flakiness year round? Any diseases or underlying conditions.I would like to know your current skincare routine, as well as diet! I can recommend products, but I like to take a more internal approach by trying to understand what is going on systemically. It may not be as simple as applying a product superficially. .
What is the ONE product that is a must have for the woman that is just lazy about taking care of her face. A skin-enhancing tinted moisturizer with SPF. It’s a moisturizer, it’s an SPF and a lightweight foundation. It brightens the skin, gives you a little coverage for imperfections without the heaviness of traditional foundation, while leaving a dewy look on the skin. It is easy-breezy!
How do I make old eyes look young and minimize wrinkles? Ha! I’m struggling with my eyeliner right now. Start with a great eye cream to hydrate the area. Also, make sure your brows are properly filled in. A lot less eye makeup is necessary when your brows have been properly defined. You also need to have a great primer for the lower and upper lid area. A primer fills in any wrinkles or crepiness, which allow liners and shadows to go on much smoother and last longer. Cream shadows are also better than powder because they glide better.To create a sexy look with a dark eyeliner, use a very soft eyeliner pencil to trace the shape before buffing a bit of darker matte or satin shadow on top to diffuse the line. By diffusing the line, we need not worry if the line is completely straight. Do not try to hold the lid taut when using your eyeliner. A really soft pencil should not pull or tug on the loose eyelid skin. Pencil should be sharp, allowing you get as close to the lash line as possible.
Black circles under my eyes. I have tried lots of creams with zero results. Even when I’m very well rested they’re terrible. A family member once even thought I had a black eye. I’m grateful for concealer but I’d like to get rid of or reduce them. They’re not puffy, just dark. People often think dark circles are due to tiredness and a lack of sleep. Although this can be one cause, there are other reasons for dark under eye circles, such as allergies, ethnicity or the natural aging process. Common factors for dark circles under the eyes:
AGING: Loss of fatty tissue and thinning of the skin around the eyes are part of the aging process. These changes can make dark circles appear more defined as we age. This is because as we get older, skin loses collagen, becoming thinner and more translucent. In addition, the tear troughs lose adipose tissue (fat) becoming more hollowed looking, making the darkness more apparent.
GENETICS:Darkcirclescanbehereditary. Research has proven that if someone has dark circles under their eyes, these also appear in other family members. We often see them in ethnicities with darker skin tones because of the increase in melanin in the skin.
Home remedies are typically very temporary. Cucumber, cold compresses, tea bags can work in the short term.. Gently facial massage can also help to improve circulation. When used over time, Vitamin C and caffeine are wonderful ingredients added to eye creams which help with reducing darkness. Bleaching agents, such as hydroquinone is effective if used regularly. Fillers, when used appropriately, have amazing results with volume loss in the under eye area and tear trough. This is a more dramatic approach, but most under eye circles/darkness remedies are temporary. A more permanent fix may require injections and can be quite expensive. LowerB lepharoplasty is also an option, but runs $3,000 and up.
How did you get started as an esti?I was previously working as a Director of Marketing for a manufacturing company and getting facials on a regular basis. I was always intrigued with the profession. At the time, my esthetician had an amazing wealth of knowledge about skincare and I loved to pick her brain about ingredients and new treatments each time I saw her. One day when I was receiving a facial she said, “have you ever thought about becoming an esthetician?” Of course I had not, but two weeks later, I quit my job and went to esthetics school. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I absolutely love my career!!
How long have you been running Clean Slate Spa?2020 will be my 12th year in business.
What is your favorite thing about your job? The power of touch and self-care can be transforming. Since the start of my career in esthetics, giving a facial has shown me the importance of touch coming from a loving place.The result of a facial is not only that a client looks better, but also feels better. Through the years, I have discovered that self-care and nurturing my clients benefits more than just their skin.
Do you have a favorite skin care product?I actually have two! Amlactin Body Lotion (can be purchased at Walgreens or Amazon). I LOVE this product!! It not only hydrates the body, it also exfoliates. Most body lotions only provide hydration, so if you have dead skin build up it will not penetrate and will not work as intended. By using 12% lactic acid, Amlactin exfoliates your dry skin and provides intense hydration. Furthermore, if you have keratosis pilaris (KP) it is the best! The other product is Retin-A (or another type of retinoid) These vitamin A derivatives have been proven to boost collagen production, speed cell turnover, even out discoloration, brighten the skin and unclogs pores. Retin-A is amazing from acne to aging!
Favorite item in your makeup kit?Nars Blush in “Orgasm” and Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30. These two products work well with any skin tone and should be in everyone’s kit!
What is your current facial of the month? The Hydrafacal!! Our winter, dry skin just drinks this facial in!
What is your skincare regimen? I make sure to cleanse at night. Even if you don’t wear makeup, we build up dirt and oil throughout the day. Cleansing at night is so important when the most crucial skin healing is done when we are sleeping!. I also exfoliate 3-4 times a week, use a peptide-filled eye cream, sunscreen daily, as well as applying Retin-A every other day. I also get regular professional treatments such as chemical peels, microcurrent and oxygen facials.
If you haven’t visited Susan, what are you waiting for?!?
I love it when clients come back for a second (or third, or fourth) shoot with me. Each time you learn a little bit more about yourself, you love yourself a little bit more, and you learn to embrace and trust the process. And the afterglow is just as amazing every time.
This absolute bombshell came in to shoot with me for the second time recently and we had so much fun! Her last shoot was just before I moved out of my last studio so she got an entirely new look this time. This is what she had to say about her experience:
“If you have ever considered doing a Boudoir shoot, whether it be for yourself (which is what I did) or as a gift for someone else… DO IT! And not only that, but please make sure you do it with the best in the business, Studio M! Melissa made me feel so comfortable, and so so beautiful! Seeing my pictures afterwords brought tears to my eyes because Melissa was able to capture images of me that I didnt know were possible. I’m so excited to see my book and will forever be grateful for my experience with Melissa at Studio M! I am already looking forward to doing another shoot with her in the future!”
Listen to Miss N. Treat yourself. 🙂 I’d love to work with you too!
This year I am offering four different limited edition specialty shoots-first up are Candlelight sessions! It is so important as an artist to change things up, to challenge your creative process and to feel inspired. This shoot definitely accomplished all of that. David and Dash and I headed into the studio for two different test shoots, one with fewer/smaller candles and one with larger candles for little bit more light. I absolutely LOVE what we came up with and am so excited to share these with you!!
Sessions will be available on March 21 ONLY and include hair and specialty makeup including body shimmer, highlights and lip gloss to pick up the candlelight, and of course (always) lashes! Also most of the wardrobe you see here will be available for use-body jewelry and the gorgeous sheer black lace dress!
Click here to grab one of the four spots, or message me for more info!
Here is a behind the scenes peek into the creative process with the most adorable assistants on the planet.
I’m so excited to create more beautiful candlelight images!!