An Intimate Chat with Stephanie of Brooklyn Boudoir

Let’s talk a little bit about how you got started. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what led you to creating Brooklyn Boudoir?

Photography has always been a passion of mine, but I never knew how I could make it a career without photographing weddings or infants (neither of which was appealing to me). And so, for many years, photography was a hobby - I took classes, photographed friends of mine and embarked on a daily self-portrait project over the course of 2 years. My images always had a boudoir feel to them, even though I didn’t have the word “boudoir” in my vocabulary yet. Then one day a friend of mine told me she had a boudoir shoot - I was instantly intrigued and signed up. The experience was a lot of fun and I could easily see why a woman would seek out a boudoir experience of her own, but the style of this particular photographer didn’t feel modern to me and my experience as a client left much to be desired. And so the idea for Brooklyn Boudoir was born - a modern boudoir studio where clients could receive a luxury, bespoke experience that felt true to them. I found a mentor and set out to redefine "traditional" (read: cheesy) boudoir photography to create artistic portraits, while helping women have fun and feel fantastic.

To us, Lingerie and Boudoir go hand in hand in making someone feel empowered. What do you think makes Boudoir so transformative and powerful?

At the most surface level, having gorgeous photos of yourself is a daily reminder of the strong, sexy woman within you. With the demands of life, work, relationships, kids, zoom meetings... it’s easy for us to forget that side of ourselves sometimes! Having a boudoir experience is a great way to get out of your daily routine and push yourself out of your comfort zone. It's like the rush of skydiving - you’re nervous at first, it’s a whirlwind of an experience and when it’s all over, you feel a rush like no other - like you can take over the world! I mean, if you can feel confident being photographed in your lingerie, what can’t you feel confident doing?? My clients leave their shoots walking taller and feeling more vibrant and alive than they did just a few hours earlier.

Digging a little deeper, many of my clients say their shoot is like therapy - it’s a powerful thing to be able to face your physical insecurities and still love the skin you’re in. A boudoir shoot, similar to lingerie, can also give you the opportunity to experiment and express different sides of yourself. A powerful CEO might want to be a little vulnerable... a single mom might want to explore her more sensual side. It’s important to recognize all these different facets of yourself, and a good boudoir photographer will allow you to do just that.

Did you have an “A-Ha” moment when you first started shooting Boudoir that changed or inspired you in some way?

I think most women can think back to a time when they weren’t feeling confident in their looks and wish they had appreciated themselves more in that moment. At just 16 years old I remember feeling this way ... then at 20 and at 27 and at 33... and I always look back at photos of myself with amazement at how good I *actually* looked, even if I couldn’t see it at the time. It’s sad really. Now, as I’m getting older, I want to be sure I am appreciating myself and the body I’m currently in - imperfections and all - while it still is what it is! As Moira Rose of Schitt’s Creek said: one day, you will look back on yourself with much kinder eyes, and I don’t want to take that for granted. With all this in mind, when a client tells me about an insecurity she has - she doesn’t like her nose, for example - I will be mindful of that, and will also try to take the best photo of her nose she’s ever seen. I don’t think I will solve a lifetime of insecurities with just one photoshoot, but if I can chip away at some of that negative self-talk and help a woman see herself through a different lens, I feel I have done my job well. 

I know you send an incredible check off list for your clients before they come in for their shoot with you, but what do you feel like is the most important piece of advice you provide?

When it comes to wardrobe, be sure you feel great in what you are wearing. So get yourself properly fitted and only bring items that you love. If you feel uncomfortable it will show up in the photos as much as saggy or ill-fitting lingerie will. Beyond what you wear, I firmly believe that when you feel good, you look good - so get a good night's sleep, hydrate, don’t neglect to eat the morning of your shoot and don’t forget to have fun!

What are some moments or experiences that have been the most surprising for you during your Boudoir career?

It’s always amazing to me that every single woman has nearly the same insecurities. It doesn’t matter how you actually look - in fact, some of the most traditionally beautiful women are the most insecure! No one is immune to it. But I do find that the older a woman gets, the more at ease she is in her own skin. You would think it’s the opposite, but especially as of late I am noticing women 40 and up really coming into their own and ready to celebrate themselves, just because they want to.

Now of course we have to ask, what type of lingerie do clients gravitate towards for their shoot?

Many women feel like if they are going to have a boudoir shoot, they want to do it up and and really go there, so many women choose to wear a full matching set: classic bra, panty and garter belt set with stockings. I love it! There is so much variety we can capture.

Do you have a favorite style of lingerie to shoot? Or better yet, what would be your go to lingerie for your own Boudoir shoot?

I am personally a huge fan of bodysuits. They are universally flattering and there is such a wide variety of styles to choose from - sheer, lace, sporty. There’s really a bodysuit out there for everyone. Because they are a bit more covered up, bodysuits are also a great piece to start with during our shoot - clients tend to feel a little more comfortable in them since they are relatively covered up. I recently photographed the ATELIER AMOUR DOUCE INSOMNIE OPEN BODYSUIT and am obsessed with it. I am personally eying the MAISON CLOSE PURE TENTATION THONG BODYSUIT for myself - I love the little bit of sheerness and the plunging neckline. I love my decolletage and would wear this both for a boudoir shoot, and even with pants for a date night.

Similar to shopping for lingerie, doing your first Boudoir shoot can be intimidating. What would you tell someone who is hesitant to get in front of the camera for the first time?

Everyone is hesitant at first. It’s perfectly natural and makes sense - it’s not often people get professionally photographed much less in their lingerie! But truly - truly! - don’t overthink it. Don’t forget to relax and enjoy yourself, because the experience is as much a part of it as the finished photos! And if you’re worried, remember that a professional photographer will direct you every step of the way, from helping you prepare for your boudoir shoot with wardrobe and grooming tips, to posing every inch of you, to coaching your breathing through the session. You don't have to know what you are doing in the slightest. You just need to show up and trust the process.

At this point we’ve had three Boudoir & Bubbles events at the boutique and we’re already dreaming of the next one! What do you love about this event & working together? And what do you think attracts people to attend?

Yes! A lot of women are intrigued by the idea of a boudoir shoot, but don’t know where to begin, or don’t feel ready to book a shoot for themselves yet. Our events are a great way to test the waters, meet me, and have a mini boudoir experience. My hunch is after you have a taste of it, you’ll be hooked! Our events are also very special because they attract women who are all so supportive of each other. Unlike shoots at the studio, which are totally private, the mini shoots during our events are semi-private so there may be another woman in the room while I am photographing you. Sounds intimidating, but what has ended up happening is that virtual strangers start rooting for each other, encouraging each other and even carry on meaningful relationships once the events are over. Which all goes to show, it’s about so much more than taking pretty pictures. It’s about women supporting each other, and it’s pretty magical. I walk away from every event we do together buzzing with good vibes and psyched about the next one.

What’s next for Brooklyn Boudoir?

With all the special events I’ve been doing lately, I am realizing how powerful gathering a group of like-minded women can be. And so, along with Sugar Cookies, I will be offering larger scale on-location boudoir events in beautiful locations around the world. The first will be right here in New York City, featuring that iconic New York City skyline. And in the future, together with Sugar Cookies, I hope to travel the world, from chic cities to lush jungles. I want to celebrate women, vibrancy, and offer the kind of first-class experience that the Sugar Cookies and Brooklyn Boudoir clientele love. It’s going to be a very exciting year!