My Boudoir Photoshoot – Getting ready for the shoot and getting there (with pictures)

Hi,

This is Robin with the third installment about my boudoir photoshoot session. When I finished the last installment I thought I would describe the events leading right up to the photoshoot itself (which will be in part four), but since I wrote it it occurred to me that there were a couple of things I wanted to mention first.

The biggest of these was may face to face pre-meeting with Denise Linley, the photographer. Part of the package I bought with the Groupon was a pre-shoot consultation in which I would meet with Denise to see some examples of her work, plan our session, and generally get to know one another before the shoot. I was looking forward to meeting Denise in person since by that point we had exchanged lots of emails and I had grown to really like her. I also wanted to see more of her work although she had posted a lot of it on her website. At the same time I was a little nervous about it since she had little experience with TG people and so I did not know what her reaction to me would be. Its one thing to be pleasant when exchange emails with someone and quite another to meet them in person. Again,  I asked myself what is the worst that could happen and  I realized it was not very bad (she decides not to do the shoot and gives me my money back).

Since I would be doing the photoshoot in femme, it was a forgone conclusion that I would meet her the same way. We planned to meet in a Starbucks near her home in Walnut Creed around 6pm. I was coming from San Jose and given the traffic I allocated a couple of hours to drive up and get settled. I dressed in my “usual” outfit consisting of Gloria Vanderbilt jeans and a patterned t-shirt (usually from Kohls). I picked my purple jeans with a purple and black long sleeve top. I added my favorite black ankle boots. I thought the outfit was suitably casual. I left work early, changed, and drove up to Walnut Creek. I arrived much earlier than I expected and so had over an hour to kill. I did some shopping (at Kohl’s – I know I am in rut) and got some food at a local gas station mini-mart. I arrived at the Starbucks about 10 minutes early, bought some water, and waited. Nobody there paid me much attention but I still sat there a little nervously waiting for Denise. A little sm28after 6, she walked in the front door and I waved at her.  She was easy to spot as she has beautiful long red hair and bright blue eyes. Her glasses were also quite distinctive. She greeted me warmly and we sat down to talk.

She had brought a book of containing photos of previous clients to show me more examples of her work. I really liked all the pictures. She asked me why I was doing it and I responded that it was mostly that I wanted some nice pictures of me. We talked about the shoot and how I wanted it to unfold. All my fears vanished.  She treated me just like any other client. The TG issue never came up. For someone who had never dealt with TGs, she was absolutely fantastic. I left our meeting trying to figure out what I had been worried about.  I had realized that Denise was someone I could trust in such an intimate setting and thus I could really do the photoshoot. I was feeling really good about it now.

At the meeting we had set a date in early May for the photoshoot and I was really starting to look forward to it. I put together a list of all the clothes I would need as well as some props we would need. For the Rene Faire scene, we agreed that the hotel bedspread would not look suitable and so I tracked down some really course  brown fabric (made from recycled soft drink bottles!!) that we could use to cover the bed. I found some candles that would give it some “mood”. For the construction worker I bought a tool belt and brought my “hard hat” that I had acquired years before. I arranged all the clothes in a garment bag and big suitcase. I ended up bringing way too much extra stuff (“is 3 extra sets of stockings too many?  How about 4 robes?” , you get the idea).

I also watched Denae’s video on “Photo Posing” to get ideas on posing (Denae is a former fashion model and so had lots of experience posing for the camera). The video gave me lots  of ideas.

Soon the date drew near, Friday May 5th. I often find that it takes me a little while to get my movement and voice into full “femme” mode and for the shoot I did not want to rush the transition.  I had some business travel that week and decided to the “extend” the trip so that I could spend at least 24 hours prior to the shoot in femme. When I returned from the trip I checked into a hotel near San Francisco airport and unpacked everything. It turned out there was a performance of the SF Symphony that night and, as readers of this blog know, going to the symphony and ballet are some of  my favorite things to do. They were performing pieces from “Early Beethoven” and given I like his work, I thought it was a great way to spend the evening. I had brought both a black and a blue skirt suit for the photo shoot and since I had already decided to wear the blue one for the photoshoot, I wore the black one for the Symphony. I added a cream silk blouse and some dressy sandals and was ready to go. I did not have time to buy a ticket on-line and so had to get one at the ticket window at Davis Hall. I stopped at the bar for a bottle of water and found my seat.

Overall I found the performance disappointing and was relieved when it was over. Evidently Beethoven’s skills developed a great deal over his career and his early works were simply not very inspiring to me. I left feeling like I should have just gone to a movie (it would have been cheaper).  I went back to my hotel and went to bed.

I awoke after a restless night and felt sort of tired. I was still sort of nervous about the shoot. I kept asking myself if I was really going to let Denise take pictures of me in my underwear but figured I was committed at this point. I also felt that it would really go okay and I had nothing to worry about.

The photoshoot was scheduled for 3pm and so I had much of the day free. I had wanted to wear a skirt that day and so brought along a nice brown corduroy one. I added another Kohl’s top and some flats. I checked out of the hotel and spent the morning shopping and having lunch. I needed to be in Walnut Creek (actually Concord since Denise changed hotels) by 3pm. I wanted a chance to shower before the shoot, change into fresh clothes, and redo my makeup . Unfortunately I could not use my hotel since it was after checkout time. I knew there was a shower facility at SF Airport and decided to try it out (in femme of course). I had a small suitcase and so looked like a typical weary traveler looking for a quick cleanup. The young woman at the shower greeted me warmly and showed me to my

private shower/changing area. It was only $15, a great deal for 30 minutes. I took a quick shower, put on clean clothes (crop pants with yet another Kohl’s top – I am truly in a rut), and was out the door. I decided that I was going to become a regular at that place, especially when going to SF for an evening event. It is much nice than changing in my car!!

I got on the freeway towards the Bay Bridge with an hour to spare. It was only 2pm and so I figured traffic would not be too bad….wrong.

I reached the bridge and stopped. I barely moved for 15 minutes. It was now 2:15, then 2:20 with little progress. We started moving a little faster and then stopped again. It was approaching 2:30 and I was barely on the bridge. I was starting to panic and felt all my femme composure slipping away. I figured it would take me at least 30 minutes to get to hotel from the bridge. I was almost ready to call Denise to let her know I would be late when things suddenly opened up and I got across the bridge. Driving slightly crazy I reached the hotel by about 2:55pm. I found a parking place, unloaded my stuff, and headed to the lobby to meet Denise. There was no turning back now…sm13

I have included a couple of pictures from the shoot. More will come in future posts.

Next time: the photoshoot.

robin

My Professional Boudoir Photoshoot – Deciding to do it and finding a photographer

Hi again

This is Robin, a occasional contributor here. I want to write about a recent experience I had doing a “Boudoir” Photoshoot with a professional photographer. It is going to take a while to cover the whole experience and so this is just part one.

Like many TGs I enjoy pictures of myself “en femme” and have taken many over the years. Unfortunately I have found that they are generally terrible. The lighting is off, the skin tone wrong, the angle is unflattering, the makeup either washed out or excessive, the posing awkward, the camera out of focus, some body part is cut off, the camera used  not very good. You get the idea, dozens and dozens of terrible pictures. This experience is not uncommon, you can see thousands of them all over TG sites on the web. For a long time I had no local place to take the photos and could do so only on business trips. I would pack a suitcase full of clothes, drag it through multiple airports, unpack it all in some hotel room, try to fit in a shooting time among business meetings, come up with some lame explanation to a coworker why I had such a large suitcase for a 2 day trip, etc.. I would go through all this work and get lots of terrible pictures. I tried different camera, bought photo lights, switched from film to digital but little changed. They were just awful.

Furthermore when I started doing it I used film and so had both the cost of film and developing to deal with as well as the stress associated with having strangers (the film developers) see me en femme. I had nightmares that some friend had a night job at a film developer and recognized me. Costco once mixed my pictures with those of another customer. Trying to locate them made for an interesting experience….

I pretty much gave up on photography in the last few years.

Recently I decided to try it again with my new zillion pixel digital camera. I lugged a huge suitcase from San Francisco to Boston, took lots of pictures, and had them mostly turn out terrible. I deleted the whole bunch. I decided I had to come up with something else or just give up on photography in general.

I do a lot of Groupon scanning, occasionally actually buying something. One of the regular “specials” are photo shoots from various local photographers. The typical proposal is a hour of shooting, a couple of actual prints, and an opportunity to buy additional prints at some discount. One might pay from $50 to $150 for this service. Different photographers have different specialties: family, individual, outdoors, fashion, and “boudoir”. I looked at the various offers and tried to decide which one to do.  The outdoor ones seemed safest but kind of boring. Studio shots seemed more interesting, boudoir shots seemed the most unlikely of all (I am not exactly a 25 year old model or transition TS with lots of surgical “enhancements”).

I did not do much on this front for a few months, as I tried to decide what to do. I thought that going through all the stress of a real photoshoot and then ending up with a handful of pictures hardly seemed worth the effort. Then in February of this year I noticed a new Groupon from a San Francisco based photographer who specialized in boudoir photography, Denise Linley at http://www.momentsbydenise.com.  She offered a hair stylist, makeup artist, an hour of shooting, and a picture book of 40 pictures for $250. It was an amazing deal compared to what else was available and was too good to pass up.  I figured since she was based out of SF, she had probably experienced everything including all sorts of TGs and well as other assorted San Francisco types. Nothing would surprise her.  I decided to send her an email to see what she thought about the idea. I figured at worst I would get a polite refusal. Even if she said okay, I could still back out. The notion of laying around in lingerie while some total stranger took pictures of me was scary beyond words. At the same I had been playing things “safe” for so long that I felt it was time to do something slightly outlandish. My previous “crazy” action was flying en femme (documented in this blog) which turned out completely okay. Afterall what is worst thing that could happen (other than she is some former coworker who now has a new career).

One night in a rash moment  I sent an email to Denise asking whether she would be okay doing a boudoir session with “CD/TG” types and waited for a response. I received nothing for two days. I figured this might be her way of saying “no” (i.e. “lets just delete the email from the weird TG”) but decided to resend the request just because email problems do occur. She responded quickly time indicating she never go the earlier email. She indicated that she was interested in a shoot  but did not know what “CD/TG types” referred to.

That was unexpected…It goes to show that despite the best efforts of Ru Paul and the Discovery channel, lots of folks don’t know about us. I sent back a short note describing the range of TGs (the two paragraph “your guide to TGs”) to which she responded with “that’s cool, if you want to look like a girl you have come to the right photographer”.

That was also a little unexpected (but very nice). It was now decision time. I had a photographer willing to do a boudoir photoshoot of me, was I really willing to do it? The possibility was now real and really scary. I would have a real hairstylist and makeup artist (not some TG “transformation” specialist) do their best on me so that I could strip down to my underwear, lay around on a bed,  and have a photographer whom I had never met take photos of me. They all assured me they would be fine with it, but I was not sure I was fine with it. I had this odd feeling in my stomach….

After a restless night, I decided to go with it. Afterall, what is the worst that could happen?? I sent Denise the payment and started thinking about what exactly I would wear.. I was committed (or perhaps I should have been committed).

Next time: deciding what to wear and sticking to my decision.

robin