BY SARAH BROWN
IT WAS 2007. I had just quit my “real job” working for a staffing company. I had worked there for almost 10 years and initially I loved it. But when I started doing photography, everything changed, and I was constantly thinking about how much I didn’t want to be in my cubicle and how much I wanted to create art. I had become miserable and withdrawn, and one day I was at Target and a lady started chatting with me in line. I was annoyed, thinking why must you talk to me? That’s when I knew I had to make a change. That was definitely not me! Over the past 12 years, I’ve found my happiness and learned so many things from being an artist. However, I’ve built a career doing something a little bit different—helping women see the beauty of their own image.
After I quit my job in 2007, I wondered who I was. I knew the corporate world was not for me and that I was meant for something bigger. I wanted to make beautiful images, be a part of my community and feel like I was doing more than just making a living. I wanted to make an impact. So, I started photographing weddings… so many weddings! I loved it, and I was doing all the things I wanted.
A PLANTED SEED
Then I went to Las Vegas for a photography conference. There, I learned about boudoir photography. I was instantly drawn to it! I had always admired classic nudes and smudgy charcoal drawings of the naked form. I could not wait to go home and persuade one of my friends to model for me. The light switch turned on. This was my thing! I wanted to create gorgeous images and change women’s lives. I came home completely fired up and ready to add this to my line-up of services. I was a little concerned, however, that people would get the wrong idea about what I was trying to do. I was unsure how it would be received in our more conservative small town. But I pressed on—I knew this was what I was supposed to do.
I initially only offered boudoir shoots to my wedding clients. It was the perfect gift for their groom. The grooms LOVED it! Soon, other women began hearing about what a friend had experienced. They wanted to try it too!
At this point, my passion for weddings was waning. I was no longer feeling challenged, and I could photograph them in my sleep. I was burned out.
I saw new photographers coming on the scene who were so passionate about their weddings, it made me feel I was doing my clients a disservice just going through the motions.
JUST DO IT! It took me four years to officially stop shooting weddings. Four! I was so scared to take the leap. I wanted to shoot boudoir. All the time. I wanted to empower women, and I knew that I could do that with boudoir. Two of my friends, who are also photographers, finally convinced me to go for it. They told me I was being ridiculous. I left our breakfast that day at the Omelette Shoppe, once again on fire for my job. That day, they gave me permission and it just clicked. I was going to do this! I was so excited.
Was this easy? No. It felt like I was starting my business all over again. I was peeing my pants with excitement and terror. Here I was, now in my mid-40s, totally reinventing myself. But, I chose to look in the mirror and say, “Here we go!”
A SESSION FOR THE BOOKS
Soon after I made my decision, I had a gal come in and she was so nervous. Like, sick-toher-stomach nervous. But she changed into her first outfit, a beautiful dress, and we got started.
Once she was in front of the camera, she just glowed. It was amazing! It was like she had transformed. After we had been shooting for a few minutes, I showed her some images on the back of the camera so she could see how well she was doing.
She gasped, and her eyes started welling up with tears. She couldn’t believe that was her.
“OMG, I am beautiful!” she said. Immediately I felt a lump in my throat and had to fight back my own tears.
“Yes, you are!” I responded. I had goosebumps! The rest of the session she just grew more and more confident. I joked that I wouldn’t show her any more pictures because I didn’t need her ruining her makeup.
Since her session, we have kept in touch. She’s shared that the way she felt at her session has stuck with her, and she now appreciates herself more and looks less harshly at her reflection.
She’s been on a journey to get healthy, love herself more and be happier, and it started in part because of her session. I’m so honored to have been there to see this new part of her come alive.
She has since booked another session for herself; the first session she had done was a gift for her husband. She has lost 30 pounds, quit her horrible job (and found one she loves), and is ready to document this updated, happier version of herself.
This experience took away all my doubts. THIS is exactly why I wanted to shoot boudoir fulltime. Changing the way women see themselves is what drives me.
I have since started a group on Facebook called the “Empowered Bombshells.” We are a group of kick-butt ladies who empower each other by sharing inspiring thoughts and images. Self-love is something that requires practice, and my hope is to keep that at the forefront of this incredible group of women. We’re there to encourage and uplift each other.
I’VE FOUND MY THING!
It’s now been almost two years since I started shooting only boudoir, and it is the second-best decision I ever made. (The first was quitting my job in 2007 for my dream of doing photography full time.)
I have found my “thing.” I help women step back, be vulnerable, brave and sexy as hell. They find a new confidence and empowered sense of self, not to mention a new appreciation for their butt. Who knew it was okay to love ourselves? Love yourself, ladies. There is only one you.
Sarah Brown is an award-winning, certified professional boudoir photographer living in Traverse City with her furry babe, Bruiser. To hear more about her story, visit www.Igniting-courage.com and scroll to “Episode 2” or visit her website at www.SarahBrown-Photography.com. Join her private, women-only Facebook group by searching “Empowered Bombshells by Sarah Brown Photography.”