NY Boudoir Photographer | The Before as the After

A few months ago I woke up early on a Monday morning. I reached for my cell phone and as I usually do – started going through my morning ritual. I check the weather, my email, a little FB and anything else I feel I need to be informed that day. This particular morning I saw a post on FB that stopped me in my tracks. It was a video about women and photography.

I watched the video.

The video was showing a woman getting her hair and makeup done. She was getting dressed in gorgeous fantasy clothing that any woman would drool over. Then, it was time to have her portrait taken.

The portraits were gorgeous, glamorous shots. The client looked amazing. You could tell she had never felt like that in her entire life. The message of the video was clear. Come see me, let me photograph you and I will prove to you that you are beautiful. You are worthy. You are somebody.

My heart started beating with panic. The client, although gorgeous, looked NOTHING like her before. NOTHING. It was clear to me that she never felt like that before because she never looked like that before. In fact, after hair, makeup, wardrobe, good lighting and photoshop – she was practically unrecognizable.

(Insert panic here) Is that what I am doing with my clients?

Surely I want them to feel gorgeous and powerful and worthy. The whole day I kept asking myself, am I making them feel this way? Why are we taught that we are worthy when we are all made up? Why is the AFTER picture the worthy one?

What about the before picture?

You know, that photo with no makeup, no hairdo, no photoshop. What about that woman? Is SHE worthy? Is she powerful?

The guilt that I could possibly be sending this message to my clients overcame me. So much so that I took a few weeks off from shooting boudoir. I felt a pit in my stomach. Here I am spending my life thinking I am empowering women and then BOOM, in an instant I am questioning everything I do and say.

It took me a few weeks, a lot of meditation and introspection to come to terms with what I do and my message. At the end of the day – I realize there are two sides to this coin. There is the naked me, and the me that loves wearing makeup and high heels.

See, here is the beauty of women. We don’t have to wear makeup to be beautiful, but when we want to, it’s an awful lot of fun!!

I am all about NOT shaming women, and not feeling shame for who I am. I want to make it clear that I am not shaming anyone who wears makeup, who photographs women who are all decked out, or anything in between.

What I am saying loud and clear today is that the BEFORE picture is the AFTER picture. You are ALREADY worthy. You are already powerful. You don’t need to dress up in lingerie and have your photo taken to be so. You don’t need me and my beauty team. We can’t make you something you aren’t. We can have fun. We can remind you how awesome it is to dress up and be pampered. We can give you some time away from work or kids or whatever you need to escape to remember that you are a person too. We can show you proof of your power in your images.

That woman in the before picture. She IS the woman in the after picture too. The “after” woman would be nothing without the “before”. Let’s celebrate her!

As part of my #ShamelesslyFeminine movement, I have decided to photograph women without makeup on. No professional hair and no retouching. Just her, me, a few lights and my trusty camera. I will photograph what I see. I will remind them that they are perfect just. the. way. they. are.


Nikon D3S
Sigma 50mm Art Lens
Westcott Spiderlite and Eye Lighter

This is the strong, beautiful Ms. C. She has a gorgeous face and a gorgeous heart. I have known her for many years. I wish that she could see herself the way the world sees her. She is self deprecating at times. She doesn’t have to be. I tried to remind her how powerful it is to take a compliment and to look in the mirror and love what she sees. She was recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. It feels overwhelming, but I know if she can make peace with it, that it won’t define her. She is still the beautiful, loving mom, wife and friend she is and always will be.

She wears makeup to play up her favorite parts and diminish the ones she doesn’t love. She wears it every day. Except for today. Today she bares her face and her soul. Today she is as gorgeous as ever.

It would be an amazing act of kindness and support if you could leave Ms. C a compliment in the comments below. What do you see that is beautiful? Let’s shower her with love.


43 Replies to “NY Boudoir Photographer | The Before as the After”

  1. LOVE this message. And C-you are a stunner!! Look at those lips! Those eyes! Absolutely gorgeous.

  2. Soulful Eyes

    Wisdom | A knowing

    Kissable lips that may say something smarty pants or something kind


  3. Ms. C,

    I stared at your image for 20 seconds and what I see is a carpe diem spirit! I love the strength and confidence that comes from your expression. I have never met you but I FEEL like you are adventurous and simply a beautiful person.

    Eric Sanchez

  4. Love this post, love your message, and yes! We are worthy as the “before” shot! Gorgeous, I can’t wait to see more!

  5. She looks gorgeous! Her eyes are just stunning….No make-up needed to see how beautiful she is!

  6. Ms. C, you have the most beautiful lips! And your eyes are so deep, telling and knowing. I hope you can feel as beautiful as you look. 🙂

  7. She is a radiant, powerful beauty that is stunningly refreshing to lay eyes on. She is gorgeous, and you, Jen, send an awesome message by designing such a project. It’s something I personally very much needed to hear.

  8. What a fantastic idea. I’m a person who loves to walk around with no make up on but sometimes felt like it is “not appropriat”. way to go.

    Ms. C. you have great lips, wonderful curves eybrows, strong eyes who tell a story.

  9. What a beautifully written post and a gorgeous photograph. Ms. C, you look strong, confident, wise, and decisive. And all of these things make you beautiful.

  10. love the post and the message. After all, the before is the after… after we go home and wash our face and hair… “before” is how we go to bed at night, how our families see us, and we are just as beautiful to them. Mrs C looks strong and beautiful to me, enviable lips and eyes!

  11. Wow – I think we sometimes think that makeup is what creates our beauty – makeup is only a shiny bow on the package. Ms. C – you are STUNNING. What I love about this is I see YOU – not artfully applied shadow and out to there lashes and expertly shaded contours – what I see is the depth in your eyes and how beautifully shaped they are, I see your lovely skin, a gorgeous mouth that is both sensual and strong. In all, I see a powerful woman goddess who looks absolutely striking. Jen, fantastic idea!!! Too often, we see women who are all dolled up and would never recognize them without it. I would love to see unadorned women in photos like this more!

  12. Strong, yet buttery shoulders; deep, engaging eyes; full, inviting lips… What’s more beautiful than beautiful? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you “Ms C”!

  13. those eyes speak such volumes….C you are simply gorgeous!!

  14. Always was a beautiful woman! This picture is stunning! Embrace your beauty.

  15. Mrs. C, you are a natural beauty! I love your eyes and lips. Your skin is incredible, too!

  16. REFRESHINGLY BEAUTIFUL!!!! May your naked heart travel far and wide in the hopes woman (young and old) realize the natural beauty within themselves!!!!

  17. I loved this post…and this woman is stunning. Just sitting here wishing I had that mouth, that nose…they are perfect…and the eyes…you can see the depth of her soul; there is a holy light in there…has to be.

  18. It’s so amazing to see the real you by other people but it’s so hard to experience it on your own specialy when life has put you through many negative experiences. It’s a long process and path to walk through, it takes a lot to gain confidence and love yourself but it’s doable. Big applause for those who are coming along with me in this journey.

  19. Powerful message and totally agree. Ms C – amazing lips, soulful eyes! You are gorgeous!

  20. I love this Jen! Ms C is GORGEOUS!!! I wish I was that beautiful without make up—those LIPS!!! I mean, come on! 😀

  21. Ms. C (and you Jen, let’s not forget that) are an inspiration. I’m struck by Ms. C’s unbelievable complexion and overall serenity/confidence in this image — those are the first two things. I could get lost in how awesome the pic is in conjunction with the blog post. You’re inspiring MEN, too, at least this one, to see an act of vulnerability put to such extraordinary light.

  22. I have just found you through the link on Creative Live website. I love what you write and what you stand for. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. And regarding Mrs. C she looks wonderful but what is more important is how she felt and I am sure you made her feel confident!

  23. I just had an argument about this very topic with my wife, lol. It started with her statement “we need milk on the way home, but you have to go in and get it.” I suppose I gave her a look or something, and she got upset. Come to find out it was all bc she didn’t have makeup on.

  24. (Cont’d) I told her I couldn’t understand why so many women do that, because they are (Ms C included) beautiful without makeup! … Then I went inside and got the milk. 🙂

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