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The one outfit pin up / boudoir shoot - tip for what to wear

I had the most organized client ever. Not only did she brought images for me to look at for the poses that she liked, she came photo ready. The only thing she had to do is change. For this example, she booked the mini boudoir package.

In an out in 35 minutes, she broke my record. And the result was fabulous. I even had to change a darn light bulb from my lighting equipment so I think it was even less than that!

This is what she wore:

 - Black tight dress - with easy buttons on the front. This made for the removal of the dress sexy because she slowly unbuttoned it to show cleavage. Smart! She got 2 looks from this outfit alone, the full dress and the cleavage. Complete with stockings and high heels.

- Cute underwear. This was done in a bright colour that complimented her skin tone. I used hot pink here as an example, but she had a nice coral set.

- Pasties. So after getting the bra off - you get the cool surprise that she is wearing pasties. Cute, burlesque and oh so sexy.
It also made for a great set of pictures, one common thread that will display great in a nice book or even to put up in a bedroom wall since they are sexy without being tacky.

Thanks to Miss H for the great idea, it was one of those; "why the hell didn't I think of it before?"
Great for the mini or starlet package. Package info:


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Tips on choosing a boudoir photographer in your area...

SO! I got my first-time-ever actual question! and all the way from California, it made my day! nerd that I am, I went and did a Sally Field thing winning an Oscar; "You really read me, you actually really read me!"

Anyhoo, not to drag my over-excitement, maybe it's hormones, here it is:

We really love your blog and your work, unfortunately, we're a bit far away to book a session (central California).  Do you have any tips or advice on what to look for when selecting a boudoir photographer?  There are a number of options in our area, but it can be difficult to tell which will give the best experience for the price.  Unlike a certain other photographer, they don't all post blogs with loads of insight into their work.  We were hoping that as someone "in the biz", with a style and approach that we love, you could offer some pointers on how to tell a good photographer from a bad.

I know right! Really hard to choose from a website with 5 pages and maybe a photo of a person behind a camera all cheesy.

I really try to make people as comfortable as possible with me and that includes giving as much information as I can, upfront and without any hidden surprises. It's hard enough to get the guts to actually decide to book a session when after you are searching the results leave you with more questions than you started with.

Here are some tips on finding the right boudoir photographer for you. And if you are a photographer here are some things I learned on what not to do.

1. If it's too good to be true (the price)- is probably true. 

This goes for craigslist or Groupon for that matter unless you actually heard of the photographer before. My problem with craigslist is that is usually amateur photographers offering you a deal so they can build their portfolio. Which is fine if you do not care where your images end up with. Craigslist just gives me the creeps. 
Groupon too, it is funny because I get asked tons to do a coupon deal but I have always refused for boudoir. The photographer has to offer a popular package - like mine that is worth $400, at a discount 70% or more (to make it enticing)- so for $99 and from that, Groupon gets half and you get the 49.50 to shoot, edit and print and get about $5 bucks per hour of my time. No thanks. Sure it drives traffic to a website and gets your name out there but it is not worth the headache. Write a blog instead. 
As a customer buying a coupon it puts you in the "cheap" category, and you might not receive the treatment and quality that you are really entitled to.

I did a post on why I charge what I charge that explains costs. 

2. Portfolio

So you found a photographer in your area and the portfolio looks ok. If you want to do a little snooping before you contact the photographer to make sure those are their actual photos. You can use a website called to check if that image has been used on other sites. Especially helpful when you find out the photographer has used a stock photo or something like that to pad the portfolio.

Also, google just the photographers name and check in the images part. That gives you a visual reference of the images that are connected to the name. 

3. Around the web

Even if you are not getting married, the wedding boards are a good source of experiences of brides to be looking for boudoir photographers. Places like
Browse the boards for people talking about their experiences, you will find a great range of good and bad.
90% of boudoir photographers shoot weddings. And all though it's a different animal all together you get a sense of their experience and quality.

So you have scratched two things off your list and found a couple of photographers you are leaning towards based on portfolio and web presence. Now you have to get more information out of them before you can choose. 

Questions to ask the boudoir photographer:

Copy all or remove as you need:

 Where do you shoot? Is it a studio, home studio, or hotel? is there an extra cost associated with location?
What does the session of $xx include? (digital files or just prints?)
Is make up and retouching included?
How many outfits should I bring?
How long is the shoot?
How long until I see proofs or the final product? 
Do you have some testimonials?
How far in advance do I have to book?
Do you do a consultation before the shoot?
And I think the most important of them all is :
What is your privacy policy? 
     I stress this one in case you really do not want your photos posted anywhere. Get it in writing. If they have a non-disclosure agreement ask to get one. 

When writing your email it also helps if you outline your budget from the get go. Specially when you get to a page where the prices are supposed to be and they have the annoying email for prices.

And do not worry if they think you are being annoying with all your questions- it is their fault they do not have all the information available :) Most are happy to answer anything and you can get a sense of their personality when they answer. Do not hesitate to ask for a phone call to talk to the person directly after you email them. Talking to a real person helps to give you a real sense of their geekyness (in my case) or their attitude. Or even their gender! I heard stories of Jamies, Jules, Lindseys, Ashleys that you thought where a female photographer only to find out it was a guy. Like there is a Marlen Boro guy that takes boudoir of just men. I take a look every now and then.

And thanks for the question! I feel almost famous - at least web famous :) 

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Baby Boom - Maternity Boudoir

Is it just me or there is something in the water? Earlier this year I had more than a handful of clients come get their boudoir done with "now before I show" and "while boobs are great", even returning boudoir clients getting their maternity boudoir shots...
Well, here I am joining the baby boom.

 To find a creative way to announce it, I've been on pinterest, instagram and even google, since you know, I have some creative license here, but all I found was family shots holding a chalkboard, or the holding the tray of "bun", cute stuff really but not really my style.
And since is a family shot, I need my clothes on.
So instead of going crazy trying to come up with something witty and original, I went back to basics. I like batman, I like comic books, I will bring to this world another batman fan if I have anything to say about it so here it is...

See? totally nerding it out. I still giggle at Nacho being the baby stunt double. I was also this close into convincing Lindsey to wear something black, but no luck. I was pushing it on a Sunday afternoon.

Anyway the timing could not be better either, I will be still doing boudoir for x-mas and maybe some Valentines till the second week of January- if this baby is not early and then taking a break until spring. 
It's usually quiet around those times anyway.

And here are some samples of some of the maternity shots I have been doing.

For information on maternity sessions click here.

I miss beer

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Things I learned going to a strip bar

It is really not the same as taking a pole dancing class that is for sure :)

It was 1996 when I first went to one, I just wanted to see what the fuss was about. Yeah, it was nothing like "Showgirls" that movie I saw to check out what the saved by the bell girl was up to. Or "striptease" with Demi Moore for that matter. No fancy choreography. boobs were not that perky or they did not move at all, no in between.

Fast forward to last night, the choreography hasn't changed much but the bodies sure are perkier. Or they work out more, or maybe I notice those things more that I am not as perky as I once use to be. 

Anyway here are a couple of observations in random order of importance. 

  • The lighting is really dimmed. Great to hide stretch marks, stray hairs or dimples. Not good for photography.
  • A handkerchief or bandana is not just for blowing your nose. They use it to sit comfortably on any surface or lap while wearing dental floss underwear. smart!
  • Tapping someone on their shoulder with your butt or boobs is acceptable.
  • They take rejection really well, after all that wiggling if the guy is not interested in a lap dance they just shrug it off. next!
  • They still have to pay for their own booze! You would think they get a discount since they are the main attraction but no. And it's 12 a drink. The horror.
  • Best poses: when the butt was stuck out to the max, and tilting your head back to make hair longer and look like you are really enjoying yourself.
  • Touching self looks great, unless one leg is up the air like a karate kick, and then you touch your  vagina. I still giggle. You had to be there. 
  • All the dancers wear those platform heels or "stripper shoes". Apparently they are very comfortable and have skid resistant soles. Fitness models wear them too. So I shouldn't call them stripper shoes. They look good in pictures. They actually go with a thong. 
  • It was not very busy when I was there, but the client ratio of "normal looking guy" vs. your-dad's-weirdo-friend was about 20/80. 
  • Even entertainers don't want their face posted all over the internet. 
See? I respect you like a stripper :) 

So bring out your inner stripper, we all have one I think. 
Anyway back to work people :) 

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Celebrating boudoir in all shapes and sizes - with testimonials

Hi! I have seen this image floating around the Internet (pinterest really- good thing I don't watch that much TV, it balances out) and I realized that I need to do a couple of things. One update my gallery with all my new work, and two start telling people " What the hell are you waiting for?" to do your boudoir shoot that is.

I've met amazing women in my line of work and what struck out about a recent appointment was: "I don't look like the models in the magazines and finally I have come to terms with it- and here I am!" 

I drank to that. 

Comes a time where you accept what you look like and you become comfortable in your own skin. Whenever it hits you - come get your photos done! 

Ange, posted some of her shots in her tumblr- loved it! Of course the skimpy ones where for her hubby. I love her sense of humour, I've been following her antics since. 

and I am happy that the boudoir is spreading!

Here is what a client said:
Thank you for Saturday - it was a lot of fun.  I left the shoot feeling very good about myself and very sexy.  Looking very forward to seeing the results.
and when she got them
Holy crap!!! You are a miracle worker!  These are awesome.

For those of you who might think- it's all photoshop! No it's not. It's lighting (bright in photography does not equal as harsh), poses and the secret x factor where you are actually comfortable rolling around in you underwear. I think is my super power.

And this image- I stole from The Lingerie Addict - she encourages everybody to feel beautiful in lingerie- even has great tips in her blog. I specially enjoyed her rant about "when people complain about the images she post"

Like me! I am skinny and small boned but have my flabby areas that some days make me look pregnant. suuuuucks. If I gain weight it goes directly to my lack of waist - wish I could direct it to the boobs, or some down the skinny legs but nooooo, it get's stuck with the rest of the tacos. 

Anyway- all this was to let you know that - no matter your size, boudoir is a great experience to have.

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My best friend's wedding

Yeah yeah. I say once a week and it just does not happen. I have to book blogging time.
But this time I do have an excuse! June was nuts in general but also good busy with my bff's wedding. And when you are MOH or Best woman like we settled it, you have duties.

What  I find most interesting about my friendship with Amy is that actually her ... husband ... gotta get used to that, Eric set us up. I was friends with Eric first and when he met Amy he was gun-ho on introducing me to Amy. And after spending a lunch date giggling and talking photos and art - that was it. Fast forward 5 years later and there I was, being witness to two of my favourite people. 

But I get ahead of myself, first it was the girl weekend...
You would think it was a naked boudoir party- but no; we where more low key. Weekend at the cottage. But of course I brought my camera. How could I not. Even if we where relaxing, eating and drinking- penis paraphernalia appeared anyway.

I even let people touch my camera.

And then the wedding. My maid of honour duties prevented me from being the photographer but I had my camera just in case. And Amy's good friend Amelia did an awesome job. You can check some of the wedding photos here:

The weather cooperated by being not horribly hot or humid in our black dresses. The day went smoothly, zero stress, lot's of food, and did I mentioned that I loved my dress?
photo by Amy

Amy and Amelia

I was good after and did not carry my camera. hard to do I tell you. hard. Usually I am like this:
But I didn't ! I had ton's of fun and felt semi adopted by both families. I'm part italian and polish from now on. 

And I had the best co-speech parter ever; Meghan her cousin. She tried to convince me to rap. We settled on a poem. And by poem I mean stuff that rhymed with lens. We came up with cleanse. It's ok Amy loves both. 

Happy to be part of my sista's day. Can't wait to see all the pictures! 

Ok! now I shall continue to edit. A highlight round up to follow- I have tons!

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Boudoir with flare- boudoir lighting tip

I have the attention span of a gnat- damn you pinterest and tumblr and facebook and twitter. I get distracted and forget to post. This one has kept me entertained whatshouldwecallweddingphoto. ... oh wedding photography... This site is what your wedding photographer is really thinking.

So hey, it's been a while!

See? exactly what I have been thinking... except the glamourous part is not really that glamourous everyday but I do have my moments....
So back to the post..

Natural light vs Continuos light vs Strobes -

When possible, it is great to be able to shoot in natural light. At my place I have a lonely window but sometimes I get to shoot on fancy locations, like the sample bellow thanks to Fitness Star Magazine.

Look at all those windows! I was giddy.

In the meantime I use continuous light mainly when I shoot. The kinda of light for video. It's soft enough and I can cheat a bit.

My awesome continuos lighting equipment from e-bay ($130) and my huge outdoor bulbs from the hardware store. The secret is to manually set your white balance in your camera. I have it at 2900K. Love the results. Of course you can get the ones that are all ready calibrated to 5500k for daylight. But I have a tendency to knock things over and those things are more expensive. I broke 4 bulbs before I gave up and looked for a cheaper alternative.

I like the options of moving them around and highlighting - and the flare- I am loving the flare.

Strobes - I use them more for pin up photography where I need more of a fashion look and a clean background with low ISO.

There you go- some nerdy photography talk for photographers and some recent samples for clients... SO BEHIND IN POSTING- Now I will make the time damn it. Weekly posts, even if it eats away on my pinterest time.... by the way follow me there

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Glamour Photography

Or Glamour Shots v2.0
So! I blab about my glamour shot days- I found some images. Keep in mind these are from 2002.

Which are not that horrible really. I love the lady on the left. I just loathe the backdrop we had. Poo brown and icky sea foam. And we had those dresses people could borrow and wear. As you can tell that dress was popular. The fun part about those shoots where that you came in, had your makeup and hair done, you then chose a couple of outfits ( the leather jacket and the boa where "hot") and you had photos done and you chose your prints right then and there!

Anyway! So I am trying to bring Glamour photography back from those days in a cooler way.  Especially for those who balk at the idea of parading around in your underwear.

What I do want is for you to have a really nice portrait of yourself. It makes you feel good. It's good for your self-esteem. A good photographer can capture a non dorky image like the one I did last November (me so fancy). And now a days you may need it for stuff like Facebook, LinkedIn or even your own website. Or even a "modelling" portfolio.

Sure you can ask a friend to do it for you but why not have someone worry about the photo, the makeup and the slight photoshopping.

Here is what you need to have a fun Glamour Portrait without the cheese.

What to wear:

Bring at least 3 outfits. One business formal, the suit jacket, pencil skirt or slacks. Another outfit that you would wear to a date like a flirty dress or a cool top with skinny jeans.  The third one could be what you normally wear. Are you a jean girl? wear those. Yoga pants? why not. Whatever defines what you do.

My place so far, till I open another one... come on visualization board...But we do have the advantage that the beaches is a hop away and if you are not shy we can go out there. Especially nice at sunset.

Since I book appointments on the weekends, you can go have your hair done on a Saturday and come on a Sunday :) Next day hair is great. And you know you need a trim. Or just go to one of those blow dry bars just before your appointment.

If you are coming here you do not have to worry about it lucky you. But I do have to say it's a bit less than a boudoir or a pin up look.
I use a primer, a good foundation, complete with powder to set.
Lot's of mascara, half of a fake eyelash, a little bit of liquid eyeliner and some shimmery shadow just for kicks.

When you cut the eyelashes in half they are way easier to put on, and the flare that they give is amazing. Look for a pair like the one above, that you can cut in half and it's even on both sides. I got mine on eBay :)

And some blush and some gloss, voila! Ready for your closeup.
Here is me testing out the makeup and the natural light setting. My black wall and the lights make it look a bit like a brown background but no! I will never ever use something as gross as the glamour shot one.

and some samples of what I am talking about... yeah, bringing glamour photography back!

And lastly I created packages, depending on how many images you need, you can use the Headshot package, Glamour shot package or the Glamour shot diva.
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Sexy- it ain't that easy

This comic reminded me of a client today... that trying to be sexy resulted in giggles most of the time. And she is not alone... I know like 5 people that can pull it off, well maybe now like 20 because they do burlesque but otherwise this happens.
... I'm wearing the granny underwear, aren't I?...
- I'm having a cigarette 
and that is why I am rebranding a little to boudoir and glamour portraits. This is a good intro :)
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Pin Up photography @ The Cream Lounge

So! you have been thinking about a boudoir shoot a lot lately? I even found out it's on the to-do list for a bride to be on all those magazines and books to keep you organized. Oh the pressure.

Well fret no more, this package is for the women that want a boudoir experience without the naked and with a great coach to boot.
Laura Furtado from Divagirl actually tells you exactly what to do. All twisty and sexy. And now we have this incredible backdrop to use, the Cream Lounge on King st. It is sooo pretty. Like if I didn't live with 2 boys, 2 dogs and a cat that is how my place would look like. French and expensive. AND LEOPARD PRINT! drool.

Your “Teaser” Package Includes:
  • Pin-Up Lashes and bright lipstick (red or pink)
  • Boudoir photo-shoot with the accomplished Marlen James and/or assistants (20 mins)
  • Customized modeling tips and coaching from Owner of DivaGirl, Laura Furtado
  • High res FTP link of all images
  • 10 edited enhanced pics for future printing
  • Rate: $125
Time: Slots are available from 11AM-4PM (booked in 1/2 hour slots)
Location: Cream Lounge
589 King Street West, Toronto, ON

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Valentine's Boudoir Roundup

I am not sure but this post get's a lot of hits, so I am updating it.

Valentine's is a funny holiday to me, it's cold here in Canada, we are poor after the holidays and if you want to go out on that day there is a lineup and "special" set menus.  I like to celebrate it with Netflix and chill and maybe some nice wine. But I also like that this holiday is an excuse to get naked!

It's the perfect excuse for those that have been meaning to do a shoot but haven't dared. I like that. And it celebrates love! Even my jaded self can admire that.

Planning your Valentines Shoot

  • Start early, and by early I mean we have to do this in January sadly. By the time February rolls around there is hardly any time for me to print a book and do all the things! Usually, it is at least 10 days before, and that is cutting it close. 
  • Take advantage of all the January sales of lingerie! Avoid the valentine stuff because that will be regular price, but the red Christmas stuff? bring it! as long as there is no Santa thing you are good.
  • Cold weather is also a good excuse to get a spray tan, go with Jen at - more tips here
  • Get naked!

And some of my old images circa 2012 for #tbt purposes :)

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