I'm one of those weird "everything happens for a reason" people...you know, the kind who believes if you put good shit into the universe, you'll get good shit in return. I fully believe that my new assistant, Elaine, is one of those good shits.
I am highly picky when it comes to letting people in to be a part of my business. I've spent nearly a decade building my brand and preaching my purpose. Someone coming to work for me can't just be "like, really, really good with people." or "a huge fan who has always been interested in photography!". On top of needing to have very specific character traits, work ethic, and qualifications, I had to KNOW without a shadow of a doubt that this person was a perfect fit.
For that reason, I poured through hundreds of applications and interviewed over a dozen candidates for the new assistant position. Then, finally, I met this uber passionate, intelligent, friendly, qualified, and freaking adorable super-ball of energy. She actually wanted to interview ME for her research paper on how boudoir photography could be a complementary therapy for sexual assault survivors. Instead, she got a job.
In her short time working for me, I've breathed so many sighs of relief. I've been blown away by how amazing her young mind works, how quickly and efficiently she completes tasks, how INSANELY fast she learned my retouching style, and how much more at ease I've been about trusting someone else with some of my work load.
On top of being the perfect fit for Kara Marie Boudoir, she also is a bit of a "super fan", and had her own photo shoot booked prior to speaking with me about a job opportunity. Because of her chosen research path, the shoot was approved by UT and considered "ethnographic research". So on her SECOND day of work, she had her scheduled boudoir experience.
I have so much to say about her, her experience, and her photos....but she does a FAR more eloquent job, herself...so I will allow her to elaborate. I encourage you to grab a cup of coffee, glass of wine or whiskey, and really read this woman's testimony. She is wise beyond her years.
"During the spring semester, I had a family emergency and ended up missing roughly a month of a school. The experience, the drop in my GPA, plus my weight gain completely devastated me. When I went home for the summer, I was considering transferring universities or just taking some time off altogether. I stayed by myself a lot, splitting my time between moody poetry and mindless pinterest-ing.
And it was through one of those night on Pinterest that I came across a boudoir board. From there I ended up on a Texas boudoir board and soon I found myself googling Austin boudoir photographers at four in the morning. And then I found Kara’s page."
"I wept reading the blog, seeing the stories and pictures of these women who were loving themselves again, or were at least on the path too. Reading Kara’s site from front to back and back again, it was obvious that boudoir was a tool of empowerment for these ladies.
Even though her work only reflected a small population of women, it had to be possible that Kara’s style of boudoir could help a large volume of women- and I started thinking maybe even women with a history of trauma or violence, where self-love isn’t as easy. So I poured over databases looking for academic articles on boudoir photography and it’s ability to empower sexual assault survivors or trauma patients or any group of women in general. And there was hardly any work out there."
"That’s how I knew I had to go back to school in the fall.
If I could pour all of my energy into this research project, (at arguably one of the best research universities in the world,) then I would have the motivation to stay in school and stop spending energy trying to figure out how to make myself feel better, but instead, work towards helping other women feel in control and empowered. So I rushed a lot of paperwork, sent way too many frantic emails, and miraculously got my project approved.
I immediately signed up for a shoot with Kara once I had a general plan for my research. The shoot was considered 'ethnographic research’ and was meant to give me a better perspective on the boudoir experience. And it did. But more importantly- and yes, this is cliche but I am going to write it anyways- it gave me a better perspective of myself."
"Literally, as long as you can take deep breaths and breathe, you can do the shoot. Let me repeat: your basic human functions are all that you need to shoot with Kara. She makes it so easy to just show up and be genuinely happy. That’s because, honestly, Kara is a genuine person and that kind of naked authenticity makes a huge impact (particularly when you’re practically naked).
"Now I read stories about women crying after their shoot or after their reveal, but for me, it wasn’t until last week. There I was again, at four in the morning, but this time I was turning in the first part of my research. And I couldn’t help but think back to the spring when I didn’t want to be in school anymore. Now I have a project that I’m not only passionate about, but has passionately changed me: I stopped sighing every time I looked in the mirror.
I am a thousand percent dedicated and happy to be at my university again and I’m now slightly obsessed with academic databases. And yeah, I’m not going to lie, I may or may not have been the background on my laptop for a few hours because I looked amazing. And I felt, well, overwhelmed. But this time, not by my flaws or insecurities or anxieties- but by my value. No one could give it to me or take it away . It was something that was intrinsically and inherently mine."
"Having an amazing shoot with Kara and making it through this semester didn’t give me my value, just reminded me of what was always there. And so, I poured all my energy into this research project and got more back then I could ever ask. I trusted Kara just the slightest bit and she showered me in an abundance of warmth and genuineness.
So I guess the lesson here is that there is a huge return on investment with boudoir and if you’re not booking your shoot right now, it’s gotta be because you’re already scheduled. If you’re unsure then just wait- at about four in the morning it’ll hit you and you’ll know that I was right."
I couldn't have said it better myself. No....really. I couldn't have. This young mind is brilliant beyond words and I am honored to have her as a part of this little business of mine. I applaud her for her extensive research and for really understanding what empowerment through boudoir is all about.
Do a boudoir shoot. Don't do it just because you need a gift idea (yes, yes, it would be an unable-to-be-topped gift idea), but do it because you need to stop hating on yourself. Do it to stop sighing at yourself in the mirror. Do it to embrace your beauty, your body, and your soul. DO. IT.