The Best Year Ever | 2017 Recap

Every time I write one of these "It's the end of the year, holy shit" blogs, I am blown away by how much I crammed into one year, and stoked about having the "Best Ever Year of Kara Marie Boudoir".  2017 was another record breaking and fulfilling year of business and I couldn't have done it without each and every one of you who follows along regularly, trusts me with their boudoir experiences, and tolerates my annoying Instastories. 

It's this week every year that I spend looking back at the year's body of work, blog posts, and thousands and thousands of photos. I am so grateful for the abundance of business, blessings, and beauties that surrounded me in 2017. 

 

PHOTO HIGHLIGHTS


TOP LIKED INSTAGRAM POSTS


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THE NUMBERS

+Photographed 384 Women

+Coached + Mentored 13 Boudoir Photographers

+Attended 3 photo conferences

+ Composed 10,695 emails (whaaaaaaa???)


TRAVEL HIGHLIGHTS

2017 Travels to Mexico, Puerto Rico, Los Angeles, Palm Springs, Miami (Lots of warm and tropical surroundings, apparently!)



ACCOLADES

It was a year of awards and I feel extremely honored and....well...baffled quite honestly! There's been several print magazine features, a few Huff Post articles, individual image awards, and the 2017 Boudoir Photographer of the Year from AIBP to cap it all off.  I have this problem where I downplay a lot of "accomplishments" as I am truly always aspiring to fulfill my potential which is still a long road in the future. But recapping on 2017 I can actually look back at the year and be proud of what I've built, even if there are 1000 things I would change, I know that I busted.my.ass.  I have a long way to go, but am proud of where I am. THANK YOU to all of the publications, mentions, reposts, and cheerleaders giving me encouragement along the way!!! <3  I plan to put myself out there even more in the photography industry in 2018 and really fine tune my craft as much as I possibly can. 


WHAT'S NEXT?!

I'm not much of a "resolutions" girl. I think it's just the word itself that's lost it's meaning because of all of the empty promises attached to it. I AM a goal-setter, and more importantly, a goal-ACHIEVER. So while you're not going to get a whole slew of big dreams that I will likely not fulfill, I'll go ahead and list out all of the plans that are already in motion for 2018, and I will continue to work my ass off towards them. 

In 2018, I will be...

+MAKING A HUGE ANNOUNCEMENT.  Like....in 2 days. I've been chickening out big time on this one that's been in the works for 3 years. I pulled it off in September and have yet to fill y'all in on my little secret. Stay tuned.

+TRAVELING A TON. There has been so much time spent wishing that I would have traveled more before having kids, or before my career became so demanding. About 6 months ago I made a promise with myself and my husband to make 2018 a year of experiencing things I've always wanted to see.  We'll be working out of Europe for the summer of 2018 ([Santorini|Mykonos|Athens]Greece, [Naples, Florence, Venice, Milan, Almalfi Coast, Rome] Italy, [Paris, Nice] France), and I also have several other photography related travels occurring (Los Angeles, New York, and Boulder CO. 

+Slowing down. I have this little problem that involves seeing a blank spot in my calendar jumping at the chance to fill it if someone asks. That resulted in a 2017 full of being FULL. Too full. Client experience is my TOP PRIORITY in my business. It's what this has all been built on. I still delivered on this in 2017, however it became a lot more difficult to do when I was sometimes taking as many as 15 appointments a week. That.is.NUTS. I am continuing to remind myself that this is a SMALL BUSINESS, and to keep it as top-notch as it's always been, I need to learn to stick to my pre-determined number of appointments a week, and politely decline on any additional. It's in the best interest of my clients, and in the best interest of my creativity and mental health (which is also in the best interest of my clients). 

THAT SAID, My 2018 is already over 75% booked (HOLY.CRAP.), and I will be increasing prices a pinch and saying "I'm so very sorry that I can't accommodate you" a little more. As much as those words pain me,it is worth it to keep the ultimate client experience 100% intact and even improving as time goes on! No burn out for me!

+Beefing up my boudoir photographer education offerings. As per the previous bullet point, I *do* need to slow things down a bit. That will mean taking on fewer boudoir mentorships. I believe in giving photographers a REALLY thorough and customized experience when it comes to their business coaching, so I will continue to limit these to a manageable level for me so that I can over-deliver to my "students". HOWEVER-- the great news is, I will be really beefing up on my educational guides for photographers and other small business owners!!! 

By the end of the 1st quarter, there will be a really beefy library of educational offerings on my website for purchase for photographers! I'm in the final stages of fine-tuning now, it's been a TON of really really hard work, and I'm really excited to release all of it soon to continue to help photographers and other small business owners market their companies, grow in their craft, and deliver impeccable customer service. 

+EDUCATING THE $%&@! OUT OF MYSELF. I always say that my biggest insecurity....well...it's not anything having to do with my appearance. The thing I wish I could change the most about myself is my intelligence.  LUCKILY----that's something I can change.

There is endless information out there, endless education, and endless possibilities for expanding my knowledge on just about any topic under the sun. I have ALWAYS been an advocate of continued education and will continue to study photography for as long as I'm shooting. It's so important to recognize that YOU DO NOT KNOW IT ALL. You don't. Even in the things you're an "expert" in. I recognize that (x100000), and am taking a very proactive approach to my education. I am already enrolled in several classes that will enhance my technical craft, and have about 60 books on my "to read" list to work on becoming a more self-aware, enlightened, happy individual. Like the last 3 years, this next year will be a year of learning new things. 

 

+GIVING MORE TO MY CLIENTS. I'm always looking for new ways to make my clients feel extra special. From helping them with their bags into the studio, to customizing a welcome sign for each of them, to following up with them years down the road to congratulate them on new life events....client relationships are really important to me. That's not just something I saySo, in 2018 I'll be fine tuning the client experience even more to give them alllll the warm and fuzzies. 

 

And now that all THAT'S out there, y'all can hold me accountable! 

FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART, TRULY...GENUINELY...THANK YOU. Thank you for reading through this long and winding blog post, thank you for reading all/ANY of my blog posts. Thank you for every sweet comment, every word of encouragement, every Instagram "like". Thank you for trusting me with your boudoir experience. Thank you for being friendly and my friends. Thank you for all of your continued support over the last decade of making my passion a career. I love you all and cannot wait for another BEST.YEAR.EVER. 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the Boys | Austin Boudoir Studio

I can totally relate to the women who come to me saying that they're just "one of the boys" or "a  total tomboy, good luck making me girly."...because...uhm...hello! Not sure how well you know me through all of my ramblings by now, and while a homegirl loves herself some little black dresses and a dappling of makeup, I find myself completely out of my element when surrounded by "girly girls". When in a group situation, you can find me conversing with the guys. When my girlfriends need to have a 2 hour conversation about how their going to dress for an event, I find myself retreating from the conversation and thinking about other things...probably food. (Still love you, girrrllls!)

So when clients think they're throwing me a curve ball by telling me they aren't "girly"...they really aren't making my job any more difficult. Boudoir isn't about transforming you into the girliest of all girls. It's about showing off your personality, playing up what you want to play up, and having a great time. 

Miss C here was "just one of the boys", so we obviously had the best time evah! She opted for some sexy black numbers *be still my heart*, and a nude set which made her love her curves a little bit more without a stitch of clothing. 

"I've always been one of the boys and I still get surprised when someone tells me I'm beautiful. However, after my boudoir shoot, I felt absolutely gorgeous!"

"From beginning to end, Kara was absolutely top notch! Seriously, when it comes to boudoir photographers, Kara is the way to go. From getting scheduled, figuring out what style of shoot I wanted it to be, the studio and photo shoot, and picking out photos for my album, everything was perfect."

"Sure, doing my hair and makeup will make me feel pretty, but this shoot made me feel like a total BOMBSHELL."

"And can we talk about those curves?! They clearly need to be embraced more and I now know they also look good without anything on them ;-)"

"There isn't anything that I would change about this experience! And I'm so glad I went out of my comfort zone for the nude shots. I LOVE them! Oh my goodness, I'm floating on cloud nine." -Miss C

 

WOO! I love enthusiastic messages like this! Miss C's personality SCREAMS through in these images and it was so much fun to document her personality, her "boyish charm", and her killer curves that she now recognizes don't need any clothes at all to look fabulous!

*high five, dude.* 

xx

Embracing your sexy | Austin Boudoir Studio | Boudoir Portraiture

Another story I hear often from my clients is that they often feel cute or maybe even "pretty", but hardly ever sexy. That's one of our curses as females. We don't see our potential. We put ourselves in "cute" boxes and when someone suggests that we are sexy, we laugh it off. No way. Me? Nope. 

One of my biggest strengths is showing women how sexy they are. I want them to embrace themselves as powerful and, GASP, sexual beings. It's much easier for us to grasp the concept that we are hard workers, decent moms, devoted wives. But the sexy thing is harder for us to recognize. 

But I promise, if you come in to my Austin boudoir studio for a boudoir experience, I'll show you. The shoot won't feel like you're trying too hard to be someone else. In fact, you may even think "There's NO WAY this photo is sexy!" or "There's NO WAY I'm doing this right."  The magic of it is that I'm about to show each client her sexy AF self and they don't even expect it.

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I think so many people book boudoir experiences with me thinking "Well, I'm not going to look as amazing as the other women on her website, but if I can walk away with one good picture of myself I'll be happy." And those are the clients that are absolutely awestruck by the images in front of them at their photo reveal. 

Miss M had a specific aesthetic in mind that, to me, resembled magazine cover portraits. She had a very regal and poised look about her, and we worked together beautifully to create an elegant set of portraiture and boudoir images. Read about her experience below:

"Kara creates a space that makes it easy to feel like a total badass wearing nothing but your own skin. I walked out of the shoot feeling confident, driven and fearless. The whole experience was absolutely fabulous and it has been so empowering knowing that I did it for myself."

"In a lot of other pictures I have of myself, I can be described as looking "sweet" or "pretty." This experience is exhilaratingly different. When I look at my boudoir pictures, I'm empowered to see myself in a new light that reflects so much more of who I am and what I want to be."

"I see so much more that a sweet pretty girl. I see the story of a woman who is beautiful, brave, strong and interesting, a woman who has enough confidence to unapologetically love and accept herself as she is."

P.S. you're amazing | Austin Boudoir Studio

Yesterday I had the ultimate in lazy Sundays. My son's soccer tournament was cancelled...which is a good thing because I just so happened to have a raging hangover from an embarrassingly little amount of alcohol the night before (HELLLL-OOOO adulthood.), and it was cold and rainy. I worked from my laptop in bed all.day.long. and watched movie after movie. 

I probably wasn't mentally prepared to watch P.S. I love you in my current state, but I did. For some reason it resonated with me so much more yesterday than it did the first time I saw it nearly 10 years ago...before kids. There was a message hidden in there that I didn't pick up on the first time. 

For those of you aren't familiar, it's about a recently widowed woman Holly (played by Hillary Swank) whose late husband (Gerard Butler) left letters with her friends and family to be delivered to her intermittently after his passing to help her cope and move forward.  He challenged her even after he was gone. As you can imagine, it's emotional AF. 

In a really pivotal scene for me, Holly's mother (Kathy Bates)  says "Ohh how your father used to make me laugh..." and Holly responded by saying "I don't remember you laughing...". Mother, looking absolutely crushed says "Well that makes me sad. Because I did."   How many of us have lost so much of our young spirit because...well...life?! I know I have. I know that I don't laugh as much as I did before kids. I know that I'm far, FAR more serious now. And I know that I'm not alone.  We need reminded. 

Without giving away too much of the movie (if you haven't seen it, wait for a lazy Sunday, grab 6 boxes of tissues and a tub of ice cream and be prepared to cry it all out), it was one sentence in the final letter Holly received that drove the point home and had me ugly crying. You see, Holly, like so many of us women, lost a bit of her young free spirit. She got very serious over the years. The young woman who met the love of her life in a really adorable and quirky way on a winding road in Ireland while lost was actually the LEAST lost when she had no idea where she was. 

In his final letter to her, her late husband said "You see, I don't worry about you remembering me. It's that girl on the road you keep forgetting."  *ugly sobbing accelerates*

We.need.reminded.

If you hung in with me for that, you should get the correlation. That is my goal during your boudoir experience...to remind you. This experience isn't about the mom version of you, the wife version of you, the boss or employee version of you, the flat out EXHAUSTED version of you. It's about you...the WOMAN. 

Today we are hearing from Miss Z. A hardworking mom who, like most of us, needed a boost, and got it when she needed it the most. She was an absolute honor to work with, and when I received an email from her immediately after her session before even seeing the photos speaking of how great she felt, I knew my mission was accomplished. 

"Kara, you have a gift and it is so inspiring to see you use it to lift women up in a positive way. You make people forget about their body image and embrace beauty."

I hadn’t even seen my pictures and I didn’t care, it was so easy and fun and just what I needed.

"This has helped me regain some self-confidence and self-respect. I know it sounds silly but as women we don't see ourselves in the most positive light. Especially coming out of a situation where I was doubting the person I was."

"Thank you for being my silver lining in a time when I needed a boost the most! As I am writing this I have tears in my eyes because I don't think you and your team realize what you did for me. My pictures are stunning, I'm so incredibly happy with the results."

Rave reviews never get old. It reiterates to me (because, yes, I need self esteem boosts just like the rest of you!), that I am doing what I've always intended to do: Make women not only FEEL amazing, but make them realize that they ARE amazing. All the time. Boudoir photography can be categorized so many different ways...but for me it's about boosting confidence long-term. It's about self-appreciation. It's about self-acceptance. It's about being reminded of who you are as a WOMAN, not just a mom/wife/paycheck generator/exhausted human being.

Thank you, Miss Z, for sharing your experience and allowing me to remind you of your badassness. ;) 

DO YOU NEED REMINDED? I CAN HELP. LET'S CHAT, DAHHLING!

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Loving Photos of Yourself | Miss A | Austin Boudoir Studio

There probably won't be enough client stories and reviews that will make you believe that even YOU will love images of yourself.  But let's try for just one more, shall we?

You see, I *get* it. I'm a woman... well...a GIRL if you want to consider my reaction to photos of myself. I nitpick. I'm not proud of it, but I do. I am getting MUCH better about that...yet I seem to have a really long road ahead to getting to the point that I love myself from every angle, posed and unposed, candid or not. In the meantime, there's professional photographers like yours truly. 

I wish I kept track of the number of women who came in to me saying they were SO nervous about this experience because they aren't photogenic, they hate photos of themselves, they aren't as thin as the women on my website, etc etc.  Guess who calls bullshit? MEEEEEE!  It's not my client's job to take amazing photos of them. It's mine. And I will. And you will leave your photo reveal saying "I cannot believe I LOVE photos of MYSELF." It's a really awesome feeling....and this client here got to experience it!  

Miss A speaks on her Kara Marie Boudoir experience:

"The experience was surreal. I didn't know how to prepare for it other than the typical "let me lose weight and tone up before I strip down in front of a camera!"

"The week of my shoot was funky - I was in an emotional headspace and feeling pretty down. Needless to say, on the day of my shoot, I did not feel like being sexy. Luckily, Kara made me feel 100% comfortable right off the bat. She explained what to expect during the shoot and how to make a sexy pouty face. And just like that, the shoot was over and I could eat fried chicken again."

"The day of the photo reveal could not come soon enough. I was feeling happy and normal again and SO ready to see the pictures. This was far more exciting than the shoot itself. I couldn't believe how much I loved the pictures."

Most people don’t LOVE pictures of themselves, but damn ... I L.O.V.E. these pictures.
— Miss A
Makeup by Kendall of Mayhem&nbsp;

Makeup by Kendall of Mayhem 

"I cannot wait to have the prints in my hands and the art on my walls. If you want to feel great about yourself in a way you haven't felt before, you must have a shoot with Kara."

" I'm a bit shocked to see myself in a such a pretty, sexy, and natural way."

" I usually try to take "selfies" so I have control over the picture and can decide if I like the outcome. I wasn't sure if I would like pictures of myself taken by someone else. Honestly, I was most terrified of seeing professional pictures and still picking myself apart in each image. This is where 'trust the professional' really comes into play. Kara knows what she's doing and DAMN it felt good seeing myself like that."

" I feel excited and happy with the pictures, I want to show everyone! And I want to tell everyone that you will look like that in your own photoshoot, too."

You will look hot, sexy, beautiful, and like yourself. And by the way, I am not staring at them picking myself apart.

"I wanted to add that I did this shoot for myself - these pictures are not for a significant other or fiance. These are for me to show myself how beautiful I am and to preserve when I'm 80 and no longer have my younger body. I highly recommend everyone do this, even if there is no special recipient in mind - YOU can be the special recipient of these beautiful images."

And if you're wishing and hoping that she printed some of these for her wall, you'll be pleased to know she went BIG....ANNNND went home!!! <3 

YASSSSS!!!!!! Just another example of a woman in shock at how much she loved photos of herself. She walked away with boosted confidence, self love, a mega thick boudoir album, and the most badass wall art pieces for over her bed that anyone could ask for! 

I know it's not always easy to place your trust in a stranger when it comes to seeing yourself in this manner. But, I assure you, you are in VERY CAPABLE hands. I photograph each and every client as I would want to be photographed. From the moment you book your shoot experience with me, you are in my hands, you are under my wing, and you are part of the Kara Marie Boudoir family. Consider me Mother Goose...I'll take amazing care of you.  

Thank you to Miss A for the amazing blog feature! You.are.ahmazinnnnggg!

Ready to trust me?? Good. Let's chat. 

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A shattered woman on the mend | Austin Boudoir Studio

If you've learned only one thing by following along with my work and reading my blog, I hope it's that my message is about SO MUCH MORE than sexy photos. So. Much. More.  There is a very specific reason that I choose to share words direct from my client's mouths along with their photos. Those words tell the story of each woman, and those stories bring us together.

The images aren't anywhere near as important as what the images represent for the women in them.

The story that I share today is the very REAL and raw testimony of a recent client who has been working on putting her shattered world back together after the stillbirth of her daughter. SO many of you, unfortunately, can relate to such a loss. Things like this often cause us to shut down emotionally, focus on the negative, and lose our relationship with ourselves....lose our sense of womanhood.  

It's up to us to attempt to find ways of healing and reconnecting with ourselves and our bodies after such mental trauma. It was an absolute honor to be a part of helping Miss M get a little bit of herself back. 

She shares:

"After the stillbirth of my daughter I was a woman shattered. With her stillbirth came a complete disconnect from my sense of "womanhood.

I was so angry with my body. I wanted to separate from my physical self, to ignore it. I'd lost my strong, sexy, confident self. I was embarrassed. Others couldn't see why I was 25 pounds overweight. I had no child to hold. And yet, honestly I was holding onto the weight because it reminded me of what was. I wasn't ready to let that go.

"I'm working to rebuild my relationship with my physical self one piece at a time. This photoshoot was a big piece. Kara has beautifully captured me as I am today. She's frozen my body in time.  This body, the one that grew my precious baby girl, will forever stand still in those beautiful images. I can begin to let go of what was and move into what will be."

I am finding ways to remind myself that I am a woman. Her death does not change that fact. And these photos are helping me rebuild a broken relationship piece-by-piece, image-by-image.
— Miss M

"For someone who has an innate anxiety around new places and people this could have been bad. Thank you for making me feel comfortable and at ease."

I'm so grateful to Miss M for choosing me to be a part of her journey to reconnect with herself and her womanhood...and infinitely grateful to her for sharing her story with all of us. I know it will be such an inspiration to so many women who have experienced a similar loss. My heart breaks for every single woman who tells me a story similar to this. Yet I am so proud that they are taking this huge step towards loving on themselves with a boudoir experience.  If you think that a boudoir experience may help you cope/recover/mend/breathe/smile again, I encourage you to reach out! 

I'm in a hugging kind of mood, so I'm sending virtual hugs to all of you, and an extra one to you, Miss M! 

A Photographic Love Story | Austin Maternity Boudoir

Hands down the best part of being a photographer is the relationships that I develop with my clients....and the one thing that I truly miss about shooting weddings is being a small part of a couple's journey over the years. Many times, I would photograph a couple's engagement photos, followed by their wedding photos, followed by their maternity photos, followed by their family photos. Sometimes in a completely different order too. The biggest compliment I can receive is being chosen again and again. 

Now, I know that I'm no longer shooting weddings, families, and children. But guess what I still shoot? Maternity beauty and boudoir. AND I WAS SOOOOOO OVER-THE-MOON GIDDY when Laura contacted me and asked me to shoot her maternity boudoir photos

 

 

THE PROPOSAL

Years ago, Jackie contacted me via e-mail and let me know she was coming into town from Houston with her girlfriend Laura, and wanted me to play paparazzi and capture her surprise proposa

I arrived to Castle Park and played tourist. At one point Laura pointed me out and I thought for sure I was busted, but later found out she was just telling Jackie how much she wanted a camera like mine. Phew! Needless to say, the proposal was outstanding, I had a BLAST photographing them, and it was truly special to be involved in this part of their relationship. 

This shoot was even featured on a popular inspiration blog for "Lesbians, Queers, and Everyone Else" called "On a Bicycle Built for Two.". Go check out the post HERE.

In 2013, I photographed Jackie's proposal to Laura at Castle Park.

In 2013, I photographed Jackie's proposal to Laura at Castle Park.

THE WEDDING

Eventually I got the call about the wedding! Jackie and Laura wanted me to capture their Austin wedding at VUKA. It was seriously amazing. I loved it to bits. Umm...HELLO....they served HOMESLICE PIZZA at their reception. Seriously badass. They are a stunning couple with killer personalities, and the camera...well.....MY CAMERA (back off other camera people, they're MINE) loves them!

In 2014, I photographed Jackie + Laura's Wedding at VUKA

In 2014, I photographed Jackie + Laura's Wedding at VUKA

 

THE BABBBYYYYY

And then...AND THEN I got *THE* email. "HEY KARA! SO to add to our little love story that you've captured every step of...We're PREGNANT!!"

WEEEEEEEEE!!!

Pregnancy beauty + boudoir is seriously just so stunning.  I wish it's something I would have done when pregnant with my boys. It's so easy to feel "BLAH" when you're pregnant...but these beauty sessions really help you to remember the miraculous parts of it all. Our bodies are just incredible to be able to grow little humans.  Eventually I got the email that Jackie would be joining us for a few shots which was even better!  Check out a small handful of a really stunning collection of maternity boudoir:

 

SERIOUSLY. Can we just talk for a second about what a freaking GODDESS Laura is!?!?! She is as a woman, alone....but as a pregnant woman!? Holy fox!  She makes pregnancy look DAMN GOOD! 

During a maternity shoot, I'm always sure to photograph my client sans belly...just a gorgeous beauty portrait. Because they don't *ALWAYS* want to think of themselves pregnant. Women aren't JUST a vessel for a baby! So while I take care to photograph the MOM in them, I always am sure to take care of the WOMAN in them, too. Which is what this photo below is meant to portray. RRAWRRR!!

It's genuinely one of the biggest honors to be a part of people's story like this. I hope to someday shoot Jackie + Laura's mommy + me beauty session after they have their little girl!  They are such beautiful people, inside and out, and I'm blessed to have crossed paths with them a few years ago. 

Thank you Jackie, Laura, + Baby R for coming back to see me and my lens once again!! <3

 

Miss "B" | Austin Boudoir Studio

Do you remember the movie "Sleepless in Seattle"? Do you remember a freaking adorable, young, bubbly Meg Ryan in that movie?   Ok, so this client reminded me SO much of young Meg Ryan....SO MUCH.  Which actually kind of made me love her even more if that was possible. Check out this stunning set of images that this beauty gifted to her lucky husband earlier this month!

Stunning, yes???  Yes.

This is what this doll had to say: "Everything was just awesome. The studio was amazing and I felt totally comfortable the whole shoot! I have to give all the credit to Kara. She gave direction really well and had a great sense of humor which put me at ease. I would absolutely recommend this experience to anyone!"

Your turn!! 

If you're ready to step in front of my lens, (I PROMISE, you'll do great!), let's chat!

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