Cool Cate | Destination Boudoir

One of the perks of being in the photography industry is frequent conferences, retreats, and workshops that allow me to see my favorite photographer friends from all over the world far more frequently than I would any other out-of-town friends.  Cate, here,  is one of those friends. We are incredibly similar, only she's way more "likable" than me (she disagrees...but that only further illustrates my point). 

Photographing other photographers is one of those things I used to shy away from...or if I did it, I was always incredibly nervous.  NOW, I adore it and almost seek it out. It's so fun to give photographers, especially boudoir photographers, the experience that they themselves give everyone else on a regular basis. 

I knew EXACTLY how I wanted to photograph Cate. I wanted it to be simple, natural, "undone", and, of course, black and white.  All she wanted was to be made to look "cool", because apparently that's my boudoir style. It wasn't until she pointed it out to me that I recognized....that's EXACTLY what I try to do with all of my clients. I just try to make them look COOL AF (cool to me is confident, badass, strong, and like someone you'd want to be around.).  I'm so happy to hear that Cate felt I delivered. 

"One day out of the clear blue, my darling friend Kara sent me a beautiful note that simply said 'you are stunning and likable and I just wanted to tell you that.' I received it on a particular day when I couldn’t feel less stunning or less likable. I cried actually, and thanked her.

Later, when she told me she’d be available to photograph me during our trip to Miami, I jumped at the chance. Kara is one of the small few I knew could capture me in a way I could not only be proud of — but that could change that fear inside me and make me see myself the way others do. I was 1000% confident Kara had that magic and I was not wrong. "

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"Kara gave me ideas of how she envisioned shooting me and it was if she read my mind. Her sense of style is innate and when I joked 'Make me look cool!' I knew she’d deliver".

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"I was amazed at Kara’s swift and flawless posing instruction. Even as a photographer myself, it was impressive how fluid and easy she made it for me as a subject. My resulting images fully reflect grace and effortless beauty in a way I want to envision myself as a woman."

"As a fellow photographer, I have the opportunity to be photographed more frequently than the average woman. My friends, like Kara are some of the best boudoir photographers in our industry, and I’m very particular about who I feel can photograph me the way I want to see myself. It’s not because I’m a model or a hot young thang — it’s the complete opposite of that. "

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"The fact is, as a photographer I’m often ashamed to say I hate being in front of the camera. I don’t like the attention on me, the focus, my own lack of awareness of what I might look like ....and so much more. 

This was not my first boudoir shoot, but it was a completely eye opening, confidence boosting experience."

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"I’m a 43 year old mom of 3 kids, (about to turn 44 soon) a wife, and a business owner. With each passing year comes an ambivalent feeling of being both proud of my years ... but also fearful. It feels vain and shallow to admit, but I do fear my youth and my beauty slipping away. That’s a very hard thing. I embrace my inner beauty always, but I’d be lying if I said I’m not terrified to lose my youth. It’s just one of those things so many of us struggle with as women."

I see boudoir photography as one of the ways we can celebrate and get an objective view of these fears and squash them whole.
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Check out Cate's reaction to her teaser photo that I texted here while sitting next to her and not-so-secretly recording. 

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"These images are SO me. She knew my style, my nature, and my assets. I saw these images and couldn’t believe I might *Actually* look this way? It is eye opening.

I’m not doctored, or morphed, or over styled, or 'too extra.' It’s just ME. A beautiful version of me I’m typically too busy/too fearful/too blind /too unwilling to see. But she saw it, and I’m eternally grateful.

I do a shoot each year for my birthday and share them. I’m proud that this is what I can show 44 looks like on ME. Love you, Kara."

Birds of a feather flock together ;)   My all time favorite photo of Cate + I that speaks volumes. I thought this should most definitely accompany her boudoir photos. 

Birds of a feather flock together ;)   My all time favorite photo of Cate + I that speaks volumes. I thought this should most definitely accompany her boudoir photos. 

Shooting with this knockout the way that I wanted her to see herself, and then being able to witness her reaction to her first preview in person was SO amazingly fun and fulfilling. I adore this woman and am absolutely delighted that I had the opportunity to show her almost-44-year-old-ass that she IS in fact COOL, sexy, gorgeous, beautiful, and badass. 

Thank you, Cate for your sweetheart testimony and for allowing me to share your stunning images with the KMB followers. You. Rock.

 

Is solo travel for you? | My "me-time" trip to Tulum, Mexico

I have been making a blanket statement a lot lately that I would like to recant. I've been proclaiming from the rooftops that everyone should take a solo trip, but I think maybe I was just trying to lessen the guilt that I felt for leaving my family and "real life" for completely selfish reasons. 

While I do thoroughly believe that traveling solo is amazing for the soul and that everyone could benefit from it....if you know yourself and your personality and know that you would be uncomfortable, lonely, and downright scared the whole time...then maybe it's not for you. Or maybe you should baby step it and try a night alone in a hotel.

But I have decided that solo travel IS for me. 

Not ALL the time, obviously. But a weekend getaway every now and then? Yep. 

My life is pretty great. I absolutely adore my little family, love my "job", love the life that I've built for myself. I didn't feel the need for an "ESCAPE", necessarily. Just a "REFRESH and EXPLORE".  And maybe a chance to pee alone.

I'm not much of a New Year's Resolution-maker. Resolutions, in my mind, are empty promises. I think it's just the word "resolution" that carries the negative connotation of failure. So while I don't call them "resolutions", every year I make a bucket list. A list of things that, if THIS were my last year on earth, I would want to accomplish them. Sounds half morbid and half hipster douchebag, I suppose. 

Nonetheless, one of the items on 2015's list was a solo trip. Sure, I take lots of little trips for business by myself. But those trips aren't about me. I wanted a block of time to do whatever the hell I wanted in a place that was unfamiliar to me. I wanted to explore. I wanted to sleep in if I wanted (or wake up before sunrise every day in my case).  I wanted to eat breakfast for dinner and desert for breakfast. I didn't want to have any agenda. I wanted to try something new. I wanted to rely only on myself. AND...as the mother of 2 children....I wanted to go to the bathroom and take a shower without interruption. If you're a mom...you DEFINITELY get it.  

In January of 2015, I blocked out a weekend in February to take this solo trip. Then I pushed it back to March.  Then June. Then August. Then November. It got bumped so many times it almost got bumped to 2016. I didn't want to let that happen. 

So December 11th it was. I scoured vacation deal sites for a last minute deal....REALLY open to new places that the interwebs might point me to. But, of course, I only had one weekend because I didn't want it to mess up my husband's or kids' schedules. (Still the mom/wife guilt!). 

Alas I scored an insane deal in what was considered the "off-season" for Tulum, Mexico. 

I'd never been to Tulum before, just Cancun. So I did some research and saw that it was much further from being touristy, that it was safe, it was a quick direct flight from Austin, it was super cheap, that it was FREAKING GORGEOUS, and that it was full of culture. Winner. 

In-flight view somewhere between Texas and Mexico. 

In-flight view somewhere between Texas and Mexico. 

On the plane, I read a book. It was not a business book or a self-improvement book. It was a "just for the read-of-it book.". Already I was digging being selfish. When the flight attendant came by to offer me a beverage, I got a charcuterie plate and a glass of white wine. I lounged back in the row I had to myself in my business class seat, and I wasn't doing ANY business. 

I was sure to set up a shared shuttle to my resort, because, as a woman traveling alone in Mexico....safety is key. 

I actually really enjoyed the shared shuttle ride. I talked to several other people (all from Dallas, coincidentally) en route, got a lot of great recommendations, and since Tulum was the very last stop on the route...I got to see all kinds of boutique hotels and resorts along the way to get a good idea for next time. 

It was just about dark when I arrived at my hotel. I got checked in, and did exactly what I'd been dying to do all day: Had a solo candlelight dinner overlooking the pool and ocean.  I don't just mean "without a date"...I literally was the only one in the restaurant. 

Sunrise in Tulum

Sunrise in Tulum

Being that I took this trip during mega off-season, apparently, I got SO much special attention from the staff. It was an all-inclusive resort, and, if you've ever been to one of those, you know that the service is not always stellar given that tips aren't a thing. That couldn't have been further from the truth! I'm not sure if it's because they didn't have anyone else to serve, or because they took pity that I was alone.  But there was absolutely zero self-pity the entire trip. 

Saturday was an amazing day. I woke up super early, walked the grounds, watched the sunrise, went to breakfast, and then took a snorkeling tour with "EDVENTURE TOURS". If you are anywhere on the Yucatan Peninsula, you absolutely MUST look into this family owned company.

Again, I got a ton of personal attention because I was the ONLY ONE with a tour booked that day, so to keep me from feeling uncomfortable (without me asking), they made it a private "training" tour. They brought out several other new guides to train them on the snorkeling locations that we were going to, and to show them how to treat their customers. So I had 6 wonderful ladies and gentlemen giving me the ultimate in customer service. 

First stop was the Mayan Ruins, which was really cool to see. My favorite part, though, was the little beach at the bottom. I made my way through the ruins pretty quickly and used the rest of my allotted "exploration" time to sit on the beach, watch the waves, take photos, and trying to coax a giant iguana to pose for a picture. (I swear he growled at me.)

Then it was time to snorkel. The only other time I've been snorkeling was in the deep end McDowell High School pool as part of swim class. And I failed HARD at it. I've had anxiety about snorkeling ever since, yet it's something I've wanted to conquer so badly. So I freaking did it.

When the guides told me that we were going to snorkel in the Dos Ojos Cenote, I was flipping terrified. Being a slightly claustrophobic girl as it was, and a brand new snorkeler...the thought of jumping into a dark well in a cave with a flashlight pretty much made me want to catch the next donkey out of there. But with nobody else there to talk me down, I told myself to give it a chance. I had an internal freak out for about 2 minutes, and after that I was ready to explore. 

Snorkeling for the first time in the Dos Ojos Cenote, Mexico.   

Snorkeling for the first time in the Dos Ojos Cenote, Mexico.

 

Then I was challenged a bit further when the guides asked me if I wanted to see the bat cave. I immediately said "YEAH! Let's DO it!" when they looked at each other like "silly little girl..."....and then explained to me that I would have to doggie paddle, head out of the water, with only about 6 inches between the top of the water and the ceiling of the cave in order to get there. UHMMMMM.   REALLY!? Holy shit. Ok. 

So I did that and made it into the bat cave. To be honest, I was grossed out thinking about how much bat shit I was floating around in. But the small dark cave anxiety was non-existent, so that's good ;) 

Then we went to Akumal for lunch and lagoon snorkeling. The tour set up a private lunch table for me at an authentic Mexican restaurant (because all I'd eaten prior to this was the resort's idea of what tourists wanted to eat while in Mexico: Italian and Japanese food.) and I devoured chicken fajitas, chips and salsa, and a Dos Equis before jumping into the lagoon for another snorkel.

Between the snorkeling tour, the lying by the pool, the toes in the sand, the strange Italian meals at the Mexican restaurant, and brushing up on my Spanish that hasn't really been used in years....it was an incredible trip. 

First time ever wearing a thong bathing suit. This is a major milestone for me, people!

First time ever wearing a thong bathing suit. This is a major milestone for me, people!

I spent many hours alone at this glorious pool. Glorious = understatement.

I spent many hours alone at this glorious pool. Glorious = understatement.

The intention: A yoga practice on the beach. Reality: 3 in-my-room yoga poses and 3 self timer pictures followed by a mojito in a seated position on the floor.

The intention: A yoga practice on the beach. Reality: 3 in-my-room yoga poses and 3 self timer pictures followed by a mojito in a seated position on the floor.

Would it have been incredible with my husband? Hell yes. And I would love to go back with him. But it would have been different. Would it have been amazing with my girlfriends? Yep. And try as they might, I insisted that I do this one alone. And I am so, so glad that I did. 

I recharged my batteries, learned a little about myself, indulged when I saw fit, was gone just long enough to feel replenished, but not so long that I was sulking about missing my family. 

For those with children and busy lives, traveling alone may just be the best way to go! My husband and I have crazy schedules, two kids, and no family in our city to watch them at the drop of a hat. For us to take a trip together requires planning 6 months+ ahead, flying one of our family members into Austin for the duration, therefore triple the expense, not to mention the guilt of asking our family to use their days off/vacation time to babysit. 

I'm not sure I would do a BIG international trip by myself at this point. Maybe once the kids are grown and I've done a huge share of exploring WITH my husband. There are so many places that I want to see and experience with him/them. But for now, little weekend getaways are definitely in the cards for me to help keep me mentally stable and enhancing my already pretty-damn-cool life ;) 

If anyone has any specific questions for me about my solo travel experience, don't hesitate to reach out!

In the meantime, I encourage you to plan a weekend getaway for yourself. Don't let anyone else sway your thoughts on what a good time is (as long as you're being safe. And legal. And not doing anything behind your spouse's back. And all that.). If that means total seclusion and silence, so be it. If that means a cheese tour in Wisconsin: do it (ooooh that's a good one. Mental note.). If that means a spa day and overnight hotel stay in your own city: DO.IT.  

OVERALL SOLO TRAVEL TO TULUM, MEXICO RATING: 10/10. 

xo