I Shot My Own Boudoir Portraits, and Here’s What Happened

Self portrait of the author Lori Unruh Poole

There comes a time in every photographer’s life when she has to take her own portrait. A headshot for the website, an attempt at family portraits with a tripod and a timer. You may or may not know, I went to school for art – the drawing and painting kind. We were assigned some form of self-portrait at least once a year. As a boudoir photographer, I started to think this was the next logical step: a boudoir self portrait.

The Journey to a Boudoir Self Portrait

My husband Jeff is a very talented boudoir photographer himself. He actually won first place in the beauty category at an international photographic competition with one of his boudoir bodyscapes. And he’s naturally taken several boudoir photos of me, like this image below. But it was the boudoir self portrait I was wanting.

A boudoir portrait of the author, looking down.
A boudoir portrait Jeff took of me.

You see, a self-portrait is more than just a picture; more than a literal representation of one’s appearance. It’s more than a selfie, smiling and holding the camera at a slightly elevated angle. As an artist, a self-portrait is a visual representation of something emotional – how you see yourself, or perhaps how you would like to be seen. It’s an exploration and a journey.

Fear of Commitment

Like many of my clients, I was nervous about this. I avoid committing to something I wanted to do, because I was afraid I wouldn’t like the results. Sure I can pose all shapes and sizes when I’m looking through the lens… how would I be able to pose myself by feel? I avoided shopping for lingerie or booking a hair and makeup artist, because that would mean I was committed.

Then one day, I had the studio all to myself. Jeff was shooting a wedding. The other photographers who rent offices from us were all out of the studio for one reason or another. No lingerie was in my bag, no hair and makeup artist awaited my arrival. I prepared exactly zilch – no haircut, no balayage, no mani/pedi. I hadn’t even shaved my legs. We had just put new hardwood floors in the studio, and hadn’t yet moved the boudoir furniture back in. But I had my makeup bag and a disposable razor, so I decided to jump in before I chickened out. I locked the front door, put a “Session in Progress” sign on the studio room, and stripped down naked.

Session in Progress

Deep breath.

Camera on a tripod, remote in hand. Acutely aware of every flaw in my body I’ve been wishing away since I was old enough to be aware I would never be shaped like my Barbie dolls or the models I saw in magazines.

I felt my way into my first pose. Silently, I wished I could step outside my body, view my pose from the camera angle, and give myself pointers. I pressed the shutter, quickly hid the remote, and held my pose until I heard the camera click. Then I got up and held my breath as I looked at the back of the camera for the first time, half hopeful / half afraid of what I’d see.

It was a picture of the floor, and my feet. I missed. Well, shit. This is going to be even harder than I thought.

When it all changed

I finally got into the swing of things. Pose, check camera. Pose again. At one point, I’m stretched across the floor, back arched hard. *Click* Ok, relax my back for a minute. Try and get up. *Sheeeeyoop* The small of my back suction-cupped itself to the slick floors! Next pose, kneeling on an ottoman, using every bit of posing know-how to simultaneously arch my back and hold in my tum. *Click*. Run across the room, buck naked, boobs bouncing, thighs jiggling, to check the back of the camera.

That was the image that changed everything.

Boudoir self-portrait of the author, kneeling on an ottoman.
The image that changed everything.

I stared at the back of the camera. In that image, I could look past my cellulite, my always round belly, my boobs that were never perky enough, my wide torso that will never be shaped like an hourglass. Those things were all there, but what I saw was beautiful curves, soft skin, luminous eyes. Maybe I wasn’t pretty like all those girls I envied, but I was pretty like ME. For the first time ever in my life, I was completely ok with what I saw. I wasn’t picking myself apart. I could maybe, just maybe admit to myself that I was beautiful. My eyes welled up. I walked a little taller back to my next pose, with a new challenge for myself: Could I go from “pretty like me” to “damn sexy”? I was determined to try.


Boudoir self-portrait of the author, sitting on an ottoman.

A Reaction I Never Expected to my Boudoir Self Portrait

Jeff’s reactions to my photos were exactly what you’d expect. Let’s just say he couldn’t wait to get home. 🙂

My own reactions to my photos were something I never expected. I expected to do this “for him” and not look back. I expected to maybe have a little more to talk about with my clients. Surprisingly, I also found myself adding the images to my portfolio slideshow, to show my clients that anyone can do this. I found myself starting to show my photos to my girlfriends… and then to colleagues… and then giving a presentation on boudoir photography with my naked booty on display to Professional Photographers of North Carolina.

Boudoir self-portrait of the author, wrapped in window curtains.

I started to wear shorts again.

My tankini-with-boy-shorts combo that covered more skin than the bathing suits old Victorian ladies wore finally made its way to retirement. I bought myself a high-waisted bikini that actually shows some of my belly. And I find myself not giving a fuck what anyone thinks of it.

Are you ready to change how you view yourself? Contact us today to learn about boudoir photography!

a boudoir before and after of the author

We’re jeff
& Lori

Carolina-based LUXURY BOUDOIR and WEDDING photographers

Our love of photography brought us together when we met at a photography conference over a decade ago. Today, Jeff is indigosilver’s lead wedding photographer, while Lori focuses on boudoir portraiture.

search the site

featured posts

post categories