Back to my roots...

Crossing a sketchy as hell railroad bridge, looking down through the grate at the ground far far below, my stomach did a flip.  I'm not necessarily afraid of heights (well, maybe just a little) but my body was already feeling all sorts of giddy about where we were heading.  I was going back to my roots as a photographer.  A friend and fellow artist was leading me to an abandoned mill where I was going to photograph two traveling models: Willa Prescott & Katlin Tucker. I was feeling the excitement I used to feel so long ago, sheesh it’s been over 10 years now, when I used to shoot in derelict sugar mills in Louisiana.

#throwback

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The above photo was a self portrait I did at a sugar mill that no longer exists. Before I became a boudoir photographer, I used photography as a form of self expression.

Below are a few shots from our romp through the mill! It felt good to stretch my creative muscles again to shoot in a place where I have no idea what to expect!

I would LOVE to start doing more fine art nude shoots again. If that’s something you’re interested in, PLEASE contact me (button at the bottom) and let’s talk!

Gone to Summer Camp!

SSC2015_SALES_PAGE_HEADER_V4_WITH-DATE I just finished packing the last of my bags, which included stuffing a purple wig, pink leggings and pink and yellow fishnet gloves into it.  I'm about to head out the door as soon as I'm done with this post to go to an all women's summer camp.  There's a mix of emotions coursing through me right now that are making me a little giddy and light headed.  I'm SO excited to get to go canoeing, hiking, sing around a campfire, 80's night, and do morning yoga with a bunch of women.  The high ropes course is something I'm nervously looking forward to, I can't wait to test my courage and feel the adrenaline pumping.

But then there's this other thing going through my mind, the part that's left over from grade school.  What if I don't fit in?  Most of the women going to camp are going with friends, and I'm flying solo.  I feel like I'm a bit socially awkward, especially when it comes to meeting new people, especially if these new people already know each other and are in groups.  Eek!  These is me spilling my vulnerability out into the interwebs right now.  I feel so raw and open.  Like I'm heading into the lions den of my anxiety.  Though, deep down I know the next blog post will be about how wonderfully excepting everyone was, and how many amazing new friends I've made... and yada yada.  And that's why I jumped at this opportunity.  I knew when I signed up that this was something that was really going to push me, and I want to be pushed in this way.  I want to know I can make it through.  And I'm doing it by myself.  I'm challenging myself, and I feel so alive.   Even if that aliveness is coming from anxiety, I'm alive damn it!  And in the end I know that I'm definitely not going to regret going.  This is going to be awesome.  =)

This totally vulnerable and open blog post was brought to you by Brené Brown.  I started reading The Gift of Imperfection recently and she was talking about being vulnerable.  So here's to a new and exciting chapter!!!

Wish me luck at summer camp!  And join me next year so I'm not going solo!!!  Click the banner below and sign up to get an email about when tickets go on sale. 11907225_10207514113399138_1442929729155774694_n

I'm going to Asia!

Hey lovelies! Thursday Max and I are leaving on a jet plane and heading to Asia! We'll be visiting Hong Kong, Xiamen, Okinawa & Nagasaki. I won't be able to answer calls or emails while we're gone, but please feel free to call me and email me anyways! I'll be thrilled to come back to all of your messages wanting to book shoots!!!

I'll be back on the 27th. Until then I'll be sending my love from the other side of the world!!!

xoxo

Jen

Shift is Happening.... Charlottesville VA and Flying Solo

Charlottesville Virginia Here We Come!!!


First things first, as I have mentioned in a previous blog Max and I are expanding our boudoir photography to Charlottesville, VA.  Our official move date to set up our Virginia location is April 6 (EEK, so close!).  It's getting closer and closer and we're getting more and more excited!  We're already meeting amazing people in the Charlottesville area and can't wait to meet so many more!  We're currently looking for a professional hair stylist & makeup artist, so if you are one or know one get in touch!  I'll also be on the lookout for businesses to partner with such as salons, dance studios, and lingerie companies to name a few.

(I'll also be in need of a yoga studio for my personal life, so bring on your recommendations!)

Don't worry, Louisiana, I'll be back as soon as June for shoots as well as throughout the year!  This isn't goodbye by a loooong shot!

Flying Solo


 

After 4 and a half years of working side by side with the love of my life, we recently decided that I would take the business over and run it as a solo endeavor.

The reasons are diverse, the most important of which is a personal decision. When you work side by side with your partner / lover / husband, your life can become 100% about business, 100% of the time. There were many nights when we would discuss how we wanted to do things late into the night. There were some points where the business was literally every conversation we had for a week at a time. It was really quite amazing how much of ourselves we've put into this business. Would I change how we started this business? No way. Starting this business with the love of my life was the best thing I've ever done. We built the best business we wanted to build. We literally created a dream in reality and have been living it for the past few years. In one part of our life we couldn't be happier.

However, our personal life needed some tender loving care. So last year we thought it would be a good idea if I took over the business and Max pursued some of his many interests (fine art photography, gardening, music production, and cross country motorcycle adventures to name a few) and I would take the business into new directions with the body acceptance and women empowerment movements. This is good news all around!!! We're both going to continue to pursue our dreams!!!

I feel like working with women in a meaningful way is finally coming full circle.  When I graduated high school I went to college to get a degree in psychology so that I could help women with self esteem and body image issues.  After a very sudden and tragic shift in my life, I strayed away from that dream.  Years later when I went back to school for photography I had no intention of pursuing the same dream, the thought never even crossed my mind.  While I was in school my focus gravitated towards photographing women, which would eventually lead to a business with Max and helping women with accepting their bodies!  It was the most beautiful accident I've ever witnessed!  I found another way to pursue my passion.

I'll be updating the website to reflect these changes in the upcoming weeks.

P.S. Max and I are just fine, we're shifting the balance of priorities and investing ourselves in new projects and directions.  Here's what he's been up to with his fine art project.  (My own shoot with him will be this weekend!)

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Let's talk about shaving pubic hair.

shaving_pubic_hair I was about 17 years old when my then boyfriend convinced me that shaving my pubic hair was a good idea.  He was a bit of an ass, rough around the edges kinda guy.  Don't get me wrong, he loved me, as much as you can love someone at that age.  His ways of showing it weren't all that healthy, which I didn't realize until many MANY years later.  At that age I hadn't considered shaving ALL of my pubic hair.  Literally.  I gave it no thought.  I trimmed it on the edges so that it wouldn't be seen in a bikini, but I didn't give it much thought beyond that.  That is, I didn't until he mentioned it.  Then I was mortified.  "You should shave your pubes, you look like a hairy monkey".  He would call it... it being my lovely vulva... a gorilla.  He teased me about it.  I was admittedly quite meek in my youth.  I can't remember my response, but I know I didn't say what I should have said, which is "Go to hell".

After I had had enough torment, I shaved my pubic hair.  It was TERRIBLE!!!!  I couldn't figure out for the life of me why the hell anyone would ever do that more than once!  There was intense itching, when I scratched I got angry red bumps.  Once the hair started growing back it tore at the inside of my tender labia, which became sore because it wasn't used to such abuse.  Not to mention it looked like I had reverted back to my pre-pube days, my vulva looked like it belonged to a 12 year old.  I hated it.  He loved it.  Of course.  But when we had sex it hurt, the friction rubbed me raw on the mound where the hair used to protect it.  I was exposed.  I swore I would never do it again.  But of course... I did.

I continued to shave every last bit of pubic hair for over 10 years.  Contorting myself in the shower to reach the hard-to-reach spots that a razor has no place going.  I hated the process of shaving, but like the days before I started shaving I never questioned it once I did it.  It was just what I did.  One day something happened.  I'm not sure what set it off, but I questioned why I shave my pubic hair.  I had grown accustomed to the look of it, so it wasn't that I didn't like it.  It was more like one of those days where my neck is hurting from bending so far over and I mumbled to myself, "why the hell am I doing this?"  Wait a second... why the hell am I doing this?!  Then it hit me like a ton of bricks.  Damnit.  I'm shaving because a teenage boy told me to over a decade ago.  I put the razor down and decided I wouldn't pick it back up.  I would take back ownership of my pubic hair.  I ripped it right out of the clutches of societal standards.  I announced it to my husband, who was supportive, in the beginning.  Once the hair  started filling back in, (which happened faster than I care to admit) I felt triumphant.  Even though, to tell you the honest truth, I wasn't that crazy about it.  It was messy, it looked "dirty" to me.  I showed my new do off to my husband (hiding the uncertainty) and... he didn't like it either.  Not that I can blame him, it went from being all nice and neat with everything on display to being quite unruly and somewhat threatening.  Like a mysterious beast.  Like a... gorilla.  No.  I refuse to let those thoughts creep back into my poisoned mind.  Even though Max wasn't crazy about it, (and I wasn't even sure I was) he fully supported my decision to regrow my bush and understood why I was doing it.  He agreed it must be done.  So it was.

Over the course of the next few years I "let it go".  I kept it trimmed neatly around the edges, but I had a full on, 70's style bush.  It was a masterpiece.  I went full force, no half-assing this one!  If it was going to be done I was going to go all the way!  I ended up falling in love with it.  I felt empowered that I reclaimed that intimate part of my body.  I loved the protection it offered, I never feel fully exposed anymore.  I even loved the look!   I felt like another piece of the pressure from society fell off.  I was no longer shaving just because it was what was expected of me.  Eventually I ended up settling on a style that was about half the size of my full on 70's bush and trimmed so it was so unruly.

I feel like I have won this battle.  If I decided to shave everything off again tomorrow I wouldn't feel like I've lost anything.  I would be shaving it all off because it's MY decision about MY body.  Whatever I do with my pubic hair I'm doing it for me not because someone else thinks it's more attractive.  Which don't get me wrong, it is nice to do a little something special for your partner, but not if it goes against what you feel is right for you.  It wasn't right for me personally because of how I feel about beauty standards being pushed on women (and men) in our society today.  I have nothing against shaved vulvas, as long as it's a personal decision.

Moral of the story, when making a personal decision that is intimate to you, make the decision for you first and foremost.  If it doesn't sit well with you, then don't do it. Don't do something just to "fit in" with societal standards, or because someone told you you should.  Shaving pubic hair should be your decision.

 

A pick-me-up for a bad day.

Please excuse me while I get  real for a minute... Jen_selfie-11

It's been one of those days, actually, one of those months.  I've just been feeling really down on myself, not liking what I see in the mirror, yada yada yada.  Self esteem is something I've struggled with for my entire life.  This is one of the reasons I do what I do with boudoir photography.  I know how much low self esteem can affect different aspects of your life.  It's such a gift to be able to give women that little boost of confidence and let them know just how beautiful they are.  These past few weeks when I've been down have been really getting to me, I've been in a bad mood, irritable towards Max, not able to focus on tasks, etc.  To be frank, I've just felt like crap.  And tired.

Today, we had an awesome session with a lovely lady I can't wait to blog about! Here's a sneak peek of her session:

©2014 Breathless Boudoir | Jen & Max Trombly

 

So the session rocked, I was feeling pretty good on the way home and decided to do something about my self esteem issue.  I'm not the kind of girl that puts a whole lot of effort into my every day appearance.  I rarely wear makeup and my hair is usually pulled back.  I dress nice, but it doesn't go much farther than that.  Lately I've been "letting myself go", so to say, more and more.  So tonight I put on some lipstick and rouge!

Halfway through doing my makeup I realized the shirt I was wearing didn't match the look I was going for at all.  So what did I do?  Traded in my clothes for a new set of lingerie I picked up from Bonjour Lingerie recently.  BAM!  That totally did it for me!  This set is sassy with a high waisted bottom that ties around the neck, embellished with studs and a bra to match.  It's mesh so you can see through it just enough.  I felt so damn sexy, but I wasn't finished yet.  Once my look was completed I grabbed the camera and started snapping selfies.  I was having some trouble getting focus (damn fancy camera) when Max walked in.  Of course he took over for me and started directing me.  It was pretty awesome, we don't photograph each other often so it was a treat.  I could feel my confidence rising the more we shot, I stared to get braver with posing and flirting with the camera (something I usually avoid unless I'm having a "good day").

Working on my photos made me realize that I guess I had forgotten what I looked like after having my head down for so long, tending to everything else but me.  I was avoiding the mirror because I didn't really like what I was seeing that much, I didn't even try to like it.  I know it's not all about your outer beauty, and that I should learn to love myself for who I am, and as I am without the makeup. But damn it, sometimes that's really hard to do when you get in a rut, sometimes we just need that little bit of extra pick-me-up to get us where we need to be.

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So there it is.  Toothpaste splatters and all.

If you ever need a pick-me-up and can't get in for a boudoir session, you can try this method too.  A good friend of mine, Stacie Frazier, who is a boudoir photographer in Las Vegas wrote a blog series on talking self portraits.  Go visit our What to Wear for your boudoir session blog post, then get cozy with Stacie for a bit and learn the ins and outs of sexy self portraits.

Now that it's 1am, I'm going curl up in my bed with a good book to fall asleep with.  I feel ready to take on tomorrow.

Lots of love, Jen <3

I took some pole dancing fitness classes!!!! | Teaze Fitness, Baton Rouge

Breathless_Teaze_025_FB_cover"Today you're going to learn how to do this" says the instructor as she grabs the pole and her body glides through the air  with her feet pointing straight up towards the ceiling, head to the floor.  "it's called an inversion".... "Ha! Yeah.... right!" was my first thought.    After being in a car accident 6 years ago (wow, has it really been that long?) and injuring my neck, I lost most of my muscle mass in my upper body because everything I did hurt. After being a super weakling for the last 6 years (I used to be quite strong) I thought enough of this, I'm going to do something about it!  I'm not a fan of working out, at all, so I wanted to find something that was fun but gave me a good workout.  In comes Teaze Fitness in Baton Rouge !  When I went to my first few classes at Teaze Fitness  I didn't think I would be able to do anything, but I just had to see what all this talk about pole dance fitness was about! So I went.  I was a little nervous, but everyone there made me feel so unbelievably comfortable.  Everyone there, instructor and classmates, were like my personal cheerleaders.  The ladies who work out at Teaze are so stinking nice!  I was afraid that I would be judged for being so weak and not being able to do anything, but it was quite the opposite.  Everyone in class helps everyone else.  It's pretty awesome. The classes start off with a "light" warmup (which had me bitching and moaning within the first minute) where they really push you to do as much as you can do, but to not overdo it. The instructors get your blood moving with jumping jacks then work on building up your core muscles with a series of exercises using your own body weight and the pole.  Then you climb the pole a couple of times, which is a workout all in itself. Next it's time to work on whatever moves you've been learning, which is the FUN part!

The hour class went by so fast and I never felt like I was working out, which is exactly the kind of workout I wanted.  I honestly didn't even think I got much of a workout at first.  BOY was I ever WRONG!  I don't think I've ever been so sore in my life!  Every single class makes me sore in the most awesome way.

So back to the inversion I mentioned in the beginning.  The instructor broke it down for us step by step while we jammed out.  I took a deep breath with the pole at my side and swung my leg up as hard as I could and my toes actually grazed the pole! "Wow, I think I might actually be able to do this!" The second time I threw my leg up over my head towards the pole I wrapped all my toes around it and hung on like a monkey while I shimmied my body closer to the pole to wrap my thighs around it.  I did it.  I DID IT.  I FREAKING DID IT!!!  I felt an overwhelming sense of accomplishment.  I doubted myself and my body's abilities, and I proved myself wrong.  Every single time I go to Teaze fitness I regain a little bit more faith in myself and what I can physically do.  I feel like I trust myself a little more, whereas before I was treating myself as a fragile, broken thing... not able to handle hardly anything.  Learning the tricks is empowering!

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We're getting married!!!

njoy_0069After 5years and 8 moths of being together, Max and I are tying the knot!  Our wedding will take place in Fort Pickens, Pensacola Beach, Florida on June 24.  Many of our clients are brides with upcoming weddings fast approaching, I totally understand all of their excitement now that it's our turn!  Our wedding is less than 2 weeks away and I seriously couldn't be any happier at this time in my life.  I'm marrying my best friend, and a wonderful business partner!  We can't wait to celebrate with our friends and family! That being said, we're taking off a month for our wedding!  We will be out of the country from June 16 to July 16.  We will be home a few days in between, but we will be on our honeymoon time so we won't be working.  ;)

Even writing this blog is making my heart race with excitement!  I can't wait to share all the wonderful details of the wedding with you all!

With love,

Jen & Max  <3

Discovering Femininity - Abridged Version of the Artist Statement

Discovering Femininity

Discovering Femininity marries old notions of beauty from the Renaissance era with modern photography and an antique printing method. Celebrating the curves of women’s bodies, Discovering Femininity showcases the soft, classical beauty of the female form through expressive poses.

My preferred printing method is salt prints because of its timeless qualities. By using a historical process, I feel I am keeping the art of the handmade photograph alive.

Through my work, I have come to love my own body and accept the way it is. This is a feeling I strive to instill in women everywhere and of every age. It is not until we learn to love ourselves and feel comfortable in our own skin that we will appreciate who we are, as we are. I am not only looking to redefine beauty, but to reaffirm that we are beautiful.

Discovering Femininity | Artist Statement | Salt Prints

Discovering Femininity - Artist Statement

Discovering Femininity focuses on the beauty of the female figure. It is important that women see the beauty in themselves no matter their body type, young, old, big, or thin. The definition of beauty has been deformed over years by advertisements that depict stick thin models with pounds of makeup on, and exorbitant amounts of retouching done to every inch of their body. My goal, through photography, is to show that women do not have to look that way to be beautiful. Beauty comes in many forms.

Discovering Femininity marries old notions of beauty from the Renaissance era with modern photography and an antique printing method. Like many Renaissance paintings, Discovering Femininity celebrates the curves of women’s bodies. It showcases the soft, classical beauty of the female form with the addition of expressive poses. Creative lighting is used to paint the figure, using shadow as much as highlight in most cases. The lighting choice lends itself to the emotional impact of the photographs. The images are produced using a digital camera then are printed onto clear transparencies using an inkjet printer. Digital photography allows me the freedom to see the images I am creating immediately and helps me to further push my work. The transparencies serve as a negative that is used in the process with which I have chosen to display my work. Salt printing, an alternative photographic process, is my preferred method of producing images because of the handmade quality it transfers into the prints. Each photograph contains a pattern of brushstrokes that cannot be duplicated. The unique nature of the prints relate to the unique nature of every human being. No two of us are exactly alike. The handmade qualities resemble the amount of love and care put into each piece and the connection I make with each of my subjects.

The salt printing process was developed by British inventor Henry Fox Talbot, often known as the “Father of Photography”, while on his honeymoon around 1833 and was the first method of printing positive images on paper. It was the main method for printing photographs until the introduction to albumen prints in 1850. The process calls for coating a paper with a salt-water mixture then coating the same paper with a light sensitive silver nitrate mixture. The dry coated paper is then placed in a contact-printing frame with a negative and exposed using the sun. The prints display brown tones that, along with visible brushstrokes, are signatures of the process.

Another aspect of salt printing that attracted me is the timeless nature it gives to my photographs. In my nude work, I focus on bringing out a classic beauty in my subjects. Since salt printing is a process that was used in the early 19th century, it has the same timeless qualities that I appreciate. When combined with my nude photographs, the salt prints take on a feeling of nostalgic beauty and can be viewed without modern interference and harshness that is present in most digital prints.

In a world where everything has become about instant gratification (i.e. instant coffee, popcorn, 5 minute oil changes, fast food, etc.), digital photography has dominated the medium. Darkroom processes, even when paired with digital photography, take hours to create a single image, making each image created even more valuable.

By using a historical process, I feel I am keeping the art of handmade photographs alive. It is important to me to explore photography through all means; and that includes the processes that photographers used at the birth of the art. I learned the salt printing process to understand the history of photography itself, and to further my appreciation for the medium. It also teaches me what it was like to be a master photographer in those days. Through discovering old ways of printing, I feel a deeper connection, and appreciate spending time in the darkroom with each and every print I produce. By coupling the classical process with modern day digital photography, I am benefiting from the convenience and freedom that digital photography has to offer, while remaining true to a classical art form.

Ruth Bernhard was the biggest inspiration in the beginning of my figure series. Bernhard’s goal was to “isolate and give emphasis to form with the greatest clarity.” She focused on the effects of light on the figure and strove to show the figure in its purest form. My aim was to achieve a lighting style similar to Bernhard’s, as I am attracted to the way her figures’ skin seems to glow. Just as in Bernhard’s work, lighting is very important in my work, as it is used to accent a subject’s natural beauty. Bernhard’s figures showcase a classical and timeless aesthetic that I appreciate and also demonstrate in my work.

With the inspiration of Ruth Bernhard influencing my perspective, I felt my work needed more emotional impact and passion. My previous photographic endeavors have always focused evoking emotion. Photographer Scott Nichol is someone who I admire greatly in this aspect. Nichol is a Pennsylvania based photographer who has outstanding fine art nudes. He concerns himself with societies’ tendency to find it “more acceptable to portray visions of violence, pain, and suffering than it is to show the beauty of the human form”. I too, find it absurd that the female figure has been reduced to a sex object and is seen as offensive when nude.

Discovering Femininity focuses on emotionally expressive forms. The emotions displayed in my work range from dark to sensual, and are emotions that I am feeling at the time, or have felt at some point in my life. The darker emotions come from past experiences of feeling vulnerable, worthless, and self-conscious. These images resemble my beginning nude work where I expressed traumatic experiences of the past through self-portraits.

The images that are more sexual in nature represent the acceptance I have learned to have for my own body and self. A sexual being within myself has awakened over the years and throughout this project. The more comfortable I become with myself, the more I am able to feel free in my own body.

Since the feelings I am portraying through my photographs are my own, the faces of the subjects are generally, though not always, kept anonymous. Even though I am expressing myself through my subjects, it cannot be done without the help of my models. I select women who I feel can represent the emotions I am seeking to portray. One of the things I look for in other women is their comfort level in their own skin. In order to produce work that expresses freedom of the spirit, one cannot be inhibited by their nudity. If a woman is overly self-conscious, the tension shows through the photographs. Another quality I often look for is a comfort with their sexuality and intimacy within themselves.

Working in this vein has allowed me to rediscover myself through my work. I have come to love my own body and accept the way it is. This is a feeling I strive to instill in women everywhere and of every age. As women, we long to resemble the models we see in photographs and on television. We set ourselves up for failure by attempting to meet impossible standards created by a virtual world. We are never thin enough, shapely enough, have large enough breasts, or small enough thighs, to please ourselves. We are our biggest critics. It is not until we learn to love ourselves and feel comfortable in our own skin that we will appreciate who we are, as we are. I am not only looking to redefine beauty, but to reaffirm that we are beautiful.