What’s the first thing you think about when I say boudoir photography? Scary? That’s what I used to think…until now. Like a lot of women, I used to be intimidated by boudoir photography. Generally speaking, stripping down to your underwear in front of a stranger sounds crazy, but then the stranger starts taking photos of you? Yikes.
Boudoir photography has come a LONG way, and believe me, there is nothing to be terrified of. Recently I met with Robyn of Bubbles & Berries Boudoir to do a little session of my own and it was an amazing experience! We met at her photography studio and from the moment I met her, she made me feel so relaxed and excited to start our session. Robyn likes to do things a little different with her clients in order to make them feel as comfortable as possible with the process, as well as really get a feel for their personalities so that she can make the most of their photo session. She asks her clients a number of questions ranging from what music they listen to, to what they like the most about their bodies. This way, Robyn creates a super personal connection with her clients and can make sure that they have the best experience possible. Also, one of the things that I loved most is that she has multiple sets in her studio, so you can switch up the vibes for all of your different sides!
I sat down with Robyn and her new photographer addition Tessa before my session to ask them a few questions about Bubbles & Berries and about boudoir photography in general and here’s what they had to say!
How long have you been shooting boudoir professionally?
I started in 2010, so this is my seventh year doing it! I started because I read an article about it and I had no idea what it was, I read it in a professional photography magazine. I was working weddings with my husband already so I was already shooting professionally for a while. So as soon as I read the article I was like, oh my gosh, I need to do this! Like, I didn’t even know it was a thing! So I just started to do my research and see what was out there, and there was nothing around here yet. It was all pretty much on the West Coast or New York City.
What drew you to boudoir?
What it was mostly, at least from the article that I had read, was the takeaway that the women get from the experience. So I knew right off the bat that it wasn’t so much about taking pretty pictures for people, it’s what they take away after their shoot for themselves. That’s what made me want to try it and do it and really find a way for women to embody their inner sexy. I feel like so many people shy away from that and they feel like they could never do that kind of thing and I was like “Yeah you can!” That’s really what drove me to start this business.
Do you find that you get mostly brides as clients?
I think there’s a shift in the business. Originally most of my clients were doing it as a groom’s gift or a significant other gift, but then I don’t know if it had to do something with my style, but there was a shift. The clientele base started to become either new moms or people who just wanted to rekindle things in their relationship or just try something new. Or people became more body aware and more comfortable with themselves to embrace that. But now, with bringing Tessa on board, I want to shift it back into doing more brides as well, because I feel like I kind of got away from that. I feel like it’s an ever-growing thing.
What do you love most about what you do?
I love getting to meet the client for the first time, seeing how nervous they are, and just knowing that it’s gonna all be okay! On top of that, when they leave here, seeing the excitement on their face and knowing that they had a really great time. Obviously I love the positive feedback, but I just love to see how it makes them feel. They are really doing it for themselves, and I don’t think people really get that until they do it and have that experience. Once the first few clicks of the camera are off, maybe five minutes in, they completely forget where they are and they are just enjoying themselves. I love the transformation.
What is one of your most memorable experiences as a photographer?
The first one that comes to mind is that two years ago I did a Mother’s Day giveaway. The woman who won it, her baby was 9 months old when she came in, and all of our email conversations were pretty much her telling me that I had my work cut out for me and all that stuff. She came in and she was very nervous and felt very uncomfortable at first, but then she got her hair and makeup done and started getting into the session and after I had emailed her to tell her what I great time I had with her, and her response was basically that she got home and she cried because she didn’t feel like a frumpy new mom. She couldn’t believe the amazing time she just had, and she hadn’t even seen her pictures yet! That was probably one of the most memorable experience that I’ve ever had.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
There’s a lot of photographers that I follow. I like the Boudoir Divas, and it’s funny, I feel like my life path is sort of going in the direction that they went in. They are kind of branching off and doing something different and changing, so I find it interesting that I’m also in the changing process. I admire their business ethics and they model themselves and business women first and photographers second, which is extremely important to run a successful business. Also, my husband, honestly, and I know that sounds cheesy! He taught me everything I know from the beginning, I was not a photographer, I was a graphic designer. As Onion Studio was its own business and I was a graphic designer, I was looking for new jobs and I was like “Can I just work for us and make that happen?” So we both went full on board working for ourselves and he really inspired me to get educated and push myself and keep my eyes open. He’s my biggest photography inspiration, and he’s a really hard worker!
Tessa: One of the things also, as your inspiration, are your clients themselves. I think that’s an important part about what differentiates her boudoir business from others. Getting to know the clients. So beforehand there’s a questionnaire, talking about style, music, what are your outfits going to be…kind of a dialogue to understand her client first, and then from there she adjusts the session to fit them. It’s really unique, and a lot of inspiration comes from that. It’s a teamwork thing!
What do you love most about living and having your business in Buffalo?
So I grew up in Akron, and my family was kind of timid into venturing out into the city. We really didn’t do much of that, so once I went to college and got a job out this way and started to explore, I was like “Why are they so worried about everything?” Now Buffalo is on the upswing of creativity and art and acceptance, it’s a really accepting place to live. I think that’s a major part of why I love this, especially with a business such as boudoir. Also, the tight knit creative community that we have here. Even among photographers.
Tessa: Very friendly competition and wanting to bring everyone up instead of trying to stomp on someone or undercut them. Let’s make more business for everyone and help everybody out!
Do you have a favorite local bar or restaurant?
I like small local restaurants. Mangia in Orchard Park has a good variety and a nice atmosphere and is family friendly. I like any atmosphere that’s cool and relaxed. We aren’t really up to speed on the bar scene yet. We are too focused on the business, I think.
What is currently on your playlist?
I like Portishead, also Bishop Briggs. Beats Antique, one of their creators is a dancer, and she caters the music to dancers. Since I’m a dancer I really appreciate this. I’ve taken workshops with her and to see her journey and the process of everything is really cool.
What are your plans for the future of your business?
A lot of growth! Bringing Tessa on this year has been huge. I’ve always been the one to hold myself accountable, and now I have someone else to help with that and to share and bounce off ideas and just have another person to have vision with. We also want to hit the bride scene hard this year and offer awesome opportunities for brides. And also we want to launch couples shoots. I always want to learn and grow and offer new things to people. Also, we would like to have some events, possibly an open house or a bridal event. We are offering hair and makeup as add-ons to photo shoots as well. Lots of fun things!
What advice would you give to a woman who really wants to do pictures but is nervous about the process?
I would first ask why they want to do the pictures, because having the insight into the thought process of why they want the pictures is important. Are they doing it for someone else or are they doing it also because it’s pushing them out of their comfort zone? I would say that there’s really no reason not to do it! It’s a lot of fun and since we offer the opportunity for people to make it what they want, it’s not scary or intimidating. If they did want to do lingerie but they are nervous about it there are so many options out there for lingerie! We really try to get to know people first to make them comfortable.
Tessa: We always tell people to not underestimate themselves. We remind women of how beautiful they are and tell them that we are going to focus on something that they really like. So maybe they have a new bra that they brought that they really like. We want them to be excited about the things that they are comfortable with. We allow them to be themselves but also push them in a creative way, but only to the limit that they would choose.
Thank you so much Robyn and Tessa for an amazing experience! I’m completely in love with these photos and you are both the sweetest! If you are looking for a local boudoir photographer, make sure to contact Robyn ASAP!