Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Behind the Boudoir- What Happens at a Boudoir Photo Shoot

Have you ever wondered what happens behind the scenes at a boudoir shoot? 

A boudoir photography shoot isn't porn. It is truly art and the human form is, in my opinion, the most beautiful subject there is. A few years ago after I had my first child, I booked a boudoir shoot with a professional photographer in the 'burbs. I finally regained my figure after housing another human for 9+ months and honestly...I just wanted to feel beautiful again. It wasn't even meant for my husband- it was meant to celebrate the new me. A few more curves, some new scars, but those physical details all tell a story about what I had been through in life. And I wanted to capture that.

I came armed with my trousseau- all of the lacy, frilly pieces that my girlfriends gave me for my wedding years ago. I also brought my husband's baseball jersey, my favorite tie of his, and a basic white tank top. 

After the first ten minutes or so, I warmed up to the camera and the idea of someone looking at me, lights on, camera focused. I had a few ideas of shots that I wanted to capture- the Jennifer Aniston pose where she is wearing only a tie ( is a LOT more difficult than it looks to contort your body so your goodies aren't showing with just a tie to cover them...I laughed through those poses). I also wanted something basic- just a white tank top and boy shorts. 

Overall, I loved my photo shoot and am incredibly proud of the final product. I wanted to give you a little more behind the scenes info of what goes into a boudoir photo shoot, and what the photographer thinks on her end. (And just to be clear...the following photos are not of me...although I wish I had that bootie!).

Emily Gualdoni- Boudoir Photographer
Emily Gualdoni
I had the incredible privilege to interview Emily Gualdoni, who is a Chicago Wedding, Fashion and Boudoir Photographer. My friend Vanessa Valliant is an incredible Makeup Artist who has worked with Emily many times in the past- I have admired their collaborations for years and am honored to bring insider information about a boudoir shoot to you. I can't wait to schedule a session with Emily now that I live close to the city!

Here is my Q&A with Emily- buckle up, it is a sexy ride!

How should a woman select a boudoir photographer? What should they look for?

First, review the photographers website, look for good lighting and flattering posing. Envision yourself in the photo and if you would want to be photographed in that way. Some photographers over retouch skin while some don't edit at all. Make sure the photographer's editing style fits what you're looking for. If you want all your flaws smoothed away, make sure you go with a photographer that knows how to retouch images without overdoing it. If you like idea of a "raw" unedited image, go with someone that doesn't edit the images. Lastly, it's very important to make sure you have a connection and feel comfortable with the photographer. You want to make sure you are comfortable with them because the more comfortable you are at the shoot, the better the images will turn out. I love being super involved with the planning process. My clients and I exchange inspiration photos on Pinterest as well as having my client fill out a questionnaire so I know exactly how they would like to be photographed. 

What if someone had never done a photo shoot before and is extremely uncomfortable about how to pose? Or uncomfortable with their body? 

I am expert at making women feel comfortable in front of my camera (even when half naked) and I’ve coaxed genuine expressions from even the most nervous clients, so there is no need to worry.  I show my clients what poses and angles that flatter them the most and will coach every step of the way. I will physically do the pose myself and then have them copy it.  There is no experience required, whatsoever, to look and feel amazing. All they have to do is trust me long enough to give it a go:)
Black and White Boudoir Photographs
Emily Gualdoni Photography
Do most of your clients pose totally nude? In lingerie? Are there any clothing items that are still sexy yet provide more coverage for someone who is a little more shy? 

My clients wear lingerie, go nude, wear dresses, playful t-shirts and shorts, etc.  Pretty much wear whatever you feel sexy and confident in. Showcasing confidence is sexier than any skimpy piece of lingerie that you can wear. An oversized sweater can even look sexy, you just have to own it and let you confidence shine through. 
Subtle Boudoir Photograph
Emily Gualdoni Photography
Who do your clients usually do the shoot for? Significant others? Themselves? 

The majority of my clients are doing it for wedding gifts for their significant other. I offer high-end albums in most of my packages. A "little black book" of your sexy images is a great gift. Surprise your fiancĂ© the night before or the morning of the wedding. Have your wedding photographer capture their reaction when they open the gift. The reaction is priceless :)  This is a win win situation because your fiancĂ© will love it and you will also feel a boost of confidence with the whole process. 

How should someone prep for a shoot?

With boudoir photography, the combinations of things you can wear are endless. The shoot can include several styles and outfits. Make your look your own, and you'll own your photos. Here are a few suggestions on how to choose your clothing, shoes, and jewelry.
Clothing and Garments: Classic Boudoir Photography normally requires lingerie. There are so many different items out there that you can use to express yourself, don't hesitate to bring several styles and types of garments. Remember, this is your shoot, so it can be as revealing or demure as you wish. Some of the most classic and popular looks include black seamed stockings, thigh highs, garter belts, and stilettos. 
Classic Boudoir Photographs
Emily Gualdoni Photography
There are several timeless outfits that are very easy to recreate such as looks based off of a teddy, an elegant peignoir and coat set, or the forever sexy black lace bra and panty set. Browsing websites such as Victoria's Secret can help you get an idea of what a complete look includes. Many of my clients have enjoyed stepping outside of the "classic boudoir box" as well by posing in their guy's work shirt, his favorite team's apparel, something representing his favorite car or motorcycle, or even tastefully neglecting select garments.
Boudoir Photograph with Classic,Sexy and Tasteful Lingerie
Emily Gualdoni Photography
You can wear your old favorites, his favorites, anything you're comfortable wearing, or go shopping for something you've never even tried on before. Be daring, be sultry, be shy, but most importantly pick items you love. Have fun with it, let your inner goddess shine through and run with it! Lover's Lane sells many of the same items as Victoria's Secret for much less, they have several locations in and around Chicago to browse. You can find fun and exciting pieces to wear all over, make shopping for your shoot as much fun as the shoot itself.

Shoes: A girl can never have too many shoes, and that has never been more true as when taking part in a boudoir shoot. Bring as many shoes as you desire in several colors and styles. A well matched shoe completes an outfit more than you think. High heels accentuate the natural curve of the calf, correct your posture to make your back and shoulders look their best, and even elongate your silhouette. Heels also prop your feet into a very aesthetic pose, and overall look very feminine. Again, don't hesitate to be daring and have fun with your shoe selection.
Boudoir Pose with High Heels
Emily Gualdoni Photography
Jewelry: Never underestimate the subtle addition of jewelry to accent you and your look. A large, gaudy necklace or earrings distract from you. While sparkle may be fabulous, don't over do it. Instead, choose pieces that lightly adorn you in a flattering way. Choosing simple, smaller jewels for a hint of frost or items that compliment your outfit will be best.

Hair/Makeup: I strongly recommend getting your hair and makeup professionally done. It makes a world of difference in your photos to have a trained professional highlight your natural features and bring your best look forward. I work with some of the top stylists in the city and can arrange for one of them to work their magic on-location for your shoot. All of the Hair and Makeup artists that I use are licensed professionals with agency representation. This service is already included in some of the packages but not all. If you choose a package without hair and makeup included, it is always available upon request. I work with all agency represented makeup and hair artists to ensure you the best end result. Inquire for more details about these artists.
If you choose to do your own hair and makeup, its not a problem. However, please plan ahead and have both your makeup and hair done before you arrive. Without this service included in your package, any time you take to do your makeup on location will cut into your shooting time. I will always have curling irons, extra makeup, etc on hand if you want to do any touch-ups. Bringing what you used to get ready with in the first place will be helpful.

Do you touch up the photos after? 
I Photoshop my images to a magazine quality standard without altering what the person looks like. I smooth skin, fix flaws, fix stray hairs and make the overall image pop! 
If you would like to book a session with Emily, please get in touch! I am certain that you won't be disappointed by the results- she is the consummate professional and genuinely loves working with women of all shapes and sizes. Want to hear more? Check out the testimonials on her Boudoir Page!
How to get in touch with Emily:
Phone: 815.719.0351
She works with you to find a package that meets your budget. In February, she is hosting mini sessions that are 30 minutes long, and you receive 1 professionally retouched image for $150. This is ideal for those who want to dip their toe in, or you can go for the full experience and chat with her about a custom package that will fit what you have in mind. Either way, you will love the way you look. 
Cheers to celebrating ourselves!   

Friday, January 13, 2017

2017 Wedding and Event Trends

Although I am not getting married in 2017, I still find wedding trends fascinating. Why? Because they are usually the event trends as well, and darn right I am interested in those. I love pulling a new color scheme or entertainment idea from the bridal scene and adapting it for the private party stage.

I absolutely love throwing a party that my guests will remember. My husband and I host multiple events throughout the year, each with a particular theme, signature beverage and decor. I have sent invites on boxes of candy and mini bottles of wine, created edible necklaces and snackable shot glasses for guests, and had goodie bags that made attendees feel as if they just stepped off the red carpet.

I recently had the privilege of attending BrideStyle17, a Live LookBook Trend Party at the so-chic-it-hurts DL Loft in Lincoln Park. DL Loft is owned by Debi Lilly of A Perfect Event, who was named one of the top Wedding Planners by Martha Stewart. THIS woman knows what it takes to host a memorable moment, and she is one of the most genuinely pleasant and kind people I have ever met.

White Pillar Glow

Upon entering DL Loft, the staircase is often lined with glowing hurricanes or lanterns that house simple white pillar candles. Many underestimate the power of lighting- as long as children are not present, I try to include candles in my decor. They are much less expensive than other decor and add a special glow.

Oversize Balloons

Although many shy away from balloons unless they are hosting a child's birthday party, Debi dotted massive ones strategically throughout the party space. She used clear line to anchor them, then wound greenery around the line. The vertical greenery added to the English Garden feeling of the party, and the balloons added a touch of whimsy set against the dramatic crystal chandeliers.

English Garden Theme

Yes, flowers for spring. I know, florals are in style every spring, it is just a matter of the size, color, and presentation. The theme at DL Loft was reminiscent of an English Garden- massive blooms in blush, cream, white and pink arranged with winding greenery and draped ivy. Flower garland graced a vintage mirror on the wall, and the windowsill was laced with branches full of ivy green leaves. Flat, round vases were filled with leaves and lilies paired with roses and greenery spilling over the edges, then accented by vintage candles in varying heights and patterns.

Pretty in Pink Plates

One of the first things that I noticed when I walked up to the food presentations was the perfectly pink china pattern and blush plates. Mixing and matching patterns is such a huge fashion trend, and it can carry over into events seamlessly. The Festive Frog is a tableware and barware rental company...but this description does not do them justice. They collect large quantities of single patterns as well as those that play well together. Since they couldn't find enough vintage inventory for larger parties, they have started creating their own patterns. Debi is the master of mixing and matching patterns, so it is only natural that she brought in The Festive Frog team of Kendell and Jane to provide unique tableware designs.

Mediterranean en Masse 

I am thrilled that the days of heavy dinners at events are coming to pass. Olive Mediterranean Grill presented a gorgeous spread of every imaginable Mediterranean spice and scent. From giant bowls of Basmanti rice to succulent chicken kabobs artfully poking into a pineapple, this was the freshest food I have ever experienced at an event. Warm falafel, creamy hummus, and giant, ripe olives dotted the table as well alongside freshly baked pita bread. This allowed people to graze and snack as opposed to filling up on heavier dishes. They have locations in Evanston, Lincoln Park, River North and the Loop.

Romantic Braids

Bridal hair no longer means masses of romantic ringlets. Kate Johnson Artistry Bridal Team was on hand to show all of the braid styles that have conquered the scene. From half crowns to center dutch braids, they easily transformed my fallen curls into something stunning.

Edible Floral Decadent Desserts

When I asked Toni of Toni Patisserie what the 2017 dessert trend was leaning toward, she commented that edible buttercream flowers were back in. After years of more architectural and geometric designs on cakes, updated florals (meaning- more than just roses) are dominating the confectionery landscape. I also spied a chalkboard design on one of her cakes- genius! Toni also added lighter-than-air macrons, mini hand pies, and flower-adorned cupcakes and cookies. Her original location is in Hinsdale, and also has a Chicago cafe.

Overall, 2017 is heading toward romance, blush, statement florals, and lighter fare...and I can't wait to see what the spring and summer brings! Thank you to Debi Lilly for including me in this gorgeous, yes perfect, event.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

How to Apply Mascara to Look More Awake

As a mom of two preschoolers who are constantly playing musical beds in the middle of the night, I am tired. And I know I look it. This is why I employ beauty techniques such as ingeniously applying mascara to make me look more awake even if I am about to drop face down into my afternoon macchiato.

I put together a short video on how to apply mascara to make you look more awake- something I am sure we could all use. Whether you are in your 20s, partying until all hours of the night at Hangge Uppe (oh the days!) or a mom on rotation with sick kids all night, this method works to brighten your eyes and lift those tired lids!

Step 1

Prep your eyes with Visine. Yes, sounds ridiculously easy, but having bright white as a contrast to your eye color (instead of bloodshot) will go a long way to making you look awake. And if it reminds you of your wake and bake days, be it.

Step 2

Grab that eyelash curler. Nudge it right to the tips of your eyelashes and pump it open and closed a dozen times. If you clamp it down and wait it will create a crease instead of a curve (thanks Stephen Dimmick of Daily Dimmick for this tip!). Repeat mid-lash and at the very root of your lashes.

Step 3

Grab a volumizing mascara like the new Maybelline Colossal Big Shot that I received to review recently. This mascara delivers a heft dose of volume in just one coat, or maximum volume with a few coats. This is my new go-to everyday mascara- it doesn't flake, clump, and stays on all day.

Step 4

Take the wand out and wipe the goop off the end. Place the wand parallel to your lash line at the roots and wiggle back and forth. Gently blink your lashes to apply. Repeat for all lashes. For a doe-eyed look, direct lashes out toward your cheekbones. For a more awake look, direct lashes in towards your nose.

Step 5

Hold the wand so it looks like you are going to poke yourself in the eye. "Paint" any lashes you missed, like the ones on the very edges.

Voila! Instant awake! Thank you to Influnster and Maybelline for sending the complimentary sample of their new mascara. Cheers to looking more awake and surviving on the minimum number of hours of consecutive sleep humanly possible!