Guest Blogger – Heather Hamilton, Undressed Imagery

I am excited to introduce today’s guest blogger, Heather Hamilton of Undressed Imagery! I met Heather a couple of years ago at a photography conference in Kansas, and love her spirit! She is an incredibly talented boudoir photographer, and I thought it would be interesting to share some of her work and her advice for other photographers looking to get into this area.

From Heather:

“I’m a regular, everyday woman.  I run a business, I’m no longer in my twenties, I have wrinkles, I have gray hair (that I color, lol), I have gained weight, I have lost weight only to gain it back again, I have four kids (and the stretch marks I’m proud of to prove it), & I wear sweats and big t-shirts. Some days I don’t even put make up on.  I do dishes, cook dinner, help with homework, run errands, I soothe sick kids who have scraped up knees with kisses, hugs, & I love you’s.  I’m a sister, a daughter, a friend, a lover….I am many things; I am a woman.”

 

How did you become a specialized boudoir photographer?

I think boudoir photography has come a long way in the last few years, but at the same time I believe it’s on of the hardest genres of photography to get into. I was a wedding photographer long before I was able to break into boudoir photography.  It’s always amazed me that I was trusted to photograph a wedding even before I had a wedding portfolio, but whenever I brought up the subject of boudoir, I got a no with in seconds!

I lived in a smaller, old fashion town. For me to get my foot in the door, I figured out that I had to shoot someone familiar to my target market, someone somewhat well known in our small community.  A model or client that no one knew would not be beneficial for my portfolio.

After some time and talking with several women in the area, I found the right person, perfect to start with.  For privacy reasons I can’t really share her story, but let’s just say this session served as a huge confidence boost to her, and it was kind of a “Look at what you’re missing!” kind of session to a certain someone in her life.

According to “most” photographers’ standards, she was not the ideal client to start a boudoir photography portfolio with; but for me she was perfect! I knew she would turn heads even though she was not the size 0 woman that society says is perfect. My goal had to be to shoot within my target market.  My market was full of normal, everyday women of all shapes and sizes. I knew that if I could photograph her better than anyone could, and let her and other women see just how amazingly beautiful she was, then others would quickly follow.

I photographed the session with her and posted it on the blog and Facebook the very same night.  Within 24 hours I was booking new clients quickly, more than I could handle at the time!   I looked for someone that people knew, someone that was not “perfect” but someone that many can relate to.  The photographs were uniquely her and they were beautiful.

Now don’t get me wrong, it was not as easy as casually asking someone to model for me and just snapping away. It took time and a little prodding to get her to say yes!  I had been working on my ideas for the session and how I wanted to pose and light her for weeks.  In my mind, that one session was the make or break start of my Undressed business, and to this day I feel the same about each session.

I think that my business motto is much different than many other studios out there. I actually have two philosophies I shoot by.  One is “Ok isn’t enough.” That’s my “photographer motto”, which means each shot has to be better than just ok.  No woman wants to look “just ok”.  The second philosophy I shoot by is that women can see, hear, and smell a fake from miles away. To be a successful boudoir photographer I must believe in what I’m doing and shoot and operate accordingly.  I don’t see my clients as pretty things that I can make money off of. I see their stories and I hear them, I am them, and I believe EVERY woman is beautiful. I truly believe that! I believe that is another reason my clients come to me.

 

What drives you?

 For me and my clients it’s about so much more than what meets the eye. It’s about empowering them, its about friendship only one woman can give to another, its about giving them that confidence they may have lost, and possibly raising up their self image after age and having children makes them look at themselves a bit differently in the mirror. My clients drive me. They push me to not only photograph them well, but to keep pushing to be the best I can be for them so that each shot I take can hopefully be better than the last.

What inspires your poses?

AHHH the posses we use at Undressed….many have asked me how I have learned them and/or where I get them from.  The thing is, every person that gets in front of our camera is very different.  We must remember that first and foremost.  While one pose works for one it does not mean it will work for another.  Whether it be for body type, personality, or preference, there is no one size fits all posebook.

For inspiration, I’m a people watcher. I’m always watching people in day to day life. I watch a woman as a man walks by that she may find attractive.  I watch how she positions herself, how they interact with one another, when and how they flirt with one another.  I watch body language a lot.  LOL I’ve even learned how tell when a woman is not so happy with her spouse, which also helps me to recognize cues for discomfort or uneasiness during boudoir sessions.  I spend time in the mirror with different poses to see what may or may not look good on me.  Most importantly, I pay attention to the little details when photographing sessions.  A little detail can really make or break an image in boudoir work. In general, women are very hard on one another but more so on themselves. So, if one little detail is missed in a image, more than likely she will notice, and so will any other prospective clients as they view your portfolio!

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

I know most would say being published or winning some award is the one they are most proud of, but not this girl!  What I’m most proud of is what most people don’t even see: it’s those private emails or phone calls we get, saying thanks to us.  Even months to years later they remember their experience with us, how they felt, and how they loved seeing how they looked through our lenses, empowering them in many ways just because of that one boudoir session. That’s the accomplishment I’m most proud of.

 

What is your advice to new boudoir photographers?

 Take your time. Learn, learn, learn, and learn some more. You must believe in what you are doing and not just want to make money photographing beautiful people. Understand that some of your best work may never be seen and realize that’s perfectly ok. You must be well rounded in many areas of photography.  You need understanding of lighting, poses, editing, and be able to pay attention to the details. You know those little things like: neck rolls, bra marks, hair ties on the wrist, crooked jewelry, hand placement. If you miss the details, they are often more easily noticed in boudoir images than in a set of wedding images where you are photographing emotions and the story of the big day. Remember, women are hard on themselves!  So, your job is to eliminate as many of those self conscious issues as possible.  Not only for her, but for your future clients. A woman will see something wrong with herself and so will another woman. So, if there is an image in your portfolio with something wrong in it (a hair tie, a bra strap mark, neck or back “fat”, etc)  don’t show it and in the future, fix it.  At first these things may creep into your images, but learn from them and don’t let it happen again. If you want to grow your business, that’s a must!  You have to constantly remember these woman are trusting you in an intimate way and you must never, ever make her regret that..

Carisa - what a fantastic post! My favorite part was the accomplishments! I share similar views on that one!

Jamie K - Great Blog Post. There is some awesome information in there about truly believing in what you are doing. thanks for sharing!

Rosemary Hayes - Love the lighting on Heather’s boudoir work. Beautiful. Also love that she shoots REAL women and makes them look like rock stars.

   

Dexter is 6 months old!

 

Seems like we have a ton of babies in our New Life program turning 6 months old right now! Baby Dexter is one of my favorites to shoot, and I was totally able to mop the floor with all of his drool after his session. He is such a sweetie! And look at those beautiful blue eyes. He is going to be a heart breaker!

Just look at that drool! So cute!!!

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White Knuckle Moments – Burlington Iowa Labor & Birth Photography

Birth photography is probably my second favorite thing in the world to photograph. I photograph about 15 births a year, and even though they are crazy-unpredictable and the call almost always comes in the middle of the night, there is a huge rush that comes from being a part of something as absolutely amazing as a new life entering the world!

This is a shot I took last week at a birth. Mom Nicole was having a really hard time with the contractions, and her husband, Matt, was such an incredible force by her side. This one shot wraps up so much of the night so simply. I call it “White Knuckle Moments”, and it really speaks for itself.

Contact us at 319-753-3061 for more info about your very own labor and birth session!.

   

Olive – 6 Month Old Baby Session in the Studio!

Olive is one of my favorite little babies to photograph! I first met her parents, Brad & Genna, when I photographed their wedding, and couldn’t have been more excited when they came back for her baby photos! Olive is part of our New Life program, which follows her through her first year of life. I photographed her 6 month session a couple of weekends ago and just had to share a few of my favorites!

I also got to ply with my favorite new item – my super cool director’s chair! I have wanted one of these since I was a child, and when I found this in Iowa City for $8, I had to have it! The old cover was faded and ugly, so I broke out my sewing machine, made a trip to Hobby Lobby and another to JoAnn’s, and whipped up a few really great new covers for it. I LOVE IT! And when it isn’t being used as a prop, I am totally using it as my new office chair!

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Genna Webster - Wendi you do such an amazing job. You have made our wedding memories so perfect and now our daughters frist years have been amazing through your shots! These pictues are so perfect of our little angel! Can’t thank you and tell you how happy I am with all the pictures you have done for our family! Olive is perfect and you can diffidently capture that throught your photography! We Love you Wendi!!!!

Melissa - I think Olive is just adorable and especially love the ones with the directors chair! I love the zebra print… and paired up with Olive and her sweet smile, make it perfection! Great pics 🙂

Ashleigh Harris - Such breathtaking photos. You do an amazing job capturing the moments that they will cherish forever.

Julie T - Adorable – this makes me all the MORE excited for AJ’s 1 year photos in the studio :). YAY

Katir - Super cute!

Emily Hayhoe - The pictures of little Olive are amazing! Wendi, you do such amazing work! && after moving away, I look forward to seeing her pictures as much as possible! You make them even more special for Brad and Genna to enjoy!!! The ones with the costume jewelry are adorable and I love the directors chair!!! 🙂 Keep up the awesome work!

Ashley O - Olive is so adorable.. love the pictures, there not something you see everyday which makes them so special and unique!

Elizabeth Smith - She is sooo precious!! Love the pics wit the close up on those piercing blue eyes!!!:-) <3 beautiful little olive <3

Amy Warren - Olive is such an adorable baby, and you’ve really captured her beautifully.

Tracy - What precious pictures!?! Olive is going to grow up to be our little movie star!

Kim Johnson - I loved all of Olive’s six months, she is such a beautiful child and your photos accentuate her beauty. The ones with the pearls were absolutly darling! The directors chair was also unique and so cute with that precious little bundle in it. I am very impressed with how you capture such precious moments perfectly. Your enthusiam for life shows in all your photos.

Brad Webster - Thank you, Wendi! The pictures of Olive are so great! We ALWAYS have so much fun shooting with you, and you always go out of your way to get great shots! Your new studio is so cool… it makes me excited for future photo sessions 🙂

Kristi Huffman - You captured Olive’s pure innocence beautifully. She is so perfect and you have captured moments that we will cherish forever.

Lynsey - Wow! These turned out great as they always do! 🙂 Your little princess photographs so well! Little Olive is going to love looking at her first year photographed one day and Wendi truly does an amazing job of that.

Jacqueline Brockway - Amazing pictures! 🙂 Olive is such a beautiful baby, and these photos capture her sweet personality. Great job!

Megan - I enjoy looking at these pictures of Olive every time i get on Facebook! She is sooo adorable and love the photos! They are absolutely great! 🙂

Stephanie Webster - Little Olive is a doll! The photos of Miss O are priceless and will be forever remembered as creative, interesting. I look at each one and just say “awww”! Wendi – you do amazing work!

Jamie - Love the pics. They r adorable!

Aundrea - Genna! Olive is so precious! Wendi did an amazing job on her photos! I absolutely love the ones in the director’s chair! I love the concept of following her through her first year, because it probably seems as if that’s the year that goes by the fastest. Can’t wait to watch her grow!

   
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