Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Lace and Pearl: My Boudoir Shoot Experience


All about my amazing experience shooting with Lace and Pearl Boudoir.

Lace and Pearl is a Preston based studio, that specialises in classic boudoir with a natural twist. I had seen their images on Instagram and admired the soft romance of photographer Emma's shots, and her unique sets. The studio is a fairy fantasy land of sets that are equal parts secret garden and high end boudoir. When Emma and I made contact I was just starting to find myself again, after a long period of ill health, and being photographed by her seemed like the most amazing way to get my confidence, and do something positive for myself.  We sent a lot of emails back and forth (she was patient with my endless questions) and I got a real sense of the experience beforehand. Once we had booked my date in the diary, she also sent me a comprehensive shoot guide so I'd know how the day would run, and what to bring etc. I felt super prepared, and in experience hands.

My lovely blogger friend Nikkee, of Big Bawdy Burly Beauty, lives in Preston and offered to put me up the night before, which made making my early call time easy. She is an absolute treasure and you should totally check out her blog and social channels if you're not following her already - she is a makeup wizard, a singing sensation, a burlesque performer, and a plus size pinup. She's a dream! We had a wonderful evening of gossiping, drinking, eating, Nikkee dying my hair, and watching drag race. Heaven! I also got to hang out with her cats, Darwin and Delilah, and I am going to have to be going back to Preston soon for more kitty cuddles and to soak up more of Nikkee's awesome hospitality and general wonderousness.

I arrived at Lace and Pearl in the morning, and was greeted by the warm and lovely Emma. She honestly had me feeling immediately at home. She offered me snacks and tea when I arrived (the easiest way into my heart) and helped me in with my suitcases. Based in an old mill, the studio is an open space with each one of the luxurious and creative sets taking up a corner or wall. They are so exquisite in real life, they totally lived up to the pictures I had seen. While I had brought all my outfits with me (thanks to the endless generosity of a few plus size lingerie companies), Emma showed me her amazing boudoir wardrobe, which is available to all her clients. She has some truly exquisite pieces, in a range of sizes. This means if you were going to do a shoot, you could take some basics with you and then use her wardrobe to really give yourself a luxury look. Her collection is stunning.  

After a little bit of an explore, I went into hair and makeup. Lovely Stephanie Georgina was in charge of taming my tresses, and took to them with curling tongs and straighteners to give me a sleeker than usual look. I think her arms were very much aching by the end, but the result was wonderfully smooth curls. Makeup Artist Kerry Baker then got going on my face. She decided on a classic boudoir look for me - sultry smoky eyes, some contouring, and changing up the lip for different looks. Kerry was an absolute dream getting me into my corsets and helping me with any and all wardrobe malfunctions, and Stephanie primped and fluffed my hair between outfits making sure I looked babesome. There was a real team vibe in the studio which I really liked. However, when it came time to take each set of photographs Emma ensured that it was just her and I, so I could relax a little more.

After I'd been made over, Emma and I had a look through the pieces I had brought with me. One of my favourite things about the Lace and Pearl experience was that I at no point felt rushed. We went through my pieces and she helped me pick some additional accessories from her impressive collection. My first look was soft and romantic. I paired a blush tutu from Society + with a cream satin steel boned corset that I picked up on eBay and a luxury satin strapless bra from Elomi. The look is sweet, girly and luxurious. And as it was the most covered up and demure it felt like the perfect look to start with - good call from Emma.

I posed in some of her gorgeous floral settings, and Emma directed me on where to put my hands and how to place my feet etc. She moved my hair about, and got me into perfect poses to show off the lovely silhouette of this look. And as we shot I did feel my nerves start to melt away, and things becoming more natural. This was definitely helped by Emma herself - she is so friendly and warm, that very quickly I didn't feel in any way self conscious, or weird.  We were soon laughing and joking like old friends. And I think the fact that I was relaxed really shows in the photos. My first look featured:

Cream Satin Steel Boned Corset - eBay (similar here)



My darling George from Fuller Figure Fuller Bust was lovely enough to lend me another of her Catherine D'Lish gowns for this shoot (with the strict instructions of what I could not do while wearing it - no eating, no drinking, no smoking no f*cking - I know right, talk about fun police) and so my second look centred around this. The imperial grape Cassie gown (what a name!) has full waterfall sleeves, a full flowing skirt, and is trimmed with soft, plush, marabou feathers. It is so fabulous and full that I basically had Kerry following me around carrying my train like I was a bride! Underneath I wore all black, to not detract from the gown, and added a corset to really cinch my waist. These gowns look best when you capture their movement, and so I had lots of fun flapping my arms like a demented ostrich while Emma snapped away (more hilarity, hence the very natural smile in the picture) and I think it's fair to say she nailed it! I absolutely adore the swirling picture. We also snapped some of me lying on the bed in this beauty, looking all sultry like. My second look featured:

Black Underbust Corset - Corset Boulevard (similar here)



I really enjoyed choosing my looks for this shoot, because they were all so different. It was fun trying on different personas, and styles. And Lace and Pearl's sets really lend themselves to the dramatic. Emma was really good at capturing them in different ways and different settings that best displayed them. I love the fierce sexiness of this set from Playful Promises, who are a wonderful lingerie boutique who last year released their first curve collection. This set is super sexy, retro inspired and a touch kinky - all the things I love. Lingerie with a nod to fetish wear is a particular favourite of mine. And while in the blush tutu I had felt sweet, innocent and virginal, and in the purple gown I felt like a glamourous, aging show girl, in this red set I was every inch the vintage vixen. Emma immediately knew she wanted to shoot me in it against the exposed brickwork in her studio. I was a little wobbly on the heels, and Emma had me leaning forward with my butt against the wall and my hands stretched out behind me, and I thought in my head 'Wow I must look seriously ridiculous'. Nope! She knew exactly what she was doing, and had the picture nailed in a couple of shots. And I love it. I feel sexy, a little kinky, and still very much myself. My third look featured:



For my final set of photographs, I had decided I wanted to do a set of implied nudes. Emma and I had spoken about this in length over email. I had a very specific idea of how I wanted these images to look and had sent her some pictures to give her an idea of the sort of thing I was after. She had been really receptive, and we discussed how we could achieve what I wanted. Basically I wanted implied nude shots that showed my body for what it is - soft, squishy, roly poly, visibly fat. I often find that implied nude images are so busy hiding a plus size woman's true shape that it is almost impossible to find boudoir images that show you true representations of non hour glass, plus size bodies. I had searched and searched online, and come across very few.

One of the reasons I started my blog was to add to the growing canon of representations of fat bodies online. And bodies looking beautiful, sexy, desirable, and visibly fat is not something we see very often. Tummies, rolls, folds and expanses of flesh are woefully under-represented in the mainstream media (or at least positive depictions of such), and frequently the only place you are likely to see sensual images of actual plus size women is in pornography. But what about images created for women, by women. Images that are not for men, are not intended to do anything other than portray a plus body in a positive and beautiful way. Images for me, and other women like me. Showing a plus size body in a different way to how the mainstream media would have you view it. It was scary to shoot them, and scarier still to share them. But why? They are beautiful, and when I look at them I recognise my body, as it is (albeit with my skin looking extra milky, my hair looking extra sleek, and me looking generally glowy and gorgeous thanks to the skills of the Lace and Pearl team).

Emma was absolutely incredible to do this with. We chatted again through the poses, she helped me get into them while I was still wearing a gown and then discreetly looked away while I de-robed. She floofed the bedding, and moved my hair around and gave me direction. I got a bit giggly, probably out of nerves, and the sheer fact that I was pretty god damned naked in front of someone who was essentially a stranger. Emma throughout the shoot was incredibly encouraging (in all my outfits) and that did not let up now. And when she sent me these images... I cried. I feel 100% like myself. I see my body in these images. I see my body's beauty in these images. And for that I will be forever grateful.





I also got to have a very brief soak in Emma's studio tub (although sadly we ran out of time), and as a surprise she took one of the quick snaps we had done and turned me into a mermaid! #GOALS!


We got some truly stunning shots, and the whole experience was wonderful. Emma and her team are truly lovely, the studio is beautiful, and I left feeling confident, looked after, and happy. Emma sent me the images a few weeks lately, and when I had a few requests for tweaks to my skin tone (I had come out a little dark in some of the images due to lighting, and perhaps me being flushed) she happily obliged and had them back to me in a snap. Once again, I stand by my belief that sometimes splurging on something like this is exactly what your flagging confidence might need. It's something undoubtedly for yourself. And the experience and environment Emma offers is warm and supportive. Perfect for if you are at all nervous or tentative. Her retouching is subtle and delicate - in all my images I am still very much myself. And her process is very collaborative. She was very open to listening to how I wanted to be portrayed, what I wanted out of my shoot, but at the same time she gave lots of direction (which is really important when you're not a professional model - you don't want to be standing around feeling like a lemon!).

Some advice for your first boudoir shoot... Firstly, plan. Plan your outfits well. And try and make sure there is some difference between your looks - you can see here how different each set looked here, which is great. You just end up getting more out of it. Also, seek the advice of your photographer on what will and won't work. They've been doing this for a while so can help you with uncertainty. And bring more than you need. That just gives you a bit more choice on the day.

I really loved my time with Emma and the team at Lace and Pearl. It was a wonderful way to spend a day, and I am thrilled with the results. I thoroughly recommend Lace and Pearl, and if you are thinking about booking with them and have any questions get in contact with Emma, because she really is too lovely. Likewise, if there is anything I haven't covered here which you'd like to know drop me a message, I always love to hear from you guys.

**This post features gifted items or sponsored content, and I was kindly invited by Emma to be photographed in exchange for an honest review of my experience**

You can read about a boudoir experience in the South of England here.
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5 comments

  1. Fabulous - on my to do list, hope the results are as good as yours :)

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  2. You look absolutely stunning here Hayley, this is gorgeous! This is always something I've wanted to try but never had the confidence to even look into it but your post is making me think differently as I can imagine this is so liberating and fun, and the pieces you got to wear are so beautiful too, and it suits you perfectly. I love the final photo with the mermaid tail, of course, but my favourites are the ones in that stunning grape gown, love it! Looking amazing and thank you for sharing your experience, this is definitely going on my list! - Tasha

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  3. Wow! Just WOW!! You always look beautiful, but these photographs are stunning!
    Of course my favourite is with the mermaid tail (and I am sure you have been told you look like Ariel in it) but I honestly love every single one. Natural, honest, intimate photo's that show you to be a beautiful lady inside and out, which I always knew xxxxxxx

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  4. you look amazing in all these photos, i'm glad it helped you get your confidence back.

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  5. You look like a total star - that mermaid image is the absolute best! The images are both beautiful and powerful! xx

    http://blog.fashionlovesphotos.com

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