Embracing Self Love Through a Boudoir Session – Levana Bratique

This week, let’s focus on gaining independence from that critical little voice that tells you you aren’t enough…aren’t skinny enough, curvy enough, pretty enough, confident enough, or generally worthy enough in countless other ways.

Here at Levana Bratique we are all about encouraging you to live your best life. While that will mean something a little different for everyone, it will almost always mean pushing yourself at least a little bit outside of your comfort zone. After all, growth can’t happen without some kind of change.

There are so many ways to do that, but one that we really love is doing a boudoir session. Maybe you’ve thought about doing one before but that critical little voice held you back, or maybe it’s something you’ve never even considered. Either way, we hope by the end of this post, you’ll reconsider! We interviewed Maura Chick of Pics by Chicks Photography to gain a little more insight into the process, and also show some of the gorgeous photos that result!

-How did you get started in boudoir photography?
I like to call it a fluke! An amazing, life changing, fulfilling fluke. When I decided to pursue my passion in photography, I had not even heard of boudoir photography. Four months into my education, I decided to attend a workshop that was focused on boudoir. My thought was that I needed to learn how to pose women in general because my clients always seemed so critical of themselves in the photos. After that workshop, my curiosity was piqued and I asked one of my friends to come to my studio to see if I could photograph boudoir. From the FIRST click of the shutter button, my love affair with boudoir began. I immediately knew that this is what I needed to be doing with my life. I sensed the calling, I saw the way I was able to connect with women in a very vulnerable situation and knew that I couldn’t do anything else but change women’s lives.

-What do you love about being a boudoir photographer? I get to help women see themselves through my eyes. I don’t see the flaws that they fixate on. I see radiant women who need to be celebrated exactly as they are, and I love to show them a side of themselves they didn’t realize was there or they forgot was there. We are so hard on ourselves, all those negative thoughts permeate our mind on a daily basis, constantly put others needs in front of ourselves, feel defeated by life’s challenges – [your] Boudoir [shoot] is a day to let me show you how fabulous you are! Sometimes someone has to show you that because we lose sight of the woman inside who desperately needs love and attention. A boudoir session is a time to build that confidence and showcase your power; you see that you are an unstoppable force! That’s what is so special about what I do.

My mother once asked me why I can’t do all of this uplifting stuff with their clothes on..great question, mom! When

you have to strip down in next to nothing with someone you don’t know, there’s no more hiding. You are standing in front of someone in your most vulnerable state – you can’t back away. Everything that you fear showing to other people is out there to see. Stretch marks, cellulite, lumps and bumps – it’s all there. My clients may see it, they my *try* to hide it, but guess what – it doesn’t matter to me. These things we hide from others mean nothing to me. There is complete and total liberation from those things. You finally begin to strip off the mask that you’ve been hiding behind. You step into the light and shine. You can only begin to accept and embrace when you take that mask away.

One of the biggest things you start to learn is that others don’t see what you see. You can’t begin to realize that until you drop the mask and walk towards someone that can show you how amazing you are! So much freedom is found when you embrace everything about yourself…your perceived flaws and all. You learn to stop caring what other people think because you realize that no one focuses on the things that you do. Other people look at you and see what kind of friend you are, the love you give, the compassion you share, the joy you bring. By stripping your mask away, you see what’s inside you and begin to know that that’s what matters most.

You become the example for other women. You become someone who will inspire others to strip off their own mask and begin a journey of their own!

I have worked with so many women in the almost 10 years I’ve been a boudoir photographer that I’ve recently taken my photography & self love practices further. I’m now a Certified Self Love Life Coach and a Licensed Be Body Positive Facilitator. I realized that there was SO MUCH MORE I could do for women other than boudoir sessions. We continue to have this love/hate relationship with ourselves and it’s time we break free from all of that. I recently hosted my second workshop that was all about body image. I love helping women in any way possible to love themselves just a little bit more, to release all the worries they have about their bodies, and live their authentic lives being 100% present in every moment. I get to see lives changing in so many ways, and the passion I feel for this just keeps growing and growing!

-Having a stranger photograph you in your skivvies sounds like it could be an intimidating, vulnerable experience. How do you help people to relax?
It’s a very vulnerable experience, and in those moments is when growth happens, when you see your strength, and when your confidence soars. Feelings of nervousness and excitement are normal, but here’s the thing – I love to laugh, I love to make women feel good about themselves – so I’m not a “stuffy” photographer. I love lots of fun with my clients, we laugh tons during the session, and getting them to feel comfortable is a necessity – otherwise, you’d be able to see the awkwardness in the images. First, I open the door with a huge smile on my face, then I give them a hug like they’ve never had before (I’m famous for the Maura Hugs and my chocolate chip cookies), and within 5 minutes of starting to take photos, they see how much fun I have – I’m an amazing cheerleader – and we become instant friends. I reassure them constantly that what they are doing is right and that it looks good. My clients coined the phrase Maura Magic, and I guess it’s real.

-What would you say to someone who is waiting for ‘just the right moment’, (like losing those last few pounds) before they book a session? The right moment is RIGHT NOW! When you tell yourself that you will do a session when you lose more weight or after you hit the gym for 6 months, you are telling yourself *subconsciously* that you are not worthy of what you want. You are worthy! I hear all the time from clients that they “need to work up the confidence” to schedule a session. I tell them that the confidence never comes before, it comes after you schedule your session, during your boudoir session with me, and when you see the images at your reveal. If you wait until you have the confidence, you’ll be sitting on the sidelines your entire life. You are perfect now. Your body is amazing now. You are worthy now. Don’t let those thoughts hold you back. Take the leap. Stop living life on the sidelines. You won’t regret it.

-Can you share a story or anecdote about how you’ve seen a client be empowered or encouraged by doing a boudoir session?

Oh gosh. I feel like I have so many because I see amazing transformations in all of my clients. A couple quick stories:
First, a client of mine came for her session and she got dressed in her first outfit and refused to come out of the dressing room. She was worried, intimidated, scared, not sure she could go through with it. We chatted for a while and I did my whole self love coaching, she came out, had an amazing session and by the end of the session she was running around the studio naked (of her own volition, of course)!

Second, a client came for her first session with me and was reserved at the beginning then let loose by the end. At her second session, we did part of her boudoir outside. There happen to be many people around peeking at what we were doing, and she stood so confident and followed all my direction without hesitation or worry about the onlookers. I kept thinking to myself, “This is a completely different woman from the first time. She’s so free, so confident.” This never would have happened had she not come in for that first session and allowed me to show her how amazing she is.

-What kinds of women do a boudoir session? Do they have a typical reason or motivation for doing it?
Any kind of woman. I welcome all ages, all bodies, all shapes, all skin tones. Boudoir is for EVERY SINGLE WOMAN. Every single woman that walks this earth is truly remarkable, has beauty that goes far beyond what they look like, and deserves to be celebrated.

These days most of my clients come as an act of self love. They want to be reminded of how wonderful they are, and I welcome that! While the resulting photos may be a gift for someone else, the experience is always only for them. This is why making sure I gave my clients a life changing, empowering, uplifting and motivational experience is so important to me. The photos are a bonus.

Thank you so much Maura! We love the way you are encouraging and empowering women to fully love and embrace themselves!all photos by Pics by Chicks Photography

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