Women's intimate portraiture

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"My boudoir experience was quite different than I thought it would be. It wasn’t life-changing... and I couldn’t be happier. I was familiar with Alyssa’s work, so I never doubted walking away with beautiful photos...but there’s always that nasty little voice saying “But what if I’m the one she can’t ‘fix’?” And I hate that I thought that, because it’s straight up silly, but I did. It’s not any person’s job to “fix” anyone. That’s ridiculous. Almost as ridiculous as the notion that human beings are things to be fixed in the first place. And intellectually, I know all of this. But the negative self-talk can creep in and make all logic disappear.

More often than not, (from what I know and what others have told me) women that choose this experience are looking for something deeper than wanting to feel sexy, or take some tantalizing pics for their significant other, or create social media content to piss of their conservative grandmother- and I am no different. My reason, like many others, was rooted in sexual assault.

I will spare the details, and speak only to my experience as everyone’s is different. But to sum it up- being sexually assaulted at 19 really screwed with my self image and self worth. It created a huge hurdle for me to get over physically, emotionally, and mentally. The hardest part to learn was there is no “getting over it.” It won’t ever disappear, not entirely anyway. And it’s a lot of work, but there are ways to deal with it, and maybe even help someone else by speaking your truth.

I spend a lot of my time on stage, and most of that time is spent with comedic material. It has always been easy for me to portray over-the-top trying-too-hard-to-be-sexy characters. That’s fun as hell. But to truthfully embody someone that believes to their core that they are powerful, and have sensuality naturally be present as a result of embracing that power was unfathomable to me for a long time.

They say in ~7 years, your cells regenerate, so I promised myself that ~7 years after my assault I would do something to celebrate how even on a cellular level, I was a completely different person. Any part of me involved in that assault no longer exists. Booking a session with Alyssa was that gift to myself.

A lot of life has happened in those ~7 years. I truly am a different person. The core of me is still the same, that spirit will never change. But the way I view my place in the world, the way I treat myself, and what I do or do not tolerate from people in my life are radically different.

A lot of that change really ramped up in the months between when I booked this boudoir experience and the actual shoot. When I booked it I was expecting to go in terrified, super self-conscious, hating my body, really struggling to take myself seriously—but trust the process and leave with a forever-changed perspective of myself. What actually happened was different.

Alyssa and Amy were lovely, so encouraging, and made me feel completely comfortable. I choose an outdoor location that couldn’t have been more stunning by the water in the redwoods and we couldn’t have had better weather. My make-up was on point, my hair had more sustained volume than a southern belle on Sunday, and I felt GREAT. Still a little self-conscious, but not enough to bother me. It took me a bit to loosen up, but Alyssa directed me in a way where I didn’t have to worry about a thing and fell into the groove very quickly. We could’ve stayed out there for hours (and almost did) because it was so fun and they seemed to be loving the shots (I only got a peek at one or two before my reveal the next day). The reveal was so fun and we had the best problem- too many pictures to choose from!

I didn’t have an epiphany sprawled out on a rock by the sea, I didn’t cry during my reveal in disbelief that those beautiful pictures were ACTUALLY ME, and I didn’t leave with a rush of new confidence.

I DID have a blast not being in my head outdoors and being present in a beautiful place. I laughed at my reveal- not out of discomfort or self-deprecation (which is my go-to), but out of joy. I left knowing I had a lot of fun and couldn’t wait to see the result.

All of the work I had done on myself showed up in that shoot, to the point that it was far less dramatic than I thought it would be! For a split second I was afraid that I didn’t do it “right.” But there is no right way- I’m just not used to being a more grounded confident person and this experience gave the new me a test drive! And it went pretty damn well.

So it wasn’t life-changing. It was life-affirming. And I couldn’t be more grateful. "