10 things I love about spring

Spring is my favorite time of the year. It symbolizes growth and rebirth. Growth is extremely important to me. If you aren’t growing and moving forward, you are standing still.

In honor of this favorite time, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite things about spring.

  1. Buds on trees – a promise of what’s to come.
  2. The first flower buds peeking out of the ground.
  3. Tulips.
  4. Open windows.
  5. Spring cleaning – there’s something refreshing about purging unnecessary stuff that I find satisfying.
  6. The smell after a spring rain shower.
  7. Planning the vegetable garden.
  8. Flying kites.
  9. Baby chicks – I am that crazy chicken lady.
  10. Self renewal.

What is your favorite part of spring?

Fear, vulnerability, and letting go

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I don’t photograph nature very often, but I do spend a lot of time outdoors, and I take a lot of inspriation from being outside. When I’m photographing, I prefer to be in my studio with studio lighting, because that is where I have the most control, and therefor, where I feel most at ease. Despite that control, I also feel extremely vulnerable there, and I’d like to tell you about that.

I know that walking through my door for a session takes a ton of courage on my client’s part. But you are not the only one who feels vulnerable. You are not the only one exposing yourself. And you definitely are not the only one who feels fear.

I have been photographing women long enough to know exactly what it takes to get good images of you, but that doesn’t stop me from being terrified with each new face that walks through my door. You see, I feel just as vulnerable as you do. I take my job very seriously, and I want you to leave feeling amazing about yourself, and feeling beautiful and empowered. If I screw up, that doesn’t happen. The thing I fear most in my job is letting you down.

The tree you see pictured resides in my backyard. It’s a magnolia tree. Every spring it blooms these huge, gorgeous pink blossoms, and it fills the air with a downright heavenly smell. The blooms last for only about 2 weeks, and then it sheds those petals into a beautiful carpet of pale pink on the ground. It’s the perfect metaphor for every single photo session I do in my studio.

That tree comes out of every winter with bare branches. A mere shadow of it’s former self. Soon, tiny buds begin to form. The blossoms open slowly at first, unsure if they will become something beautiful, or simply shrivel and fall short. Soon, they embrace their circumstances, and open into something magnificent, only to find that they finally have to let go, and fall to the earth below.

You see, I have to leave my fear at the door in order to embrace your session. I have to let go of my vulnerability, and find confidence in myself and in what I know, and I have to put as much of myself into you, as you put into me. Together, with trust in each other and a mutual understanding, we can create something magnificent.

 

Why boudoir is a feminist act

I absolutely consider myself a feminist.  I believe we are all equal.  We all deserve to be treated the same, paid the same, and have the same benefits.  That being said, men and women are different creatures with different needs, wants and desires.  Women are often treated as though our needs and desires are bad or shameful.  That double standard (sex is good for men, but bad for women) is so pervasive in our world that it colors how we perceive everything.

 

Many have questioned me about boudoir.  I have been told I am objectifying women, and holding women back by making them sexual objects.  That simply isn’t true.

 

Objectification happens when a person is looked at or treated like an object by someone else.  Objectification is done by one person to another with out their consent.

 

Boudoir is an experience.

 

It’s about claiming your own sexuality, and choosing to showcase it in the manner you deem fit.  It’s about embracing an aspect of your true self, and allowing that one aspect to be free for a time.  It’s about femininity, and the things that make us women.  Most women have breasts.  Women have hips and thighs, and other body parts.  Embracing, loving and showcasing your own body parts is empowering, not objectifying. Women are soft, vulnerable, beautiful, elegant, shy, coy, daring, brave, sexual, loving, kind, provocative…

 

We are many things.

 

Boudoir isn’t just about what we look like, but also about feeling, emotion, texture, mystery, confidence…

 

It’s about everything that goes into making us who and what we are.

 

Boudoir is a feminist act because we are claiming our own bodies and our own souls.  We are CHOOSING how we are seen, and how we see ourselves.  We are making a choice to be vulnerable in a positive way. We are choosing to be ourselves and embrace everything about us that makes us women.

 

Boudoir is an act of bravery.

Women supporting women

As you may know, March is Women’s History month.  And let’s face it, there are a LOT of amazing women throughout history.  As a sex, we’ve done some pretty some amazing things, despite being second class citizens for the majority of our time on this earth.  And those of us here in the United States have it very good, because there are many places in the world were women are not nearly as lucky.

The one thing that I find unfortunate about our current society is that we spend so much time judging one another, and so little time supporting each other.  We judge other women for their clothing choices, their lifestyle choices, their mates, their jobs, etc.  I choose to be different.

I choose to support and uplift my female counterparts.  We are all capable of amazing things, but we need to be reminded that we are capable of them.  Sometimes our worst critics are the voices inside our heads.  We can overcome those voices, but a little outside encouragement sure helps to drown them out.

We need to cheer each other on, celebrate each other’s achievements, and help each other to rise above.  That is how we make history.

 

Stepping out on a limb

I have a confession: I’m easily intimidated by other people.  I’m told I come off as super confident, but inside, I’m a shaking, quaking mess.

I attend a lot of public networking events and things like that to promote what I do.  They make me sick to my stomach!  I literally give myself a pep talk every time I pull into the parking lot for one and talk myself into getting out of the car.  That is why what I’m about to tell you is So awesome!

A few weeks ago, I spoke at one of these events.  I spoke about bullshit.  I try really hard to make this a bullshit free zone, which is why I made the confession at the beginning of this post.  How can I expect you to trust me, if I’m not 100% honest with you about who I am, and what I stand for?

I would love to hear what you think about my talk, and if you’d like to be my guest for a monthly meeting of Sparks Talks, let me know.  I’d be glad to have you!

https://sparkstalk.com/they-many-types-of-bs-jennifer-bartlett-phelps-sparks-february-2016/

A “Can’t Mess Up” checklist for your very first session

Planning your first session with me is SO easy, but a lot of women can feel overwhelmed with it, and worry that they’re missing important steps.  I’ve put together a comprehensive checklist of everything you should do when planning your session.

  • Choose your date and time
  • Sign and return your contract, and pay your creation fee
  • Decide on your “outfits”.  (Most sessions include 3, but if you need help narrowing them down, it’s okay to bring more)
  • Make sure anything that needs ironed is, and is wrinkle free for the best images
  • Be sure to pack shoes, jewelry and any other accessories
  • If spray tanning (which I do not recommend) do it at least 2 weeks prior to your session
  • If waxing, make sure to do it a few days before to ensure proper healing time
  • Make sure nails are neat and trimmed.  Polish is nice, but not necessary
  • If applying your own makeup, apply it slightly darker than you’d normally wear it.
  • Relax and have fun!

Want more details?  Sign up for my “Amazing Session Planner” here. It has everything you need to know and more!

10 things I love about serving women

I love my job.  It’s not just a job or just my business,  but a labor of love and service.

Service.

Maybe that sounds strange, but I see what I do as taking care of you; your confidence, your sense of sensuality, your soul.  I choose to serve women (and some men) because I understand what you need, and I want to give it to you.  Why do I choose to serve you?  I compiled a little list:

  1. Your nervous laughter.  I know your afraid you can’t do this when you step into my dressing room for the first time.  I also know your about blossom in front of my eyes.
  2. That moment when you relax (about 20 frames into the session) and you start to embrace it.  The gleam in your eyes, the breath through parted lips, and connection you make with my lens.  I know your about to let me capture something amazing, that will make you incredibly proud.
  3. Your bravery and trust.  You barely know me, but when I ask about fixing a strap or a stray piece of hair, you quickly tell me to just do it, you trust me.  I take that trust very seriously, and I honor it.
  4. The excitement in your eyes when I act all silly and dance around at a shot I know is absolutely perfect! (I can’t hide my excitement either.)
  5. The look on your face when you see your finished images for the first time.  The tear that’s often shed at how beautiful you look.  I can’t even put that feeling into words.
  6. The way you feel when you leave my studio, your head held a little higher.  Your pride at the inner woman you’d forgotten was there, and the awesomeness she possesses.
  7. When I look at you I see myself, and every woman I’ve ever known.  I see the self-criticism and list of faults, and I want to help you forget them.
  8. You are amazing, strong, passionate, sensual, and fabulous.  I want you to know it.
  9. I want to help you embrace who you are, so together we can help our daughters embrace who they are.
  10. You are important.

7 Reasons to fall head over heels in love with yourself

February.  A month full of hearts, roses and romance.  Many of us put a lot of time and money into someone else this month, but we neglect the person we should love the most, ourselves.  I’m not saying we should be selfish, self-serving jerks, but I am saying that we should love who we are first and foremost.  It’s the only true to path real happiness.  So, here are 7 reasons to fall in love with you:

  1. You are the only person you HAVE to live with for the rest of your life.
  2. If you don’t treasure who you are, no one else will either.
  3. Loving yourself will help you to steer clear of those who don’t deserve you.
  4. We all have physical flaws, but we are all beautiful in our own way.  When you love who you are, those flaws seem much smaller and less important.
  5. You are a role model to someone. Show them what they are worth by valuing yourself.
  6. You were created perfect in your imperfection.  Embrace the imperfections.
  7. YOU ARE AMAZING!

Ways to work out when you’re totally bored with all the usual stuff

I don’t know about you, but I despise aerobics classes.  They aren’t fun, and I find myself comparing my body (and my heavy breathing) to everyone around me.  But, I do like getting some exercise, and building strength.  Besides the endorphin rush, I love that it helps me feel in control of my body.

I am always in search of new ways to work out that are fun, but don’t really feel like work.  I’m not one of those chicks who gets up at 5 am to run a mile.  Never going to happen.

Over the last few years I’ve tried a couple of different things that I really enjoyed, and I thought they would appeal to you too.

  1. Pole fitness.  That’s right, a fitness class that centers around a stripper pole.  It’s WAY harder than you expect.  If you’re like me and your upper body strength has drastically decreased with age, you’ll find this an especially challenging work out.  From floor work, to spins all the way to inversions (stuff where you go upside down) this work out has it all.  It’s a major core workout, but you’ll learn some pretty cool moves in the process.  FYI, it’s a little addicting.  I bought my own pole for at home not long after I started taking classes.
  2. Burlesque dance classes.  You got it; it’s sexy dancing in heels and awesome outfits, but it’s hard work too.  I haven’t actually tried this one yet, but I plan on enrolling in the first class that fits my schedule!
  3. Trampoline aerobics.  Did you know that those places with wall to wall trampolines for kids often have and adult aerobic class a couple times a week?  I’ve only tried this one once, but it was super fun.  Your legs will scream at you the next day though, so be prepared for lots of ibuprofen.  Since it’s on a trampoline it’s easy on your joints, and it brings out the kid in you again.

I hope you’ll give one of these a try, and who knows, maybe we’ll end up in class together!

Why absolutely nothing is wrong with your body

January always seems to be the time where most of the world declares they need to lose weight.  Sometimes that means we start out on some crazy diet.  Hopefully for most of us it means resolving to make better choices.  While that is a great thing for our overall health, we tend to focus more on how our bodies look.  We scrutinize all of our perceived “flaws” and usually end up feeling worse about ourselves.

There is nothing wrong with your body.  Women come in all shapes and sizes, and they are all beautiful and sexy.  If we all looked the same, life would be so incredibly boring.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m guilty of this January self-loathing too.  But what I need to remind myself, and you do too, is that it’s natural to gain a few pounds as the weather cools down, and it’s natural to drop those few pounds when it warms back up.  People in general are more active in the summer than in the winter.

Here’s what I know for sure: I see all different kinds of women, and no matter what their body shape or style is, their boudoir images are always fantastic.  And it has nothing to do with Photoshop! (I don’t change anyone’s body in Photoshop anyway.) It’s because they are embracing themselves, loving themselves, and enjoying the process.  That inner beauty shines through in their images, and nothing else really matters.

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