I am so mad: Reflections of a boudoir photographer

Posted on by sarahwitherington@gmail.com

I’m so mad. 


There are probably reasons why I shouldn’t be this mad, but I haven’t reached the point in my anger where I am willing to listen to reason. Am I overreacting? Probably. Do I care that I am overreacting? No. 

I don’t care that I am overreacting because for the small amount of people that think I am a lunatic I am probably a lunatic in other ways and this isn’t a deciding factor on my lunacy. 

This weekend was a beautiful one. A great friend of mine from college had one of the most enchanting nuptials I’ve ever been a part of. The sun shown, the breeze blew, a pirate ship made it’s way through the bay during her vows, and the DJ didn’t play Paul Anka’s Puppy Love. 

What, or rather, who set me off was the photographer. This isn’t a case of jealousy, cattiness, or the sequel to ‘Mean Girls’. If you get to the end of this blog post and you beg to differ… tell me. Please let me know if I’m being the word that rhymes with ‘witch’. 

The photographer’s work is stunning. She is incredibly talented and definitely knows her way around a camera. She is joyful and excited and I never saw her with a frown on her face. For a photographer…that is a glorious feat. I frown by default and it usually requires 2 margaritas or a really great lingerie set to get to me smile. This woman needed no help in the smile department and I have no doubt that the photos of my dear friend’s wedding will be freakin’ gorgeous. 

Since I was a bridesmaid, we had hours to spend around the photographer and naturally I struck up a conversation. I imagine that everyone does this when they figure out that they have something in common with a person that will be around for the next 7 hours. Finding a common ground can (and does) make time fly, and really eliminates any chance of awkward silences for the remainder of your interactions.


Most of the time. 


Our conversation went like this:

Photographer: Hey [Bride]! Before you put on your dress we should take a few really sexy photos of you so that [her husband] can have a little treat!!

Bride: gigglegigglegiggle OK!

Other bridesmaid in the background: Hey [photographer], did you know that Sarah does that? She shoots boudoir in Atlanta full time! You guys should chat!

Photographer: OMG I love boudoir! That is so cool that you shoot that. It is such an amazing experience. Of course, I only shoot boudoir for women who are engaged or married….you know...because of my standards. It’s just what I think.

Me: [realizes eyes are obnoxiously wide and that mouth is gaping. Quickly relaxes and then glares and begins to boil with RAGE ...eventually offering a smile]. Oh! OH.


–the end–


 That was the end of our conversation for the day. If we spoke again I have deleted it from my memory. My initial rage never subsided and I have complained to at least 32 people and now all of you that are reading. 

How dare that be the qualification? How dare she decide that independence, single-hood, your own life choices, whatever-the-reason for not being ‘engaged or married’ bar you from being able to embrace and enjoy your own femininity and sensuality. Why is being single the qualifying factor on whether or not you get to enjoy and appreciate yourself. What does that teach? How does that encourage us to love ourselves? Is is that we have to have a partner, a counterpart, a spouse in order to feel and address the sexual and sensual part of us? 


I have so many questions. 

...And I have no doubt that my clients who have come to me as engaged or married women have come because they not only wanted a gift for their lovers, but also for THEMSELVES. In fact, I've had husbands book the shoot for the sole purpose of having their wives enjoy a treat. I LOVE the woman than loves herself, and I love the woman that needs me to help get her get to the point of loving herself. She comes married, she comes engaged, and she comes single. Who cares?

What about the woman who has gotten out of an abusive relationship and just come to know herself? Doesn’t she deserve to feel beautiful?

What about the woman who has struggled with an eating disorder for as long as she can remember? She is ready and longing for an image of her that reflects the beauty that she KNOWS she is.

What about the woman who has chosen to be single, but not to be a warden of her couch and of Netflix? She wants to feel incredible, she wants to know that she is gorgeous, and she wants to see what is inside.

What about the woman who has been labeled as ‘cute’ all of her life? She is the guy’s-girl or the wing-woman that feels left behind… why can’t SHE be sexual?

What about the woman who has gone through divorce, has kids, and is looking to fall back in love with who she is now? She is one hot hunny.

What about the woman who has gone through an incredible weight-loss journey? She’s lost the weight equivalent to a small backpack or a small toddler… and now she feels free, beautiful, and confident. Can she not have the opportunity to LOVE love love love love love herself?


Qualifications are a funny thing. They let you know what is available, but they also alienate


How are you not able to be enough on your own?

Even if you are married or engaged, you are not ‘whole’ because of that person that you’re sharing a life with. You are whole because you are a whole person. That person may add some joy and purpose to you life, and maybe they are an amazing mother/father that has great taste in Thai restaurants... but maybe not. What about the woman who is in a really hard relationship? What if your sex has been non-existent lately ...and it hasn’t been your choice (no matter what people say... people suck so hard), but you are taught that the MAN is the sexual one (and you are the coy one).... and so you feel alone? Relationships are HARD as fuck. I said ‘fuck' because it was required. Relationships should never be a requirement for anything, especially if that ‘anything’ is the privilege to love yourself. 

So. I am so mad.

...And I don’t feel bad about it, but I want you to know that I am here for you… single, married, widowed, polygamystic (is that a word?). I don’t pretend to know how to qualify people and I have decided to leave that up to someone wiser than myself. 


For now, I’m here and I welcome you. As you are.


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