What if your career depended entirely on your taste? Whether it’s their tastebuds or taste…
Getting your gear off in front of a photographer is not the most natural of situations.
But Amanda Thorson can’t wait for her subjects to strip. A boudoir photographer of everyday women—of all shapes and sizes—she thinks they already look hot, just the way they are.
If you’re picturing fluffy peignoirs, big hair and fuzzy lenses—stop now. Amanda’s been there and it’s not her scene.
“My husband wanted some nice photos of me—we started to look at what was available and I was disappointed. People were taking beautiful photos, but they weren’t me.
“They were all lace, stockings, belts and sexy posing and I’m very much a Bonds kind of girl.”
Understandably, when Amanda decided to try her hand at boudoir photography, there were no stereotypically ‘sexy’ poses—just an understanding that beauty lies in celebrating women’s authentic selves.
“I think that traditional boudoir is trying to make women look like what men want them to look like, and I’m not really interested in that,” she explains.
“If I was going to have photos taken of myself I’d want them to look like a fancy magazine, like when you see those girls sitting around in their underwear having a cup of coffee and looking super relaxed and hot.”
As an experienced wedding photographer, it seemed a natural fit for Amanda to branch out into her own version of boudoir shoots. “I just thought, ‘I can do this.’ But then as I started to photograph women and saw the responses I was getting from them, it became so much more than the photos. It made me really emotional about it. For some women, it has helped to change their perspective of their bodies and they’ve really started to love themselves just by me taking a few simple pictures.”
Meanwhile, Amanda was undergoing a body-positivity journey of her own. Last year, she gave birth to a daughter who encouraged her to reassess her attitude towards her body.
“It changed everything,” she says. “I already have a little boy and I love him to bits, but having a daughter really got me thinking, because she’s going to have my genetics, so if she hears me talking badly about myself it’s like I’m talking badly about her. I realised I need to get my head into the right place.
“It’s a long process but I’m really excited about it, especially because I can help other women love their bodies as well.”
Amanda describes her style as “natural boudoir”, and a quick scroll of her Instagram feed, full of smiles, rolls, curves and freckles, attests to this philosophy. The actual shoot is about as relaxed as you can get. Amanda likes to visit women in their homes, and, as she describes it, “talk to you for a long time while you’re sitting in your underwear (and take a few photos.)”
Annie Brown, stylist and owner of Canberra lingerie boutique Miss Winks, was drawn to Amanda’s natural, feminine style and decided to challenge herself to a boudoir shoot.
“I wanted to push myself and be brave,” she explains. “I didn’t start 2018 with any resolutions, but something that really resonated with me though was an overarching feeling that this year would be ‘The Year of Self-Love’, and this shoot is part of that. It’s become clear to me that I need to invest time into feeling good, before I can be my best self for others.”
Annie loved the experience of staging a boudoir photoshoot in her own home, and she kept the preparations low-key.
“Amanda was set to arrive at 9 am as I was working afterwards and that’s when my apartment had optimum light. Although I could have requested for my hair and makeup to be done by a professional, I opted to do it myself because I’m all about low maintenance.”
For Annie, lingerie was a key part of the shoot.
“Lucky for me, being the owner of Miss Winks, I have somewhat unusual access to a large array of beautiful lingerie at the ready. I am a huge believer that beautiful lingerie severely ups your confidence factor, and even more so than when it’s the only thing you have on in broad daylight in front of a camera!”
But when it came to the photos, she did have a couple of last-minute jitters.
“I’ve styled many shoots and am incredibly comfortable behind the scenes so I felt a tad like a fish out of water when I was the subject matter. I think I was more nervous than I realised.
“To ease me in, Amanda said, ‘Let’s not worry about posing, we’ll just have a conversation and we’ll go from there’. I love a chat and so once I was yabbering away, I almost forgot what we were doing and I started to have fun. Amanda was so chatty and at ease that it was like having a catch-up with an old friend.”
At the end of the shoot, Amanda provides about 30 edited high-resolution images in an online gallery. She also offers prints and photo book for purchase, but she emphasises there is no hard sell with her. Again, it’s all about comfort.
“When the email with the images pinged on my phone, I immediately got butterflies,” says Annie. “Self-doubt started to creep back in. But then as I scrolled through the portfolio, I started to smile. It was just me, in lovely light, through the eye of a photographer who really knows her stuff. And you know what? It felt bloody good.”
Although Annie’s shoot highlighted her lingerie for obvious reasons, Amanda focuses on the women themselves shining through.
“I just want my subjects to look like themselves. You don’t have to buy new underwear. Some people go all out, but then other people take what’s in their cupboard. Even if you wear a tank top and a pair of underwear, that looks hot. If that’s what you are, then we just go with that.”