Joyful Freedom

What’s better than one boudoir session?  Two!  This woman stepped in front of my camera for her second boudoir late last year and it was even more fun than the first.  I love when clients come back because the second session is more liberating than the first.  They know what to expect, they understand how I direct and how I photograph, which allows us both to spark some creativity!

Here’s what this beauty had to say right after seeing her images are her reveal session:

“I will be 39 next week. I have spent most of my life struggling with liking myself, let alone loving myself. Weight loss..weight gain… divorce, loss, rejection, bad decision, regret, comparisons… but I have never been a victim or a person who seeks sympathy. I dig deep into my soul. I pray. I read. I serve others. I refuse to settle for less than I know I am capable of.

Last year I went to Maura for freedom. I wanted to get out of this emotional prison I had locked myself into for years. I did just that. Maura… good lord… Maura… she is a beacon… she Is lighthouse for ships lost at sea. She found me and brought me into safety. She hugged me and loved me and reminded me of who I am…

That girl from last year is gone. The girl this year focuses on joy, light, love and grace. I seek laughter and happiness. I validate me, no one else. I compete with me, no one else. I don’t just like me, I love me. #selfloveclub

Today I had my viewing for my second shoot. 1 year later… how different I am now (inside). How free and brave and confident.

Ladies. Invest in YOU. Do this for you. Do not let others sway you from your joy. Let judgement roll off you back like raindrops… your amazing… your fierce… your WORTHY.

#shoot2 #illbebackagain #imworthit #selfloveclub #mauramagic

Finally, here’s the feedback she gave about her session!

1) Why did you decide to invest in a boudoir photo shoot?  Because it feels good to be a woman and it feels good to feel beautiful in your own skin.

2) How did you feel about yourself before your photo shoot?  Freedom… from Maura last year… this year was all about the freedom. I was SO EXCITED.

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3) How did you feel about yourself after your photo shoot?  Whole. I felt like I was on top of the world.

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4) Describe your session in 3 words?  Joyful FUN Liberating
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5) What was your favorite part of the boudoir photo shoot?  Hearing Maura laugh ♡ it is contagious…

boudoir photography pittsburgh plus size

6) What would you say to other women who are considering a boudoir photo shoot?  Do not waste a single moment. Don’t let anyone stop you. Be prepared to walk out different than you walked in. Maura doesn’t just take your pictures, she changes your heart.

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After every single boudoir session, my client stands in front of this empowerment wall!!  It’s a moment to let loose, have fun but realize the impact of the day we shared!  Doesn’t she look happy and joyful?!?!

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I Was Hiding A Secret

Life sure is beautiful.  There is so much to be thankful for as I start a new year in my boudoir photography and self-love coaching journeys.  I love every day that I get to work with women to help them shine.  We only shine brighter when those around release their inner radiance.  We all benefit when women own and release their power onto the world.  I want to help women be able to do that confidently.  Most of the time, we’re in our own way – it’s time to step out of YOUR way, make your path, and be unrelenting about the steps you are taking.  This year is yours, ladies!!! Go after it!

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I’ll leave this blog post in her own words:

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1) Why did you decide to invest in a boudoir photo shoot?  I saw the AH-MAZING photos that you did for [my friend **client name omitted**] and I was curious to book a session.

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boudoir photos pittsburgh boudoir studio lingerie photos
2) How did you feel about yourself before your photo shoot?  Before the photo shoot I had good days where I felt good about myself, mostly if I had exercised or ate well generally that day/week. I had other days were I felt like a cow. Which I think is normal but the cow days never feel great.
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3) How did you feel about yourself after your photo shoot?  Immediately after the photo shoot I felt super hot and like I was hiding a secret (Which also was true). A few weeks after the shoot now I still feel on most days that I’m more confident post shoot and feel good about myself.


4) Describe your session in 3 words?  Bliss Sexy Enjoyable (Probably should have made it in the order of Enjoyable Sexy Bliss)

boudoir photography pittsburgh lingerie on bed

boudoir photography pittsburgh lingerie on bed

5) What was your favorite part of the boudoir photo shoot?  The instruction for poses and constant reassurance

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6) What would you say to other women who are considering a boudoir photo shoot?  Do it!!! Only if it’s with Maura bc it’s an amazing experience.

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Stop Saying You Need to Lose Weight

I think this beautiful woman has some sound advice for you all.  She says below, “don’t make excuses.  Stop saying you need to lose weight.”  This is the number 1 reservation people have about booking their life changing boudoir session.  I’m here to tell you that your weight doesn’t matter, it never will to me.  You deserve a boudoir session NOW.  Your weight is just a number – it doesn’t dictate your worth, tell you who you are, or change the beauty of your soul.  It should never be your barrier to anything in life!

And, here’s what I tell everyone when they say they want to lose weight – if you try to lose weight for a photo session, you are doing it for all the wrong reasons.  You should want to be healthy and active but you shouldn’t use a session as a REASON to lose weight.  What happens if you do lose the weight you worry about, gain it back after the session, then look at your images and constantly pressure yourself to get back to that weight?!? It’s a no win cycle, and why I’m a body positive activist.

Don’t make any excuses.  You are worthy now, no matter what the scale says!

The rest of this post, I’ll leave in her words:

1) Why did you decide to invest in a boudoir photo shoot?  As a gift for myself. I had gone through a divorce and had a baby shortly after that, so I needed to focus on feeling good about myself again.

2) How did you feel about yourself before your photo shoot?  I felt extremely insecure in who I was. I constantly questioned my self worth. I was filled with negativity and resentment towards myself.

3) How did you feel about yourself after your photo shoot?  It’s funny how much can change in a few hours with Maura. I instantly felt my confidence soar. The doubt disappeared, I stopped the negative self talk, and I realized that I am worthy of love.

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4) Describe your session in 3 words?  Inspiring. Edifying. Liberating.

5) What was your favorite part of the boudoir photo shoot?  Literally all of it. Every single minute of the day was amazing.

boudoir photography pittsburgh, collage of boudoir photos

boudoir photography pittsburgh, collage of boudoir photos
6) What would you say to other women who are considering a boudoir photo shoot?  If you want to do it, don’t make excuses! Stop saying you need to lose weight. The true gift of this experience is what happens on the inside, the photos are just a bonus (a really good bonus!).

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Testimonials

I thought I’d take this moment to highlight some of the feedback that’s been posted in my private boudoir group on Facebook that you don’t get to see unless you are a member.  These ladies have all shared parts of their sessions with my community and I wanted to share their words on the blog.

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From KM:

Well, a few months back I had the honor of spending a few hours submerged in Maura’s MAGIC. After much prompting from my friend, I had originally booked my shoot at the open house, as a Christmas gift for my husband. We were having some issues but I thought it would be a great gift for both of us. In the time between Maura’s open house and my day, I learned that the last 7 years of my life, as I knew it had been based on lies. My husband was arrested by the U.S. Marshal’s. I had retained an attorney and set to work on cleaning up and reclaiming MY LIFE. For 3 hours Maura transported me to a place where none of that shit mattered and everything was about ME. It was a much needed escape with lasting effects on my self esteem and self confidence. Words cannot express my level of gratitude, Maura helped me reclaim MYSELF.

boudoir photography pittsburghFrom TW:

Finally had my viewing today! What an amazing experience. Maura has such unbelievable passion for her work, and you get to enjoy the benefits! She is an amazing artist, but there is so much more to a boudoir session than the pictures.. it is honestly life changing. Ladies, MAURA MAGIC IS REAL. She’s like a real life unicorn. This is not my first shoot, and certainly won’t be my last!!

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black & white boudoir photo shoot from pittsburgh boudoir studio

From KE:

I am in such awe from reviewing my photos, Maura is such a genius!! I recommend this to everyone if you are even a little curious you should definitely do it. There’s nothing like feeling so amazing and comfortable in your own skin. Maura emulates positivity and you will not be able to stop smiling. Thank you Maura for this experience and for those who have supported me to step outside of my comfort zone.

pittsburgh boudoir photos in studio

From AF:

Words cannot describe the feeling you get when you spend an afternoon with Maura. Some how this feeling needs to be bottled up so you can sip on it whenever you need reminded how amazing you are.

This time last year I decided that 2018 was going to be the year of Ashley. I was going to be a better role model for my daughter. I was going to choose to be active and watch what I ate. I was going to make all the doctors appointments that I should have years ago and I was going to focus on me.

Then someone added me to this group, I don’t know who did but THANK YOU! After talking to two people that had shined in Maura’s spot light, I decided to book a shoot. In January I booked for October. I thought that would give me time to find the courage, lose some weight, and build a wardrobe. I decided that this shoot, the hair, the makeup, and the experience is something that I needed. I had put myself on the back burner for too long and this shoot was going to be my prize for putting me first for once. In December my husband and I will be celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary, and the product of the shoot (most likely the magazine) will be his present. To my knowledge he has no idea. I stopped all Maura talk when I booked. I cannot wait to see his face.

Anyone that knows me knows how quiet, shy and introverted I can be. I stand in the back of the room and do not like to be the center of attention very often. This shoot was something that I never saw myself doing, totally out of my comfort zone. If you have any hint of maybe I can do that, book a shoot! Maura poses you from head to toe for your body type. I watched her photos for the past year and was so comfortable with her I never felt nervous, which is strange for me. If you have seen her live shoots or any other videos, that is totally her! She is loud and funny, she makes you feel at home with yourself, and has no filter (well maybe a little one).

This is fastly becoming a rite of passage around our friends and people that I went to high school with. I am so proud and thankfull to be able to say that I had a “Maura shoot” or that “I’m one of Maura’s girls”.

pittsburgh boudoir photos in studio

pittsburgh boudoir photos in studio

From MW:

Thank you Maura for making me feel beautiful for the first time in a really long time. Being a mom changed me so much. For three years now since I had my first baby it was always the kids first and no time for the “me time”. Day with you, Maura was something I will never forget. Thank you for everything, for kind emails, our conversations during my session, for before and after visits and of course for session itself – your hard work – posing me, taking the photographs and editing them. You are very talented and I just love you.

pittsburgh boudoir photos in studio

From LJ:

I watched from the Facebook sidelines.
I poured over the pictures posted and marveled at how beautiful the pictures were, how I loved Maura’s technique, how I wished I could find the courage to put myself out there.
And then I realized I was in an unhappy and unhealthy marriage. We were both unhappy and it wasn’t going to get better for us if we stayed together. It was a hard realization and tough to admit that we were better as friends. We had the most amicable divorce most people have ever heard of.
During that time of hard self-talks and self-honesty, I discovered just how badly I wanted (needed) to do something for me. Not retail therapy, not a girl’s spa day (those are both awesome!), but something more substantial.
I messaged Maura for a few weeks, getting to know her and about her passion. I deliberately moved from TX back to PA on a specific weekend so that I’d be able to attend her yearly open house. She knew who I was the minute she saw me-I don’t think I even had my nametag on yet. I got one of the legendary Maura hugs in a crowded room of women. I booked my shoot that day.
I picked my 38th birthday. Not a milestone to most people, but it was important to me. I needed to spend that day being happy, with women who would pamper and encourage me. I needed to spend it doing something for myself that I would always remember, and I’d have tangible memories of it forever. Not a pair of jeans I’d forget in the closet or a purse that would go out of style.
It was 5 months in advance. I had a long time to wait, to ponder, to worry and get excited, and to be curious. I actually never considered backing out, rescheduling or cancelling. Nope. No matter what, I was gonna do it. I didn’t go on a diet; in fact, I actually gained weight (unintentionally, but eh, it happens). I did pamper myself for a few days leading up to the session-I got a mani and pedi, I got a freshened up haircut and color. It felt good.
On the day of the shoot, I knew I’d see the Welcome wreath. I drove to Maura’s with my wet hair in a towel turban. I didn’t want it to get too frizzy for the stylist. Maura opened the door with a smile and it faded a moment and she says “What the Hell is on your head?!” and we both busted out laughing and that was it, I was in the house, getting hugs and having laughs. So many laughs my face hurt.
I love the way my pics came out. I am continuing to learn to embrace my curves, my “woman’s body”. I’m already scheduled for another session in 2019. In fact, I booked that one before I even completed my first one (yes, I was *that* confident in this woman).
Spending the day with her (and Shannon and Leah) was the best present I’ve ever given myself, birthday or otherwise.
I love this woman. I love the women in her group. I’ve made friends; real women friends who are busy with life, kids, mates, sicknesses, whatever else we all deal with and struggle through every day…but I know that if I needed one of these women in a moment of weakness, they’d be there for me.
Maura gave me that. Because of who she is, because of the women she surrounds herself with, because of boudoir.
I met Karon at the open house. She was a fun and funny lady. She didn’t always get it why we had to be with so few clothes on for the pictures. I think she was warming up to the idea, and I know she was proud of Maura and the tribe of women she has around her.
Karon, I want you to know: because of boudoir, I reconnected with a “girl I knew of in high school”, who has become my friend, and who has opened my eyes to being a better woman, a better friend, a more confident person, and who has given me the opportunity to meet women who I connect with and who accept me in a way I’ve never been embraced; who see me deeper and clearer than I usually see myself. Because of boudoir, I have grown and I have so much more than I’ve had in a long, long time. Be proud, Karon. Because I am.
Maura is the best, and she’ll make you see the best of yourself. You owe it to yourself to see your true self. You’ll be a better woman for it.

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A Thorough Review

I wanted to share this review of boudoir with you all on my blog.  This woman posted this in my private Facebook group.  This is the most important message I could share with you!

******

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If this review is long, I apologize (only sort of…I’m a wordy person). The short version of what’s to come is, “It’s awesome, just do it.” If you’re interested in the longer version, however, read on 🙂 I also apologize for some possible TMI moments that I feel are applicable to share for anyone on the fence about whether to do this or not.

Let’s start with the important unimportant information. I’m an almost 31 year old mother of an almost 7 year old daughter. I’m a size 18, 40C, reflectively white mom with a jigglier stomach than I would care for, thighs that are thicker than I love when I look in the mirror, cellulite, and a list a mile long of things I could pick apart about my body (both my pre kid, and definitely my post kid, body). And while my marriage was/is healthy, I had definitely lost putting nearly as much effort into the wife side of who I am due to the amount of effort applied to being a homeschooling mom. And all that information above, is EXACTLY why I should have done this shoot years ago. And, exactly what shouldn’t keep you from doing one yourself.

I booked my shoot with Maura as soon as my husband gave me my gift certificate that covered my booking fee. I scheduled for September. In the months leading up to my shoot I had several shopping trips with my best friend. Lots of online purchases that I returned, and lots of lingerie sales I took advantage of. The girl at Torrid began to know me by name (and that I was shopping for a boudoir shoot). As a mom (who maybe added 1 piece of lingerie to my collection in the 7 years since my daughter was born), this experience was amazing. I purchased WAY more than I needed. I have bra and panty sets galore, body suits to wear for date night and some that should only leave my house if they’re heading to Maura’s! The knowledge that the shoot was coming and I needed to find what I was comfortable in for me was motivation enough to shop for not just my shoot, but my bedroom as well (is there a more polite/less taboo way to phrase this? I’m quite sure I’ve rewritten that bit several times). So long before I arrived to my shoot, I had already felt like I had gotten my money’s worth for the booking fee. I fell in love with my new mom bod and curves, even with all the faults I could pick out. I was forced to start paying attention to what I loved over what I didn’t.

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There was a pre-shoot question sheet, along with a pre-shoot consultation. Both of these allowed me to let Maura know my insecurities for my body, bring the things I had purchased thus far and get feedback, and narrow down what I should bring the day of. For people concerned that the lingerie could get really expensive on top of the investment for the shoot, it’s totally possible for it to not. My items included a clearance crop top from Forever 21 with some high waisted swim suit bottoms from Amazon. Total cost was maybe $30 and I’ll use the swim bottoms next summer. A body suit from Amazon that I LOVED that was around $30, a slip style item I’d seen on Torrid’s website that I loved, and found on clearance at the store. It was $60 and probably my most expensive piece…but a must have for me. And an off the shoulder 3/4 length shirt, again from Torrid and from clearance, with a matching thong…maybe another $20? And then I went to an outlet up in Youngstown, along with Marshalls and Ross and such on the hunt for shoes. I think I paid $15 each for 3 pairs of shoes? And truthfully, a pair of black and a pair of nude heals will do ya if you don’t want to do anything crazy. But all in all, it was pretty manageable considering what lingerie prices can be, especially for plus size girls. If you start shopping and watching for clearance once you schedule (since she books so far out) you can make it REALLY affordable. Plus, the pieces from her own collection you can use.

The day of my shoot I arrived excited. Silly excited. I sat and had my make up done, and my hair done. I carried on uninterrupted conversations with other adult women (because that’s hard to do as a mom, for hours on end). And then came the image taking. This was a lesson in letting go of control for me. While I knew of Maura professionally, and had chatted with her a handful of times before my shoot, I didn’t REALLY know her. And for me it wasn’t about the parading around in skimpy outfits that was nerving, it was capturing them. I had taken enough selfies and sent them to my long distance bestie to get opinions on outfits for this shoot that I had seen how I looked in them. And while I loved the outfits…I still saw my pasty white skin, my cellulite, and all the other things. All I could do was have faith that Maura would make me look far better than my cell phone selfies did.

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At the end of my shoot I rode home on a “Maura high.” Had I never gotten any photos. Had I never seen a preview. I already felt like I had gotten the value of what I paid. I left with a new feeling of confidence. A new desire for self care. A new desire to do my make up in the mornings (even if I was just running errands and shuttling a kid to gymnastics). For me. For my husband. For our marriage. I wanted to take care of myself…more than I was normally doing. The amount of genuine compliments (and cat calls) that come your way during the shoot from Maura can’t help but make you leave there feeling amazing.

So, at this point, even if you fear disliking your photos, you have still gotten your money’s worth just to let her take your photos (and believe me, you won’t dislike them).

That night she posted a sneak peek. It was in the outfit I felt the least secure in of all those that I wore. And I friggin loved it. Holy smokes. So, if she can nail what I was most self conscious in, I can only imagine what was to come.

Fast forward to today, my viewing. If anything, I was more nervous about my viewing than I was my shoot. I was excited, don’t get me wrong. But this is the part where I have to try and look at myself through non-biased eyes. I had to try and see the over all photo rather than pick myself apart. And despite how much I try to not pick myself apart on a daily basis and lead by example for my daughter, I’m terrible about it when it comes to photos of me.

plus size boudoir photos pittsburgh in black lingerie from Torrid

She rolled out a video of my photos first, followed by the slide show, and then the one by one images. And let me tell you, it was pretty darn easy to not pick myself apart. This woman works magic. And not because she photoshops you into someone you’re not. Because SHE POSES YOU FOR YOUR BODY TYPE! Let that sink in. For your body type. Not the same pose for every body, size 2 to size 22. But posing, lighting, and angles, coupled with helping guide you to pick out clothing (or not clothing) to accentuate the things you love about yourself, and flatter the things that might deter you from loving yourself. I have had a lot of photos done over the years, and never have I received that kind of posing instruction. I think I eliminated maybe 5 photos out of the over 70 she showed me. When I had to narrow down and eliminate 10 photos from the 70 I had selected…it was actually hard to do. Most of the time I have all I can do to pick 1 or 2 family photos that I love out of sessions. And here were 70 photos of just me, that I couldn’t reject. I could pick my favorites, but I couldn’t easily discard an image of myself. My legs actually appeared long in some photos (and they’re very much not). I didn’t notice any curve or pooch in my post baby over weight stomach. The boobs that disappear into my body when I lay on my back were visible and curvy and made me feel feminine (even though NONE of my outfits actually offered support). My calves which are big enough to need wide calved boots were curvy and leggy and ended in pointed toes and sexy stilettos. My eyes screamed confidence, my butt curved in all the right places and the cellulite didn’t make an appearance. Her posing, right down to my fingers and my hair only served to accentuate the photo rather than deter from it. And I’m quick to pick out strange fingers, funny leg posing, double chins, squinty eyes, etc etc etc. But none of it existed. When people talk about Maura magic, it is no joke. She has invested in herself and her business so that she can invest in her clients and she is worth absolutely every penny I paid her for this session and then some. It’s hard to figure out sometimes if something so unknown, such as photos, will be worth the money you put into them. And in this case, you cannot go wrong.

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I fell in love with myself again the day of my shoot, and again for my viewing today. I have a confidence that I’ve not carried since high school. A confidence that every woman deserves to feel about herself. And as a mom to a daughter, I should have for myself so that I can set that example for her! In a world where we are pressured to look a certain way, and see our body for all that it’s not, it is so refreshing to take this experience and see my body for all that it is. So, thank you Maura, for giving that to not just me, but [my daughter] as well.

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