How I Got Into the Boudoir Business & Why I Love it! by Liz @ Chicago Boudoir Photography

At the Chicago Boudoir Photography studio

At the Chicago Boudoir Photography studio

Hi, I’m Liz, the photographer at the Chicago Boudoir Photography studio. My mission is to help women feel empowered and confident through beautiful portraits. Here’s my story about how I got into the business of boudoir photography and why I love it!

The short version:
I had been professionally photographing families and kids for 6+ years when I saw an opportunity to work at a luxury boudoir photo studio in the area. I had never done a boudoir photo shoot before, but as soon as I got started, I was hooked. I loved watching women gain confidence at the boudoir studio! After working there for a few years (and photographing hundreds of women), I decided to open my own company and commercial studio. I renovated a vintage space by adding walls, hardwood floors and all new finishes to create a studio for Chicago Boudoir Photography. I absolutely love shooting in my studio space and feel a genuine honor that women trust me to capture their beauty in this way. Every woman that steps into my studio gets to feel like a supermodel for the day and leaves with an extra spring of confidence in her step!

If you’re up for it, here’s the longer version of the story:
I grew up in the Washington DC area and studied art and English in college. After graduation, I worked for several years writing test questions for standardized tests like the GRE and GED (actually not as boring as it sounds).

When my first child was born, I bought a “fancy” camera and started messing around with it. I became fascinated with capturing the everyday moments with my baby. I quickly recognized how magical photography is. Photos can freeze time and elevate the mundane to the artistic. Digital photography was a fairly new technology at the time and the immediate gratification was so fun! No more taking my film to the grocery store and waiting a week for it to be developed!

Over the next few years, I took several photography and studio lighting classes at the local college. I practiced, practiced and practiced until I could consistently create photos that matched the vision I had in my head. Eventually, I got a business license and opened a photography business that specialized in making outdoor portraits fun and easy for families and kids. I loved creating lasting memories for families through my photography.

Outdoor family portraits I’ve taken over the years

Outdoor family portraits I’ve taken over the years

The accidental “baby drop” photo that went viral

The accidental “baby drop” photo that went viral

One time, I took a photo of a mom accidentally dropping her baby that went viral and landed on the front page of several newspapers and on Good Morning America (don’t worry, the baby didn’t get hurt - you can read more about it HERE).

In 2012, my family and I moved to the Chicago area. I continued to take outdoor pictures of families and kids, but the long winter months meant that I didn’t have much business between November and May. Turns out that most families don’t want to take outdoor photos in -20F weather ;)

I looked around for a photography job that would allow me to shoot year-round and landed a job at a local photography studio that specialized in boudoir. When I applied for the job at the photo studio, I had heard about boudoir from other photographers, but I had never done a boudoir shoot myself or been behind the camera for one. (By the way, in case you’re still wondering what boudoir is - the word “boudoir” is pronounced bood-wahr comes from a French word meaning a woman’s bedroom. Boudoir photography is often described as a Victoria’s Secret style shoot for the everyday woman).

The first few times that I a photographed a boudoir shoot, I was more nervous than the woman I was photographing! But I quickly realized what a gift boudoir was to the women coming into the studio. After seeing their photos, women would say to me, “I didn’t know I was beautiful!” or “After having my baby, I haven’t felt sexy at all, but this totally gave me my confidence back!” It felt amazing to be a part of something so meaningful for my clients. I loved working at the photo studio and fell in love with everything boudoir.

While working at the studio, I asked one of the other photographers to do a boudoir shoot of me. Even though I had been shooting boudoir for nearly a year, I hadn’t ever been in front of the camera. I was so nervous that my hands and legs were shaking! But that was part of the fun of it - doing something out of my comfort zone was also really rewarding. It was good to realize what it felt like to be on the other side of the camera! When I gave my husband the book of photos of me, his jaw hit the floor. He said that it is the most meaningful gift he’s ever been given. You can read his own words about it HERE.

A boudoir book

A boudoir book

Starting my own business
In the spring 2018, the studio I was working for moved locations and I was out of a job. I decided to seize the opportunity to start my own company and commercial studio. I spent several months looking for the right location for my new business. I wanted a place with privacy, but also gorgeous natural light. I wanted the studio to feel intimate, but still have enough space for several different photo sets.

I finally found just the right place in the heart of Winnetka’s downtown shopping district at 896 Green Bay Rd Suite 12. I spent three months renovating the space. I added a wall to create a dedicated hair and makeup suite and I restained the hardwood floors. I painted every surface and added crown molding, curtains, chandeliers, furniture and linens. The space is unrecognizable from how it looked when I first stepped into it and I am thrilled with the transformation.

Before (left) and after renovation (right) - Chicago Boudoir Photography

Before (left) and after renovation (right) - Chicago Boudoir Photography

Before (left) and after renovation (right) - Chicago Boudoir Photography studio

Before (left) and after renovation (right) - Chicago Boudoir Photography studio

Before (left) and after renovation - Vanity area

Before (left) and after renovation - Vanity area

Before (left) and after renovation (right) - Hair and makeup prep area

Before (left) and after renovation (right) - Hair and makeup prep area

Up and running!
The Chicago Boudoir Photography studio has been up and running since 2018 and it is a blast! More photos of the completed studio are HERE.

A photo shoot with me at the Chicago Boudoir Photography studio is always private and customized. I purposely limit my shoots to 15-20 clients per month so that I can be sure to give every women the personalized experience that she deserves. I have partnered with a local beauty company to provide professional hair, makeup and lashes at the studio. I also use a professional lab to print luxury photo products.

Print products offered at Chicago Boudoir Photography

Print products offered at Chicago Boudoir Photography

My style includes portraits that are fun & flirty as well as sexy & sultry. Some people think that boudoir photography is taboo or even pornographic, but I see it as an opportunity for women to celebrate their own unique beauty and to feel confident in their own skin. I use posing and lighting to make every woman look beautiful, no matter her size or shape.

Photos taken of real client (not models!) at the Chicago Boudoir Photography studio

Photos taken of real client (not models!) at the Chicago Boudoir Photography studio

I love witnessing the transformation from “natural to knock-out” when women get their hair, makeup and lashes professionally styled. I love helping women to pose and feel confident in front of the camera. I love showing women albums, calendars and prints that they can give as gifts or use to display their beautiful portraits.

By far, my favorite part of being a boudoir photographer is hearing women tell me that they are better able to celebrate their bodies and their relationships after a boudoir shoot. I wake up every day excited to empower women through beautiful portraits. I still believe in the magic of photography!

Running Chicago Boudoir Photography is my full-time gig, but when I’m not at the studio, I love hanging out with my husband and two daughters, swimming in Lake Michigan and eating Italian food. Want to chat? Give me a call/text anytime at 312.448.8889. I can’t wait to hear from you! xo Liz

Photo credit top left and bottom middle:  Time Stops Photography

Photo credit top left and bottom middle: Time Stops Photography