Wasn’t about the corset

Dear Me,

It all began with a corset. It was a Christmas gift that my boyfriend, soon to be husband, surprised me with one afternoon. I went to the shop and picked out the fabric, cut and style with a bit of pressure since it is often difficult for me to make decisions in general, let alone my very first and only corset! I absolutely loved my gift and thought that it deserved to be photographed, and yes well, I need to be in this photograph as well! Me in my corset! An outgoing and bold thought for a 23 year old student.

I began doing my research on different photographers. There were many to choose from and all represented very different styles. Another decision point! I looked at one photographer who definitely had a thing for latex and erotic poses-not much left for the imagination but artistically done nonetheless. I contemplated with this for a while-who did I want to be in this photo-what story did I want to share? Meanwhile I began talking to different women about it and a good friend of mine said she saw a card of a photographer in Hayes Valley and grabbed it for me the next time she went. Lolo’s Boudoir was the name. I looked it up and was immediately awestruck by what I saw on the screen and at once inspired. The photographs were very much unlike what I had been looking at before. Even the other “boudoir” type photos seemed planned, a bit plain and only had pictures of “pretty sexy girls”.

Lolo’s website was different. There were women of all shapes, sizes and age. Her main studio is set with vintage furniture and welcomes all types of play. More importantly, the photos of the women conveyed emotions of all realms and really made me want to know see more and know more. Her photos are trying to share something-not just a pretty face, but a story and the real person behind the face. This fact was evident when four years later after first contacting Lone March, I was finally at a place in my life emotionally and financially where I could meet her face to face. She made it fairly clear that she did not want me to just “show up” the day of the shoot-it was about so much more than that.

I shared with Lone during our “consultation” that I was about to get married and graduate from school after so many years of desperately hard work. I felt, as she aptly put it, a bit “Bigger than Life” and very proud and confident. I had grown quite a bit from first speaking with Lone (four years earlier) and am glad that I waited so long for this moment and time to take my photos so she could capture my story and my personality. I did my “homework” as Lone requested and put a lot of thought into my shoot. I had chosen the photographer, but still, was there anything else I wanted to convey at this time? I knew that I didn’t want to be, “cute” the word is more annoying than anything. Only those who don’t really know me dare to call me “cute”. That is for little girls and I guess I wanted to be acknowledged as a woman. A confident, proud, sexy and sensual one at that. I have been through so much already at such a young age. I had seen more life and death than anyone should. I had been in horrific, abusive relationship at a most vulnerable time and I eventually found it in myself to leave and learn from that. I traveled the world playing soccer and I defied gender stereotypes when I set forth to become a firefighter in a very male-dominated profession. I went through a lot and I wanted my emotions on the inside to look dead into the camera and have it captured on the outside at that instant.

All this said, I decided to only do a photo shoot inside the boudoir and save my “outdoor” shoot for my next milestone! I treated myself to getting my makeup and hair done because I certainly have never really been able to do more with my hair than put it into a ponytail! I packed the night before and arrived with my suitcase full of lingerie and of course my corset! I have to admit I was a bit nervous and a tad stressed because my hair had taken forever and I was late! I did my best to leave it all at the door though. After a brief greeting, we were ready to begin-no time to waste!

Lone appropriately said, “What outfit is most daunting for you-we’ll start with that”. Well after a few seconds I quickly replied, “Definitely the corset!” and picked it up to show her. What a piece it was indeed and what a pain to get on! Just kidding, Lone had me laced up in no time and I dared not move too much. It was certainly restricting and a heck of a way to start. I threw on some more lipstick and went over to the mirror; Lone followed me with her camera. I stood there looking at myself for several moments; I barely recognized myself-hair, makeup and now this outrageous piece of lingerie that had me all tightly wound up.

Lone tried to encourage me to relax and feel where I was at that point and time. She reminded me why I was there and said things like, “how does it make you feel” and “what does it mean to you to be all wrapped up” and so forth. It was then that I remembered it wasn’t all about the corset, but was so thankful that it somehow brought me here. My first photos from that set have me looking wildly uncertain and at times a bit bold as I loosened up. Those photos came out beautiful but it was just the beginning. Each outfit change, I found myself getting more and more into it and found Lone trying to remind me it wasn’t necessarily about looking sexy, but just being myself. The photos she took were just spectacular.

I left several hours after I began, excited but a bit exhausted. I patiently waited to see the photos on print and meet with Lone again. A few weeks later I was back at the boudoir. Lone said the pictures came out very well and handed me a huge stack. Every picture was beautiful. Lone did it. She captured me. She captured a human being living life and not letting life get in the way. She captured some photos of me smiling and even I can see the twinkle in my eye, a mark of pure joy and compassion for all things that come into my life. A happy and proud woman. I felt very humbled when she even said she thought she had captured whom I was in those photos from getting to know me over a short period of time. I relived the shoot while going through the photographs, picking out my favorite ones. I felt so blessed and special that I had the opportunity to do this for myself. Forget about the so-called “insecurities”. No, Lone told me to forget about those when I looked at the photos for the first time. She said, “don’t look and think, oh I don’t like this and that”. That’s not what it is about.

This society is ruthless about image and it’s expectations of women. The women in the media are not real. The women that go to Lone are as real as it gets. That’s why when you see one of her photos you want to know more-you want to join in and play too. Lone is an amazing woman. Actually amazing is a poor description as she encompasses and lives her life the way I have wanted to for so long but never really knew or still really even know how. But in the short time I spent with I did learn that you need to love yourself, your body and your soul and trust it when it tries to take you somewhere you’re not quite sure you want to go. Obviously, this all began with the corset, but it sure did not have anything to do with the ending!