When a woman poses half-nude for the first time at the Jennifer Williams Boudoir Photography Studio, the biggest challenge can be getting her to feel comfortable in front of the lens. But according to Williams, it doesn’t usually take her camera-shy clients too long before they warm up to the idea of striking provocative poses in next to nothing. And she’s right.
I recently signed up for a JW makeover and photo shoot combo with the intent of wearing nothing less than a full-coverage negligée. But lo and behold, 20 minutes into the shoot, Williams had me posing fully naked on her chaise lounge. Me—a 40-year-old woman who wouldn’t dream of rocking a bikini in public without first wrapping a sarong around her ripe ol’ rear. That’s how good she is.
“Yeah, well, I’m smooooth,” Williams says with a laugh when we sit down for an interview after the photo shoot with her business partner, makeup artist extraordinaire Kelly Trerise.
Of course, she’s joking. The real reason women are so comfortable in front of her camera is because from the second you step into the studio, you know you’re in good hands. The walls are covered with beautiful photos of everyday women, radiating sensuality and confidence.
“I think for us, it’s really about creating evocative art that we can be proud of,” says Trerise, referring to their boudoir packages that start at $500 (see jenniferwilliams.com/). “We don’t want it to be cheesy at all and we don’t want a woman to look at her picture and go, ‘I don’t really love it, but my boyfriend will think it’s nice.’ We want her to be just as excited about it as her boyfriend.
“So it’s not crazy stripper makeup or anything like that,” continues Trerise, “just a feminized, more glamourized version of yourself.”
As with the makeover aesthetic, the actual poses are sexy without ever being smutty. “Generally, we like to keep it very tasteful and something you would show your friends,” Williams says. “So I don’t necessarily shoot straight-on spread eagle or anything like that.”
She also doesn’t shoot anything too retro looking—timeless, yes, but burlesque-inspired, no.
“We’re really not a feather-boa type of studio,” says Williams. “I just want to keep it clean and classic, so that the images will look good in 20 years. That way, you’re not going to look at it next year and go, ‘Why did I wear that?”
Another reason Williams’s boudoir pictures look so good is that she’s a lighting genius. She knows how to take full advantage of all the gorgeous, natural light pouring into her Yaletown loft windows. And if you have a problem part that makes you self-conscious—like, for example, oh, I don’t know, your breasts pool in your pits whenever you lie down on your back—this dynamic duo will work around it. Before women even come into the studio, they’re asked to fill out a questionnaire that addresses how they feel about their bodies.
“So it could be, ‘Yes, I love my cleavage’ or ‘no, my ass is not my favourite,’ ” Trerise says. “And if there is an area she doesn’t love, we either don’t shoot a lot of it or we perk it up or we do whatever we can do to make it look fabulous.”