A Valentine's Day gift that lasts: Local photographer shoots for body positivity via boudoir

Kia Porter wants women to feel empowered and proud during and after a photo shoot

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      Flowers and chocolates for Valentine’s Day are fine, but photos last longer.

      The lead-up to February 14 is a popular time for women to book boudoir sessions, says local photographer Kia Porter. She sees the experience as more than a way to capture a moment in time; the married mom of three considers it a way to embrace and boost body positivity.

      Porter, who used to work in the costume department of the film industry, says she has had a camera in her hand since Grade 6. Having previously contributed to skateboarding and snowboarding magazines, she shoots family photos and corporate headshots, but her real passion is for the boutique boudoir sessions she conducts in her North Vancouver studio. Think sensual and tasteful, not pornographic and sleazy. Hair and makeup is part of the package and clients can consult her on what to wear—and on how handle their nervousness and self-consciousness.

      The founder of Kia Porter Photography (@vancouver_boudoir) tells the Georgia Straight a bit about her approach to capturing a woman’s inner and outer beauty.

      Why boudoir?

      Women can be so hard on themselves. I worked in film for a lot of years and saw all the alterations that happen to get things to fit perfectly and the Photoshopping that goes into the ads; then we’re fed images through the media of what we’re supposed to look like. We’re so hard on ourselves, and we need to love our bodies exactly as they are. Our bodies change. Whether or not you’ve had kids, stretch marks should be badges of honour. There’s nothing sexier than a woman who loves herself and loves her body. It’s something we’re missing. It’s a gift to be able to show women how beautiful they are.

      I take a very natural approach to editing. Most of my edits are for the technical aspects of a photo, like exposure and contrast. My goal is to use the most flattering light, angles, and poses, so that post-processing is less necessary. I am not the photographer that gives you plasticky perfect skin, big glittery eyes, and nip and tucked curves or who Photoshops away 20 pounds.

      Kia Porter Photography/with permission.

      What’s the most common question women have?

      Privacy is something that is a huge concern. Any image that is ever shared on my website or social media has been specifically approved and given permission by the client. I’m a vault. Nobody knows who I’m shooting; a lot of these are secrets for partners or these are private. So much I would love to share but it’s not mine to share.

      Who are your clients?

      It ranges from women [over 18] coming in for milestone birthdays; there’s a lot of milestone anniversaries. They’re doing it as a gift for their partner. My favourite is when women just want to do it for themselves. Maybe they’ve been working on themselves, inside and out, and they want to capture themselves at this time in their lives. Whether you share your images or you don’t share your images with people, it gives you a boost.

      It is so much fun. I spend a lot of time going back and forth with my clients beforehand, then at the session we spend so much time talking and getting to know each other.

      Kia Porter Photography/with permission.

      Everyone is nervous, no matter their shape, age, or size, when they first come in. But after getting pampered with hair and makeup and going over wardrobe, a couple clicks in we’re telling stories, we’re laughing… There’s a lot of laughter.

      Kia Porter has a lifelong love of photography.
      Andrea Wooles.

      After every session I ask them what they were most nervous about. They say things like ‘my flaws’, ‘my body’, ‘I don’t look like what you see in magazines.’ Then I ask ‘How did you feel after the session?' I hear things like ‘I felt powerful. I felt gorgeous. I felt completely uplifted and empowered.’ There’s a feeling of confidence. One of my favourite parts is that for so many of my clients, they’re moms and we’re shooting this during school hours. They get back into some cozy sweats to pick up their kids and they’re walking out with swagger.