Story by Jorge Martinez
Merriam-Webster defines boudoir as “a woman's dressing room, bedroom or private sitting room.” The word boudoir conjures thoughts of intimacy, sensuality, femininity and mystery. It is not uncommon these days for a woman to gift her partner boudoir images, allowing her to offer a glimpse into an uninhibited side not often seen.
Boudoir, in terms of photography style, creates sensual, intimate and sometimes erotic images that highlight the beauty of women. Most people expect sexy poses in lingerie or in the nude. While this is not necessarily inaccurate, boudoir is about so much more. What most women may not realize is they will also walk out with a sense of confidence, empowerment and accomplishment. Boudoir has now progressed into a new genre called “empowerment photography." Over the past decade, women across the DMV have taken the power of boudoir and used it to express themselves, recognize their strength and gain confidence from putting their inner and outer beauty on display.
One of the most reputable boudoir and women’s intimate portraiture studios is Marlayne Larsen Boudoir Artistry in Stafford, Virginia. Marlayne Larsen, the owner of the studio, is a military spouse who has photographed thousands of clients over 11 years. She saw the growth of this empowerment photography trend and switched to boudoir about six years ago. Marlayne recognizes that feeling empowered takes on a different meaning to different women – from sexy and carefree to smart and in control. For example, one woman might feel empowered putting on business attire and sitting in an office that has her name and title on a plaque, while another woman might feel empowered when in exercise gear and riding a Peloton bike, running or lifting weights.
Marlayne tells clients that her commitment to them is to capture tasteful, beautiful and timeless photos. “My intent is always to ensure that every woman is proud of who they are and how they look. My clients leave their sessions empowered, wondering why they were ever nervous, and asking when they can book another session.”
A session with Marlayne includes being greeted upon arrival at her in-home studio and offered a beverage of choice. The clients will then spend the next hour or so in a chair, where Marlayne gets to know them on a more personal level while the client gets all glammed up by her colleague, Amanda, a professional hair and makeup artist. The studio also offers an extensive array of clothing options (with over a thousand pieces ranging in sizes from XS-5XL) and different rooms and scenes for any taste.
“As women, we are so hard on ourselves and try to live up to completely unrealistic expectations that make us think we are less than perfect,” says Marlayne. “After each photoshoot, I make sure my clients not only see that they are perfect, but also feel it.”
The end results are photographs that capture the essence, beauty and confidence of every woman she works with. This is when boudoir photography turns into a gift of self-love, learning to be vulnerable and reaping the rewards from it. The boudoir experience ends up being about what makes every woman amazing.