A genuine heartfelt Calgary Boudoir Review from Dana of her Boudoir session with Sarah Pukin Photography
A few week back I had the pleasure of shooting Dana in my Calgary Boudoir Studio. She was an absolute gem of a woman and we had a blast during her session. Little did I know she was about to write me the best review I could have ever asked for. I am sharing her full review below along with some of her images from her session! I encourage everyone to have a little read to find out what shooting with me from her perspective is like! Also she kindly has included her contact information at the end if you were wanting to ask her questions about shooting with me! I also would like to add in Dana isn’t an influencer, ambassador nor am I paying her for her kind review and feedback. Shes just a wonderful client I had who has really gone out of her way and in result I am able to share her words with you and I might have cried a little when I read her review so I OBVIOUSLY wanted to share it with you!
Words from Dana
Booking a boudoir photo shoot with Sarah was one of the best, most thrilling, empowering, and transformational experiences of my life, but it didn’t actually start out that way! In fact, the lead-up to the shoot was totally nerve-wracking and anxiety-inducing in many ways. I wanted to share my full experience with you firsthand to normalize what you might be feeling about having your own boudoir session done and to address some of the questions and fears that might be crossing your mind, too.
Researching Photographers and Booking A Session:
- When I first decided to book a boudoir session for myself, I spent a lot of time on Google researching photographers in the Calgary area. (What can I say? I’ll always be a bit of a researching nerd!) I hadn’t done boudoir before and I didn’t feel comfortable having just anyone photograph me in next to nothing, so I took my time before making a decision about who to book a shoot with. Ultimately, I happily chose to work with Sarah for the following main reasons:
- She’s a woman. (Sorry, male boudoir photographers! It was really important to me that I book in with a female for this kind of an intimate shoot.)
- Her studio is incredible and features so many awesome sets to choose from! (Although some people might feel more comfortable being photographed in their own home, I wanted just the opposite experience! Sarah’s studio has something suitable for everyone—from a casual living room set to an ultra glamorous red velvet vintage sofa—and I personally got to be photographed in five different sets for my shoot! So much better than making do with the outdated décor of the place where I’m staying right now.)
- Her packages are priced fairly, and the one I chose (Seductive) includes onsite hairstyling and makeup application, too. (I wear a bit of makeup regularly but definitely wouldn’t feel comfortable getting my face and hair camera ready on my own! I was shocked at how much makeup actually gets applied for a shoot, but it looks sooo good—and not at all overdone—in the photos themselves. Going with professional hair and makeup for this kind of a shoot is a must in my opinion!)
- Her portfolio speaks for itself. (I saw so many sites in my preliminary research with portfolios that simply couldn’t compete with Sarah’s level of quality, style, and overall class. Some of the other work I came across bordered on either cheesy or downright distasteful, but I appreciated how Sarah’s photos seemed to consistently celebrate the female form without objectifying or fetishizing it.)
- Sarah herself is amazing! (I saw a video clip on Sarah’s website where she talked about how everyone is nervous when they first come in for a shoot but then quickly relax once the session starts. I felt reassured by this and was also just comforted to see and hear Sarah speak in general! I’m big on resonance and on feeling my way intuitively into decisions, and connecting with Sarah’s energy in the video just felt right.)
- I booked my session with Sarah about 5 weeks in advance, which gave me time to fret (#realtalk!) but also to buy and borrow some outfits, to make sure that my period wasn’t going to crash the party, and also to maybe cut back on my daily chocolate consumption before the big day, haha!
- I found Sarah’s emailed preparation guide to be so, so helpful. It assisted me a ton in getting ready for the session in ways that never would have even crossed my mind otherwise. (For example, did you know that you should wear baggy clothing and no bra or panties to the shoot, so that you don’t have any lines or red marks on your body beforehand? Neither did I! Or that you should make sure your high heels aren’t scuffed on the bottoms, because many boudoir photos feature your feet in the air and thus the soles of your shoes? Now you know!)
Packing For Your Shoot:
- I loved getting my outfits prepared for the shoot! Sarah’s preparation guide lists tons of places to consider looking for lingerie, but I can add the following from my own experience, too:
- I borrowed a killer bodysuit from a friend and high heels from my sister. I wasn’t planning on this at all, but I mentioned offhand that I had booked a boudoir shoot and voila! My wardrobe instantly expanded! You never know what the people in your circle might have to contribute to your photo shoot as well, so ask around and see.
- I had pieces from the obvious shops set to go—La Senza, La Vie En Rose, and Victoria’s Secret—but I also found the cutest purple romper on AMAZON of all places at the last minute! (It was only $18, too!) Try searching for ‘bodysuits’ or ‘lingerie’ on Amazon.ca. They actually have some pretty cute and reasonably priced options!
- T-shirts, socks, and a jean jacket rounded out my more traditionally ‘boudoir’ outfit selections, and I love how these shots ended up looking!
- I’m embarrassed to admit that I wore an actual outfit for one of my sets—like full pants and a shirt, omg!—but I can advise you in retrospect not to do this. I’m planning to use many of these photos on my website and Instagram feed, so it seemed like a good idea at the time to include a more ‘sensible’ ensemble, too… but it wasn’t a great idea at all after all. I heard nothing but sad trombone music in my mind when I was scanning through these particular proofs after the shoot, so don’t sully your own boudoir shoot with pants! (Well, you can potentially combine a bra or sexy bodysuit with pants, or you can wear a t-shirt with nothing but panties on the bottom… but don’t combine full pants with a full shirt. Trust me: it totally kills the mood!)
- On the topic of what not to pack, there’s no need to bring anything else to your shoot except for your outfits, your heels (if you’re bringing any), a robe and slippers for when you’re getting your makeup done beforehand, and maybe some lip gloss and powder (for any unforeseen makeup mishaps after the makeup artist leaves). If you want to pack anything extra, make it more (small) outfit pieces, like extra panties, t-shirts, or bras. You do not need to bring any props, décor, candles, music, or mood lighting with you! Take it from the slightly Type-A woman who packed a whole suitcase full of shit she didn’t need (‘just in case!’): Leave. It. At. HOME. ☺
The Shoot Itself:
Honestly, I was really nervous before the shoot and I continued to be nervous while I had my hair and makeup done. Yes, I was excited and looking forward to the experience (of course!), but I was also confronted with a lot of insecurities about my body, too. Even though I generally feel good about myself, I also don’t usually strip down and pose nearly naked in front of a stranger, so random insecurities and fears kept popping up in the lead-up to the session! I worried that I was too (old, soft, hairy, cellulite-ridden, ingrown hair-plagued, fill in your own blanks here) to have a boudoir shoot done. I wondered with panic if I should have postponed the shoot until ___ (I had more defined abs, pigs could fly, etc.) In retrospect, I feel it’s natural to have concerns like this come up ahead of time… but I can also say now with total confidence that there’s nothing like seeing the body that you felt insecure about looking like a total rockstar goddess queen in the end! But I’m getting ahead of myself…
After having my hair and makeup done by the amazing Emilia, Sarah and I spent a few minutes looking at the outfits I had brought with me for my shoot. I had come with five outfits prepared, plus I had brought an extra T-shirt and a Ziploc freezer bag filled with an assortment of thongs and panties, too. (See: ‘I’ll always be a bit of a nerd’ above, haha!) We decided to begin with some topless photos in the bedroom set—not with my sensible full pants-and-shirt ensemble—so I nervously changed into a mere thong and covered myself with a bathrobe before making my way upstairs.
I can’t even describe how nervous and awkward I felt at first coming into the bedroom set and being asked to disrobe, but as soon as I was lying on the bed a few seconds later, mostly naked, everything changed! Sarah’s professionalism, warmth, and expertise really started to shine. She coached me matter-of-factly into each of the poses and encouraged and complimented me just enough to make me feel special and sexy but not so much that it felt fake. (That’s a skill in and of itself!) I realized quickly that Sarah wasn’t judging me (at all), and just like she had said in the promo video on her website, as a client, it didn’t take me a long time at all to relax and to start feeling really, really good about myself.
(Soon, I wasn’t even bothering to put my robe back on between sets and outfit changes. I’d head upstairs feeling totally comfortable in nothing but a jean jacket and bumless panties, and I’d make my way to the window in just a bra and a thong!)
Sarah’s expertise cannot be overstated. She’s meticulous, efficient, creative, and funny, too! Before taking each photo, Sarah would make sure that the lighting was perfect, no straps were twisted, and no hairs were out of place. It was obvious from how she carefully directed and precisely posed me that she had done this many, many times before, and it felt great to be in such good hands for this kind of an experience! I can’t sing her praises enough!
I know that I’ve already rambled on forever about my amazing experience with Sarah, but before I wrap up, I wanted to mention how utterly gobsmacked I felt when I first logged in to the proof gallery online. Intuitively, I had known I was in good hands during the shoot, but there was still a part of me that worried about looking awkward, stilted, and just plain weird in the photos themselves. It took me a while to build up enough courage to log in, and when I finally did… I was STUNNED!! I wish I had taken a video of myself looking through the gallery for the first time, because I’m sure my jaw was on the floor the whole time! I took so many screenshots and texted them to my friends and sisters with captions like ‘OMFG!!!’ and ‘Holy f*ck! CAN YOU EVEN BELIEVE IT??! THAT’S ME!!!’
It was surreal to look at hundreds of sizzling, super sexy, model-worthy proofs and to realize that I was seeing myself! I was the model! Any anxieties and insecurities I had felt about myself simply vanished and were replaced completely with awe, amazement, self-love, and sheer delight. Sarah has perfected the art of capturing women’s bodies in the most flattering angles and light, and to see yourself reflected through her lens is to see the Goddess incarnate in you—the Queen residing in you. It’s the most empowering, activating, and priceless experience to be guided by Sarah through a boudoir session like this, and I would recommend it for any woman at any time! Your Future Self will thank you, your Current Self will thank you, and any partners, friends, family members, or audience that you share your photos with will thank you, too! I hope that this post helped to walk you through the whole boudoir experience from the perspective of a client, but if you have any lingering questions about what to expect, you can feel free to ask! You can DM me on Instagram @danamachacek, and I’m always happy to help.
To book your Boudoir session with me please contact me here or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a wonderful day and thank you again Dana for being an amazing human and sharing your words with me and the world!