A couple months ago I won a photoshoot with a local company called Juniper and the Sea. If you are unfamiliar with them, you should definitely check out their work. They are working to create a safe space for women to strip down (literally and figuratively) and have the most beautiful boudoir photos taken. These are boudoir photos like you have never seen before: They are for you and nobody else! Organic, raw and sensual without being overtly sexual. Chelsea and Simone have a gift of seeing your essence and capturing it in that moment.
I didn't know exactly what to expect. I was told to show up with a clean face and dry hair. When I walked into the space I was welcomed with herbal tea, warm and inviting lighting, hugs and a team of amazingly talented women who transformed me into a woodland nymph. With Kendrick Lamar as my soundtrack (um, yes please) I worked with Chelsea and Simone to pick from the outfits I brought. I changed and we got started. Now, I teach women how to feel comfortable in their bodies; how to love the skin they are in. Full transparency, this is so challenging for me, at times. With Chelsea and Simone, I felt natural and comfortable to just be me in their presence. They gave suggestion of directions for me to turn my head, but pretty much gave me free range to move as my body loves to move. The last few photos I shot topless. I have never done a nude photo shoot before and have always been curious. I never once felt insecure about my body or felt like I needed to be a different size or a different shape. They made me feel safe and comfortable. Before I knew it, it was over and they sent me on my way feeling lit up and totally empowered!
When I got the photos back, I have to admit that I had a moment of wishing my body looked a little different. Wishing that I hasn't put so much weight on in the last couple of years. When I was showing them to a friend and she was saying how gorgeous they are, I realized that my body is beautiful exactly as it is. It doesn't mean I can't work to make it more fit or to lose weight, but that it is also just as valuable now as it would be if I lost 10 lbs. It took someone else looking at me and telling me I was beautiful to fully accept it. And you know what? That is ok. Sometimes we need the reflection of another to recognize the beauty within ourselves.
I am counting down the days when I can do another shoot with these Goddesses. If you feel called to do this. DO IT!!! It is honestly one of the most beautiful and lasting gifts you can give to yourself. Without further ado, here is the beautiful interview with Chelsea.
What inspired you to create your own business?
"We worked together and had previously shot weddings, but we wanted to give a different experience and capture something different. Both dealing with health and body image issues we thought it was important to document and make women feel good in their bodies without it needing to be sexualized."
Why boudoir photos?
"We wanted to tap into something that wasn’t being done in Portland and give women a space to feel liberated about themselves and their bodies and what they’ve gone through or what they are going through rather than just creating sexy photos that weren't for them or doing it for someone else to look a certain way. We wanted a space for women to feel comfortable and tap into that vulnerability or to celebrate whatever was going on. "
Who is the most inspiring woman in your life and why?
"My Grandmother. She was such a tough person. She had 6 siblings all from different fathers and she raised all of them. She dropped out of high school and worked as a cleaning lady and she still does and she is 72."
What is your favorite meal?
"I feel if I say for Simone and I, it’s definitely steak."
What is your process in manifesting your dreams and your goals?
"I think it’s finding a balance so that we give ourselves time to give everybody else everything we can. A lot of this is a journey for us as well and I feel like if we ever feel burnt out or down on ourselves then we can’t give this business everything we want to. So I think its finding that balance and continuing to feed off the women we photograph. its a mutual back and forth."
What is your morning ritual?
"For me, I wake up and, recently, I have been making a latte or tea. I usually stretch or hang out for a minutes. Especially now, I enjoy sitting outside. I give myself an hour or so to do that before I go to work. "
How do you honor your feminine body?
"I know I have struggled a lot with body image. For a long time I was tom-boyish and didn’t feel womanly. I played sports and didn’t feel feminine in the way that society feels so. I feel honored in expressing myself in anything that feels good. Whether that is doing typical girly things like going to get a massage or my nails done, but also just going outside if I’m feeling stagnant or wearing things that show off things that I like about myself. Just taking care of myself, staying in-tune and listening to what my body wants rather than just tapping into what you’re “supposed” to do to feel good."
Where do you find bliss in your life?
"I find bliss from just disconnecting from social media. Uncapping from the normal day: Getting outside, in nature and spending time with my partner. Mostly just getting outside and working in the ground."
What does self-care mean to you?
"Self-care for me is taking a break. Just doing things that can shut my brain off from being inline with everything that is going on on around us. Just to chill and recharge. Walks, a bath, turning phone and computer off, not feeling like I need to reply instantly and giving my brain a rest."
If you could offer one piece of advice to women, what would it be?
"We are all in this together. Things are going to be ok. What you are going through, the person next to you is probably going through. Whatever we are going through is valid and to just be kind to each other."
She loves embroidery. In fact, she's super talented at it. You can find her crafting and thrifting in almost all of her free time. She also totally understands dietary restrictions, and would prefer to bike everywhere. She dreams of living on a lot of land and growing her own food. She tans really easily, loves folk music, and may or may not have a ton of house plants.