The other day while sitting in the locker room at my gym, I saw a segment on Inside Edition discussing a new trend called “boudoir photography.” For those of you who didn’t study French, “boudoir” means a lady‘s private bedroom, sitting room or dressing room, or, according to Urban Dictionary, “a room where you can get S&M with Rihanna.” Let’s use the first definition for the purposes here. In this type of photography the photographer takes pictures of a woman in an actual boudoir (possibly hers) or in a studio designed to look like one. As you might have guessed, the woman posing is scantily clad. Boudoir photography isn’t necessarily a new art form, but as the segment mentioned, recently there’s been a surge of women giving boudoir photo albums as wedding presents to their fiances — the gal featured on Inside Edition did just that. Although you couldn’t see it through his pants, something was definitely happening down below, as the husband-to-be flipped through the final product, grinning ear-to-ear. And why shouldn’t he be … ahem, aroused? She looked hot and the photography was spectacular. The lady sitting next to me, who was in her fifties and looked a little something like this, shook her head in disapproval. “Is that really necessary?” she groaned, gnashing her teeth.
To which I now reply (because I didn’t then, managing only a brief smirk): YES! I think boudoir photography is the greatest thing since sliced bread and this and quite possibly these. If you’re going to be sleeping with one person for the rest of your life, which assumes you won’t be signing up for this God-awful site, anything you can do to spice up your sex life is a brilliant game plan. To the ladies: Men love when their partners confidently express their sexuality – a private, for his-eyes-only keepsake in the form of erotic pictures is the perfect way to show him that you want him and that you want him to want you. Plus, in fifty years, when your chest looks like this, he’ll have a reminder of what you used to look like, and just maybe he’ll be able to forgo the Viagra for a few more rolls in the hay or Craftmatic adjustable. It’s a win-win, really.
When I mentioned the segment to my boyfriend, he thought immediately of an advertisement in the back of Improper Bostonian. He remembered it, because, well … what able-bodied male wouldn’t remember an advertisement in which a woman is posing provocatively wearing nothing more than a bra, panties, and garter, with an expression on her face that’s saying, “Take me, lover, and have your way with me!”? So, the next day, when I passed by an Improper Bostonian sidewalk dispenser, I pulled out an issue and took a gander at the last couple pages. Lo and behold, there she was! A lady looking seductively at the camera, mouth agape, with the words Fantasy Photography by Daphne nuzzled between her supple breasts.
My interest was piqued – who was this Daphne lady? After perusing her Web site and watching a behind-the-scenes You Tube video of a client during a photo session, I decided to get in touch with her to find out more. Turns out, Daphne Weld Nichols has been doing boudoir (or fantasy) photography for more than 25 years. Her interest in the genre, as stated in her biography, began when she came across an article in Cosmopolitan Magazine, which told how a particular Playboy Playmate of the Month captured the eye of a Hollywood producer, who in turn sent for the centerfold model to audition for a part in his latest film. When the centerfold model arrived for the appointment, the producer did not even recognize her, stating that the woman in his office did not bare the slightest resemblance to the perfect fantasy girl he had seen in the magazine.
“In that moment, when I read that article, I said to myself, ‘men are truly duped,'” said Weld Nichols. It was at that moment that she felt she received her calling. “I wanted to be the equalizer for the average woman who doesn’t have all the beauty enhancement techniques, products, services, and artists that help manufacture the unattainable, unrealistic images that men see in the magazines.”
Fantasy Photography by Daphne was thus born. Her clientele, mostly women, ranging from 18 to 90 (!), couldn’t be happier with their experience and the end product. Weld Nichols, a native Bostonian whose studio is located in Arlington, MA, echoed the trend of younger women booking shoots so they can give albums as wedding gifts to their husbands: “We just had an 18-year-old newlywed come in, and about 50 percent of our clients fall between 21-35.” Mostly married, working women who have money to spend take advantage of Weld Nichols’ services, which, in addition to the shoot, include a complimentary consultation, full makeup application and hair styling by her all-female crew of stylists, as well as plenty of pampering on the big day.
While the impetus for most clients is indeed to present their mates with sexy photographs, Weld Nichols explained that many women usually want or need the excuse of it being a gift, highlighting perhaps the more prurient desires of the fairer sex. Many also come in for facebook or Match.com photos. To take the edge off and make the client feel safe – most are anxious at the start of the session – Weld Nichols makes use of Feng Shui and healing energy to make the studio space as relaxing as possible. “We make an effort to tune into each client, since everyone is different, so every session is a unique experience.”
Tricia Traxler, one of Weld Nichols’ older clients, speaks to that connection. “I can’t emphasize enough the connection we made and their ability to get me to relax. It was like stepping into an alternate reality and peeling the onion in order to reach through the day-to-day pressures to get to the real and true beautiful self,” said Traxler, who lives in Massachusetts and owns her own business in executive placement. “It was a transformative experience.” Traxler came to Weld Nichols when she turned 50 to “cast in stone” her look at the time. “There is nothing like getting a beautiful, professional set of photographs made that captures your essence,” she opined. “No matter your age, you are at your peak of beauty once you have this experience with them and will want to go back again and again (and I have) to mark other milestones and track your progress in life. Everyone should do this for themselves and would be happier for it. I did this for me but it is a beautiful, personal, heartfelt gift for couples to share.”
Over the years, Daphne and her crew have seen some incredible transformations – timid ladies letting go of their inhibitions and insecurities; average-looking women blossoming into swans – but her most memorable shoot was when a handicapped woman came to her studio. “Her husband carried her up to the third floor where our studio was at the time. She had been in an airplane crash as a young woman. She felt so happy, sexy, and beautiful after her session that she painted a watercolor of herself, named it ‘Fantasy Dream,’ and gave it to us.”
There have also been some bizarre moments in Weld Nichols’ nearly three-decade career, like when a woman came in, shook her hand and said, “Hi, my name is Rene and I used to be a man.” Or the time when a handsome man wearing a three-piece suit, carrying a briefcase, came in for a consultation for his bride-to be’s session and it turned out that he was to be the bride. “The day of the shoot, we kept looking around for his fiancé, until finally he came clean and told us he always wanted to be a bride in a white gown,” said Weld Nichols. “Most of these types of unusual occurrences have been with men – Harvard professors, judges, high-powered attorneys, some wearing full beards, who have secret lives as women.” She continued: “There have also been many married women who made it clear to us that they wanted to do the hot sexy photographs for their lovers on the side.” Yowza! Maybe they were members of this God-awful site.
Not all men, though, coming in to Weld Nichols’ studio are gender benders. “Dudeoir Photography,” as Daphne playfully calls it, focuses more on internet dating photographs, and business and traditional portraits.
I’ll admit that some of the studio shots I viewed on Weld Nichols’ website (unfortunately, I wasn’t able to visit the studio) reminded me a little bit of the gal in the glamor shot photo Napoleon Dynamite – in the eponymously named movie – pretends is his girlfriend, but many of the portraits are beautiful, capturing the romance and beauty of the female form in all its glory. And testimonials of Weld Nichols’ superior artistry, professionalism, and warmth abound: This woman even wrote a blog about her experience. Clients also have the option to be photographed at their own home, if a studio shoot isn’t their aesthetic ideal.
So if you’re about to walk down the aisle, if you’ve been married for several years and are looking to freshen up a marriage gone stale or want to make an already blazing union even hotter, or if you’re just in the market for a sexy album of yourself that you’ll be able to flip through for years to come, get thee to a boudoir photographer. Weld Nichols is waiting for your phone call.