#womenwhoinspire: Stacey Ingram, Photographer + Owner of Simply Boudoir
I have followed Stacey's work for at least five years. Technically, before we met officially, we were friends via Instagram after I reached out to her about wanting to work together. Her work, words, and mission as a boss babe to teach women to accept who they are as they are is incredibly inspiring. The photographs and experience she gives her clients is also striking, which is still an understatement. I'll let her work speak for itself in the post below, so you can really gather what I mean. (PS Post contains a variety of images from Stacey and I's work together. I have to warn you: some of the images are not suitable for children.) Read on to hear Stacey's story of how she stumbled into boudoir photographer-it's a really good one!
J: Simply Boudoir is one of the nation’s leading boudoir photography studios. That’s quite an achievement! Tell us the story of how Simply Boudoir was born. Did you know you always wanted to be a boudoir photographer?
S: Wow, what a kind compliment - thank you! While I have loved photography since I was a teenager and always wanted my work to be meaningful, I actually stumbled into boudoir randomly (and boy am I glad I did). While shooting weddings, families, lifestyle, you name it, I had a client who asked me if I would photographer her in lingerie. She explained that she had just turned 30 and was in the best shape of her life and really wanted to celebrate that. Since the idea was foreign to me I did a little research (mind you, this was in 2010) and saw that boudoir was, in fact, a "thing". A small thing, but it did exist. I loved the challenge and decided to give it a go and fell in love; not just with the images but with how she felt after seeing those images of herself. I quit my day job, quit shooting weddings and everything else and became a full time boudoir photographer in 2012 and there's nothing else I'd rather be doing.
J: I know from personal experience how incredibly empowering (and fun!) a boudoir session can be. Describe to me what you feel like your clients gain from doing a session (other than just dynamite photos!).
S: Boudoir is a very strange thing in that it is vulnerable for everyone involved. Just think of how nervous you are going to the doctor and putting on a gown but here you are in lingerie in front of a complete stranger. Add in a camera and a lot of emotions and fears arise. With that, though, I think women learn a lot about themselves. Perhaps they're already there to celebrate a life milestone - losing weight, a wedding, a divorce, or just to celebrate turning 40. In the end they all come out explaining how amazing they felt, much more so than they thought they would. There's something about releasing your inhibitions, especially to another woman and having permission to just be yourself with no judgement. In the end I think they gain confidence, a sense of pride, and empowerment. Those are just a few of the words actual clients have told me they felt in the end.
J: As a large community of women, and you being a photographer of women, what can you tell our readers you feel like they need to hear in terms of body positivity and individual beauty?
S: I think it's important to remember that sensuality and feeling sexy and beautiful is a frame of mind. Our bodies all change and shift as we get older or go through life changes but that doesn't mean you can't still love and celebrate it along the way. Confidence really IS sexy and if you have self confidence and truly love yourself then you can free your mind of so much stress and worry (which ends up aging you in the end). I'm still learning how to do just that myself - boudoir photographers don't have it all figured out but we DO have the key to help you and in return ourselves.
J: Each shoot is incredibly unique. How do you keep each session so personalized? Where do you garner inspiration from for your shoots?
S: I try to learn as much about my clients as possible before their session. I want their images to reflect them and I want them to be proud when they look at them. I learn about their hobbies, what they love about their body, their style when it comes to clothes, and what makes them feel sexy. I incorporate those things into their session and let them guide how comfortable they are in the end. My job goes beyond being a photographer as I also have to push myself as an artist so other art and just life experiences really inspire me. My clients are all so different so it's easy and refreshing to be able to switch it up each shoot.
J: What has been your biggest struggle professionally? How did you endure it (or are enduring it currently!)?
S: Oh man, great question. I think my biggest struggle has been learning to provide myself with work hours and know when to cut those off. This is something I struggle with constantly as I'm always working. If I'm not shooting I'm editing, going over client orders, designing albums, ordering products, emailing with potential clients, designing and furnishing the studio, cleaning and stocking the studio fridge - you name it. Besides my makeup artists whom I LOVE this is a one woman show. It's easy to work 15 hours a day without realizing how much time has gone by but I have to cut myself off and give myself personal time. Learning work and life balance, I guess you could say, is my biggest struggle.
J: Is there a specific individual who has been monumental to your success? If so, who? And in what way?
S: I am lucky to have been surrounded by so many amazing and supportive people through this journey of becoming a full time boudoir photographer and business owner. There's no doubt it's a lot of work and having a team of cheerleaders behind me makes it possible. My clients are all so supportive and amazing cheerleaders for myself and my brand. They know by experience how empowering boudoir can be and they help to spread the word to other women. My amazing boyfriend has spent countless hours with me reassuring me of my worth both emotionally and financially. I couldn't have done this without my makeup artists (you, being one of them!) who have spent countless early mornings with me and helped really round out my brand as a complete experience for clients. I really am lucky to have the people in my life that I do.
J: We all have one book, blog, or podcast that we’d recommend to others as a “must” check out. What is that for you?
S: I am currently reading "The E Myth Revisited" which is an a book about succeeding as an entrepreneur and the myths you defy along the way. I think every entrepreneur should read it!
J: My mantra is “Take it one day at a time.” Do you have a specific motto that you live by?
S: "With enough coffee anything is possible!" Haha...kidding. Kind of. ;) I think my life motto is to just be kind. Life is too short to not be kind to everyone you meet and by just that simple gesture you never know who's day you can turn around.
J: From getting to know you, I know that you have a huge heart for animals. How currently do you volunteer or give back to the community locally?
S: I wish I had more time to volunteer but I do help support our local charities with giveaways and donations yearly. I also foster from time to time when the opportunity and time allows. If I weren't a boudoir photographer I would no doubt run some sort of animal sanctuary for rescues. :)
J: Do you have anything else you’d like to share with the readers and I?
S:Well first off, thank you for this opportunity as it's always an honor to know I am inspiring someone - anyone. I really do believe in and love my work as a boudoir photographer and just ask those who may have heard of it before or even if you haven't to approach it with an open mind. It really can be a form of therapy for a lot of women. Sexy doesn't mean the same to everyone and if feeling sensual creates a positive change in someone's life then I'm all for celebrating that.