Skin-Smoothing Apps (My 2 Cents) | Sincerely You Portraits

 
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For some time now I've been accepting more and more friend requests on social media, which has lead to some pretty interesting observations. Today, I want to talk about a repeat observation that has, frankly, bothered me for several months: a surprising number of women like to use photo apps to edit their photos, such as but not limited to: enlarging eyes, enhancing makeup, and mostly: smoothing skin. Before I go into my thoughts on this - let me first note that my intention is not to call anyone out, or shame anyone. I just want you to know...

You are beautiful the way you are. 

As an advocate of body positivity, I want to take a moment to remind you that you are beautiful exactly the way you are. I know it can be fun to use these apps just to see what they can do, I get it, but you don't need to look like a character straight out of an anime.

When I brought this blog post up in my VIP Group, one of the ladies offered up her own experience with one of these apps. Here's her before & after and thoughts: 

 
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"Out of curiosity, I used an app to blur a scar I have on my abdomen, which promptly WRECKED my self esteem by setting an impossible beauty standard I physically can't live up to. I'm sharing it here to show others that it's no joke. These beauty standards apply pressure all our lives and before you know it, you're applying it to yourself and being crushed by your own false expectations. It's a vicious cycle! " - Brittney

 

Most apps are REALLY poor quality. 

It's reeeeally obvious. Like - anyone who knows you in person knows your eyes aren't that big, and digital makeup just doesn't look like real makeup. As for skin smoothing? The apps completely erase your pores, which makes you look really blurry! :( 

Think of the kids!

I hope I don't offend anyone by saying this, but I see these apps being used on children. This breaks my heart, friends! At some point, women learn that it's not okay to celebrate themselves. A Yahoo Health survey (among others, I'm sure) has found that girls as young as 9 start to feel self-conscious about their appearance. It starts YOUNG, so in order to inspire change in our culture, we have to start teaching children to be body positive sooner rather than later! 

Now as a side note!

If you're looking to do some minimalist retouching on your selfies, there are some great apps out there for that! My favorite one being Snapseed (they have no idea I'm name-dropping them right now!), which allows you to make very specific adjustments without going overboard. The app was built by Nik Software (which was acquired by Google), a developer that created a very popular & professional plugin for Photoshop - so they know their stuff! 

"But.. you're.. a photographer..you edit photos all day long.." 

Just in case you're curious - I do not edit out anything on your body that is permanent, such as scars, moles, stretch marks, etc. I MAY soften them. I only remove certain features like that by special request, and this is something that I talk to each one of my clients about, because it really is personal preference - but I believe that these differences are what truly make us unique and I don't think they take away from a person's beauty at all! 

All that being said... if you enjoy using the apps, by all means don't let me stop you! <3 

My 6-inch Scar: Kintsukuroi | Brazoria County Texas Boudoir & Empowerment Studio


 
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Kintsukuroi

The Japanese art of mending broken pottery with lacquer resin laced with gold or silver. The cracks are merely a symbol representing an event that happened in the life of the object.

 
 

"It's going to be about 6 inches long." 

Hearing the surgeon tell me how long the scar was going to be rang in my ears. It hit me right in the gut... I donated 70% of my liver to my stepmothers aunt. I'd never met her, but I was a match. That's all I needed to hear.  

I'm usually nervous to show my scar because of how large it is. I have always been insecure of my stomach anyways, but now I have an eye catching "accent" or "addition" to go on it. To say I was nervous to show it was an understatement. When I gave Ash a rundown on my scar before my original boudoir photo shoot, she told me how cool she thought it was. That gave me a bit of excitement that others wouldn't see it as a "blemish" but a battle scar of hope! 

 
 
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When Ash told me about this photo shoot and her idea of using kintsukuroi to bind my scar, I was absolutely on-board 100%. Going back into Ash's studio I could feel the positive vibe she gives off, it just absolutely sets you at ease. I felt amazing! That is MY scar that's being showcased as this awesome accent piece! Ash told me how awesome my story and my scar was, and I just felt so powerful. I did something so extreme with my body, and I should be proud of it! I want to show off my scar now! Before, I would only show family or close friends.. or if someone asked.. but now

I feel so confident, I just want to lift my shirt and say, "Hey! I did that and I am amazing!"

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Ash is such a beautiful soul who sees the beauty in all of us that we should be seeing in ourselves. I have always had a love for my scar because it's so different and unique, but I was always insecure about what others would think.

Now, I feel like art. I am art. We are art. Art with bodies as a canvas and we are beautiful.

Thank you for helping me learn to love me, Ash.

 
 

Concept inspired by Teri Hofford.

 

August Client Spotlight | Brazoria County Boudoir

 

I want my daughter to grow up knowing that no matter what she is gorgeous and to never try to conform to society's beauty standard but to set her own standards and reach for the stars no matter what anyone thinks.

 
 
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Kayla, 27

I kind of grew up feeling like I never fit into the standard of beauty. In junior high I was very much a tomboy and would wear cargo shorts and t-shirts a lot. I was teased because I didn't want to wear makeup and conform to what everyone else was doing. Because of the teasing and bullying I began to dress more feminine and start wearing makeup once I was 14 years old just so I could fit in. It didn't stop there because then it was about how I was too skinny, I wore glasses, or teased about breakouts.

I met my husband when I was 16 years old and he turned my world around. From that year in 2006 I always felt I was beautiful and was no longer uncomfortable in my own skin but that of course only lasted so long. Fast forward to 2016 and after 6 years of marriage and 2 kids I had gained 20 pounds and I no longer saw beauty in the mirror. I was no longer happy with how I looked and started to shut down.

Between the usual stress of life, marriage, kids, and work I began to suffer from anxiety and was diagnosed with depression too. Of course the medication only made me gain more weight and feel even worse about how I looked. Through all of this my husband reminded me every day how beautiful I was and that no matter what anyone thinks I should love who I am.

 
 
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I have him to thank for finally getting the courage to do a boudoir shoot with Ashlee so that I could finally see for myself how he sees me everyday. The most important thing is to surround yourself with people that love you for who you are on the inside and out; I definitely lucked out in that category!

 
 
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Of course I was very nervous about doing this shoot because who can say they honestly are 100% comfortable being half naked in front of someone they hardly know and being photographed?! About 20 minutes into my session I just started to loosen up and Ashlee reminding me to think of my husband constantly helped a lot. We joked around a lot and just talked about life which made me much more comfortable.

Once I saw my photos I just couldn't believe it was me at first. I was wondering who that woman was on the other side of that camera and why have I never seen how beautiful I am. I suggest to any other woman that hasn't done this yet and struggles to see her own beauty and self worth... book with Ash cause you won't regret it!

 
 
 

Possibly an unpopular opinion? I hope not.

PSA: If I catch you shaming someone based on their appearance, I will absolutely call you out. 

Image quote found on Pinterest.

Image quote found on Pinterest.

Many of my followers on social media have sent me friend requests, which I love... but sometimes, I see some people saying things that go against everything I believe in as a boudoir specialist. And most of the time I keep scrolling, but when it comes to body or appearance shaming, I WILL speak up. Maybe my opinion is an unpopular one (I hope not). But I believe that we, as humans, can be and do better.

Why do people get off on commenting negatively on others' appearance when a disagreement occurs? Why is this deemed socially appropriate, either in real life or on social media? 

The next time you catch yourself doing this, please - stop yourself. Think about what you are doing. 

It's not okay. It's bullying. How dare you perpetuate negative body image? Isn't it bad enough that we, as humans, have to deal with media and the fashion industry telling us we aren't good enough? Appearance has pretty much nothing to do with someone's intentions as a person, anyway. So lets try to elevate ourselves from this kind of commentary, shall we?

Miss V | Sincerely You Portraits | Brazoria County Boudoir

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Self love is the greatest

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To me being sexy is not something I think of when I think of myself. I got married September 2016 and before that I had worked very hard to lose weight. After my wedding, I put on forty plus pounds . I cut my hair and wasn't sure about myself. When Ashlee offered me the chance to remind myself what I really am. At the actual photo shoot I had the amazing experience with her and Jen (Ashlee's colleague and friend who was visiting). They reminded me that my body no matter how much heavier I am, I am fierce ! Before the shoot I had a body confidence of maybe a four. I do feel better, but I am still fighting with myself about it. And I know all women are hard on themselves but I must send these big words. NO MATTER WHAT YOU THINK SOMEONE SEES YOU AT PERFECTION!! You need to remember you are perfect.

Candyce: July Client Spotlight | Sincerely You Portraits | Brazoria County Boudoir

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In this day, modern beauty standards are terrifying.

You have to look and act a certain way to be "ideal" and I don't agree with that. I have green hair and a few tattoos that stand out against modern societies standard. Although I love my green hair, I have a hard time loving me. No matter how hard I ignore the ideal type, I always find myself comparing my own body to those around me. That is probably the worst thing I could have done to my confidence.

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I have even dealt with Alopecia, (a autoimmune disorder that causes chunks of hair to fall out at any time) which is why I keep my hair a crazy color, I want to have fun with it while I have it.

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I really lost a lot of confidence over the years especially with not having the ideal body.

Coming into boudoir has helped me gain back this confidence I should have had all along.

This beauty has been here, just hiding from my sight. I told Ash about this and she just reminded me that no matter what, the hair doesn't make the person and I was so beautiful no matter what. She really is incredible. Before my shoot, I would rate my confidence as a 5 on good days, I would act like everything was great but I was not as great on the inside. After my shoot, I feel like I could say my confidence is an easy 8 on the roughest days and higher now on better days. 
 

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I was so very nervous for my shoot. I plenty of time to calm my nerves but I still went in unsure and scared. As Angelina did the amazing job on my make up I was wiggling and fidgeting my feet and they could tell how nervous I was. By the time I was done with hair and make up, Ash had made me feel so confident. She was so fun to be around! 

When I walked into the studio room I was more excited than anything, within minutes of Ash helping me pick which outfits were best, I was only excited and no longer nervous! During photos Ash would direct me and show me exactly how to pose. I felt so sexy and so confident knowing she knew exactly what she was doing. 

I think my favorite part of the whole experience is how I felt.

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The way I saw myself changed so much and the way I felt about myself was so great. I never once felt uncomfortable once I walked into Ash's studio, only confident. I had so much fun with Ash and Angelina, they are two lovable and funny girls. Never a dull moment and so much laughter. Ash even put on my favorite music to help ease me into boudoir mode. 

And let me tell you.. Seeing my photos for the first time was liberating and SO EMPOWERING! I couldn't keep my mouth from being open because seeing the photos was literally jaw-dropping! I got excited with each and every photo again and again, I almost couldn't believe it was me! Ash had told me time and time again this was me all along. 

If I could give anyone a piece of advice, I would say take the plunge, dive deep, and never look back!

Do yourself a favor and seek Ash to help you find your inner goddess with boudoir. If you feel any bit nervous, know that Ash will help you feel at ease. Do it for yourself!

Kristina | Sincerely You Portraits 2017 Ambassador | Lake Jackson, TX Boudoir Photography

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If you can't love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?

Nowadays, it's extremely difficult to love yourself in a world that is full of those telling you not to. "You're not thin enough. You're too big to wear that. You're teeth aren't straight. Don't wear too much makeup" I think we've heard it all.

It's such a different & freeing time now. 

Who is to say you can't feel 100% confident in your own skin?

Confidence shows in everything that you do & honestly, it scares people.

It took me quite some time to find my confidence, especially after having my child (who is now 12). I had her when I was 19 & that was so difficult. I had horrible self esteem issues after she was born. Stretch marks everywhere, a pudge that'll never go away, skin issues...I hated everything. I never thought I would feel this great about myself...ever. Not until recently did my confidence soar.

Ashlee helped me so much with that! The way she captured me in these boudoir photos is just mind-boggling.

"That's me?" Was my first thought...my second was "Hell yes that's me!"

It's time for all of us to say "bye!" to those that downgrade us. It's time to feel beautiful, because that's what we are.

Sure, I have my days where I feel bad about myself, but then I remember who is watching me (my daughter) & I never want her to feel ashamed of who she is or where she came from.

Beauty cannot be spelled without U.

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I have a confession | Lake Jackson, TX Boudoir Photography

Ladies, I have a confession: I teach women to be body positive, but I'm not always body positive. 

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And that's why I'm addicted to boudoir! Before I experienced boudoir, I never ever saw my body as something that could be sexy. And to be 100% transparent: sometimes, I still forget. 

The "Before" Time

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I'm the baby of the family and I had the immense displeasure of growing up watching my mom and sister get their hearts broken- over, over, and over again. Particularly my sister's heart. 

Because of the pain I not only witnessed but experienced as a result of men coming & going in the family, I swore off dating before I was 18.

Once I got around that age, I started letting men into my life. Then I met X in the Spring, and for some reason I immediately fell head over heels for him.  I spent as much time with him as I could, and within 3 months had moved in with him. But Fall came, and he kicked me out to start dating another girl. I was devastated.

Long story slightly shorter: we did end up back together. What followed was 3.5 more years of emotional abuse. Years of being told that my boobs were too big, my frame not as slight as his "type," of sticking by him and yet being put at fault for things that went wrong between us, of him telling lies about me to his family and our friends, of yelling and screaming, of catching him emailing and texting other girls and being on dating websites, of him hitting on my female friends, over and over and over. 

The final straw was when HIS mother and long-distance female friend started berating my terminally-ill mother and myself on social media. They spent hours bullying me, and saying horrible things about my mom. I called him multiple times and cried and BEGGED him to ask them to stop... and he just let it happen. Leaving was the best decision I ever made for myself.

But the damage was done. Between the years I saw this crap happening to the women around me and the years I spent experiencing it, only to be topped off by bullshit societal standards for beauty, I felt the farthest thing from sexy. 

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Growing Pains

Many of you who follow me know the next part of my story: I was lucky enough to be able to spend the last several months of my mother's life with her. I went to college for photography. I discovered how to connect with people, despite having social anxiety. 

I used to run a network of photographers, and somehow met a bunch of boudoir photographers. One of them came to Houston in 2016, and I jumped on the opportunity to do a boudoir shoot for myself. 

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I'm normally a quiet person, but I just remember screaming. 

When my photographer showed me the slideshow of my images, I couldn't believe it was me. THAT WOMAN ON THE SCREEN WHO IS OOZING SEX APPEAL..... was ME?! My life changed and took a drastic turn. Ever since then, I've thrown myself 110% into boudoir. So many wonderful things have come from it: meeting women, CONNECTING with women, helping women see that they are MORE than just their perceived flaws. Not only that, but I've discovered that I can run a business! I can't even imagine going back in time and telling 16 y/o - 23 y/o Ashlee that she'd be a business owner someday. I would have laughed in my own face and never believed it. With that, I've found oodles of confidence and a belief in my abilities that I am so thankful for. 

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The Now

All that being said....

Just like everyone else, I sometimes look in the mirror and think, "ew." 

I'm having a fat day. Ugh, my waist size has grown. Is that boob bigger than the other? Wow, my ankles look fat AF today. 

I'm most self conscious about my boobs. I wish they were smaller - I remember my C-cup days, I LOVED them then! But they kept growing. 

About 3 weeks ago I went shopping for a bathing suit and left empty-handed. Some stores now sell swimsuits with bra-cup sizes, and I was super excited about that - but even those don't fit me properly because they lack support. I sulked through the whole store. It's so hard to find tops, bras, and swimsuits that are cute for my body type! 

So what's different now? Before I discovered boudoir, the self hate and negative inner commentary would last a LOT longer. But now....

I no longer blame my body!

It's not my body's fault that the fashion industry doesn't celebrate all body types. Yes, it's more difficult to find cute clothes, but... I have a beautiful hourglass shape. My ass is amazing, I mean come on. My boobs are desirable (so many women wish they had my boobs!). 

The gorgeous photos you're seeing of me in this post are by my incredible colleague and best friend over at Jen Needham Photography. This is my 4th shoot in less than 1.5 years! I love doing boudoir shoots to remind myself that I am sexy. 

Yes, sometimes I forget. Sometimes I catch me being mean to myself. But then, I remember: oh yeah. I have 4 TANGIBLE reminders to go look at and admire my body! I LOVE MY BODY even though we don't always agree and get along! And that's OKAY. I'm ALLOWED! 

I find that a good trick is to remind myself of the following:

1) Your body is your friend, so treat it like one. 
2) There are ears around you. When you say out loud, "I'm so fat!" - other women hear you. Children hear you. And that only perpetuates the problem. 

And by the way!!!

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I found myself a real man. A man who deserves me. Who is kind to me. Who RESPECTS me. Who loves me as a person despite my quirks. And who fucking LOVES every inch of my body. So be patient; if you haven't found the right significant other yet, they are out there. 

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So why did I share all this? Because I want you to know you are not alone.

We are all in this together. If you ever need someone to talk to, I'm here for you. 

If you have a story you'd like to share, please feel free to comment below, or in my VIP group. I've built the most amazing community of body-positive women. <3

Stephanie | Brazoria County TX Boudoir

Stephanie is a total bombshell whom I had the pleasure of meeting during Teaser Sessions. Who thinks she needs to come back for a full session with me?! <3 -Ashlee


Lately I was just not feeling as young and beautiful as I once saw myself. So I really wanted to get out of my shell and do a shoot with Ashlee.

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I wanted to show myself that I am sexy and just getting better with age!

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I was incredibly nervous for my shoot but Ashlee made me feel super comfortable and she guided me the whole way through (also letting me know how great I was doing and how beautiful I looked ;) she even gave me little sneak peaks to confirm her compliments)!

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Ashlee BLEW me away! She made me feel EMPOWERED and BEAUTIFUL! And when I got to see my photos...WOW...just WOW! I'm going to need to start an annual SYP fund! .#addictedtoboudoir #imgonnabebroke #sincerelyyouprotraits

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Renee | Sincerely You Portraits | Lake Jackson, TX Boudoir Photography

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I think most women have said they don't like something about themselves. I'm 100% not ashamed to say I'm one of those people.

I will sit for an hour or so at a time on social media like Instagram and Facebook looking at beautiful women with voluptuous bodies. Trying to copy they're make up, or poses in the mirror to look like them. Honestly it just makes me feel worse. I sit and think of ways to look that way, how much will I have to save to get that Brazilian butt lift I want? How many days and hours in the week do I have to exercise to get that body? Should I just take diet pills? Typical woman problem I guess. Finding flaws in myself.

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I never post pictures of myself without makeup on any social media and I rarely take pictures of myself any lower than my face. It's sad that's how things are nowadays. Beauty isn't about digging deep or how that girl may be the nicest sweetest person, have the biggest heart, be a great mom, a wonderful wife, be a great cook, make everyone at a gathering laugh more than anyone else. It's about likes and comments, and how great someone looks.

Us women compare ourselves to each other, wish we had her this or her that. That drives me crazy. I think that's a little part of why women don't like each other rather than building each other up.

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When I saw Ashlee post on Facebook about mini boudoir sessions I was hesitant and for a second didn't inquire about it.

After a few minutes I convinced myself that I'd go ahead and give it a shot. Father's Day was coming up and it would be a perfect gift for my husband. I ordered two pieces of lingerie and literally the day before the shoot I tried both on in the mirror probably 10 times a piece trying to decide which to wear. At first I found every flaw in the book on myself and a couple times even said you know what, forget it. I'll never look good in either one.

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The day of the shoot I woke up with anxiety. My stomach was in knots. Nervous was an understatement. I was terrified.

I spent all day getting ready and once it got closer and closer I felt myself sweating and kept thinking about every way I could mess up this shoot and not look beautiful. But on the drive there I noticed something. I was starting to get a little excited and even anxious to get in front of a camera and show what I could do.

When I got to Ashlee's she opened the door with a big smile and looked just as excited as I did. When it came time to start shooting all my anxiety went away and I peeled off my clothes like nothing to reveal my lingerie underneath, it felt like I've known Ashlee forever.

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When I had my reveal and saw my photos I was in awe of myself!

I looked amazing! There I was, that girl who loved to pose, that girl who loved being in front of a camera and poured her sexuality into every picture. I literally looked like I felt while doing my shoot. Ashlee helped me pick away at that negative self body image that was slowly taking over me. She helped me open up, I left telling her thank you a million times without her knowing how desperately I needed that and how I felt like my old self again and how much I hope she knew that she helped with that.

Her boudoir shoots are more than just pictures. They're empowering, they encourage self love. Which if you ask me or any woman that's EXACTLY what we all need right now.

Ashlee is amazing and is great at what she does! I left my boudoir shoot feeling beautiful and sexy and the pictures proved that. She is all about empowering us women to be who we really are, superstars! I felt so comfortable and loved every min!

June Client Spotlight | Texas Empowerment & Boudoir Photography Studio

Jerica is such a beautiful soul and I'm so honored that she loved her experience at Sincerely You Portraits and trusts me, and the community I've built, enough to share her story with us.  -Ashlee, Sincerely You Portraits

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Jerica

To me the term "beauty standards" in itself is BS. Who ever said there were standards to being beautiful? I don't remember the exact day it dawned on me that "looks mattered."

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At the age of 11 society had already taught me what "beauty standards" were supposed to be in my mind.. but the only message I received was that I wasn't good enough.. not with my crooked teeth and scrawny figure. 

We should have never been taught these things, but we live in a world where people follow other individuals' ways of thinking instead of thinking for themselves.

In turn, that leaves misinformed individuals going around and teaching these things to their children who then go to school and teach it to other children, and the cycle just continues.

We cant change the world we live in, but we can change how we live in this world.

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We could spend our days being jealous of what X-person looks like, or we can learn to love ourselves and to uplift others around us. 

It's so much more fun to give someone a compliment and watch their face light up, than to critique everyone on their appearance!

Lets stop pointing out the flaws in one another, but instead lets start praising individuals on their great qualities. 

To me, beauty comes from within and it shines on the outside.

To be quite honest I think society's "beauty standards" can fuck off!

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After all the "beauty standards" I was taught in my early grade school years, I was still trying to fit in by the time I got to 7th grade. Trying to find friends who would like me for me, even though I didn't dress as nice or look as mature as some of the other girls. So I did what a lot of young teenagers do, I started acting out. By the time I was a Sophomore, I partied regularly with older groups of people. 

Eventually the partying led me to a boy - lets call him "Bill." Things ended up getting serious with "Bill," and I thought I was in love. And maybe I was... next thing I knew, I was 17 and pregnant.  To my surprise, he was thrilled. How could he be happy about this? He was only 19 & living off friends by selling weed. 

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With this unexpected turn in my life, I realized my priorities needed to change, I had to finish high school. Where there was no motivation before, there was now 100% dedication to graduating with my class our senior year. This caused problems, my priorities changed while his stayed the same. 

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My hormones were out of whack and I was stressed with school, so I would nag at him or give him a little attitude here and there. One day in the car I smarted off to him, and I wish I could remember what it was I said, but he grabbed me by the nape of my hair and got in my face and said "don't you ever talk to me like that again!" So I tried not to. 
As months went by there were a couple altercations similar to the first. Nothing too serious.. right? 

Wrong.

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I was so tired when my newborn boy woke me up at 2am, very sore and just wanted some help.. "Bill" was sound asleep with no interest in helping. I said something along the lines of, "I wish you would just help a little!" Next thing I know I am on the floor and he's on top of me with his hands wrapped around my throat.

I struggled with him for what felt like minutes while he screamed at me, but I couldn't hear him; all I could think was "where is my baby?" When he was finished yelling, he simply got back into bed and went back to sleep like nothing had happened. I slept with my 2 day old in his crib that night. Did I mention that was my birthday?

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The altercations became more frequent and more dangerous. I was trapped. My family had no idea at first. I didn't want them to know, I was ashamed. I couldn't find clothes that fit me anywhere because I was 85lbs; I wasn't that tiny because I starved myself to be, or because I was sick. It could be just the thought alone of "Bill" being angry with me that would cause me to lose my appetite.

He was angry with me more days than not, and by the time my son was 3 I had been countlessly choked, slapped, kicked in the face and chest, had things thrown at my head. The verbal abuse was so extreme and constant I actually started to believe I was all of these awful things he said I was. 

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Of course anyone who has never been there will say "just leave" but how do you leave when the person you fear the most is standing in your way with a gun in his hand, telling you to go but demanding you leave the child or else... As bad as I wanted out of his grasp, out of this life, I stayed.

At this point I was convinced I would be in this relationship until my boy turned 18 and could go at his own will. I accepted that. I had lost all faith.

Finally one night in September my prayers were answered! The police raided our home and took us to jail for possession of marijuana.

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We were bailed out the next morning. "Bill" chose to run to another state, while I stayed behind to deal with the consequences of my pending court case. He ended up getting caught and was sentenced to 2 years in prison.

I could finally breathe a little easier. My son and I moved into a bedroom at a friends house and began to start over. Eventually, I got a job and an apartment.

Then I met the man of my dreams! My real life prince charming. A gentleman that really has his life together.

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Photography-lake-jackson-texas

Jim showed me a love that I never knew existed. He treated me with respect and dignity, like a woman is supposed to be treated. Like I needed to be treated. I had my walls built pretty high up to protect my broken soul. He slowly helped me break those walls down.

We dated for a year before I finally let him meet my kiddo. We took that extremely slow, because there was no way I was going to let my son get attached to another man who was going to leave.

Of course there were lots of ups and down in the beginning. I often thought it was too good to be true, and that he couldn't possibly love me the way he says he does. I just knew, once he saw all those horrible flaws I had buried away he would leave.. but he never left.. and he never stopped loving me.

He showed me that I am enough, that I am worth loving.

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Fast forward almost 4 years to today and I am now happily married to Jim, we have 2 adorable pups and of course an awesome 7 year old! He and my son have the best relationship. My son will grow up knowing and seeing how a real man should act and treat women and I am so thankful for that.

Although Jim loves me the way he does and thinks the world of me, I have still struggled to find that self love. All those things that were crammed into my brain day after day for 5 years still linger. 

I am still on my journey to finding that unconditional self love. 

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Photography-lake-jackson-texas

The boudoir session with Ashlee was so amazing I'm not even sure how to describe it with words. We all have these things about our body that we just don't love, but she makes you feel like a freakin' rock star!

I was a little nervous before, but Ashlee is very comforting and informative. Prior to even meeting her I felt like she was a good friend I could talk to, and that's pretty special.

Before that photo shoot I would have rated my body confidence at a 6.5, but after the shoot I'm definitely giving myself a 9.5 (10 pending a few tat removals).

How she does it.. I just don't know. What I do know is that before the session with her I used to wear makeup 5-6 days a week, full face. Now, maybe once a week. Isn't that so crazy?

The session helped me in ways I didn't fully know needed the help. My favorite part of the entire session was how at ease I felt, and the music was right up my alley. We had a good time, and got some great pictures!

I was so in awe with the sneak peeks of my pictures, I just couldn't believe they turned out so great. After the initial shock I was so excited to see the rest I almost ruined the surprise for my husband!! Luckily Ashlee talked me down. ;)

If ever you are lucky enough to get a session with the AMAZING Ashlee, I would recommend lots of moisturizing, stretching your back and last but not least, bring that confidence!!

It was overall the best self-loving experience I could have ever imagined.

April Client Spotlight | Texas Boudoir & Empowerment Studio

"This is NOT an experience you only pursue if you are comfortable in your skin. This IS an experience for every person to find the beauty and strength within themselves."

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"When I came across Ashlee's page I had just given birth to my second child.

After four years of focusing on empowering women through birth, I realized I was largely pretending I had positive self body image. I was body positive because I knew I was supposed to be. I had yet to make time to empower myself.

With a toddler and a sick infant at home, it was hard to do just that. I felt like I was in a new body, I had never seen myself this size before. I looked so tired, the stress was evident on my face and body."

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"I kept telling my husband, "When I lose the baby weight, I am going to do this!"

My husband never accepted that and did all he could to convince me to finally work with Ashlee. 

Even on the day of, I almost turned around to go home."

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"I walked in and immediately knew I was not going to regret going. Ashlee has one of those personalities that is so easy to connect with. It felt like I had known her my whole life. For the first two poses I was still winding down from my extremely stressful morning."

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"Then there was this moment when it just all clicked. I was singing, laughing, and joking with Ashlee and felt unimaginably sexy."

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"This wasn't just about finding my sexuality or giving photos to my husband. This was about capturing moments where I was free. Then I saw my photos! I could not believe that was me! 

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International Women's Day | Sincerely You Portraits | Lake Jackson, Texas Boudoir Studio

My mom has been on my mind a lot lately, and this meme gave me the kick I needed to talk to you ladies about this… so here it goes. 

My mom stayed up late the night before she died, excitedly planning a fishing trip. I don’t know why I remember this, it was just something that I never, ever forgot.

I was 23 when I lost her. I’d always loved drawing and the arts growing up, but photography was something I always just enjoyed doing for myself and I never considered it something that I could turn into a career. My mom was only 55 when the cancer won, and I remember thinking: fuck. If I only have 30-some years left to live, I better make the most of it. Less than 3 months later I had moved 1200 miles away and was enrolling (back) into college; I ended up choosing photographic technologies as my major.

In my 2nd semester, one of my professors assigned a self-portrait and I ended up using the self-timer setting to take a picture of myself with a collage of photos I’d spontaneously laid out onto the floor – it was every photo of my mother that I had in my possession.

I realized that day how few photos I had of her. As you can see, it's not many, and most of them are quite old, from the 90s or before. I had just 1 photo printed of my mom from the last SEVERAL years of her life, and not even a handful of “recent” ones on my phone at the time. 

This honestly devastated me, as my mom was such a beautiful woman…

That moment lit a flame inside of me that grew and just kept growing as time went on. Eventually I came across a colleague named Sue whose mentorship would change my life for the better, because our goals were aligned: empower women to exist in photos, for themselves and for their loved ones.

My little flame burned and grew into a passion, and to this day that is still my goal. Every single day, what I’m trying to do here is empower each one of you to take control of your relationship with your body and celebrate it!

We are so hammered down into thinking it’s not okay to love ourselves, and we waste so much time criticizing our bodies that it’s a rarity to slow down and appreciate what we have. This not only damages our relationships with our own bodies, but it teaches those around us that this kind of thinking is okay.. and I want to stop that from happening.

When is the last time that you CONFIDENTLY posed for a photo? Do you hide, or feel like hiding, when someone gets out a camera? Do you look at the resulting photo and instantly start pointing out what’s wrong with yourself in it? I know you do, because I do it and so does everyone else…

We need to break the cycle.

What if I told you that a boudoir shoot will help, in the very least, change your thought processes about your body? Wouldn't that in itself make it worth stepping out of your comfort zone?

Just something to think about.

Good night, ladies. Happy international women's day!

Introducing SYP's 2017 Ambassadors

I set out to find 3 women in the community who have a great personal story to share with the world and gift them with complimentary sessions. I had SO many wonderful applicants, and it was really hard to choose, so I ultimately ended up picking 4 women instead! Here they are, and here's what they have to say... 


Ashley

Photo by Kaylin Booker

Photo by Kaylin Booker

"The human body is amazing. Partially the female form. We can grow tiny humans and push them out of a ridiculously tiny whole! My body is strong enough to get me through the day raising two children and three dogs with Lupus, RA, and Fibromyalgia. It's beautiful. I want to do boudoir to show my girls that beautiful woman come in all shapes and sizes and that your body can be beautiful at every stage on your life's journey. True beauty radiates from the inside."


Jessica

"It's taken me almost 30 years of self hate and harm to learn that My body is worthy of love. Through out the years I have hated my body for multiple reasons.... whether it was my peers telling me my hips were too big... or the media showing me that my tummy was never flat enough.... or doctors telling me I would never be a mom. Last year I caught my daughter (turns out the expectations doctors I went to were wrong) looking in the mirror and asking why her skin wasn't as light as mine. In that moment I realized that I could not teach her to love her body if I did not love mine. So I got to work I relinquished any self hate and decided I'm worthy of admiration, love, and respect. I decided that the number on the scale does not define MY Sexy or MY Fierceness. The way I treat my body is what defines those things, so I CHOOSE to treat my body with admiration, love, and respect everyday."


Kayla

"I'm a mom of two kids ages 2 and 4. I also work full time and go to college too! As you all know having kids can make some changes in your body. After having two kids I have gained 30 lbs and started to see myself differently. I always get told that I am beautiful now even more than before, but it has been hard for me to see that. I have gone through a rough couple of years and have now accepted myself for who I am. A lot of that has been from my husband constantly letting me know and also seeing the gorgeous women of this group and how confident they are! I am so proud to have been chosen to be an ambassador for Sincerely You. My goal is to make sure each and every one of you ladies know how beautiful you are and to never let anyone decide your value! I get told all the time that I am skinny and how could I have flaws, but what matters is how we view ourselves. Every one of us are gorgeous no matter our size and sometimes we just need help seeing it for ourselves."


Kristina

Confidence. Not many show it, yet everyone has it. We, as women, should show it as often as we can. Our bodies go through hell! Stretching, gaining, losing...we are never satisfied. It's not until someone captures us in our most unexpected state, that we truly see what beautiful & magnificent women we are. Boudoir helps us realize that each of us are exactly that...beautiful & magnificent.

It took me quite some time to be comfortable with my body. After having a child at 19, I thought I'd never be "sexy" or feel it anyways. One day I just realized, I need to feel that way! I need to show my daughter to be confident, not only in her looks but in everything that she does. I have seen so many women of all shapes & sizes just rocking the crap out of their confidence! Women should not be ashamed of themselves. We each have something beautiful to offer the world....it's time for people to see it.

I just like to say how I feel about all this. My teeth aren't straight, I have tons of stretch marks, flabby stomach & arms...but every inch of me is perfect! I just want to be able to empower women with this opportunity...show them that even a woman who has "flaws" is perfect. I cannot wait to begin this journey with these other women, as well. Time to feel sexy!!

ONE LOVE.

A new vision! | Lake Jackson, TX Boudoir

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure and honor of attending a boudoir conference in Vegas! I walked away with new inspiration and a new vision for the work I want to create this coming year!


Here's a look at some fun
behind the scenes photos I took!


And here's a look at the beginning
of my 2017 portfolio!


I'm so excited to be offering 3 types of boudoir sessions this year! You can also choose to experience your boudoir session at my home studio, outdoors, or at a special location!

 To learn more about 2017 Sincerely You session options, please visit the Investment tab.

Fear is a liar | Big announcement!

This awesome image is not my photo. A friend sent it to me on Facebook when I was making this announcement. <3  

This awesome image is not my photo. A friend sent it to me on Facebook when I was making this announcement. <3  

Where do I begin? 2016 was a roller coaster!! Halfway through the year I decided to drop what I was doing in my photography and try something new.

The idea was planted when I started running a network of photographers and met some professionals who specialized in boudoir. I knew I loved the genre, but at first I wasn't sure if I could do it.

Then I went and had my own boudoir photoshoot done by a colleague, and I was BLOWN AWAY! Not just by the photographer or the resulting photos, but by me! I came out of my shell in a way that surprised a lot of people, including myself. I found a new layer of confidence I didn't know I had. For the first time ever, I could truly see myself! And I got the boudoir bug. I HAD to share this experience with other women.

Because we all have insecurities and doubt ourselves, and we all DESERVE to let that go and see ourselves differently.

I started growing a wonderful community in my VIP group, and doing more and more photoshoots... and I haven't looked back! I've known for a long time that I want to take this full time, and grow what we have here even more.

But I've been waiting, and waiting, and waiting... because I'm not "ready" - I still have sizable student debt and a car payment, and now I have a wedding to worry about this year!! But then I realized that I may never be ready. Life is going to continue throwing things at me, and there will always be fear-based excuses to hide behind.

Thanks to my sweet friend Jen for sharing this image with me. Fear is a liar. It's time to cultivate confidence and dedicate REAL time to building something bigger and better than myself.

And to do that, I had to let go of my security blanket. Yesterday I handed in my resignation at my day job. I'm freaking scared, ladies. I'm not just scared, I'm terrified! But NOTHING worth doing ever comes without some fear attached. That's what I'm trying to teach you all, so it's time for me to leap!! And whenever I feel afraid, I will remind myself that fear is a liar. And fear does not own me!!

Found this one on google! 

Found this one on google! 

February 3rd is my last day at the plant. The following week I will be in Las Vegas to grow as a boudoir photographer and business owner. The week after that, my dream job will become a reality and I will be running Sincerely You Portraits FULL TIME!

And now I must ask you all a favor.. it's a small one! Please send positive vibes my way!! I'm gonna need it! And if you have a moment, add a friend to the community who might need a push in the direction of self love!! <3

I can't wait to see what 2017 has to offer! Speaking of 2017, I have completely updated my pricing.. you'll get even more bang for your buck this year! 

You don't have to be ready, you just have to be willing | Boudoir Photography, Lake Jackson, Texas

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I recently put out a survey to my ladies-only VIP group on Facebook (if you're not in there, come join us!!); one of the questions I posed was:

What is holding you back from booking your life-changing boudoir experience? 

While I expected the leading hold-up might be the investment, I was so wrong. Below are some copy & pasted answers from my survey:


"My insecurities."

"Insecurities and feeling old." 

"Self-esteem issues."

"Self conscious."

"No confidence."

"Self image."

"Confidence.. or lack thereof.."

"Weight."

"Insecurities."

"Body image."

"My body." 

"Body."


If you're as heartbroken as I am right now, consider going on social media, tagging a friend and telling them how beautiful they are to you. 

The thing about boudoir is that it can change how you see yourself... when I say it's "life-changing," I'm not bragging about my work... I'm stating a simple truth.

Having insecurities is actually a really great MOTIVATION to book a
boudoir photoshoot. Is it scary? Sure, BUT not NEARLY as scary as you think.

You get to go have that pampering you've been daydreaming about.

You get to play dress up.

Then you get to hang out with me and jam out to your favorite music!! ;)

And honestly, you're going to be too busy listening to me (nicely!) boss you around, so you'll forget what you're wearing. It's actually a lot of fun!!

When you walk away, you get to see your body from a new, outside perspective.

So girl, step outside of your comfort zone for a few hours... and allow me to join you on YOUR journey to self love. And when all is said and done, curl up on the couch with a glass of wine and flip through a luxurious album full of empowerment JUST for you!! <3

You owe yourself the love you
so freely give to others. 

Ashley's Boudoir Experience | Lake Jackson, Texas Photography

"Do it. You never know what you could get out of it. The possibilities are endless."


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Working with Ashley was a whole new ball game for me! She was pretty persistent that she couldn't look good on camera, so I was nervous as heck for her Reveal session- turns out I proved her wrong!! 


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What is your name & how old are you?: Ashley, 28

What motivated you to pursue a boudoir shoot right now?: I needed some self love! BADLY. Prime opportunity to embrace what is mine & learn to love it all. Every battle scar, angel kiss, and tiger stripe included.

Heading into a boudoir shoot, what were your concerns?: Embracing sexy. I was scared shitless. I wasn't comfortable in my own skin and had the hardest time embracing sexy. I can do goofy and I can be serious and shy. But sexy? That was tough for me. I felt like I would fail at being sexy. Constant judgement and ridicule from childhood into adult years weighs more than one could imagine.

One a scale of 1 - 10 (10 being most confident) how would you rate how you felt about your body pre-shoot? What would you rate it now? : Wow, pre-shoot I felt like it was probably a 4. Growing up a size 0 and then having my daughter at size 16 has been an adjustment. Never bounced back and even though it's been nearly 9 years since I've had her, my mind still thinks I'm thin but the mirror shows something else. To me it was not beautiful in any way. However, Ashlee showcased me in all my beauty and I got the self love I needed. Since my reveal session, seeing me in photos and actually liking them, I'd say I'm probably a 7 now. Still working on self love, but I'm feeling much happier now.

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What excited you the most about doing a boudoir shoot?: I love the fact she wanted to EMBRACE and SHOWCASE my freckles. My entire childhood was centered around being "pizza face" and constantly ridiculed for not having smooth flawless tanned skin. I had a session with a different photographer earlier this same year and she actually edited out ALL of my freckles in my photos. I felt completely humiliated. Once again felt like I was being picked on for my freckles and they are viewed as a flaw. Ashlee wanted to allow my freckles to shine in the beauty that they are just within themselves. The fact that she was fully accepting me for me without even knowing me, excited me. I knew I could learn some self love from her. She wasn't going to just take pictures of me. This was much more to me. I got a life lesson from it.

What was your favorite part about the entire experience?: Favorite? Probably the fact that during my reveal session I learned a valueable tool needed in life. Again, self love. What greater thing could I ask for in return? It is life long. Ashlee not only made the entire process professional and comfortable, she connects with you and does everything possible to make sure she captures those moments of glory.

Do you have any advice for other women who may be interested in their own photoshoot?: Do it. You never know what you could get out of it. The possibilities are endless.

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How did you like working with Ashlee and Robin? : I loved working with them! They're funny, kind, uplifting, professional, & loving!

Once you saw the images from your shoot, what was your reaction? : Well, before I answer that let me just say that as I sat down in the chair getting ready to see the images... I started the literally feel sick to my stomach. I was exceptionally nervous. Barely talking I was getting red eyed and was ready to cry. I was scared. I had my best friend with me there to view them with me for emotional support and of course Ashlee was there, too. I just kept taking drinks from my fall themed soda to choke back the tears. I was on the verge of pouring my tearful emotions onto her floor. Anxiety through the roof and nerves not calming... I clicked play. For the most part I stayed quiet through the entire slideshow , afraid and anticipating what was to come next. Smiling from time to time, an occasional "oh I actually like that one." It ended and the only thing I could say was "I'm pleasantly surprised." Now to some that may seem like a lowball comment to make. To me, it weighed so much more. I was shocked. It was all sinking in. That very moment I thought, "holy crap." I am beautiful. I really am. Oh my gosh, now I'm crying typing this. Ashlee, I hope you understand, really, that when I said "I'm pleasantly surprised" that I truly on the inside was processing everything. All my wheels were turning and my self image was literally changing before your eyes. I will be forever grateful to you for that. Thank you.

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Go With Your Gut - Stop Thinking and Start Feeling

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Are you a thinker? Do you turn things over in your mind over and over till all the fun is gone? Try honing in on your feelings instead. Your body is an amazing reflection of what’s going on in your subconscious; beneath all your logic and all your reasoning is your gut. That’s where the answers lie. We all know this - we hesitate when necessary and we jump in when we truly want to. Except that sometimes we just get to thinking too much and change our minds which, sometimes, leads to regret. I’m not saying be impulsive, I’m saying give your whole body a chance to weigh in on your decision-making process.

My favorite example is how you feel when considering a boudoir shoot - your default thinking and thinking may lead you down many roads, but your gut will always get you in front of the camera. You know your gut and your heart want you to do it - go for it. Your brain will catch up later!

5 Super Simple Pro Makeup Tips

Whether you do you makeup in the car or spend 30 minutes a day putting your makeup, here are 5 simple tips you can use right now.

My super amazing & lovely client, Kristy! <3 

My super amazing & lovely client, Kristy! <3 

 

1. To de-puff tired eyes
If you are feeling puffy around the eyes, try dabbing some clear eyedrops around the area with your fingers and watch this skin tighten in seconds!

2. To make your lip colour last
When rocking a red lip try applying your lip pencil firstly all over your lips - this helps with the staying power. After the lipstick has been applied add another coat of lip pencil so the lipstick is sandwiched and framed.

3. The instant lip-to-cheek trick
Here's a quick and easy express lip-cheek combo for those on the move. Apply your pout then blot your lips onto the heel of your palms, gently press the remains onto your cheeks. An instant, fresh monochromatic beauty look! Travel friendly and less to carry.

4. To get an eye lift
To enhance your lashes try adding 3-4 individual lashes to the outer corners of the eye. You'll see an instant lift and a more feline cat eye shape. Individuals have a more natural look than a strip lash. Don't add too much glue, only a little is needed for these little whispers.

5. To score symmetrical liner
When applying a sleek liquid liner keep the eye open when you make the flick - This way you can see the symmetry and placement. Also try not to stretch the eye during application as it morphs the liner into a less flattering shape. The MAC #266 Angle Brush makes this liner technique a breeze, it's great for eyebrows when applying eyeshadow also.

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From the article, 10 Tricks From a MAC Makeup Artist (http://www.cosmopolitan.co.uk/beauty-hair/a27787/mac-makeup-artist-tricks/)

Here’s a Bonus Tip from Kevyn Aucoin in Making Faces: Pumping air into the mascara tube (to get more product on the wand) unfortunately will only dry out the product sooner. Try twirling it around instead.