“I would love to have a photoshoot, but…” As a photographer, I’ve heard this countless times from women of all ages and most of the ‘buts’ centre around comparison and not feeling ‘good enough’.

Personally, I’d always secretly wanted to have a professional photoshoot, to look as fabulous as all the celebrities in the magazines, but I don’t think I ever really believed it could be for someone like me. I mean things like that are only for size 8 twenty somethings, right? Even when I was twenty something, I was NEVER a size 8!! I had pretty much disliked every photo I’d ever seen of myself; bad angles and poor lighting are enough to destroy any woman’s self confidence.

It was during one of those ‘down the rabbit hole’ late evening trawls of the internet that I discovered the work of Nicola at My Boudoir Photography in Manchester. She had shot images for the Royal Marines WAGS charity calendar. The photographs were amazing and she had made these ladies look incredible. I followed her work for five years, always wanting to book a shoot, but never quite daring to until one morning I woke up and thought “what are you actually waiting for??” I emailed Nicola straightaway with one request – “I want to look like Veronica Lake!” I’m massively into vintage style and I knew that if anyone could give me the look I had in my head, it was Nicola. The shoot was booked, now the fun part, choosing my two outfits. I found some lingerie and then on a random shopping trip to Norwich, there she was, twinkling at me from a sale rail in Quiz, the most beautiful gold sequin gown – she was perfect!

The morning of the shoot arrived, I woke up feeling sick with nerves, I could have got in the car and driven home. What the hell was wrong with me! I had looked forward to this for so long and now I was backing out. “Pull yourself together woman, what’s the worst that can happen? You don’t like the photos!” After giving myself a talking to I arrived a Nicola’s cottage, received a really warm welcome, cuddles from her dog and a cup of tea. We chatted about poses and Nicola asked me if I wanted to do any nude shots, I think ‘Hell NO!!” was my initial reaction. What was this woman thinking? I’ve had 2 kids, I have stretch marks, I’m not 25 anymore and I like food!! She was reassuring and said that if I changed my mind we could do those at the end of the shoot.

I had my hair and makeup done, what a treat it was to be pampered by a professional makeup artist and one that had worked on Coronation Street no less! I couldn’t believe it when I saw myself in the mirror, she had transformed me into a Hollywood siren of yesteryears.

Now it was my moment in the spotlight. Apart from wanting to give myself a special treat, I felt as a photographer, to truly give the best experience to my clients, I had to know how it felt to stand there vulnerable in front of the camera. I soon learned that fabulous poses don’t come easy, they take a lot of work and used muscles I didn’t even know I had! “If you don’t ache tomorrow, you’ll know you didn’t do it right.” Nicola said. It was hard work, but great fun. The highlight of the shoot being laced into a corset to the point where I could barely breathe or move, but damn, it looked good – I didn’t realise my waistline could go that small. My confidence was increasing with each pose. We got to the end of the shoot and Nicola asked me if I had changed my mind about the nude shots. I thought for a moment, it’s a long drive back to Norfolk and I don’t want to spend it regretting that I didn’t do something, so hell YEAH, you only live once. What’s it like to get your kit off in front of a stranger? Well it’s not as terrifying as I thought it would be. Nicola is highly professional, reassuring and she explained all the posing. “It’s best if you just dive onto the tulle” she said, well I’m glad she was the only witness to that comedy moment, but the finished image is great. She also appeared with a fabulous burlesque feather fan for me to use.

The shoot was over, it was truly one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had and I wanted to do it all again the minute it was over. I left looking and feeling like a goddess, walking taller than before. Even though I’d had the most fantastic time, I still didn’t quite believe that I would look as good as all the other women on Nicola’s website, but I’d had the best time trying. A few days later my proofs arrived, I was speechless, I think I even cried, I couldn’t believe how beautiful the images were. It was as though Nicola had read my mind, she totally got me. I will treasure the images and the memory of my photoshoot forever.

This shoot was the greatest gift I could ever give myself and maybe it’s a cliche, but it did boost my self confidence. Even when I’m not looking my best, in my head I’m always the glamorous lady in the gold gown. And so I say to any woman, don’t compare yourself to others, believe in yourself and go for it.

There are many boudoir photographers in the UK, all offering their own distinct style, find one that matches you and you will have an amazing time. If you are interested in booking a boudoir shoot with me, check out my packages and get in touch, email trish@trishthompsonphotography.com you won’t regret it!

All images taken by Nicola Grimshaw-Mitchell at My Boudoir Photography, Manchester

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