Photographers, I know you are freaked out and panicking from the cancellations and reschedules. I know you are trying to figure out any last-minute ways to make money. But for the health, safety and security of this nation and your clients just stop already.
So to be clear this means:
No social distance headshots
No porch portraits
No outdoor portraits
No shot through a window portraits
No green eggs and ham Sam I am portraits
I know at first, it seemed like this whole mess was just like “the flu.” Then we heard the stories out of Italy with hospitals being brought to their knees.
The sooner we all hang up our hats for the moment, the sooner we can get back to business. This is sad difficult work. Stopping what you love doing isn’t easy. Trust me I love photographing couples everyday. It’s not easy watching photography contracts and money fly out of the window.
What we can do:
Sell gift certificates
Reschedule for the fall
Book portraits for later
Call your mortgage company and see what options they have
Write a song
Talk to your landlord about rent options
Start a Patreon
Write a book
Start a Tik Tok
Write a poem
Work on your marketing
Check-in on your clients
Start a VIP group
There is no way to get around this. There is only through. We are all in this together. This will take extreme sacrifice and generosity from your clients, the government, landlord and mortgage company. This won’t be easy for anyone. Stay brave my friends.
Mike Allebach is a photographer in the Philadelphia suburbs currently holed up in his basement unable to take photos at his studio at this time.
This morning in meditation I got to that point where there are “no thoughts.” As soon as that hits I usually think no thoughts and back to thoughts. Nothing. Then Buddha appears in my mind. Wow, I’m thinking, this is some next-level spiritual meditation shit. This is new for my meditation but okay let’s roll with it.
I asked him “What are you doing here.”
The Buddha responded, “I don’t know.”
Then he sits on my chest.
Immediately it tightens and becomes hard to breathe. Something I’ve never experienced in meditation.
I joke and say, “Buddha, your rolls are beautiful but you know you aren’t light. I’m having trouble breathing. It hurts if I’m honest. Can you tell me why you are sitting on my chest?”
Buddha responded, “I don’t know.”
“Okay, well if you are going to sit here, do you have any idea when you might leave?”
Buddha responded, “I don’t know.”
“Well, Buddha since you aren’t leaving. I’m calling you Buddha Don’t Know.”
I looked up and saw his stupid grin.
“Lesson learned. Well played Buddha, well played.”
I laughed for a bit but the Buddha didn’t leave.
The heaviest space of all is the “I don’t know.” The space of not knowing how things will play out has a weight. Sometimes the scariest place feels like the pause button. When we reevaluate things with questions of “is this working?” or “is this worth it?”
This is the space in life, work, relationships, and health when nothing makes sense. When the final destination seems murky at best, things tighten and breathing becomes labored.
Right now we are sitting with I don’t know. Doesn’t seem like Buddha wants to get off my chest or anyone else’s. Even the leaders of the world don’t exactly know how this will play out. This “I don’t know” is weighing on every leader, business person and every health care worker right now.
I don’t know when this feeling will go away but I do know you are not alone in feeling this way.
Maybe that’s what anxiety is, the space of Buddha Don’t Know 😉
Can you relate?
Mike Allebach is a business owner and portrait artist at Allebach Photography in the suburbs of Philadelphia.
So many of our families come with ideas for beautiful wall art in their homes. Above the sofa, climbing the stairs, in a playroom, or family room… So many spaces in their homes where meaningful artwork should be installed and enjoyed for a lifetime.
But of the 5-15 or so images that are created to adorn their walls, what is done with the remaining moments from the session? What should you do with those in-between, meaningful moments that tell their own little stories?
For a majority of our clients, we create a keepsake album to relive the magical moments they shared in our studio. There’s nothing better than cuddling on the sofa, opening up the album, and remembering how much fun you all had together. Reliving one of those rare moments you set aside to just be a family, no distractions, just connectedness and love.
The moments and artwork we create together will be cherished and revisited for a lifetime.
My anxiety and panic attacks began when I was in college. I don’t know if it was from the pressure of my schoolwork, of graduating without a job, or what, but I began to find it difficult to drive or leave any type of “safe space” without hyperventilating. I spent years gathering up information, trying to understand what was happening to me. Self-help books and online forums became my lifelines and over the years I’ve gradually learned to work through this disorder using mindfulness and a slew of cute little acronyms.
This is why when I began reading Tara Brach’s Radical Compassion, Learning to Love Yourself and Your World with the Practice of Rain I came in with the belief that I would be looking at it through the lens of my anxiety and panic disorder.
Radical Compassion is about using mindfulness tools to teach yourself self-compassion and kindness. She does this by introducing us to the acronym RAIN.
“Simply put, RAIN awakens the mindfulness and compassion, applies them to the places where we are stuck, and untangles emotional suffering,” the author writes.
Its goal is to cut through the dense fog of our everyday lives, the trance that we find ourselves in when we begin to worry incessantly. When we’re caught in the thick of daily life, when we’re stressed, anxious, angry, terrified or numb, we can’t be present with ourselves and the world around us. RAIN is a way to cut out all of that, to dispel self-doubt so we can live our best lives.
I immediately thought this was going to be a repeat of so many things I’ve read before. And while, in a way it echoed a lot of what I know about allowing and accepting your own fears and anxieties, what’s unique about her approach is its focus on self-love, not on the fear or anxiety itself. The author wants us to move beyond that so that we can back to living in the present. We do this by acknowledging our fears, allowing them to be there and being ok with that and then by showing ourselves compassion for the way these fears make us feel so that we can move beyond it.
The first step of RAIN is simply to Recognize ( R ) what is going on inside of you. I took a look inward and asked myself what I’ve been struggling with, or overwhelmed by recently. Since having my son last year, actually it’s probably since I got pregnant, I’ve been having this sort of identity crisis over who I am. Not about who I am now that I am a parent, but who I am now that I’ve put the brakes on a career and decided to put raising my son first. As I recognize that I notice the emotions that come up: feelings of inadequacy, laziness, selfishness, restlessness, anxiousness, the list goes on.
The second step is to Allow (A) what is happening by breathing and letting be. I closed my eyes and allowed myself to just be, breathing in deeply all of the things I love about being a mom and letting myself sit with the uncomfortable parts too. I just let it all float there and tried not to push any of it away. The author tells us it’s important to sit with our discomfort.
“We inevitably encounter everything we’ve been avoiding – the loneliness, hurts and fears. And yet if we practice regularly, we discover that we can maintain a balanced, openhearted presence in the midst of the storm.”
Next is to Investigate (I) what feels the most difficult. For me, this step initially seemed like a repeat of Recognize but the author asks yourself to go beyond just naming the emotions you’re experiencing, she asks you to identify what hurts the most about them, what ultimately scares you the most. I’m scared that I’m not doing what society says I’m supposed to do. I’m supposed to have the career and the family, to do it all. I’m afraid that this is me settling because anxiety and panic stopped me from pursuing the career I thought I wanted, the one that required traveling. I’m scared of what I’m missing because of the choices I’ve already made.
Lastly, the N stands for Nurturing. This is the part where you send a gentle message inward, directly to your anxious part. The author says it helps if you imagine envisioning your future self as a wise and nurturing presence. I could see myself very clearly, in about 10-15 years, standing in my kitchen, surrounded by my children. I’m happy. I’m in my own domain. I’m taking them to soccer practice, making their lunches, planning summer break trips. It all sounds so boringly suburban but I am unbelievably happy. I’m saying to myself, “it’s ok, every decision has lead you right where you were supposed to be.” My future self is confident, there’s nothing she would have done differently. She is an anchor.
The author teaches us several more techniques, guided meditations and reflections, in addition to sharing some personal stories from her students. Overall I felt like I really connected to the text. If I had read this book several years ago, it would have struck me differently and I think that’s what I love about self-help books. One day, I’ll be able to reread this and it will help me deal with something else I’m dealing with.
RAIN allowed me to get out of my own head, to confront some of my biggest anxieties, acknowledge them and then dispel them so that I can continue living in the present. It helped quiet that ever-doubting inner dialogue in my head that tries to cover “the gold” underneath my negative self-beliefs.
Christine Wolkin is a freelance writer and writes for our blog. Learn more about our studio at Allebachphotography.com or by texting 610.539.6920.
Allebach Photography now offers Renaissance family photos! This must-have photo experience will bring joy to your family for ages. Our studio is located only 10 Minutes from Lansdale, Montgomeryville, Blue Bell and Kulpsville. Families from around the United States make the trek to Allebach Photography for their family photo experience. These portraits will be proudly displayed on your walls for years to come! What a beautiful investment into your family’s legacy.
Kids grow up so quickly. Capture their spirit! Document their love and creativity. Your family deserves to be loved and cherished.
You can have family portraits you’ll treasure. Life moves pretty fast and we can help you to pause for a moment and focus on what truly matters. These photos will join your walls and be a treasure for your family for decades to come!
Just a few areas we serve with family portraits and photography: Bryn Mawr, Bensalem, Doylestown, New Hope, King of Prussia, North Wales, Rosemont, Villanova, Radnor, St. Davids, Wayne, Strafford, Devon, Berwyn, Daylesford, Paoli, and Malvern
“I love you.” I cannot tell you how many times I croon these three words to my infant son in a single day. I can say “I love you,” with ease in the morning to my husband before he leaves for work. Hell, I even tell my dogs how much I love them on a daily basis. But to tell myself “I love you?” I have to admit – my first thought was this sounds a little narcissistic. And my second thought was even worse. “Why should you love yourself?”
Mirror work – also known as the mirror exercise, mirror technique and mirror gazing – is a powerful tool for building self-love and one that I have to admit sounded too silly and too easy to work.
“Most of us when we look in a mirror we criticize ourselves, make fun of ourselves. We say derogatory things to ourselves. It’s a habit. The mirror, as small as it may be, can really help you connect with yourself,” says Louise Hay, author and self-help advocate.
The idea is simple; you stand in front of a mirror, stare deeply into your own eyes, and say to yourself, “I love you.”
There are all sorts of variations to this practice. You can repeat those words over and over again to yourself, or you can add positive affirmations like “I am enough,” or “I am beautiful in my own skin.” You can talk to yourself like you would an old friend – positive self-talk is the key to this practice.
I decided to start with the mirror exercise first thing in the morning because they say that’s when your mind is the most susceptible. First thing in the morning, by the way for me, meant disheveled bed head, pajamas, and no makeup.
I stood in front of our full-length mirror and took a breath, already starting to criticize my pores, untamed baby hairs, and saggy chest. All that in just a matter of seconds!
“I love you,” I whispered, not in the mood to be overheard by my husband and having to explain myself. “I love you,” I say again a little louder this time, looking into my eyes. I cocked my head and made a dumb face at myself. This seems silly. I repeat those words a few more times before deciding to tell myself just what I love, or at least like, about myself.
“I love your soft, fine hair.”
“I love the shape of your ears.”
“I love the multi-colors of your eyes.”
“I love that you don’t take yourself too seriously.”
“I love that, even though you sort of hate the way your breasts look right now, you are putting your son’s health first by nourishing him with them.”
While it was nice to acknowledge some of my surface traits (like my hair and eyes), what struck the biggest chord with me was when I dug a little deeper and looked at what my body does for me and for others.
“I love that not only do you have cute ears, but those ears help you to hear the world around you, like your son’s belly laugh!”
“I love that not only are your eyes a fun kaleidoscope of colors, but they also help you see and navigate a beautiful world!”
I left our mirror feeling a little goofy, but nonetheless happier with myself and ready to move forward with my day.
The goal of the mirror exercise is not to become self-centered or narcissistic, I realized, it’s about being thankful for your body and developing a healthy self-perception.
While I started off small with my exercise, I plan to continue on a daily schedule, moving first from loving my outside to then focusing on what’s inside.
Christine Wolkin is a freelance writer and writes for Allebach Photography. Learn more about our studio at Allebachphotography.com or by texting 610.539.6920.
Success is the sum of small efforts – repeated day in and day out. – Robert Collier
I remember feeling stuck last summer thinking how the bad hits kept on coming. Stuck in a deep state of depression, the future looked darker and darker (read my story here). Not one to believe in bad luck, I started to wonder if I was cursed. In this place, I realized there are small things that do make a big difference. There are teeny tiny micro-movements that help make things better when things don’t seem like they can get better.
Forming habits didn’t come easy for me at first because I wanted to go all in. I wanted to feel like I arrived. These ideas I want to share with you come from a place of struggle, distraction and some victories.
Can today be better than yesterday? With the foggy confusing shades of depression glasses and most people would honestly answer “probably not.” If you are an entrepreneur or human, in general, being resilient can positively affect your income and result. So what happens when your get up and go has gone up and went? How can you find your motivation? How can you get shit done?
Let’s explore the smallest things that can make a difference.
“Your beliefs become your thoughts, Your thoughts become your words, Your words become your actions, Your actions become your habits, Your habits become your values, Your values become your destiny.”
— Mahatma Gandhi
Win the Morning Win the Day
Habits and routines got me through pieces of my darkest times. My artist brain, as I affectional call it, actively fights habit and routine. It searches for the new and the novel. But in crisis, in depression, in darkness but I have found consistent habits have healing power. The time you wake up isn’t as important as having a plan. Do you scroll and stall or have purpose and direction? I’ve been a morning person and I’ve been a night person.
I enjoy working on my day plan in the morning. If mornings are tough, write out your plan the day before. Whether you are early bird or night owl, your first few waking hours set the tone for the day. To set the tone, I work on my daily plan and meditation. Many people hit the most difficult task of the day first. I just try to meditate and plan first.
The least useful thing was the depressed zombie social media scroll of boredom. It’s such a default mode. It didn’t do me any favors. Comparison is the thief of joy and that’s what social media seems to be great at pointing out. It’s hard to have gratitude when you look at everyone’s highlight reel on social media and compare it to what’s currently missing in your life.
What’s Actually Important Right Now?
In my brain there are exactly 72 monkeys jumping on the bed of new ideas, making lame dad jokes, dreaming of new tasks, connecting ideas, eating anxiety pie and throwing poo. It’s chaos in there. So many distractions. Squirrel! I have a hard time sitting through a movie, I get bored. Who gets bored with most movies? I digress.
This is why I meditate and this is why I walk in nature, this is why I move my body. These three things settle me. Creativity is great but there are times when I want to settle and get the work done.
My home screen phone wallpaper asks the always timely question: “Where should my attention be right now?” as a reminder.
Pick 1 to 3 important tasks for the day. Write them in your planner. Get them done and reward yourself!
Unless you already have an app that is working for you, I recommend a paper planner. My favorite is the Passion Planner (used 3 years) but any will do including a plain notebook. Physical writing has a therapeutic aspect to it. It’s real. The planner you choose doesn’t matter as much as using it daily. Everything is overwhelming until you write it out in list form. Write and release. Cross out the unimportant tasks. If you are like me you vastly overestimate how much you can get done in a day. You can’t do everything but you can do some things. So plan out your success. My coach Megan suggested I also plan in two-hour blocks of nothingness because I can’t estimate how long tasks take. Literally today I will only have finished two out of three of my main goals. Two out of three big tasks are better than zero out of three. Maybe you can relate.
Letting Go, Setting Boundaries and Saying No
To create good changes, make some space. Pick some easy people, places and things to let go of. This might be a temporary movement, just long enough to start to feel like you again. Spend less time around people who drain your will to live. Create some boundaries. Get creative with people you currently have to work or live with.
Not to Do List
More important than your to-do list is your NOT to-do list. Make a list of things that pull you away from your goals and goodness. Think of things you can avoid without much consequence. What activity can you remove that will free up the most time to work on the important task? Delete apps. Install time blockers like Waste No-Time, use time trackers like Timeular and Forest App. I use all of these tools. And for the love of all that is holy turn off your email notifications and as many social media app notifications as possible.
What are you doing following people on social media who you allow to make you feel inferior? Unfollow people, block companies and anything that makes you feel less than. Don’t even bother psychoanalyzing why. Just hit that unfollow button. Fall in love with and get slutty with that unfollow button. Click unfollow now, figure it out later.
How to Set New Micro Habits
Small incremental changes are what we are after. After reading too many books on building habits, I have come to believe this: People don’t stick to habits because they are too ambitious in the first 30 days. Give yourself a small task with big rewards. We think massive results require massive change. They don’t. It’s about doing small things daily or weekly until they become a part of your identity.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
— William Durant
Personally, I hate running but I feel good with movement. I started playing with the identity of a runner who hates running. Identities are like dress up for adults. Habits create identities over time. When we identify with a community, we become them. We can change and try on many identities. We can let go of past identities, no need to get stuck in past stories.
Micro Habits Are Easy When You Lower the Bar and Raise the Reward
I’ve tried so many tactics to set a new habit and this is what works. Lower the bar and use the mantra of app programmers “Minimum Viable Product.” Do something for 30 days at the bare minimum.
The way I got comfortable with video, started running (I’m at 30 days at 7 miles a week), meditating, breathing, running and every other good habit happened by striving for 30 days.
It’s much better to do something 5 minutes a day for 30 days than crash by day 3 from going too hard. Change your habit after 30 days but not before. My gratitude habit takes 1 minute a day. Presently, an app on my phone alerts me to write what I’m grateful for. I write one word or a sentence. That’s it. I’m consistent. I can always find a minute.
Rewards are important, whether you decide to plan a trip or give yourself a tiny piece of chocolate, treat yoself. Many of my photography clients tell me their photo session is their reward. Put a big reward after tasks that are a bit more difficult. I’ve heard about a salesperson who breaks apart a cookie and gives themselves a crumb after every dial. Do whatcha gotta do!
If you started a habit and after a week are having trouble with completing a task don’t be afraid to cut the length of time or effort in half. It’s better to do that than stop.
Download our free simple 30 Day Habit Tracking Form
“The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.”
― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
After 30 days, it’s up to you. I’ve found It’s much easier keeping a habit when you’ve got those 30 days in.
Change Your Environment Make sure your physical and mental space supports the changes you are making. Physically bring items closer to you to make your goals easier. Move away from distractions. The more you can make your environment support your goals and create systems to support them, the more successful you’ll be.
Use the Buddy System
“Surround yourself with people who remind you more of your future than your past.
Digital and human accountability is great for keeping healthy habits. Check-in with someone daily, weekly or monthly to motivate you to keep going. Accountability apps, daily reports or notifications from apps that help keep goals have been great. It’s fun to watch your progress. I use the Samsung app on my phone to track my movement progress. My slow ass started running at around a 12-minute mile on the treadmill and after a month of running a mile was down to 9:19 (not impressive for runners, but I impressed myself).
Don’t have the right friend for your habit? Get a coach or trainer. I use coaching for many aspects of my life or business. Pay upfront if you can. Spent money is a great motivator. My book wouldn’t have gotten written without a coach helping me along the way.
“Human beings evolved needing two key types of environments: high stress and high recovery”
Benjamin Hardy, Willpower Doesn’t Work
Rest, Sleep, Enjoy Life & Repeat Life is more than a to-do list. Decide on quitting time. Enjoy life. Get some sleep. People who “work” all the time aren’t very good at working. They have become really good at appearing to work or procrastination. Work less, enjoy more! The rule of 55 states on average you can only get done 55 hours of work a week. After that, you are just bullshitting yourself. At 60 hours, you might complete the same amount of work of a 50 hour a week person. For me, this meant taking Sundays off and not keeping a computer at home. I try to enjoy the outdoors every Sunday possible. I’m getting better at this but many days it’s still a struggle. Two steps forward and one step back is still progress.
My hope for you is a life of purpose and joy. Make it harder to skip your habits than to keep them. Keep your movements micro until the patterns stick. Use friends, coaches, and technology to keep you on task and enjoy the journey along the way.
Be sure to pick up the 2020/2021 Grey Sweats calendar by Allebach Photography.
https://www.boudieswag.com/product/2020-calendar-gray-sweatpants-season-extended Why enjoy sweatpants season only in winter. We’ve extended it all year long. A fundraising calendar benefiting Veterans with PTSD. So far over $1700 has been raised for drug-free PTSD treatment in PA with this calendar. Product: Wall Calendar Start Date: January 2020 Paper Weight: Heavyweight Gloss Other: Saddle stitch
Sale price is $19.95 . Regular price 24.95.
Interested in your man getting his own photoshoot? Text 610.539.6920 to get on the schedule.
The name I answer to the most is “Mom” but the rest of the world knows me as Erika. I am one of the hundreds… thousands… millions maybe… of moms who rarely make it into photographs with their children. Sure I’ve taken the occasional selfie that I didn’t totally despise, but my husband has thousands of timeless, invaluable moments to look back on thanks to my diligent photography skills. I’ve asked him here or there to get a picture of this or that, but I tend to delete them because “ugh, look at all that baby weight!” In short… I Hate Photos Of Myself.
Now that our oldest daughter is 4 and our youngest is going on 10 months, I’m really regretting choosing my vanity over keeping these fleeting moments captured to enjoy years later. I mean Avery is practically an adult now and Tessa may as well be driving… That’s how fast it’s all going!
What are they going to say years later when they look back on these photos…? “Look how much fun we’re having with Daddy! Look when he took us to the beach. Remember when he took us on the Ferris wheel?! Look how cute we all are snuggled up. I miss those days…” And then the dreaded… “Where’s mom?” Sorry girls… Mom was too busy judging herself to allow those moments to be kept forever. Her face was a little too chubby at that moment and that was more important than the pure joy in your face when I was swinging you around, or spinning you so fast on the teacups we were both laughing hysterically.
Is that really the conversation I want to have with them down the road? Because that’s where my lack of presence is heading. And if that isn’t bad enough, they hear that judgment. I’m setting the tone of self-worth being directly linked to my weight and how I look. I’m paving their way to lives of self-judgment.
The gift of a lifetime
So where does that leave me…? How do I fix this…? Honestly, I had just about given up on the answer to that. I figured as long as I reminded them that their worth is so deep and beautiful and impenetrable that those words would stick more than seeing their own mother’s self-loathing. That is… until I was gifted with an opportunity. A chance to change the narrative in my head and course correct the path I was leading my children on.
In October of last year, I started working for Mike Allebach of Allebach Photography. Each and every day I got to share in so many clients’ joy from the experiences Mike created for them. There’s never a dull moment, but I sometimes felt a tinge of envy. I wanted to have photographs of myself that I fell in love with like his clients do every day. Little did I know, Christmas Eve, I would receive the greatest gift of all. I had no one to watch the girls that day, which meant I couldn’t go into work without them. So when I told Mike, he was excited to invite them in for a session as a Christmas present. What an amazing gift! My kids are the cutest kids that ever lived… Sorry, all you other kids… it’s true though.
I called the hair and makeup artist to do Avery’s hair (and my makeup since I would be seeing family that evening) and ordered some cute, renaissance inspired outfits for the girls. I was SO excited since, you know, Mike is amazing! I considered being in them, Mike did hint to that, but I decided it just wasn’t in the cards for me. I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been and I’ve been out of sorts for months because of a knee injury. No chance… Mike… NO. CHANCE.
The lessons I learned
I’m sure it’s no mystery where this story is going, because of all the incredible things Mike is known for, my favorite is the way he will take a stand for you when you won’t do it for yourself. So in the middle of the chaos of photographing two children, Mike instructed me to get on a robe, drape myself in some fabric, and go sit with my girls. I really didn’t think this was going to work and I decided to humor him because I knew the photos of my girls would be better than anything including me.
I know… You’re all here for this shocking conclusion, but when I tell you I truly was shocked, it’s an understatement. As Mike went through each photo of us, my inner dialogue was ping-ponging back and forth. “There’s no way he didn’t photoshop these.” “There’s no way he had TIME to photoshop these!”
What I saw in each and every photo was pure love, adoration, and awe I have for my children. I didn’t see my weight or my chubby face or any other cruel criticism I tell myself. I saw Me… as their Mom… the way people around me see me. I saw the joy in my eyes that I feel in my heart when Avery kisses Tessa, or when Tessa smiles up at me with her chunky-one-dimpled smile, or when Avery tells me I’m her best friend.
What’s even better? I get to remind myself of those feelings every single time I look at these photos, and that reminder quiets the negativity in my head. My heart sings a lot louder now. I let my husband take pictures of me reading to my girls. I even let Avery take pictures of me, and when I tell you they’re unflattering, it’s an understatement. But I’ll never delete them. This experience has gifted me with a deep appreciation for what I have, who I am to my girls, and who they are to me. And there is nothing in the world more valuable than that.
After over 20 years of being the one holding the camera, my perspective has completely transformed. If you want to hear more about my experience on the other side of the lens, give me a call or shoot me a text! It’s definitely my favorite thing to talk about.
“I just want to feel like me again.” She said in soft slow tones explaining why she wanted to be photographed, “Last year was a hell of a year and to be honest I got really lost. I want to feel at home in my body. I’m getting older and my body is changing. I want to love myself again because I’ve lost my way. I don’t remember who I am. Life has gotten so busy and I have to handle so much to do, so many people to take care of. I’ve forgotten who I truly am. I don’t know what it means to be me, I want to remember that.”
This is what my clients share with me Every. Single. Day. It’s so common, I’ve come to understand it as the new American anthem. People have lost their identity. They say, “Help me find me. Help me love my skin, organs, muscles, and bones. My body is changing. I’m getting older and if I can’t love myself now, when can I?” Or they say, “I want to look back on this body and appreciate it.”
Some days I hear the opposite. “For so long I’ve hated this body and now we’ve come to speaking terms. I’ve worked hard to get here I want you to document me. I am ready to be photographed”
Most people would agree, when we feel great we give the world our best. We show up for others. When we feel beautiful, when we own the space, when we carry our weight with pride, when we feel strong and hold our head high, despite all the things we were taught to hate about ourselves, we live our best lives. But how?
I work in the business of bodies. Specifically, I photograph them as a boudoir photographer. In simpler terms, I make space for people to play dress up. They get made up, strip down, try on different identities and clothes and peel off false ideals like onion layers off of their soul. They explore relationships with themselves or others in a safe place.
But this story didn’t begin as a photographer. It started 19 years ago when I played guitar in an idealistic punk rock band and penned the words in an anti-body dysmorphic anthem “Covergirl, you’ve been lied to and you’ve been tricked”.
The song goes on saying “I want you to love me for who I am.” Present-day Mike is still asking the same questions as high school Mike, “Are we our bodies?” and “What is acceptance?”
Before I dove into the question of body, soul, mind connection I had some personal work to do.
Living in a Culture of Body Dysmorphia
As a photographer, I’ve gotten to watch hundreds of people see their photos for the first time. It’s amazing to experience people seeing their photos for the first time and squealing with joy. “I can’t believe that’s me!!!”
And occasionally watching them notice things no one else would notice or things that aren’t there. I’ve photographed people medically diagnosed with Body Dysmorphic Disorder, a condition that affects 2.4% of the population. This condition causes people to obsess over parts of their bodies in an OCD way. It causes people to see their bodies in ways other people can’t see or imagine. What does that leave the rest of us with? If we haven’t been diagnosed, what is it that we have?
Body-negativity is the only term I can think of. I think we are living in a culture of body negativity. It sells. We are the collateral damage from years of marketing, messages, and media saying “we are not enough.”
Although we don’t have the disorder, the same messages have soaked down to our soul.
I will love my body when….
I will love my body if…
I will be worthy when…
And at the end of each of these statements is a host of companies selling products promising that result. The rhythmic drumming beats of the American marketing machine “You Are Not Enough.” Hundreds of times a day we hear that in subtle ways.
No wonder why we struggle to love the skin we are in.
I asked Teri Ledgerwood, founder of Body Image Bootcamp, why people are uncomfortable in their own skin. She said, “There are a plethora of reasons starting with the way our brain is wired for survival, comparison theory, and negativity bias. Combine that with the over-representation of one body type (thin, white, blonde). Marketing understands the way to get people to spend money is to highlight and create problems where the only solution is for people to buy a product or service to rectify such ‘problems’. This causes us to feel like we don’t fit in. Then, you add in the people you surround yourself with who have their own believes about certain bodies and you grow believing that that is true, until you start to do the work necessary to combat it. People think they want to be individuals, but what they truly want is to be accepted as an individual.”
One of the biggest surprises as a photographer has been seeing this in all types of bodies, no matter their type or gender. Body negativity does not discriminate. I’ve seen this in men who are skinny, those who aren’t, and every single body type in between. I’ve seen this in muscular bodybuilders. Even worse, how athletic men compare their bodies to their bodies at 21. American culture has given us two extremes that most men don’t fit into. While I’ve found most women’s insecurity about their body is more prevalent in day-to-day experience, most men have low-grade body negativity. It only comes into play when the subject of photos is brought up or in swimming situations. With many males it doesn’t affect them on a daily basis, they just will not want their photos posts.
“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.”
This is where I’m at and this is my work. When I love others, I love myself. When I love myself, I love others. When I accept, I am accepted. When I do the work myself, I allow others to do the work.
“When you go out into the woods, and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree. The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying ‘You are too this, or I’m too this.’ That judgment mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are.”
Taking My Own Medicine
“Seeing yourself in a new light” is a phrase I love to use because this work is visual. Photography is light work. There is something magical and healing about seeing yourself in a new light, captured by a different human. To see yourself through new eyes is an incredible gift. So it was time to take my own medicine. I was photographed by 3 different photographers in 3 weeks.
What I realized, when being put in front of the camera, is how much all of these things are brought to the surface with photos. I don’t enjoy taking my shirt off on the beach or to go swimming. Maybe the image of hairless ripped tanned men on the beach has etched itself into my psyche. My ego wants me to be seen but not that seen. I feel like I don’t match a stereotype or projection.
Although photographing people from all backgrounds and all body types has been freeing, I haven’t been able to completely shake the image of the “perfect man body.”
In being photographed three times in three weeks I was left with haunting questions. Do I have a low-grade body-dysmorphia? (maybe, I don’t know) Am I able to see myself in the way others do? Does any of this even matter?
Viewing the photos, there were many photos I liked and there were some I didn’t. But photography did the light work, I felt seen. My body became a thing that is. Even in the moments where I felt awkward and exposed, I felt alive. Being photographed by an accepting human is both slightly nerve-wracking and life-giving. Emotions and feelings are tricky. Is this excitement or is this anxiety? I’m not sure. What I do know is it was healing.
When I show people photos in the studio I prefer to have a supportive partner in the room. They see with beautiful, loving, compassionate, supportive eyes and explain the photos to their partners in moments; maybe for the first time.
This is the beginning of seeing yourself in a new light and this is the healing power of photography.
Unlike the marketing messages, photography starts with the statement that “you are enough at this moment, at your age, in your state in your body”.
Bodywork: Attaining Neutrality
What does self-acceptance and bodywork look like? Certainly, it’s not a destination or arrival. Maybe it’s not even quite a realistic goal in this image-driven culture. I love Mary Lambert’s suggestion in her song Body Love
Take your hands over your bumpy love body naked
And remember the first time you touched someone
With the sole purpose of learning all of them
Touched them because the light was pretty on them
And the dust in the sunlight danced the way your heart did
Touch yourself with a purpose”
Perhaps it’s a process of letting go of our ego’s nagging through questioning and inquiry of our own thoughts. It’s holding the door open to the possibility our way of thinking could be flawed. Are we flawed in thinking we are flawed?
Where do thoughts bubble up from anyway? Who puts that idea there? A marketer? Myself? Or, was that belief buried deep in my DNA?
We can only guess where thoughts come from.
The author Byron Katie has simplified this process of examining our thoughts into four simple questions simply called The Work.
Is it true?
Can I absolutely know that it’s true?
How do you react, what happens when you believe that thought?
Who would you be without that thought?
Finally, she recommends exploring opposites. What is the opposite of your thought?
Like all practices, it’s work (pun intended) and it’s a beginning to see ourselves, our truest selves. And it only works… when you work it.
“In my opinion, attaining BODY NEUTRALITY is much easier than body positivity. Body positivity is inherently shaming in that, if you have a moment/day/week/month that you don’t happen to feel “positive” about your body/rolls/cellulite/stretch marks, then you may fall into an intense shame & guilt spiral. You might feel like a failure and like you’re doing it all wrong. It’s just really a whole lot of pressure.
Look — the body positivity movement has done a lot of good…it’s definitely started the conversation. But I feel that body neutrality is actually where it’s at!
Accepting your body for what it is – in a factual way, not positive or negative – is something you’ll need to do first anyway before reaching body positivity. Your goal may not even be to ever reach body positivity…and that’s totally okay. I don’t even think I have body positivity as a goal – it’s body neutrality for me. “
Who were you before you recognized yourself in the mirror? In human development, we begin recognizing ourselves between 12 and 18 months. What was your story before then? What would it look like to go back there? With the recent passing of Ram Dass, I stumbled upon his description of a body which I hope you find as helpful as I did.
“When I was born I donned a spacesuit for living on this planet, it was this body, my spacesuit, and it had a steering mechanism which is my pre-frontal lobe and all the brain that helps with coordinating and stuff. Just like those others who go to the moon and learn to use their spacesuit…how to grab things and lift things so I learned how to do that. And then you get rewarded with little stars, kisses and all kinds of things when you learn how to use your spacesuit. You get so good at it that you can’t differentiate yourself from your spacesuit.”
I find this interesting. I am not my body. An ideal many Eastern and Western religions seem to agree upon and one that science is catching up to.
“Our quest for happiness leads to attempts to satisfy our desires – whatever they be. But in so doing we become attached to things that are unreliable, unstable, changing, and impermanent. As long as there is attachment to things there will be suffering – when they change when they cease to be what we want them to be. Try as we might to find something in the world that is permanent and stable, which we can hold on to and thereby find lasting happiness, we must always fail. The Buddhist solution is as radical as it is simple: let go, let go of everything.”
While it’s a beautiful idea, I’m not there yet. Can I let go of my attachments just slightly? I’m not quite ready for this Buddhist idea. I can see its value though. My mind does attach to the image of our bodies as a spacesuit. Buddhism points to the reality of our body is ever-changing. If we are attached to our ideal that this body will remain the same, we will suffer. When we use our spacesuit well it, or body if you prefer we will develop lines where we laugh, marks where we stretch and grow and scars where we bleed.
Mary Lambert paints this picture
“Love your body the way your mother loves your baby feet….
This is important
You are worth more than a waistline
You are worth more than beer bottles displayed like drunken artifacts
You are worth more than any naked body could proclaim in the shadows
More than a man’s whim or your father’s mistake
You are no less valuable as a size 16 than a size 4
You are no less valuable as a 32A than a 36C
Your sexiness is defined by concentric circles within your wood
It is wisdom
You are a goddamn tree stump with leaves sprouting out
An Invitation to Body Neutrality
Take this as an invitation. Like many things, this is just the beginning of a new way of seeing. Journeys aren’t straight lines, but zig-zags. You won’t shame yourself out of thinking this way. This is a journey of love. Meet your thoughts with love. Examine them. Question them. Talk to yourself with the love that you hold for your 5-year-old niece. Isn’t she is beautiful dancing in the bed in her pajamas with not a care in the world? So are you. Bathe in that light for a moment and try on that truth.
For some, this path starts with make-up, surgery, working out, movement, or gaining physical strength. I’m not here to judge your journey. These methods, like photography, are on-ramps. Choose your own adventure and turn to the next page.
My personal journey involves running, movement, meditation, inquiry, and breath-work (read about it here). I’m not there yet. I haven’t arrived. There are days where I subconsciously or consciously avoid looking in the mirror. But this is why I hold space for others to do the work. The work looks familiar. My soul knows this path.
Lastly a note, self-love isn’t selfish. It’s the deep well where we meet others. When this water is poured into our own lives it spills out into the world. Whether we start with ourselves or others doesn’t matter. See the beauty, and when you can’t… get closer.
So my hope for you is that you know you are worthy of being seen this year. That this is a beginning to regard your stretchmarks, scars, bumps, and lumps as parts of the story. Begin to deeply love this story you are living. May you learn to love the spacesuit you’ve been wearing and share this message with sons and daughters and share new realities with the next generation. May you allow yourself to be documented, recorded and treasured. It’s time to be seen. Get in that photo!
In short, I hope this is the year you start owning your time and space.
Extra thanks to MooseKleenex (buy artwork shown here) and Terri Ledgerwood & Elizabeth Zimmerman of the Body Image Bootcamp for giving their amazing insight. Check out the Body Image Bootcamp on April 2-5, 2020 in Austin, Texas.
Like a rolling fog depression crept into my life. Whether I didn’t notice or didn’t want to, it’s sneaky claws dug into my back and joined me for a ride into 2019. Entrepreneurship has a way of stretching you, even when the changes are good. Along with some personal stretching came the accompanying dark side of rapid personal growth: fear, anxiety, and depression. The unknowing nature of the future. I’m reminded of the mantra of “past success does not guarantee future results.” My ego loved to play in the space of imposter syndrome.
“The Fraud Police are the imaginary, terrifying force of ‘real’ grown-ups who you believe – at some subconscious level – are going to come knocking on your door in the middle of the night, saying:
We’ve been watching you, and we have evidence that you have NO IDEA WHAT YOU’RE DOING. You stand accused of the crime of completely winging it, you are guilty of making shit up as you go along, you do not deserve your job, we are taking everything away, and we are TELLING EVERYBODY.”
Every day I got up and I gave the world my best…the best I could give. My job was fulfilling but thrumming low-level messages of a million negative “what if’s” intensified over the summer. Fear took over. I didn’t even realized I was depressed. I would have told you I was stressed out. Eventually, people would ask me if I was okay. I was wearing the signs of depression outward on my face. I was not okay. What started as slight anxiety and depression turned into graphic images of my own death replaying every time I closed my eyes to go to sleep. Where did my happiness go?
This shadow cast on my life for 9 or so months. My emotions were suppressed and bunched up. Despite having a business that was fulfilling, I was dull. I didn’t feel like myself. I knew something was wrong. I wasn’t sure what or how to return to me.
A Journey Back
The journey back to me started with a simple question. “When am I happy and without stress?” The answer was simple. I’m happy when I’m hiking in nature with my family or friends or even alone. So I made a commitment to no longer work on Sundays and hike as much as possible. The thing about depression is it’s really hard to feel like doing the healing thing. So I did my best. I made plans and hiked. I stuck to my commitments. When I hiked I had no stress, no worries and I was happy. Hiking in state parks around Pennsylvania, I learned my first lesson: the forest heals. This was a crack of light in the darkness.
Around the same time I started reading Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions by Johann Hari. This book was eye-opening to the current scientific research on depression and anxiety. Many of the ideas around brain chemistry most Americans and doctors share are no longer considered valid theories by neuroscientists. The book detailed the nine disconnections that cause depression and helpful solutions.
The one that hit me hardest (and I’m sure other entrepreneur friends can relate) was a disconnection from a secure future. While our friends with jobs get to experience a false sense of security (let’s just be honest, they can lose their’s at any moment), we don’t have that luxury. There is always an unknowing.
Seeing that I was in fact depressed and related so much to the book I saw a hopeful, healthy path forward. Another crack of light in the darkness started to appear.
The Habits that Heal
Prior to depression, I read 10% Happier a book on the power of meditation. What both books confirmed is successful people take time to meditate and reflect daily. I had come to believe that meditation was a healthy and helpful practice. My scattered brain needed something to help it focus. I signed up for the Calm app and started doing their 10-minute meditations. My experience has been to start a small habit and do it for 30 days straight. The smaller the better. 10 minutes or less. This habit of meditation became the cornerstone habit of healing. It took about a year for me to go from this is so difficult, to this is okay, to I can’t live without this. Now I start every day this way.
The Trip to Heal For many people, depression flow in and out and doesn’t tend to have a finite conclusion. For me, that was not the case. I can point to a moment and place in time where my depression left my body. For months I had been running and running, suppressing emotions. Then I had a window of time during a photography trip to California with nothing to do. So I stopped running, relaxed and meditated for hours. I just let go. When my mind got very quiet I met with the depression.
I remember curling up after meditation and the words kept flowing out “I’m so sad.” I must have repeated those words a few hundred times. Every time I repeated the words had less power and eventually, the words lost all power. When I got up I felt light. The emotions worked themselves out of my body. I was renewed, ready for 2nd chances.
I had already learned hiking weekly outside was something that brought me joy and I tried to walk my dogs a mile a day. But walking wasn’t quite enough. I knew an experience daily would make me more productive and focused. So I picked up the idea of 10 minutes of exercise. Originally I considered Peleton but instead got a gym membership and started running for 10 minutes a day. My fitness regimen is almost laughable. 10 minutes of exercise is my current goal. But habits are hard to set when they are big and consistency is king. Those 10 minutes connect me back to the person I want to be. I don’t need an hour to get the results I want. Just 10 minutes.
When my anxiety and stress don’t match my movement, I feel it. If I move fast enough beyond the vibration of my anxiety, my stress will lower alongside my movement when I slow down. So if I’m behind a computer stressing about money or issues, I need to move until that feeling releases. I run up the steps. Take a break and walk to get lunch. This isn’t suppressing emotions, this is feeling into them. Allowing them. Matching them with my body until they’ve been felt.
Breath Work: Pranayama & Wim Hof
The work of being human is never done. While all signs and feelings of depression were gone stress still lingered. Enter the healing power of breathwork and breathing exercises. One day I stumbled across a video from Wim Hof, a real-life superhuman who hiked Mount Everest in shoes and shorts only. Where do his superpowers come from? Ancient breathing techniques. He teaches a method of breathing that I’ve integrated into my daily routine (a modified Pranayama yoga breathing technique thousands of years old).
If you struggle with meditation, you may find a breathing exercise much easier to complete. I found this lowered my stress level much like meditation but with the added benefit of being very wakeful.
After Wim Hof, I discovered the method of breathing used by Navy Seals. In moments of stress, it’s the cure. Breathe in 1, 2, 3, 4. Hold 1, 2, 3, 4. Breathe out 1, 2, 3, 4. Hold 1, 2, 3, 4. If you visualize a box, the 4 steps will form the edges. Unlike the Wim Hof method which energizes, Box breathing is for use in stressful situations because it grounds you. In as little as a minute you’ll feel less stressed. You can practice in front of people and they will be unaware. You’ll just appear calm.
Reflection & Gratitude
I’ve come to understand happiness as a triangle. Mind, Body, Soul with purpose in the center. If I meditate, if I move and if I express my gratitude I am happy. My soul needs to express gratitude. It isn’t always natural. Sometimes it feels awkward. I’ve found that most days this can be done in as little as one minute on an app ( I use Presently) or by writing a thank you note.
The Questions I Ask Myself
Socrates said it best, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Isn’t it the quality of our questions that determine the quality of our life. Here are a few of the questions I’ve learned recently I find helpful:
Am I living in the future or in the past? What can I do to be present in this moment?
Have I gotten enough sun lately? Should I go outside?
Am I hungry? Thirsty?
Do I need to move around?
Do I need to meditate?
Is my breathing shallow? Should I change it?
Is this my ego speaking or my truest self? What does my truest self say?
Who would I be without this thought?
What is the thought opposite of this thought?
Am I willing to see this differently?
Is there something I could do secretly selfless for someone? Can I compliment? Thank? Gift?
Is there something or someone I need to say no to? A boundary I need to set?
Am I rehearsing my best self?
If nothing else works. I’ve found the mantra of the Hawaiian tradition Ho’oponopono to be the most helpful. It’s simply taking complete responsibility for my reality or perception of meeting with it and repeating.
“I love you. I’m sorry. Forgive me. Thank you.”
This works for thoughts, ideas, people, shouldas, couldas and wouldas.
What I don’t say anymore is “I shouldn’t be thinking this or feeling this.” The truth is I am thinking this and feeling this. It’s what I’m supposed to be thinking and feeling right now. Let’s meet with these thoughts and ideas and see what happens. And I’m open to the possibility to see things another way. But this person, feeling, thought, the idea isn’t going anywhere until I meet with it. Yes, I’m literally telling my ideas “I love you. I’m sorry. Forgive me. Thank you.”
It might sound crazy but it works. Try it.
These ideas and healing did not come in isolation. The most helpful thing people did was to share space and meaningful conversation. My natural inclination was to be a hermit. Many people didn’t know what I was feeling until I told them. I’m grateful to the people who showed up or invited me to show up or listened. Whether you pay someone to listen, talk to your doctor or find friends to talk with, the journey back to the truest you will start with tools outside of your current thinking and reality. I’ve laid out the tools I’ve used and what’s worked for me. Hindsight is 20/20 and I can see all of the things that made a difference. It’s a combination of fighting for a new life and allowing others in. You are not alone. This is a road walked by many. Help is out there. Love on your Mind, Body, Soul. Move your body, discover the stillness in your mind and feed your soul with gratitude. Reconnect with people, reconnect with your purpose and spend time in the forest reconnecting with the earth and sun.
Could it really be this easy? Just adding a few habits to your life? The answer is: I don’t know your situation. Maybe. These tools have been used for thousands of years. Habits are slow to take hold and I don’t know what exactly will work for you. The important part is to start. Give something a try. When everything seems impossible, give something a try.
Further Reading& Watching
Finally, this wouldn’t have been possible without the insight found in these books and techniques they shared.
“New Year, New You” is the saying right? How do you know what the “new you” should embody? What is it that you want to channel each and every day to really hone in on this concept we all talk about at the end of every year? What if the answer wasn’t as new as you’re wanting to be, but ancient? Ancient goddesses to be exact.
Cara came to us wanting to document her recent full-body transformation.
“I recently lost a life-changing 80lbs over the past 9 months. I knew I had to update my business headshot because people were approaching me at work with whispers of ‘Are you okay?’ since I looked nothing like my work picture anymore.”
“I was hoping to get a few pictures of myself feeling sexy in my new skin. But the results were worlds beyond anything I could have imagined.”
“The whole experience from the consult discussion, to the shoot and the ordering session left me feeling this immense sense of empowerment. And the residual ‘bad bitch/goddess’ vibe has stayed with me, even as I wait for my wall print and album.”
So if you’re inspired to explore your inner goddess and/or wanting to invoke the ancient powers of goddesses across all religions and cultures, Cara has one piece of advice…
Whether you’ve written one down, or you have a small list going in the back of your mind, we all have things we want to do before we leave this physical world. For Bobbi Jo, a boudoir session was on that list.
“I never thought I’d have the courage to do it. Give me a nice plane to jump out of, but take my clothes off? No way! When I saw Mike had my birthday open, it just felt 100% right. What better way to end a year that started with loss, heartache, and failure, but grew into reinvention and success than with something that was all about me?”
So we had to ask… What were you hoping to gain from your experience?
“I wanted to see myself in a different light. The past few years have been hard and I’ve been so down on myself. I’ve spent so much time taking care of my family and completely neglecting myself that I’d forgotten who I was. I was hoping to see a side of me that’s been bottled up- fun, flirty, pretty, maybe even sexy. I wanted to gain confidence in myself, something I’d lost over the years.”
“The woman that stares back at me from my photographs is strong, gorgeous, sexy, seductive. She is comfortable in her own skin, in the body that she has now- not one from before her children that she wishes for. I am that woman and this experience has made me see it.”
If you don’t believe us… Take it from Bobbi Jo!
“DO IT! TAKE THE LEAP”
Treat yourself with a birthday boudoir photography experience! Ready to travel to Allebach Photography? We are located 1 hour from the Philadelphia Airport and 1.5 hours from Newark Liberty Airport in NJ. Text or Call us today at 610.539.6920 or message us on our website at https://allebachphotography.com/contact.
In case you were wondering, there is never an age where we should stop celebrating our birthdays. Better yet, there is no expiration on celebrating ourselves either. Honestly, if we don’t do it… who will?
Sure, we may have friends and/partners that know just how to make us feel special, but as Lizzo says, “True love ain’t something you can buy yourself. True love finally happens when you by yourself. So if you’re by yourself, then go and buy yourself another round from the bottle on the higher shelf.”
Ashley drove to the Philadelphia suburbs to do exactly that; celebrate herself with a fabulous Birthday Boudoir at Allebach Photography. “I wanted something special to celebrate my birthday this year as there have been a lot of changes in my life in the past 18 months and I wanted something just for me,” says Ashley.
“I knew it was going to be an amazing time, but I was also hoping that the photos would convey the attitude and sexiness I feel (Spoiler Alert: THEY DO!) I also wanted to celebrate my birthday with a really fun, relaxing time that was just about me. And it was exactly that!”
Hey Ashley, what was your favorite part of this experience?!
“Winding down after the session and seeing my photos was the best part for me… Since I was by myself, I could relax after the last set and bask in the quiet for a bit, reliving my favorite shots. Talking with Mike and choosing my photos from the slideshow was my gift to myself and seeing myself on the screen was eye-opening.
“Since the session, I have a renewed sense of confidence and I hope that more people who may not think they can do something like this for whatever reason realize that they can. That every body deserves to be seen and that you deserve to take up the space you do.”
Happy Birthday, Ashley! We are honored to have shared it with you in such a fabulous way!
And to anyone out there still questioning if they should have this experience…
“If you are looking for a way to channel your inner badass or goddess, or celebrate the fact that you have overcome obstacles or are moving on with any aspect of your life, the folks at Allebach will help you do that better than anyone.”
Treat yourself with a birthday boudoir photography experience! Ready to travel to Allebach Photography? We are located 1 hour from the Philadelphia Airport and 1.5 hours from Newark Liberty Airport in NJ. Text or Call us today at 610.539.6920 or message us on our website at https://allebachphotography.com/contact.
When it comes to shopping for your boudoir session, we’ve found that with its fast shipping, free returns and amazing range of options, Amazon is where it’s at.
Check out some of our Amazon ‘must haves’ and when you’re finished, don’t forget to schedule your boudoir session with us at Allebach Photography, conveniently located in the Philadelphia ‘burb of North Wales. Happy shopping!
1. Sheer Long Sleeve Teddy Bodysuit with Deep V Lace Bodysuit
This teddy is super stretchy and gives your body a slimming effect while also enhancing your curves. The deep v neck design with the lace rim, coupled with the long sleeves, gives you a sexy, yet refined look.
Starting at $16.99
2. Akiido High Waist Fishnet Stockings
Reviewers agree these must have stockings really are one size fits all.
“I am bottom heavy, usually wear XL in pants (or size 10) with a S-M in shirts (or size 4-6). Usually “one size” never fits me and I specifically look for XL stockings, but THESE ARE PERFECT! They stretch a lot, so they can fit over my big butt and thighs just fine! I bought another pair immediately after putting them on.”
Starting at $7.99
3. Women’s Given Platform Pump by Jessica Simpson
Basics get bold. This sultry offering in leather with a one-inch platform and 4.5-inch heel creates devastating curves while giving you a timeless silhouette. These pumps come in a fun range of prints and colors; order them in black or go for the Emerald Kid Suede.
4. SUNRO Women’s Basic Long Sleeve Bodysuit
We’re obsessed with this basic bodysuit, both for its soft fabric and for its price.
Starting at $15.18
5. COCOSHIP Women’s Retro High Waisted Bikini Bottom
We love that these bottoms accentuate your curves while channeling a vintage look and feel. Bottoms range from size small to 4X (fits like a US 14-16).
6. Womens Stripe Knee-High Socks
Who says sexy can’t mean comfortable? Pair these soft leg warmers with a mini skirt or a warm chunky sweater.
7. Frawirshay Women’s Lace Up Boned Overbusts Corset Bustier Bodyshaper Top
There’s a reason this corset is a #1 Bestseller on Amazon. This beautiful vintage style corset laces up in the back and is supported by plastic boning for support. Snag this one to create that coveted hourglass figure.
8. LIXFDT Women’s Lace Garter Belt with Adjustable Suspender Belt for Stockings
This piece of perfect for adding a bit of sexiness to your lingerie or you can simply wear the stockings underneath a dress or skirt.
9. Mae Lace Padded Bralette
This bralette that features a floral lace overlay and scalloped under-bust band. With a little lace and light support, these favorites are simply too pretty to keep under wraps.
Starting at $10.49
10. ADOME Women’s Strappy Lace Lingerie Bra and Panty Set
The panties on this set feature a back keyhole design and scalloped lace trim. Reviewers rave that this set is super soft and comfy enough to sleep in.
YOUR NEXT STEP
Once you’ve compiled your outfit choices, don’t forget to book your solo or couple’s boudoir session with us in our North Wales studio (located just 45 minutes outside of Philadelphia).
Allebach Photography will be at Exxxotica 2019 in Edison, NJ
EXXXOTICA is The Largest Adult Event in the USA Dedicated to Love & Sex. Taking place over three days, EXXXOTICA was created for like-minded adults who are looking to “celebrate sexy”.
Whether for date-night, bachelor or bachelorette parties or just good ole people watching, there’s something for everyone (over 18) at EXXXOTICA. You want to spice up your love life with a new toy or technique? Then shop from our 150 plus exhibitors or catch one of our many educational seminars. Want to meet your favorite adult stars, and take some photos with them? EXXXOTICA brings out over 200 of the top stars in the industry and they’re there to meet you, their fans. Are you in the mood for a live performance? We have a full blown entertainment stage where burlesque, male revues, and our very own Ms. EXXXOTICA 2018 will be crowned. You like to people watch you say? See something you’ve never seen before? Make your way to one of our most popular show features, The EXXXOTICA Dungeon Experience to see BDSM demonstrations on suspension rigs and spanking benches and learn about fetish lifestyle first hand. If you’re daring you’re welcome to participate.
Allebach Photography will be reserving couples boudoir dates for the holidays!
That’s the beauty of EXXXOTICA. The entire event is an interactive experience that allows you to engage at your own personal comfort level. We expect you’ll come out of your shell a little… or a lot, depending on who you are, but it’s all in good fun! Ladies, if you’re still not sure about it come on Friday. EXXXOTICA features Ladies Free Friday so no excuses! Get dressed up, and bring your girlfriends for a ladies night out or bring your hubby for the best date-night ever. From vanilla to swinger, there’s something for everyone.
If you’ve read this far, you’re obviously into it. Why not try something different? We promise we won’t bite… Unless you want us to.
Seven Reasons to Treat Yo’ Self to Birthday Boudoir
Treat Yo’ Self Day is a day for pampering, indulging and celebrating (and popularized by Parks and Rec’s Donna and Tom)– and at Allebach Photography we think there’s no better day of the year to Treat Yo’ Self than on your birthday.
Check out our reasons below to Treat Yo’Self to one of our solo (or couple) sessions with a Birthday Boudoir session in our studio located in North Wales, just 45 minutes outside of Philadelphia.
Celebrate this milestone
Whether you’re turning 21 or 40, every year we spend on this earth deserves celebrating and memorializing. Boudoir has no age.
Give yourself the gift of confidence
You will leave our studio feeling a different person than when you came in. This is more than a photography session; it’s a transformational and empowering experience that will leave you walking taller.
You deserve to be pampered
Between work, family, school, most of us find it way too easy to neglect ourselves. In our studio, you’ll be pampered by our professional hair and makeup artists and be treated like a rock star.
Did we mention it’s an experience?
The best gifts in life can’t be bought (though we wouldn’t pass up a trip to the King of Prussia mall to pick up some birthday fragrances and fine leather goods, #amIrightDonna?).
You’re going to enjoy yourself
Boudoir can sometimes sound intimidating, but trust us when we say we’ll keep you feeling relaxed (and even get a few laughs out of you). Boudoir is ultimately about making you feel good about yourself.
It’s the gift that keeps on giving
Even after the session, you’ll be able to look back on your session and your photos and remember how badass you look and feel.
You don’t need a reason to celebrate you!
Last but not least, gone are the days when you need an excuse to do boudoir. Heck, you don’t even need a significant other. YOU are the reason. And you are enough. Especially on your birthday!
Recently, we captured Sequoia, Thom and Tony’s polyamourous relationship. At Allebach Photography we celebrate all types of love.
Monogamist living – finding “the one” to exclusively settle down and build a life with – is still the most common type of relationship, more and more people are beginning to find that this mold doesn’t work for them and are embracing other ways to love.
Like Sequoia, who is in a polyamorous relationship (meaning involving more than one sexual or romantic partner with all partners agreeing to the arrangement) with her husband, Thom, and their friend, Tony. She describes the three of them as best friends and one big family.
After work, Sequoia sits on the couch with one hand holding Thom’s, and with the other enclosed in Tony’s.
“On a normal day we all sit together on the couch with me holding each of their hands and we Netflix and chill. Literally chill,” says Sequoia.
Sequoia, Thom and Tony live together, along with Sequoia and Thom’s three children.
“Thom and I keep a separate relationship from Tony and I’s relationship, then the three of us have a friendship together. We split time. Every two nights I rotate between Thom and Tony. So each week one of them ends up with an extra night with me. We keep two bedrooms. We are very honest with each other. If we weren’t this would not work,” says Sequoia.
She continues, “Because Tony is straight and Thom is bisexual, and I am pansexual, a romantic relationship between Thom and Tony is non-existent. The common thing between them other than being best friends is me.”
There are many ways to have a non-monogomous relationship (you’ve probably heard of open relationships and swingers) but polyamory is becoming a more widespread practice as misconceptions about the practice are being debunked.
“Poly lifestyle requires a lot of thought and complete trust. You have to understand how much emotional baggage you have to bypass in order for this to work. Jealousy. Fear. Insecurity. None of them have any place in a poly lifestyle. They are normal human reactions that you learn to toss aside and replace with compersion,” says Sequoia.
Sometimes, the hardest thing about being in a polyamorous relationship is encountering people who try to make sense of their relationship, she says.
“We are open about our lifestyle. We go out together in public and don’t hide affection. We have had to deal with some opposition, which to be honest we knew would happen. People have different values, morals. We all respect that. But when we come up against someone trying to shove their religious agenda down our throats and criticizing our lifestyle to the point of harassment, we all mutually agree to tell them to fuck off,” says Sequoia.
Ready for boudoir at Allebach Photography? Check out this video of our newest boudoir area in the studio called French Quarter. The tones of the French Quarter meld with the industrial loft of Allebach Photography.
Boudoir is the perfect gift for anniversaries, holidays or birthday! Treat yoself! You deserve it!
We are located only 2 hours from NYC and 1 hour from the Philadelphia airport. We are accessible via the Doylestown/Lansdale line on the Septa Railway. Call us or text us at 610.539.6920 or use our contact form at http://www.allebachphotography.com/contact/
Allebach Photography is located a short drive from Doylestown, Bensalem, Blue Bell, King of Prussia and Lansdale. In walking distance of the North Wales train station with trains running from Doylestown to Philadelphia.