Hailed by a Rock n Roll Bride as “the Original Tattooed Bride Photographer” Mike Allebach possesses an amazing ability to naturally photograph life on the fringe. He is a visual campfire storyteller. His journey into wedding photography started when he was in a punk rock band. Before photographing weddings, he photographed punk bands. Ariel author of Offbeat Bride said “It’s obvious that Mike Allebach so totally gets offbeat brides”
Mike says about his clients, “In my heart I’m instinctively inclusive, always looking for ways to draw others into the circle and make them feel wanted, heard, and appreciated. It’s my punk rock ethic. The uniqueness of my photos comes from the uniqueness of my clients. And I believe I have the best clients in the world.”
Couples Boudoir, Engagements, Weddings, Family & Boudoir Studio
For the last 14 years we’ve been the photographer for everyone who was a little outside the box. People just like you asked the question, “who can photograph us?” Who won’t judge us for who we are. Whether it was a tattooed punk rock wedding, interracial non-religious wedding or same-sex couple, we’ve been the photographer for EVERYBODY who didn’t feel like they could find a photographer.
These days you’ll mostly find us in the studio! You’ll love being photographed here. Every day we make people feel like rock stars. The process starts with a phone call where we find out how to bring out the best of you in the photos. Once you come in you’ll get hair and makeup to make you feel like a rock star.
After the photosession you’ll see your photos right away in our design gallery space! You’ll get artwork that will anchor you to your experience and your badass.
Dave and Cathy have a love story that goes all the way back to when they were little kids, sneaking kisses in the closet during a game of Hide and Seek or under the bushes outside playing Capture the Flag.
“Dave and I met when he was nine years old and I was seven years old. His sister, Michele, was my best friend growing up so I spent a lot of time at their house,” she said.
Though they never dated and each grew up, got married and had children of their own, Dave and Cathy reconnected several years later after a couple of failed marriages and a devastating cancer diagnosis for Cathy.
On July 14, 2010 she was diagnosed with kidney cancer. She had to have part of her left kidney removed.
“I was extremely sick during that time so it took 18 months for my blood counts to come up to levels where the docs were not freaking out. My body struggling to heal triggered an autoimmune disease and I started losing patches of hair in 2011,” said Cathy, who added that she tried to hide the severity of her diagnosis from Dave initially by covering up with hats and wigs.
“Dave knew I was wearing hats and hiding something but he had no idea just how bad it was until I just totally gave up and shaved it all off.”
She was so nervous he would bolt when she shaved her head, but Dave surprised her.
She continued, “I told him my medical history when we reconnected back in 2013 and told him he could get out if he wanted to, but he said he wasn’t going anywhere,” said Cathy.
“He said he wasn’t going anywhere and kissed my head when I shaved it!”
Taking control and owning her looks gave Cathy the boost of confidence she didn’t even realize she was missing. And the fact that Dave not only supported her through this, but told her she was even sexier bald made her smile more than she had in years.
“I decided to rock my bald look! When I looked into Dave’s eyes I saw love but I also saw how proud he was of me for being bold and he told me I had never been more sexy!”
When Cathy discovered Allebach Photography’s couples boudoir sessions through a former cake decorating student of hers she decided she HAD to do one.
“For me, I wanted to show everyone who sees these pictures that bald is beautiful and sexy! I know so many women (and men) through social media with alopecia in various stages and levels of hair loss. There are so many children out there with this disease also. At 41 this disease was horrible to deal with but I cannot imagine being a child with this. People are defined by their hair!”
She shared some photos with Dave and asked if it was something he’d be interested in doing, not sure how he would respond, him being the conservative and reserved one of the two. Lucky, he surprised her by saying he would LOVE to and so the couple drove the three hours from Binghamton, NY. to the studio in North Wales, PA.
Cathy says they did the session for so many reasons, from wanting to capture their unique connection, to inspiring others, to just proving that being 50 and bald can be sexy.
“Dave is 50 and I am 49 and we wanted to prove 50 is still sexy! We will never be this young again, so let’s record this point on our lives with pictures that we can look at when we are 95 and say, ‘yep! We were sexy!’”
Cathy and Dave’s session was both sexy and fun, exactly the way their relationship is in real life. At one point, Cathy jumped out dressed head to toe in a zebra print oneise.
“When we were talking about the shoot, from the beginning I told him I was going to wear footy pajamas! It is a running joke with us because, at most, I wear cheekies to bed! So when I was down to cheekies and he was down to his Calvin Klein’s, I said. ‘oh shit! I forgot something! Zipped behind the curtain to where my bag was, whipped on my footie pajamas and came out in my zebra print jammies and jumped on the bed!”
Cathy has always identified herself as a free spirit and so taking her clothes off for some more intimate photos was no big deal, she says. And as for Dave, he put his trust fully in Cathy and Mike.
“I really wasn’t sure how Dave would feel when it came to the shoot but he trusted me and Mike and just went with it.”
Some of her favorite photos from their session are the ones that simply convey their sensuality and closeness with each other, like the one where Dave is staring lovingly at her body or their hands are locked during a kiss.
“I see two people who have been through so much but are stronger together and holding each other up and so loving. I was hoping Mike would capture how Dave looks at me, and he did.”
Cathy is already looking forward to her next session with the studio. When she turns 50 next year she wants to do a solo shoot that focuses on bald beauty and strength.
“When I was diagnosed with cancer, it was really a wakeup call for me. What was I doing with my life? When I die, what will people remember about me? What will people say when they think of me? What do people think now when they think of me? I want everything that I put out into the universe to be positive, loving, full of life! I want to inspire anyone dealing with this disease to stop hiding! It is OK to be bald and to embrace it!”
Boudoir. Sexy. Raunchy. Exciting. Trashy. Empowering. Degrading. Everyone has his or her own opinion when they hear the words “Boudoir Photography,” but just what is it really?
In French, “boudoir” refers to a lady’s private dressing room or bedroom. Traditionally, a boudoir session refers to a solo woman posing partially clothed or in lingerie. The photos are tasteful, sexy, classy and elegant.
Couples Boudoir aims to achieve all a solo boudoir session does, and more. At Allebach photography, we believe couples boudoir is more than photography – it’s the art of getting close to that special someone in your life.
There are a lot of misconceptions and skewed beliefs around boudoir photography. Below we attempt to debunk them once and for all.
Misconception #1 – Boudoir Photography is like having sex in front of a stranger
Let’s get it out there in the open. Boudoir is not porn, it’s not even sex.
“I think the most common misconception is that we’re actually having sex while getting photographed. This is obviously not happening. There is a lot of kissing and caressing and closeness. It’s a super intimate and sexy and FUN experience, but no one is having sex,” says Kayla Cook.
Misconception #2 – You have to have a perfect body or be a model
Everyone deserves to feel sexy, beautiful, loved and to be proud of their body. Your jean size, your age, your shape, none of it matters. Couples boudoir is about celebrating your relationship, inside and out, flaws and all. We celebrate and bring to light what makes each couple unique.
Misconception #3 – You must get naked
You do not have to be naked. You don’t even have to get down to your underwear. Your boudoir session is about capturing the true essence of you and your partner. If that means sporting your favorite band tee, go for it! Then again, if it means stripping down to nothing but a pair of stilettos or converses that’s perfectly ok too.
“Mike let’s you do what you want, you don’t have to take off what you don’t want to. Initially, I was nervous and was standing fully clothed, by the end I was walking around topless and in panties. I felt sooo badass,” said Melinda Stinson.
Misconception #4 – You can’t hang up or show off your art because it would be considered pornographic or narcissistic
Who says you can’t anchor your love and life with wall art and albums – especially in your own home?
“That you wouldn’t be able to show off your art because it would be ‘pornographic’ – which is 100 percent not the case. I have our album on our coffee table for everyone to see!” said Antonia Blanda.
Misconception #5 – They’re only for women looking to please their men
Whether you’re interested in a couples or a solo session, boudoir is something you do for YOU, and you first. While there are many women that will book a session to give as a gift for their significant other, just as many women (and men) are signing up to do something special for themselves or their relationship.
Misconception #6 – Your photos are going to end up all over the internet
False. When you sign on to do a session with us, your photos are accessible only to you. We provide you with a password-protected gallery and all photos are completely private unless you decide you want to do a model call or sign a model release.
Misconception #7 – Boudoir is not for shy or “awkward” couples
Some of our most dynamic sessions are with couples that self-identify as “shy” or “awkward”. It’s normal to feel a bit awkward in the beginning of a session, especially if this is your first time, but once we get started you’ll see how quickly it can be to get into your groove and let the camera fade away.
Misconception #8 – Boudoir sessions are sleazy or tacky
Many couples out there on the fence about doing a session are hesitant because of this misconception, perhaps one of the biggest falsities. Boudoir is not trashy or tacky. With the right photographer, it can be not only sensual, sexy, and tasteful, but empowering too!
Misconception #9 – Boudoir is something you do only once
Many clients return for a second, even a third boudoir session. Clients say it makes them feel great about themselves and enhances the quality of their relationships. Think about couples boudoir as a fun alternative to couples therapy!
There are days when entrepreneurship spills black ink all over the pages of my life soaking into every corner with self-doubt, fear, and anxiety. Out of nowhere thwack, hit with imposter syndrome. The mantra “past success does not guarantee future performance” rings loudly in my ear. And I wonder can owning a business cause depression? Riding the roller coaster and feeling the excitement of launching new things also comes with the reminder of risk and bad days and weeks. For all of its highs, entrepreneurship has some terrible lows. Why is this topic so rarely discussed?
Most of us started our journeys riding high with excitement for the ways we were going to add significance and change people’s lives and our communities. At some point we are jolted with the reality of our decision, being an entrepreneur is not only difficult but it’s profoundly emotional work. Those who are willing to do the job of sharing their vision know, just as the pendulum swings to excitement and joy, it can swing just as far into darkness. We take on the weight for the success of our service, clients, vendors, and employees. Growing rapidly, learning new skills and crushing through personal barriers then waking up at 3 am mind racing wondering if we still have what it takes.
For many, it’s easier to put on a front as an entrepreneur and pretend that everything is all right. This dark side of entrepreneurship is not exactly fun coffee conversation. It’s easier to use our eternal optimism mask to power through. We use the “fear is just excitement” trick every public speaker uses as they step on stage.
Despite what the gurus and Instagram coaches tell you, not everyone has what it takes to be an entrepreneur. Some days I question if I am. Sure we entrepreneurs get knocked down, and we get back up eventually, it’s in our blood. But some days are hard, fucking hard and I feel this in my bones. There is a heavy weight of charting your path and success. When you own your dreams and passion so immensely, you can fall into a pit of self-blame when things don’t turn out as planned.
Like many people who have carved a path into the ground with persistently working hard to pursue a dream, there are days when the Fraud Police comes to visit.
Punk Cabaret singer-songwriter Amanda Palmer describes it this way.
“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.”
What I know is creative, deep and meaningful entrepreneurial work isn’t free. It’s a heart investment. When we sow into our work and into products and ideas to make our corner of the earth a little better – our dreams and heart can get broken. Failure and the fear of failure, although we are told to accept them, doesn’t make for a good friend.
In my search for answers, the one that most resonated was Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl’s
“Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I was hoping you could listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run—in the long-run, I say!—success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it…Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how.’”
So what now? I know bad days and weeks will come and go for both you and me. Maybe it’s time to break the taboo of talking about the dark side of entrepreneurship. I’m not suggesting the faux-authenticity of instacelebs talking about messy hair and wearing only sweatpants. Those are safe and easy admissions. What if we talked about the struggles, stress and mental health of an entrepreneur openly?
I hope this sparks a conversation in your corner of the world. How do you cope with the stress of entrepreneurship? Let us know in the comments below.
Mike Allebach is a photographer of couples boudoir and tattooed weddings . His book Viral Personal Branding arrives in 2019. His work has been featured in Offbeat Bride, Cosmopolitan and Huffington Post. Learn more about weddings and couples boudoir at allebachphotography.com.
Posttraumatic stress disorder, more commonly known as PTSD, can be a debilitating condition, making it nearly impossible for some people to even leave their homes, let alone be comfortable enough to strip down naked in front of a camera.
And yet, at Allebach Photography, some of our strongest and most badass clients are people living with PTSD to help take back their lives and give their PTSD a big “F You.”
Affecting an estimated 44.7 million people around the world (according to PTSDUnited.org), PTSD is a mental health condition that can occur after a person experiences or witnesses a traumatic event, such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, rape or other violent personal attacks.
For many, symptoms include nightmares or unwanted memories of the trauma, avoidance of situations that bring back memories of the trauma, heightened reactions, insomnia, panic attacks, anxiety, and/or depression.
“I do not do well in public, around anyone I don’t know. I struggle in stores often leaving a cart full of items and leave the store. I have serious driving issues… flashing lights bother me, I could honestly go on for days about my issues,” says Joe, a recent client of Allebach Photography whose name has been changed to respect his privacy.
Despite such daily struggles that can make social interactions with strangers difficult, the former U.S. Army soldier insisted that he and his wife do a couple’s boudoir session.
“I was actually the one who pushed the subject. I knew she’d be on board the moment I brought it up. She is my rock and has my back through everything,” said Joe.
He continued, “The day of the appointment I was nervous not knowing Mike, not knowing the area – I was completely out of my comfort zone. My wife had me from the second we walked in the door. Mike and the whole crew made me feel at ease.”
Studies have shown for years that therapeutic photography (self-initiative photo-based activities) can have lasting positive effects on our mental health.
“People are using therapeutic photography techniques to help themselves and others overcome depression, anxiety, chronic pain and much more,” says Bryce Evans, founder, and CEO of The One Project (the photography community for people suffering from depression and anxiety.
A 2014 study found that those who took part in creating visual art had a significant increase in Psychological Resiliency. The neurotransmitter dopamine can be increased through this process, which can be lacking in those suffering from depression and has been found to immediately start to help prevent depressive-like behaviors.
For Joe, doing a couple’s session with his wife was first and foremost about capturing his love for the person who’s been there through it all with him. The therapeutic benefits were just an added bonus.
“It totally showed you what our love looks like from the outside in. We look at the pictures and can’t help but smile because we truly are madly in love with each other,” he said.
Joe admits he struggles daily with PTSD, but that getting out there in front of a stranger with a camera was a great experience.
“I did it, I made it through it, had a blast, enjoyed every minute there. I could never do this without my wife. We had fun, made friends, and plan to do this many times over despite my anxiety.”
Why Bringing Your Best Friend to Your Solo Session Could Be the Best Decision You Ever Make
A solo boudoir session could be something that’s been on your bucket list for years, but maybe you’re a little intimidated to go it alone – and that’s ok.
Lots of our clients bring their friends along for moral support, turning it into a girl’s day, and the results have been absolutely amazing.
Why’s that? Because bringing your best friend along is like bringing a piece of yourself. Your best friend knows you inside and out, what makes you comfortable, what makes you laugh, and can put you at ease throughout your session.
“I asked my girlfriend Jenny to come along with me as my support person so I wouldn’t be alone, naked, in a strange place, with a man I didn’t know,” said Christina, a previous client of Allebach’s. Christina chose to do a solo boudoir as a gift for her husband but also as a way to feel in control of her own body, which had faced abuse in a previous relationship.
Not only was she 100 percent on board with supporting her friend, Jenny even ended up doing her own separate boudoir session with Christina on the same day.
“She decided to do a session with me so she ultimately became my partner in crime. We made a girl’s day of it. We had a couple sips of whiskey while posing with the whiskey we brought with us,” she says.
Christina and Jenny each had hair and makeup down for their shoots, helping each other in-between with outfits and giving each other feedback. Each girl had her shoot, with Mike taking photos of the two together between shots.
“We got to see the big reveal together. I actually broke down into tears during the reveal. Just seeing myself look so beautiful, being comfortable in my own skin…laughing or looking sexy or mischievous…and knowing that Jenny helped make that happen because she was there, behind the scenes cracking jokes or whatever,” says Christina.
Afterward, the two of them continued on their girl’s day by hitting the King of Prussia Mall, talking the whole time about their shoots and what their husbands would think of their photos and celebrating over a beer and dinner.
“The experience was amazing and empowering. Having her helped give me the courage to do the shoot. She also made me feel completely relaxed, which I feel gave me the most amazing raw footage of me,” says Christina.
She added, “Mike is an amazing photographer and Jenny was my anchor. Without a doubt having Jenny with me made the experience so much better. I was able to put myself in a completely vulnerable situation without a worry,” said Christina.
There are tons of reasons to come out with your bestie and come have a dual shoot, whether you’re celebrating getting married, having a baby, getting divorced, or just looking to check a box off your bucket list, contact us to today to book your session at 610.539.6920 or visit our website at https://allebachphotography.com/contact.
This New Year is all about body positivity for the Allebach Photography studio. Stay tuned for more tips and tricks on how to keep yourself not just healthy, but happy for 2019.
Practice self-love – Add a positive affirmation to your daily morning routine. Affirmations can be a great way to turn off those voices in our heads that tell us we’re not good enough and build self-confidence. Take a look in the mirror and tell yourself one thing you love about yourself. Were you proud of how you held yourself at a particular work meeting? Or do you simply think you look spectacular in the outfit you chose for yourself? Anything goes!
Take a deep breath – Take the time each day to sit quietly and get in tune with your breath. Whether that means signing up for a yoga class or just being mindful throughout the day, your body will be sure to thank you next time it finds itself in a stressful situation. When negative emotions run high, your breath becomes short and shallow. Deep breathing acts as a cushion that helps you process stressful events more quickly.
Own the compliments you get – The next time someone pays you a compliment, instead of downplaying it, accept it gracefully and thank the person complimenting you. For whatever reason, many of us struggle to accept compliments without awkward fumbling or straight up denial. Own your compliment, you deserve it!
Unplug and get some rest – Getting a good night’s sleep is extremely underrated – and in the age of cell phones it can be even harder to get the recommended 7 to 8 hours of sleep we need to function as human adults. At night, place your phone on silent on the complete opposite side of the room so you’re not tempted to check your emails or Twitter feed in the middle of the night.
Ditch the negative social media accounts – Are those picture perfect Instagram accounts giving you severe FOMO? Unfollow! Social media can trick us sometimes into feeling more connected, when the reality is, the more time we spend on it the less happy we end up being with our own lives. If you find yourself constantly comparing yourself to someone else and his or her experiences, do yourself a favor and ditch that account.
Find an activity you enjoy – We don’t all need to be gym sharks to stay fit and happy. Think back to what you loved doing as a child. We you a big fan of Frisbee? Try joining an Ultimate Frisbee team. Were you more of an artsy type? Pack up your paints and walk to the nearest park for some inspiration. Having a fun hobby can turn into a passion and boost the quality of your life.
Spend time with loved ones – It’s no secret that spending time with our family and friends makes us happier, but did you know that in addition to curbing depression, it can actually prevent premature death? And getting it on with our special loved ones is even better! There’s tons of research that show that sex is great for your health – it lowers stress, helps relieve migraines and boosts your immunity, just to name a few benefits.
Learn a new recipe to try at home – Why go out and spend a couple hundred bucks on a meal when you can enjoy the same thing with your partner at home for much less (and have much more fun doing it!) Besides being a fun bonding experience for the two of you, cooking your own food gives you more control over what goes in your body and how much of it. You can make healthy ingredient swaps if you choose, as well as control portion sizes. Put on an apron and get experimenting!
Grab that water bottle – Water is life, literally. Our bodies are made up of more than 60% of the stuff and its health benefits are enormous. In addition to increasing energy levels and elevating our mood, water can boost the immune system, flush out toxins and can be a natural remedy for headaches. Carry a water bottle with you in your purse or bag so you never have to go without it.
Are those cute Snapchat filters actually making us feel worse about our bodies?
By Christine Wolkin
We live in a world where beauty standards are constantly evolving and now, with filters that can remove freckles, lengthen eyelashes and widen our eyes, edited selfies have become the norm.
Medical professionals are beginning to argue that those Snapchat filters that transform our faces into cute little woodland creatures with big eyes and smooth skin are hurting our self-image in bigger ways than we could ever imagine.
“A new phenomenon called ‘Snapchat dysmorphia’ has popped up, where patients are seeking out surgery to help them appear like the filtered version of themselves,” says Neelam Vashi, director of Ethnic Skin Center at BMC and Boston University School of Medicine.
Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine’s Department of Dermatology recently published an article in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery, delving into how selfies and filters can negatively affect our body image and trigger body dysmorphia, a mental disorder that causes people to be extremely preoccupied with a perceived flaw in appearance that to others can’t be seen or appears minor.
People who have BDD tend to obsess over their appearance and body image, often checking the mirror, grooming or seeking reassurance for many hours a day.
“For someone with BDD, their entire life’s balance hangs on whether they look okay or whether they’ve camouflaged their perceived flaw appropriately,” says Tom Hildebrandt, PsyD, chief of the Division of Eating and Weight Disorders at Mount Sinai Health System in New York City.
Individuals that suffer from BDD will often go to great, and often unhealthy, lengths to hide their imperfections, including going under the knife.
In 2017, a survey by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery found that 55 percent of surgeons reported seeing patients who requested surgery to look better in selfies.
“Today’s generation can’t escape ‘the Truman effect’ because from birth they are born into an age of social platforms where their feelings of self-worth can be based purely on the number of likes and followers that they have, which is linked to how good they look or how great these images are,” British cosmetic doctor Tijion Esho, who coined the term “Snapchat dysmorphia” earlier this year in 2018.
The JAMA article goes on to state that this alarming trend presents an unattainable look and blurs the line of reality and fantasy for us.
“Filtered selfies can make people lose touch with reality, creating the expectation that we are supposed to look perfectly primped all the time,” says Vashi, who is also one of the authors of the article. “This can be especially harmful to teens and those with BDD and it is important for providers to understand the implications of social media on body image to better treat and counsel our patients.”
Looking at a photo of yourself and not seeing the same thing reflected in the mirror or an unedited photo can make people unhappy, says Vashi.
“It can bring feelings of sadness, and then if one really develops this disorder, that sadness clearly progresses to something that can be dangerous and alarming,” she said.
Approximately 80 percent of people that suffer from BBD suffer from suicidal thoughts and about a quarter of those individuals have attempted suicide, according to a 2007 study by Primary Psychiatry.
Vashi says one of the most powerful tools in helping fight “Snapchat dysmorphia” is awareness, either through cognitive behavioral therapy or by simply changing your negative thought patterns. Simply being aware of what’s real and what’s been heavily altered with photo manipulation tools can ground us back to reality and remind us of our own innate beauty.
While posing with these filters can be fun, it’s important not to lose sight of who you really are behind them. Photo editing has been around for hundreds of years now and while digital manipulation and our high standards for beauty aren’t likely to go away anytime soon, we are the ones that allow them to hold any power over ourselves.
If you’re looking to capture your true beauty, ditch the filters altogether. Put on a favorite article of clothing and head outside for some gorgeous natural lighting.
Better yet, contact us at Allebach Photography to capture your true natural beauty, inside and out. We offer couples boudoir, boudoir, headshot, wedding, engagement and family photos and are located in the Philadelphia suburbs. Contact us today at 610.539.6920 or visit us at www.allebachphotography.com/contact.
Special Session Fee Available Now for Body+ of Fine Art Sessions
At Allebach Photography, our Body+ of Fine Art sessions (or what’s more commonly known as ‘Bodyscaping’), transform parts of your body into unique pieces of art.
“It’s great for people that aren’t sure if they want to do boudoir because it’s so abstract, it really does have a unique transformative power over people,” said the owner and head photographer Mike Allebach.
During a Body+ of Fine Art session, the human form is artistically expressed using lights and shadows to convey the impression of abstract landscapes or pieces of nature.
“I think that the bodyscaping was appealing to me because it is so hyper-focused on the human form that you truly get to appreciate the beauty of the human body,” says Emily Morales.
Morales recently did a Body+ of Fine Art session in conjunction with a boudoir shoot.
“Since he photographed my wedding, I became obsessed with his work and when I saw the bodyscaping on Instagram I thought it was so gorgeous,” Emily says.
While Emily has always had an appreciation for the beauty of all bodies, in her past she admits she’s struggled with accepting her own body, having overcome body dysmorphia and an eating disorder.
“I do believe that all bodies are beautiful, but I needed help seeing it for myself. I booked the session on a whim because in my heart of hearts I knew that it would help give me a boost and help me heal.”
“The bodyscaping, for me, was a way for me to see my body in its rawest and most real form. There was nothing to hide, it was just me. I think that seeing myself in that light was incredibly important for my journey to self-acceptance,” she continues.
Another client agrees. “Leading up to my session with Mike, I felt a mixture of equal parts terrified and exhilarated. I had never experienced a photo shoot where my partner and I were the sole subjects, let alone one where we’d be completely naked. The moment the shoot began, however, I realized how unfounded my fears were,” says W.G.
“Once the photos were developed and I saw how creatively and gorgeously he’d created landscapes out of my body, I felt a profound sense of gratitude for having had the opportunity to be a part of this project. I was able to see my body, with all of its imperfections, as gloriously perfect as it is. I felt beautiful, empowered, and more body-positive than I ever had in my entire life,” said W.G.
“Once the photos were developed and I saw how creatively and gorgeously he’d created landscapes out of my body, I felt a profound sense of gratitude for having had the opportunity to be a part of this project. I was able to see my body, with all of its imperfections, as gloriously perfect as it is. I felt beautiful, empowered, and more body-positive than I ever had in my entire life,” said W.G.
“I can’t emphasize enough how much more comfortable I feel. Seeing the bodyscaping shots in the reveal was almost an out of body experience. I couldn’t believe that it was me!” says Emily.
Body+ of Fine Art is an experience for couples, men, and women and gives you the opportunity to see your figure in a way you’ve never seen before.
And now for a limited time, all bookings made in 2018 will get a special session fee of just $100.
Let’s talk about creating amazing artwork! Contact us here or call at 610.539.6920 to get started!
Boudoir Solo Session Brings Out Former Catholic School Principal’s Inner Badass
Kristen doesn’t see herself as one of Mike’s “typical” clients.
“I’m not tattooed. I am 50, my only piercings are my ears, so I’m probably a little bit vanilla compared to most of the women he sees,” says the former Catholic school teacher and principal from Blue Bell, Pa.
Yet, Kristen decided she wanted to do a boudoir session following her divorce and a negative sexual experience with another man she thought she trusted.
“My confidence was not great, to say the least. I was ashamed of my body and went further into hiding as I doubted my ability to make good choices or avoid the consequences of looking good, being sexually active and my perceived inability to discern who I could be safe and vulnerable with,” Kristen says.
Despite being the same size she was in high school (size zero to two), she lacked a lot of self-confidence in general, much less in front of a camera, but saw a solo boudoir session as an opportunity to regain her sense of self.
If Kristen was going to do a boudoir session, she needed to know she had the right photographer, one she felt comfortable in front of and whom she could trust. When she saw Mike’s work on Instagram, she stopped.
“The more I saw, the more I recognized how body positive and judgment-free Mike’s work really is,” said Kristen. Seeing all of the different shapes, sizes, and ages of women really helped, she added.
“His work speaks for itself, but for me, it was much more than that. I started to think, ‘hmm…maybe I can do a solo boudoir shoot with this guy – be vulnerable in a non-sexual situation and see myself the way he shoots other women so beautifully,’” she said.
“Maybe it’s a way to move forward,” she added.
The idea of being vulnerable in a non-sexual situation was huge for her and a concern that gradually lessened during her shoot. Kristen started off in a full dress and by the end of the session, she was doing bodyscaping with nothing on with absolutely zero pressure or discomfort.
“I found my session to be SO empowering,” says Kristen. “I stared into his lens at first as an enemy that was challenging me but later with a less combative feeling. It was affirming to see my pictures look so beautiful and strong. Mike ‘got me’ and knew that I was looking for a reset and that I wanted and needed to look fierce and like a complete bad-ass.”
She continued, “For me, it was tremendously healing. I LOVED seeing my pics and choosing the ones I would keep. It was amazing to see myself from a distance and be able to see something other than shame and damaged goods thanks to Mike’s incredible work.”
Kristen is looking forward to one day hopefully doing a shoot with a partner someday and capturing that intimacy in the same way.
Top 8 Things to do on Your Couples Boudoir Getaway: Lancaster
This year, Forbes voted Lancaster, Pa., one of the “10 Coolest U.S. cities to visit in 2018” and on your Couples Boudoir Getaway with Allebach Photography, we want you to find out why.
Located just 80 miles west of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Dutch Country is about more than just Amish whoopee pies and horse-drawn carriages (though they have their invaluable places here).
Their food and drink scene has been compared to those of hipster havens like Portland and Brooklyn.
Below, check out our must-sees for experiencing all of Pennsylvania Dutch Country.
Shady Maple Smorgasbord
Most people who have been to Shady Maple before will tell you this place alone is worth the drive. Discover the experience of dining at Lancaster County’s largest smorgasbord featuring 200 feet of authentic Pennsylvania Dutch cooking. At Shady Maple, some of Lancaster County’s finest cooks prepare all your favorite Pennsylvania Dutch foods, as well as some exciting new dishes. Daily dinner specials including steak, prime rib, and seafood, just to give you an idea of what’s in store.
This stunning Victorian theatre not only boasts memorable shows but is dripping with historical significance. Before this site was a theatre, it was the site of Lancaster’s pre-Revolutionary jail. From on-stage musical productions and experimental studio plays to workshops and apprenticeships, the Fulton Theatre provides a space for Lancaster, and the surrounding areas, to experience the theatre. Today, the Fulton Theatre produces a mix of comedies, dramas, and musicals, employing the talents of professional directors, designers, actors and playwrights from across the country.
Thistle Finch Distillery
Only a short walk from the heart of downtown Lancaster, Thistle Finch Distillery’s tasting room provides a rustic, yet elegant destination away from the distractions of modern life. Step back in time with a classic rye whiskey cocktail or enjoy free samples of their distinctive, small batch spirits. Whether you are looking to learn about the history and process of distilling, taking a tour, or just want to relax with a drink and quiet conversation, Thistle Finch has something for everything.
Lancaster Central Market
Can’t get enough of those good old-fashioned Pennsylvania Dutch treats? You’ll find plenty more when the sun rises at Lancaster Central Market where farmers and craftspeople hawk everything from homemade bread and whoopie pies to goat cheese and just-picked vegetables, alongside Amish quilts and toys. The market is open Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
Wolf Sanctuary of PA
Located in northern Lancaster County, the Wolf Sanctuary of PA is 80 acres of natural woodland dedicated to the Speedwell Wolves. Originally created as a private rescue, guided tours are now available, giving visitors the chance to view more than 40 wolves in their natural habitat and to learn about their behavior and biology. The only way to view the wolves is by guided too so make sure you make a reservation before going.
For the Revolutionary War nerd in all of us, Rock Ford Plantation is the 18th Century mansion and estate of Revolutionary War General Edward Hand, who served as Adjutant to George Washington. A cast of actors moves from room to room sharing hauntingly beautiful stories of the people who have come and gone from this estate built in the late 1790s. During the guided tour of the mansion, visitors learn about Edward Hand’s personal and military history as well as the background of the mansion and the artifacts contained therein.
Clipper Magazine Stadium
Take me out to the ball game. Clipper Magazine Stadium, which held its first game in 2005, was honored as the “Ballpark of the Year” by the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball following the end of its 2013 regular season. The 6,000 seat stadium also serves as the corporate headquarters for the Atlantic League. One of the ballpark’s highlights is Hess’ Picnic Pavilion, a concession stands with a red barn façade that includes a traditional ballpark menu with an emphasis on items produced in Lancaster County. In 2011, the Lancaster Barnstormers added the Silverball Museum Arcade, a coin-free attraction that includes nostalgic arcade games from the 1930s to some of the video games played in the present.
Lancaster Brewing Company
Lancaster County has a long beer-brewing tradition and is a hotbed of the craft beer industry.Lancaster Brewing Company unites their obsessive commitment to quality ingredients with equal measures of creativity, skill, and experience, to brew consistently great beer. Inspired by long and rich brewing traditions, they brew in the heart of Lancaster County, alongside scores of old-world craftsmen, independent farmers, working the more than 5,300 local farms, and their fiercely independent Amish neighbors.
From Self-Loathing to Healing – Fighting Body Dysmorphia With Tattoos
When Erin, an Allebach Photography client from Warminster, Pa., got her first tattoo at age 22 – a small and simple Irish rosary on her right shoulder blade – she had “no idea most of her upper body would be covered over the next 10 years.”
Since then, Erin has gotten more tattoos than she can count.
“It’s easier to say what body parts I have done – or don’t done. I’m bare from the waist down. I have sleeves on both of my arms, my right’s covered and my left black and gray. I have a rib piece on my left side, an underboob piece, a chest piece, the Serenity prayer in Gaelic on my right side and the words ‘Just Breathe’ across my stomach and I just started my back piece which is going to be my entire back.”
Erin says she began getting tattooed for two reasons; one because they’re gorgeous and two because she finds the process healing after dealing with years of body dysmorphia, a common condition that causes a person to think negative thoughts about their own body image.
“I can’t point my finger to a specific time or place, but somewhere over the years since high school, I feel like I’ve retreated further and further inside myself. I’ve thought that part of it may be having three serious relationships and all three of those men cheated on me. And as time went on I became less accepting of myself,” she said.
As time went on and Erin’s self-confidence and self-esteem were lost, she began to find it difficult to take compliments about her body, seeing them as insincere.
“I’ve always hated compliments. They’re hard to hear when you don’t believe them – they’re almost cruel when it’s impossible for you to see. It feels like people are lying sometimes. Compliment my tattoos though! I’ll agree with a smile and tell you all about them! I don’t mind showing those off!”
For Erin, it’s not about hiding her skin, but rather beautifying it with artwork and inspirational meaning.
“It’s all directional pieces, things that keep you moving, things that keep you in place and things that guide you home. A compass, a lighthouse, an anchor, an albatross, just to name a few,” says Erin of her left arm.
She continued, “My right arm I started after my last relationship. My ex-fiancécheated on me and I had to call off our wedding a month to the day before our wedding. That arm is ‘there is beauty in all new beginnings.’ So I wanted it to be BAM! in your face colorful and beautiful. The mermaid is the beauty and the rest is all symbols of new beginnings – a butterfly, daffodils, peacock feathers, a phoenix.”
It’s funny how painful tattoos are yet the amount of healing they possess, she muses.
Erin has had two boudoir sessions with Allebach Photography and for her, the sessions have been as empowering for her as her body art.
“For the self-proclaimed most insecure girl in the world, this experience was life-changing and empowering. Also, just the way Mike talks about the human body like it is art.”
While none of her tattoos were specifically highlighted, she felt like each photo Mike took was with them in mind.
“He’s so confident in what he does, but entirely humble, a true master of his craft. He’s excited and passionate about what he does and it makes you more excited to work with him and trust in him. People ask me how can someone with no confidence and who is so insecure take half-naked and naked photos – it’s the genius behind the camera!”
Erin is currently working on her back, which will feature a pirate skeleton and ship with Kraken tentacles. Following that, she hopes to get her legs finished. We can’t wait to see how they turn out!
7 Reasons Why Boudoir Photos are the Perfect Stocking Stuffer for Your Significant Other
We’ve all been there. Searching through the racks of dress shirts and boxers at the mall asking yourself, “What do I get him for Christmas?” This year, think outside of the box and get him something he’s sure to remember for years to come; a photo album or piece of artwork featuring you at your sexiest and most confident.
Holidays aside, gifting your lover photos from your boudoir session with Allebach Photography is the perfect present for all special occasions, from anniversaries to birthdays, to “just because”.
Below are 9 reasons to book your session with us right now!
1. You already know they’ll love them
You are one of the most important people in your significant other’s life. They love you just the way you are; the way you move, the way you laugh, and the way your eyes sparkle when you’re feeling confident and strong. Imagine their surprise when they pull that bow off your gift and see you’ve captured your beauty for them in the form of photos.
2. It’s a treat for you too
A solo boudoir shoot isn’t just for your beau; it’s a chance for you to pamper yourself. Sipping on champagne, getting your hair and makeup done and then slipping into something that makes you feel sexy and beautiful is something every woman should experience.
3. They’re unique
This is a gift that no one else can give them. I bet you can already tick off your fingers the expected gifts they’ll be getting from mom and dad – hats, shirts, gift cards to Starbucks… This is your chance to give them the perfect gift, you.
4. It’s the gift that keeps on giving
Every time your partner opens their gift, it’ll be like receiving that gift over and over again. Many of our couples tell us they still look at their albums years after the session has taken place and it brings them right back to that special time in their relationship.
5. It will make them fall in love with you all over again
Sometimes it’s easy for us to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily life and forget about what really matters to us. When your significant other sees those photos of you, it’s be really hard to focus on anything else, let alone last night’s dishes!
6. They’ll be completely surprised
Unless you and your partner have talked about it already, a boudoir album is something they will never expect to see wrapped up under the tree and is something sure to make their jaw drop.
7. You can skip those trips to the donation bins
How many times have you thrown out or donated yet another tchotchke someone thought you just had to have? Instead of filling your home with clutter, give them a gift they’ll want to hold onto for years to come.
Known as the birthplace of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, Philadelphia is the perfect place to celebrate your love during your Couples Boudoir Getaway with Allebach Photography.
No matter what time of year you’re visiting, from historic sites and haunted prison tours to awesome street art, spending a long weekend here with your Beau is sure to be the cherry on top of your already unique and memorable Couples Boudoir experience.
Below, we’ve handpicked some of our favorite places, many of which are off the beaten path, to visit during your stay in the City of Brotherly Love.
Independence National Historic Park
Ok, this one’s not exactly off the beaten path, but it’s an essential, especially for first time visitors. Like all old cities, Philadelphia is best seen on foot. And the easiest way to explore its unique role in the history of the nation is via a Constitutional Walking Tour. This just over an hour promenade through Independence National Historical Park manages to pack in more than 20 of the most historic sites at Philadelphia’s 330-year-old heart, including Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, as well as the Betsy Ross House, Declaration House and the National Constitution Center. Nineteen dollars in exchange for a little brush-up on our nation’s history? Check.
Yards Brewing Company
If you’re a beer drinker, then you know the Philadelphia region is regaled as one of the best places for beer in the world. Philadelphia has won a slew of beer-related accolades, from being recognized as one of the “The 5 Best Beer Cities in America” by GQ Magazine, to being named one of the fourteen best beer cities in the entire world by Frommer’s. Visitors to Yards’ wind-powered tasting room can sample its mostly English-inspired ales while shooting pool or nibbling light fare from the kitchen or the food trucks on Saturdays and Sundays. And why stop at just one brewery? Make it a pub crawl by visiting Philadelphia Brewing Company, Dock Street, Urban Village, Evil Genius, and Crime and Punishment, just to get you started.
Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens
Located on South Street, this hidden gem glistens with creativity, urban renaissance and a hint of madness. Spanning half a block, the PMG is a nonprofit art museum that includes an immersive outdoor art installation and indoor galleries. The mad hatter behind this artwork is Isaiah Zagar, a local artist who began tiling South Street in the 1960s and never really stopped, constructing a space out of cast aside items like bicycle spokes, bottles, ceramic shards and other artistic knick-knacks.
Reading Terminal Market
Come hungry! Beloved by locals and tourists alike, this historic indoor market features more than 80 vendors and is the nation’s oldest continuously operating farmer’ market. Since the market’s opening in 1892, vendors have been serving up globally inspired food in much the same way as they did back then. From butchers to bakers, chocolatiers to cheesemongers, there’s something for everyone at this mouthwatering stop.
What better way to celebrate your love in the City of Brotherly Love than with a stop at Philly’s iconic John F. Kennedy Plaza, better known as LOVE Park? Located near City Hall and safe harbor of Robert Indiana’s LOVE sculpture, LOVE Park is a popular and recently renovated public space that includes greenery, a new water feature, concession areas, and is just a must see for both couples passing through and locals.
Eastern State Penitentiary
If you’re looking for destinations off the beaten path, there’s no better place to check out than the infamous Eastern State Penitentiary. Once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, ESP now stands in ruin, a haunting world of crumbling cellblocks and empty towers. Its vaulted, sky-lit cells once held many of America’s most notorious criminals, including “Slick Willie” Sutton and “Scarface” Al Capone. Daytime tours are available seven days a week from 10 am to 4pm and in the fall the prison is turned into a massive haunted house known as Terror Behind the Walls. The Travel Channel recently named it “One of America’s scariest Halloween attractions.”
The Mural Mile
Philly is decorated with no fewer than 4,000 official murals (one of the world’s largest collections of outdoor public art), including Kenny Scharf’s Philly Chunk Pack and the epic mixed media Theater of Life by local artist Meg Saligman. Get up close and personal with the stunning murals that represent a variety of themes, artistic processes, and public art at its finest by taking a self-guided tour, or by bus if you’re pressed for time. There are two ways to go: the south route will take guests south of Market Street to Lombard Street and back along the recently revitalized 13th Street coordinator. The north route will take guests north of Market Street into Old City, through Chinatown and around City Hall.
The Mütter Museum
Are you a big fan of the macabre? Then this is the place for you. Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum of Medical Oddities at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia features a collection of more than 20,000 specimens, enough to feed your nightmares for a lifetime. The Mütter (pronounced MOO-ter) is a world-renowned medical museum and a wonderland for anyone curious about the human body — especially what happens when we are visited by illness, injury or death. Some of its most infamous specimens on display: books bound with human skin, baby born with no skull, John Wilkes Booth’s vertebra, a two-headed baby, the Soap Lady and much, much more.
The South Street Headhouse District is one of Philadelphia’s most eclectic and lively neighborhoods. Featuring more than 400 independent retail shops, South Street is a melting pot of groups and cultures. Residents and visitors, teenagers and adults, preps and pupnks, artists and attorneys all mix seamlessly together on this storied boulevard. Whether you’re looking for an authentic cheesesteak or a statement-making piece of fashion, this place has something for everyone.
Looking for another way to get lucky? Roll the dice at SugarHouse, a casino just along the Delaware River in the lively Philadelphia neighborhood of Fishtown. Gamblers can try their luck at the slots and table games or check out their live performances and concerts. Unlike many places in the city, parking here is free. Or if you want to public transportation, the SEPTA Route 15 trolley serves the casino and the SEPTA bus route 43 at the Frankford and Delaware Avenue Station.
Looking for a place to stay? Mention you’re booking with Allebach Photography at Staybridge or Joseph Ambler for a discounted rate!
Staybridge: 119 Garden Golf Blvd, North Wales, PA 19454
Joseph Ambler: 1005 Horsham Rd, North Wales, PA 19454
Looking for more? Check out some of these ideas
Shofuso Japanese House and Garden
The Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Schuylkill River Trail
Boat House Row
Shopping along Rittenhouse Square
“Mike, I can’t tell you what to do, you know that. People here won’t like you photographing gay weddings. You don’t have to take the weddings. Just tell them you have plans. I’ll make plans for you if you need plans.”
Those were the words of my pastor over 10 years ago. I had decided to give them a heads up that I was going to be photographing same-sex weddings and unions. The pastor’s response was shocking and not shocking at the same time. I was kind of expecting it. For me, this moment was a line in the sand. This moment represented my break with the church and the Republican party and everything those two interlinked structures of power and control represented.
Looking back I remember sitting in a meeting where the debate among pastors was “should the church baptize a lesbian couple?” And they called themselves the accepting church. What was so clear in my mind was not clear in others who considered themselves open and accepting.
My upbringing was based around universal concepts humans share: love, belonging and acceptance. We were nestled in a community based between Philadelphia and Amish country full of non-confrontational Mennonites and a local Catholic church. The subject of same-sex marriage rarely came up in our conservative community publically that I remember. I was ignorant in the more pure sense of the word. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I didn’t know the struggle, I didn’t know the non-acceptance, inequality inherent in the system, bullying, the graffiti, and the violence the LGBTQ community faced.
It wasn’t until middle school I even knew what the word gay meant. And in the 90s classmates in school used “gay” as slang for something dumb. In high school, a few kids came out as gay but that was the extent to it. You don’t know what you don’t know. And I didn’t know a lot.
Like many, I wasn’t fond of some of my high school experience. I had this ongoing nagging feeling like I didn’t fit in. That feeling translated into punk rock music at the time. Later on, when I started my business, I decided to be the photographer for people who didn’t have a photographer. A photographer for the punk rock kids. As you probably guessed, I didn’t listen to the pastor and starting photographing Gay Unions and weddings.
My clients have inspired me so much. When photographing LGBTQ weddings, the most intense part was hearing their stories and hearing the stories their families shared. Over the years I’ve heard dozens of cringy turned triumphant speeches from the parent who share their journey of acceptance. They started out shocked or in disbelief and came to love their child even more. Sadly, not all stories shared have happy endings yet. I’ve also heard the tragic stories of family members who still aren’t there yet. It is unfathomable to me that some parents are unwilling to accept their children.
My journey from ignorance about what LGBTQ couples in my community faced was changed by the beautiful people I photograph. The common story I’ve heard when talking with parents of children from conservative backgrounds is they didn’t personally know gay people. They took what their churches said as gospel until their children came out. They’ve said to me it was a “political issue” until it was my son. If you’ve ever been to a same-sex or queer wedding, you know you are in for some both amazingly beautiful and some heart-wrenching stories. Usually, the wedding ceremony shares pieces of the couple’s story. You might hear how they found each other and maybe you’ll learn a bit about the marriage equality battle fought in the supreme court. If you are like me, you’ll have allergies and find your eyes watering. You’ll leave with more understanding and more hope for a better future in America.
Photographing LGBTQ weddings has taught me so much about being a better ally. I feel guilty that I once was a part of a system and a church that didn’t accept people for who they are. I’m sad I once supported a political party who didn’t support the full rights of our neighbors and friends. If I had a time machine, my ally journey would have started in high school. I would have supported each people coming out.
Maybe just like me, it’s time for you to leave a toxic or anti-LGBTQ church or leave a faith that really just wants to exert power and control. Maybe it’s time to change political parties to one supporting LGBTQ rights.
But like the countless stories I’ve heard at weddings, I believe we can become better allies. The journey isn’t over yet. We need to listen to the LGBTQ community. In hearing stories of others we all become better. In listening, we learn to love and understand.
No matter what letter you represent: Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Queer or Ally, we can create community wherever we go.
To everyone coming out today, I hope you find more support than you ever imagined and find a new belonging and community. You are so worthy of love and belonging as you are. Let us know how we can be better allies in the comments.