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“That’s the year I fell in love with myself.”

Recently, Erika and Mike had the honor of photographing one of Allebach’s own, someone many of you will recognize through her work with us at the studio – the lovely Paige!

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“It seems as if Allebach Photography has always been a part of my life. 

Even before joining the Allebach Photography team a few years ago, Mike and I had crossed paths on more than one occasion and something just clicked. His people were my people. I enjoyed the freedom, fearlessness, and badassery of the brand from day one. From clients to staff and all of the people we meet in between – I can’t think of a better group.”

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Paige describes herself as an incredibly persistent and independent 26-year-old and, despite becoming recently engaged and being in the process of moving cross-country with her fiancé, she says her dog and two cats are the true loves of her life. 

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There, she hopes to find joy in being a professional dog-walker in a giant yellow raincoat while also advocating for families and couples to have the most enjoyable lives and understandings of each other as possible. 

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Though Paige enjoys sharing trivial facts about herself, there is a more serious issue she wanted to bring up. 

“The one thing that I think is important to bring to attention is the fact that I struggled with an eating disorder and body dysmorphia for the last 15 years of my life,” Paige revealed.  

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Since the end of 2020, she’s made a true effort to challenge her bad habits and finally begin to heal. 

Paige was talking with a close friend one night who was struggling with body image when she realized she was in a positive place for both her body and her mental health and ready to do her own boudoir session with Allebach. 

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“Really hearing myself speak honestly for the first time about how I felt about myself and how I got there…I felt powerful, I felt in control, and I felt hot as shit. Just giving advice that I realized I’d already taken myself…I had this realization that I didn’t hate my body the way I used to and I was so stoked about that.”

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She continued, “I remember wondering how I could ever have felt any other way except totally in love with my body. It’s gotten me through literally everything. It’s strong, and beautiful, and worthy, and all mine. I wanted something to commemorate not only that feeling of worthiness and respect, but also something to mark when it happened: something I could look back on and say, “Oh yeah! That’s the year I fell in love with myself.” After wasting more than half of my life on a mentally, physically, and emotionally debilitating disease – I was ready to have photos of the new beginning. Kind of like if you married your high school sweetheart and you go back and look at old photos of you in your first year of dating. I wanted that kind of memory of my love for myself down the road.”

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Paige’s session felt deeply unique and personal because not only was she celebrating her defeat against body dysmorphia, she was doing it with someone who had been by her side through some of the worst of it.  

“I think I was just as excited for Erika to photograph me as she was to do it. If there’s anything I can say about her, it’s that she’s just so genuinely caring and empathetic. I had a really rough year in 2020 (besides the obvious) and at the time, I shared some of this with her. I don’t think I’ve ever had the kind of support she offered me. When I was finally in front of the camera, it felt like I could almost feel the energy we were sharing. It felt like we were both screaming, “This is it, you did it! We did it! You’ve outplayed your bad hand and it’s only going up from here. This is healing. This is freedom,” said Paige. 

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 One of the things Paige did this year to help battle body dysmorphia and gain more comfort with her body was buy a bunch of lingerie and so for her session that’s exactly what she brought to her session.

“I mean. A BUNCH. And that’s what I wear around my house on the regs  (I live alone) or with my closest friends (why can’t we have lingerie parties and celebrate our bodies while also binging horror movies and drinking wine?). Seeing myself like that almost every day was definitely a huge boost to my self-confidence, self-respect, and self-love. So, the day of the session, I blindly grabbed a few outfits from the lingerie closet, and my roller blades, naturally.”

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Being back in the studio for Paige, on the other side of the experience, was truly a fun and comforting experience. 

“I’m always cold, but I felt totally comfortable the entire time. The session made me feel like I was having fun with my friends. From the hair and makeup artist all the way through to my reveal, I just felt like I was having an amazing time with my best friends. We were talking about music, cracking jokes, catching up – it felt like home.”

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When Paige saw her photos revealed, she tried hard to keep her composure.

“I was really trying not to be emotional, and I think I held it together pretty well. 

But my initial reaction was, ‘That’s fucking ME!’ Not in a ‘I-don’t-believe-it’ sort of way, but in a, ‘Yes! You captured me perfectly,’ kind of way,” she said. 

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Though she had complete confidence in Allebach’s mastery and talent after having seen so clients go through the process, Paige was surprised at how in her photos she looked not only like herself, but also sexy. 

“I am NOT a professional model, my face looks goofy more often than not, and I’m usually doing something weird just because. Each moment captured was exactly the person I am. I was also shocked by the sex-factor I gave off. I was never a sexy person. Or rather, I never felt like a sexy person. Cute? Yes. Adorable? Absolutely. Sexy? Nah. I felt as if I gained a sort of sex factor I was completely unaware of until now,” she said. 

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Paige chose an album with a velvet cover because 1.) Velvet, duh?! 2.) Because she’s a total bookroom and looking forward to proudly displaying her book among her favorites and 3.) After building so many in the past she’d always wanted one of her own.

“This session was also very much about me for me, and it’s something that I want to make sure I can speak to when I choose to share it versus someone happening to notice it on a wall. That and I knew I’d be back for couples boudoir and some serious wall art,” she explained.

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 Since her session Paige has been much more relaxed with herself. 

“I’ve accepted that the issue I occasionally face isn’t with my body at all – but my brain. And it’s really helpful to look back on my photos and remember that I chose them for a reason. That I felt and still feel beautiful in them. And if there’s a reason I don’t feel that way today, it’s all in my head and we can let it take up some room until it passes.”

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Though Paige is moving cross-country and has phased out of working with Allebach Photography, she says she has and always will be a strong advocate for the studio and its crew.

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“Aside from the quality experience you’ll receive, the people are phenomenal. They CARE. They actually care. When I flipped through my album and started tearing up, so did Erika. Like it’s blatantly obvious this isn’t just your everyday photography business. There’s so much emotion and passion that goes into what is done at that studio with that team. There are plenty of people out there who take good photos. These people do that too, but in a life-changing sort of way. “

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To book your own boudoir session with Allebach Photography, call 610.539.6920 or visit http://allebachphotography.com/contact/ 

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I Am Who I Am – Love It or Leave It

We’re always honored when our clients tell us how beautiful and confident we’ve made them feel, but it breaks our hearts that so many of them tell us that this is the FIRST time they’ve ever felt this way. 

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“I’ve been overweight literally since birth. I’ve never been able to keep weight off no matter how hard I tried and I was constantly bullied for it. My entire life, I was told that big equals bad and gross and ugly. People in media never looked like me. I was bullied from kindergarten through twelfth grade. I was the “DUFF” (Designated Ugly Fat Friend). Even my family would always tell me, ‘You’d be so pretty if you lost weight,’” says Janet, who is literally one of the sweetest people we’ve ever met and recently did a solo boudoir session with us. 

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“I guess at some point, I made peace with that being the truth. I saw being attractive and being overweight are mutually exclusive states of being. I felt that because of my physical size, I deserved to be less of an actual person. I have almost no pictures of me because I just see how big and wrong I am in them.”

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Janet, who is 42 and has held the same job for almost 20 years, says she’s always put others first before herself. 

“It took me 13 years to earn my BA because I kept taking breaks to help care for loved ones. We lost my mom to cancer in 2018, and I’m the person who ended up caring for her for the month she was on at home hospice. I definitely embrace the mom/caretaker role. So much so that it trickles into my friendships,” says Janet, adding that one of her favorite things to do is just hang out at home with her friends and cook them their favorite meals. “I try to keep a warm and inviting atmosphere.”

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In 2004, Janet entered into an emotionally abusive relationship that thankfully she has since left. 

“I know now I was only there because I settled. I was at my biggest weight when we married in 2007 and I was convinced I had no worth and nobody else would want me. I had RNY gastric bypass in 2009 at the suggestion of a reproductive specialist. I got pregnant in 2010 and gained back the 80lbs I had previously lost – but I also gained an incredible miracle baby, my daughter, Emma,” she says.

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As the years went by, Janet’s ex began to grow violent.

“I realized I didn’t even like the man I was with, let alone love him. I threw him out in February 2015.”

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Janet is now happily engaged and lives with her and her fiancé in the house she grew up in. 

When Janet saw an ad for Allebach Photography and our solo boudoir sessions, she says she realized it was time to see herself through someone else’s perspective. 

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Her best friend helped convince her that not only did she deserve this, but that since “there was no way she was going to get nude” that it would be no different from a vacation picture in a bathing suit!

Janet says she was shocked by “how comfortable I was wearing next to nothing in front of two strangers. And although I loved some more than others, there was not one picture of me I hated (a huge change of pace for me).”

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She continued, “I thought I was going to be too reserved and awkward to pose correctly. I thought I’d feel funny and not get any good shots. I was so very wrong. Mike and Erika had me at ease and posing like a pro in no time flat.”

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Janet could barely believe she was looking at herself when she saw her photos. She looked like a beautiful, take charge badass! 

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“I was at a very low point with self esteem and seeing my artwork really helped. It’s for sure a HUGE confidence booster. Even during the session itself. I can’t remember the last time I got so many compliments.”

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She continues, “This experience absolutely changed the way I see myself. I wasn’t gross. I was just different. I conveyed confidence, charisma and charm. Dare I say, even sexiness. Do I have a ‘normal’ body? I sure don’t. But for the first time, it clicked. Different is not bad or gross or ugly. Different is the way I live every other area of my life. It took me a while to get there, but I embrace being different. All of my idiosyncrasies are what makes me who I am – love it or leave it. So now it’s time to think about the outside the way I think about the inside. It’s time to start feeling less than and time to start wielding confidence. I won’t get there overnight, but for the first time, I think I’m moving in the right direction. There is no way I’d be here if I wouldn’t have done boudoir.”

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Having trouble seeing your own inner beauty? We want to help show you what you’re missing! Book your solo session by calling 610.539.6920 or by visiting http://allebachphotography.com/contact/