I’m so excited that I finally get share this amazing engagement session with you that I shot earlier this year for the latest issue of Focus on the Coast Weddings. It was a dream to shoot and the vendors I got to work with on this shoot were so amazing. It really does take a team of very talented people to make me look this good! Not only was this house like my dream house, but I got to shoot all day in it and now I want it even more! Be sure you pick up the latest issue of the magazine to see this beautiful shoot laid out in print!





































Images//Dana Laymon Photography
Design & Coordination//Drewe Smith
Floral Design//Eco Chic Blossoms
Hair & Makeup//Danielle Forte MUA
Location//Owners of Threve Mercantile‘s Home
Chalk Art//Flash Bash
Clothing//Tusc & Bloke Apparel and Supply
Engagement Ring//Lumina Gem
Produced for Focus on the Coast Weddings

Models:
Meagan Forbes & Michael Forbes

I LOVE getting to follow my clients along the different stages of their life. I was thrilled when I learned that my sweet bride Julie was pregnant again and wanted to do a maternity session. I know that women feel so uncomfortable and un-beautiful during this time but it is SO important to document! I make sure to include hair and makeup with my sessions because it’s such a luxury to get pampered during this time and I love giving my clients a time to relax and feel beautiful in any way possible. It’s hard to see your body change and look different than the way you’re used to see yourself but you’ll regret not documenting this precious time. And Julie’s adorable daughter, Ellie, got to come along and I know Ellie will even cherish these pictures as she gets older. I love splitting the session time between the studio and outside images- best of both worlds! Julie looked absolutely glowing and I’m honored that I get to keep freezing these moments in time for their sweet family.








































Hair and Makeup//Danielle Forte Makeup Artistry

To all my amazing clients: THANK YOU! You’re the ones who make what I do even possible! These words from this sweet client warmed my heart today. This is what keeps me going:

“I initially saw this idea in a bridal magazine as I was just beginning to make wedding preparations. I knew as I looked into this idea more and more, that this would be something that would truly be a gift for my fiance, that he would love and appreciate. I started researching photographers and chose Dana. There was something in her images and on her website that made me feel like she knew the spirit I was trying to capture with this gift. Although I thought this was something I was doing for him, (even up until the morning of the shoot, I was anxious and nervous), I would say this was a gift to myself. As we talked on the morning of the shoot, I got to hear your heart and your reasons behind Boudoir and photography, hear a little more of your story, and this gave me a peace that helped me to relax and have fun.

After I saw my images, I was so excited and relieved! I, like most women, tend to be hard on myself, but I really loved how natural and happy and confident I looked!

Dana, you were my favorite part of the experience! After I decided to do this photo shoot, I was really anxious. From the moment I pulled in the driveway, you made me feel at home and comfortable. You sat down with me, as if we were old friends, while I was getting my hair and makeup done, which really set the tone for the rest of the day…I felt comfortable to share myself and my stories with you. By the time we started taking pictures, I felt like I had known you for years!” -Miss C

After their boudoir experience, most of my clients realize how meaningful this was for themselves. They go into it with the mindset of it being an awesome gift for their husband and it always becomes a bigger gift for themselves. It’s not something you can put a price on. I hear such similar words time after time once the sessions are over. It changes you…and that’s my hope is that you leave here different than when you came in.

I love that I’ve been able to document this sweet couple’s journey over the last couple of years. You may remember their sweet anniversary shoot from a while back and I love that we ended up in a flower field again, only this time for their maternity session! And boy, am I glad we got this maternity shoot done because she had sweet little baby Evelyn only a few days after! I’ve been wanting to shoot a beautiful mama in these grape vines for a while so I’m so glad we got to use them for her session! And the wild flowers off the side of the highway are always a good choice 🙂


































When starting the process of looking for a photographer for your boudoir session, it’s important to know the right questions to ask, just like when looking for a wedding photographer. And it’s difficult when you’ve never done this before and don’t know what those questions should be! Here is a list of what I think are important things to ask (and for you to decide on!) so you can find the right boudoir photographer for you.

  1. What style do you want to project?
    Every photographer has a style and a style that they like to shoot, therefore that style tends to be what they shoot the best and most often. You should be able to see this on their website or in the gallery they send you. This is a big thing to consider because this will end up being the look and feel of your images. Do you want soft and romantic and subtle? Or bold and super sexy?
  2. Do you want a male or female photographer?
    This is also a huge thing to consider! Do you care if it’s an all female team or not? This will help narrow down your search right from the beginning if you feel strongly one way or the other. It’s important to ask who all will be in attendance during your session like hair and makeup artists, assistants, etc. Most male photographers have a female present during the session but it’s an important thing to know!
  3. What kind of product do you want at the end of it all?
    Do you have any idea of what product you’d like to give your hubby? If you want a high end album or a beautiful box of prints or just the digital images to have and be able to use, be sure your photographer offers the items you want. That way you don’t get to the ordering process and not see what it is you really want.
  4. What is your budget?
    This important factor will also help narrow down your choice of photographers. Be sure to ask photographers you reach out to “What is the average amount clients spend with you?” Some photographers have all inclusive packages and others offer an a la carte price list so make sure you understand the pricing that’s being sent to you. And just remember, the old adage is usually true: “You get what you pay for”.
  5. Where do the sessions take place?
    A photographer will usually send you a gallery of images when you inquiry with them. Do the pictures look like they’re taken in a studio or do they all look like different locations? It’s good to ask photographers if they have a studio, if they’ll be shooting in your home or if you’re expected to rent a hotel room. And only do what you’re comfortable with! Sometime the expense of a hotel is an additional cost that you’re expected to pay for but it also may be included in the price of your session. The location of the session will also play into the look and feel of your images.
  6. Do they have weekends and weekdays available?
    If your schedule is limited, then it’s important to ask what your photographer’s availability is. Especially if you need your gift by a certain date. How long will it take to get your images back? How long will it take to get an album or prints? Most photographers need your session held 5-6 weeks before you need your gift so you’re sure to get it in time.
  7. Do you post my images anywhere?
    Does the photographer blog their sessions? Do they post them to an online gallery or share them on social media? It’s important to  know what their privacy policy is and what they do with their clients’ images. Make it very clear what you’re comfortable with and not comfortable with and it’s also a good idea to get it in writing. I don’t use my client’s images unless I have their permission in writing, and even then, where I share them is very limited.
  8. Is hair and makeup included?
    To me, hair and makeup is such an important part of the experience and important factor in how your final images turn out, so I include hair and makeup in all my sessions. I take care of scheduling the hair and makeup artist and your hair and makeup is done at my studio as a part of your session. Is hair and makeup included in the photographer’s session fee? Are you expected to pay for it separately? Are you responsible for scheduling your own hair and makeup? These are all important things to find out!

This is one of the most vulnerable and brave things you will do so it’s important to find someone who’s going to take care of you and give you the experience of a lifetime. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about booking your boudoir session.

Image: MetDaan

Photoshop- does anyone really know what that consists of???

I know there’s a lot of controversy out on social media these days about photoshop and a concern for companies to photoshop or not photoshop their images. For instance, the print publication Darling has made a stand to not photoshop any of the women in their magazine. So I want to explain how I use photoshop in my business for my boudoir sessions.

I think of it as my job to get the shot right in camera (when I’m taking the image) as much as possible. I work hard to make sure you have the right outfits for your body picked out and to put you in the best poses for you as possible. Along with professional hair and makeup and great studio lighting make for an amazing image and one that you would be proud of!

I don’t shy away from the fact that I photoshop my images but only what I would want done myself! And I create an image that is exactly how I saw you in the studio and how you looked to me on camera. So the photoshopping that is done you would hardly notice. It’s getting rid of small lines or wrinkles, little places of cellulite and harsh tan lines.

Heck, I would want someone to do that for me! I certainly don’t want to see those things!

Other things I correct are what I consider my oversights: flyaways I didn’t fix, makeup that might have fallen under your eyes, or a twisted piece of clothing.

You can have the utmost confidence that the women you see in the pictures are all YOU. I’ve never had a client that didn’t have flaws. We ALL have them. And the funny thing is, clients point them out to me, but I probably would have never noticed them if they hadn’t said anything!

You’re the only one looking at yourself under a magnifying glass. And it’s time you saw yourself in a whole new light. I’d love for you to reach out if you’re ready to make the leap and finally book your session!

boudoir testimonial

WARNING: If you’re anything like me, you may need to grab some tissues first. Her words had me balling at my computer as I read her email!

I love hearing from my clients and chatting about where life has taken them over the years. Well, hearing and getting to catch up with Mrs. G was definitely the highlight of my week. It’s hard for me to put into words what her words meant to me. It’s fun and exciting to start a new business venture, but it’s only natural to have moments of “Oh crap. What am I doing?!” from time to time. But Mrs. G’s words brought me back to reality and reminded me of the exact reason of why I chose to go in the direction I have with my business.

“During our moving process, I found my boudoir photos at the perfect time. With my husband’s relocation package, we were fortunate enough to have the moving company pack all of our stuff in addition to moving it. Before they came, we went through the house and separated all of the things we didn’t want them to take (or see!). My husband pulled my photos out of his bedside table for safe keeping, and one afternoon when he was at work, I sat to look at them (for the first time in at least a year). I was first very emotionally charged by the memories it brought back of our wedding. With the photos was the note I had written him to give with the preview photo at our rehearsal dinner. It explained all the reasons why I love him and was so excited to marry him. It had the homemade tags I made for the photos and a watch I also got him…all the little trinkets from that day. Everything came flooding back, and it was amazing.

What’s more though, was the way I felt when I saw my pictures again. You see, at that time, I was just barely in my second trimester. I had only gained a couple of pounds and had a very tiny baby bump. It was a bump that, if you didn’t know I was pregnant, just looked like I had gained a few pounds. Weight and body image is something I’ve struggled with for quite some time. I’ve never been huge, but I had my share of years where I was ‘chubby.’ Once I took the initiative to get in shape, I worked my butt off to get to a happy place. I exercised, ate well, and got myself to a healthier, stable weight. Stepping on the scale became more of a game to me because it was fun to see how much I could fluctuate in a matter of days or even hours. But whenever that number went up, it always came back down, because that was what I worked to achieve. Now that I was pregnant, though, it was another story. It was obviously perfectly healthy for my weight to go up and stay up. I was growing another human inside of me! Still, it was very hard to see. I had quite a few pregnant lady meltdowns early on. Gaining weight and feeling ‘chubby’ again was counter-intuitive. Until I truly began to feel pregnant, it was very difficult to feel comfortable in my body.

But when I saw my boudoir photos that afternoon, all of those insecurities went out the window. Through those pictures, I saw ALL of the beautiful features of my body, beyond my tummy and weight. I vividly remembered how strong, confident, and comfortable I could feel in my own skin. It didn’t matter what shape or size I was that day, you helped me feel a kind of beauty that radiates from the inside, a beauty that still existed in my new, barely pregnant body. No matter how big I eventually get, that beauty will always be there. And my husband will still have the same reaction to my body as he did that day he first saw the pictures. He hasn’t batted an eye at my changing figure, because I’m still the beautiful woman he married.

I never expected to feel so unsure about my body when I was doing such an amazing thing, growing a baby. I have always been one of those women that dreamed of being pregnant, having that beautiful baby belly. When I didn’t have that love of my changing body early on, I felt guilty. How could I be upset that my baby was doing this to me? But it wasn’t baby’s fault. It was just my feelings of self-doubt that had me worried about what people might think when they saw my tiny little pooch. Looking back at that time, I feel silly for being so concerned about that. Who cares what strangers thought about my body? I wish I could have felt less insecure at that time, but hopefully if we have a second baby, I won’t even care. AND, hopefully my thoughts that you put into your blog post will help other women avoid those concerns, too!

Now that I’m more obviously pregnant, I absolutely LOVE my body. I still work hard to eat well, exercise, and keep my weight gain to a healthy amount, but my bump, the belly I was so unsure about before, is the miracle that I’m growing. I’m so proud to show it off, and I am extremely grateful that I have the confidence to do so!

Those pictures, Dana, what you did for me, it’s something I’ll always be grateful for. You gave me a breath of confidence I have never felt before, and I’ll carry that with me through every stage of my life. And if this tiny human I’m carrying is a girl (we’re not finding out!), I hope I’ll be able to instill that same confidence in her. You do amazing work, and I can’t thank you enough!”

-Mrs. G

We all struggle with insecurities about our bodies and it was crazy to me that Mrs. G struggled with hers at the time of our session because she is gorgeous! This is so much more than taking “sexy pictures” to me. I always wanted to have a business that had a bigger purpose. A HUGE thank you to Mrs. G for letting me share her story and to all of my amazing clients. You make it possible to do what I love to do and I’ve loved serving you!!!

Hair+Makeup//Heather, Dalisay Hair Salon

boudoir session photo reveal

A boudoir session with me actually comes with two exciting events. Your boudoir session time slot and your photo reveal! A.k.a. Photo Celebration!

So what is a photo reveal you ask? This is a time where we get back together at the studio, about 2 weeks after your session, to reveal and get to finally see your finished images! I love getting to help my clients through this entire process so it’s as easy as possible for them.

We pop some bubbly, indulge in a few treats and celebrate your awesome images! I like to show a slideshow of my favorite images from your session first and then I reveal your full amazing, awesome, incredible gallery.

I also have all of the beautiful, luxurious products out for you to see and touch and feel. Today is when you decide on the best options for your significant other. You can pick from things like a Luxe fine art album, the Gold heirloom glass photo box, or the Gold crystal thumb drive that includes your digital images. So much to choose from, it’s hard to pick just one! Not to mention the fun Custom Viewmaster!

Then once you decide on your perfect gifts, we work together to build them at your reveal.So I also lend my expertise when it comes to deciding on the perfect gift and building it. That way when you leave the studio, your products are ordered and are on their way! Easy peasy!

Still have questions about doing a session with me? Visit my FAQ page or leave me a question below!

how to prep your skin for a boudoir session

Hello everyone!  I am Chelsea King, aesthetician and sugarist at Dermasweet here in Wilmington, NC. I’m thrilled to get the opportunity to talk to you about the best ways to prep your skin for a photo shoot. Not many think of this vital step of prepping your skin when it comes having to a stress-free session with Dana. Whether this is for a boudoir session, your wedding day, or just a special event, here are some great tips to get that glow that every girl wants.

EXFOLIATE.

Most women have their cleansing and moisturizing routine, but so many forget to take the time to exfoliate! Depending on the type of exfoliator being used, you want to exfoliate anywhere from 1 to 4 times a week. Most people are familiar with mechanical exfoliators (the ones with a little grit). For those with sensitive skin, you want to use an enzyme exfoliator (usually no grit) that is gentler on your skin. Here are ones I recommend using below. Be sure to choose one based on your skin type.

  1. Image Skincare’s Ageless Total Resurfacing Masque
  2. Pacifica’s Glow Baby Youthful Face Scrub
  3. Image Skincare’s Iluma Intense Brightening Exfoliating Powder

 

APPLY A MASK.

Sheet masks are all the rage at the moment! You’ll see a ton of celebrities looking like mummies with this odd paper mask on their face before an event or photoshoot. Although there are a ton of options out there, most people use them for 2 purposes: to brighten or hydrate the skin. Sheet masks are a fun way to treat your skin’s needs, forcing you to sit back and relax. If you’re anything like me, you’re always on the go, looking for the next quick easy thing to do. But when it comes to your skin (and your sanity), just take a moment to sit back and let these masks do all the work.

  1. Brightening: 100 Percent Pure’s Ginseng Collagen Boost Mask
  2. Hydrating: 100 Percent Pure’s Green Tea Water Bomb Mask

 

HYDRATE.

Whether you consider yourself oily or dry, your skin needs hydration- especially from the inside out! Drinking plenty of water will help keep your skin clear and supple for a photoshoot or big event. Also, using these mists will help give your skin a boost of hydration.

  1. Tarte’s Ready, Set, Radiant Skin Mist
  2. Evian’s Natural Mineral Water Facial Spray
  3. Whamisa’s Organic Flowers Damask Rose Petal Mist

 

FACIAL.

Facials are essential to your skincare routine. Many find it to be more of a luxury than a necessity, but it is so beneficial for your skin! When my clients at Dermasweet need to look their best, they come to get their skin in shape- extracting those clogged pores that are appearing larger, brightening the skin tone, and hydrating to keep the skin that desired glow. The go-to service for any event would be the Derma-Deep Facial.  After a consultation, we will decide on the best enzyme exfoliant to use on your skin to help correct any imbalance in the skin and achieve maximum results. This is also a great option if you find trying to buy skincare a bit overwhelming.

 

SUGARING.

Try to avoid shaving those delicate areas. Most of you have heard of waxing, but I want to let you in on a secret that’s a little sweeter for the skin when it comes to hair removal. Sugaring paste is made of sugar, lemon juice, and water. You would apply this in the opposite direction of hair growth and pull in the same direction of hair growth. Many of my clients prefer this all-natural form of hair removal since it causes less trauma to the skin. It’s not hot, so less irritation occurs during and after the service. From your brows to your bikini, sugaring is a wonderful alternative for getting rid of those unwanted hairs. You can check out an overview of this service along with some tips before booking your appointment here: https://dermasweetnc.com

 

TRIAL RUN.

This is probably the most important advice I could give. If you’re buying a new product or getting a service done by a professional, you need to have a trial run, weeks before any photos are taken. This is crucial. Everyone’s skin is unique in its own way, so anything out of the ordinary routine may cause unwanted irritation for the first time. You want to try out new products and services at least 4 weeks before your shoot, giving your skin time to adjust and see its reaction.

 

RESEARCH.

Please see a professional who is certified in sugaring (or waxing, depending on which route you take) for your hair removal needs. It takes a lot of skill and practice to execute the sugaring service and it is not something they teach in school. Do your research! That goes for facials as well! Make sure they are licensed estheticians before booking an appointment so you can feel safe knowing they are experienced in their field.

 

I hope this is helpful for you all!  If you have any skin related questions, I’m happy to help!  Visit dermasweetnc.com or email me at dermasweetnc@gmail.com.

book boudoir session

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be going through a few common questions about boudoir sessions that I get asked a lot about on the blog. So if you have one that you want answered and don’t see on my FAQ page, then feel free to leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer it!

One of the most important things you should know is when to book your boudoir session. After all, if you can’t get your gift in time then what good is it?

The best time to book your session is at least 5-6 weeks before the time you actually need your gift in your hands.

Once you’ve had your session, you’ll come back into the studio about 2-3 weeks after your session for your photo reveal. This is when you’ll get to see all of your images, pick your favorites, see the products in person and choose the perfect gifts! Then that gives me about 2 weeks to build, order and have your products shipped in time.

You can book and reserve your session date at any time, so long as the session itself is at least 5 weeks out from the time that you need your products. The session fee is required to reserve your date and acts as your deposit.

Easy peasy! Stay tuned to next week’s Q&A and leave any questions you have in the comments!