I love quality girl time! Bring on the pampering, hair and makeup, snacks and drinks (well, not if you’re prego :)! Katie and her sister-in-law, Sarah, are both pregnant with girls! Sarah flew out from California to spend the week with Katie and Katie surprised her with a maternity session! What a fun experience to have and share in together! You may have seen Katie’s session from a few weeks ago. It was so much fun to get to document this time in their lives and help them feel their most beautiful. They opted for in-studio shots and fun outside shots as well. The best of both worlds! I can’t wait to see them both holding their beautiful baby girls together soon!

Hair + Makeup//Danielle Forte

I don’t normally blog on Fridays but I have a pretty good reason to post today because today happens to be our 10 year wedding anniversary! Wow, how has it been 10 years already?! I don’t think I’ve ever shared our wedding so I thought today would be a good day to do that. Everyone thought we were crazy for getting engaged so fast but we knew it was right! We actually met at the Raleigh airport on the way to a mission trip to Mexico – how we didn’t meet before that I’ll never know! We remained friends throughout the next couple of years and then slowly began spending more time together. We both felt like the Lord was leading us into a more serious relationship so we began dating my junior year of college. And just a few months later, I was studying abroad in France when Michael flew over to surprise me and propose on my last day there! Of course I said “Yes!”. It seems like such a lifetime ago yet it seems like just yesterday. Our wedding was the most fun I’ve ever had in one day and I loved that all of our family and friends were able to share that with us. I couldn’t image having spent these last 10 years with anyone else. We’re as opposite as can be but it works. You love me the best you can and I support and respect you as much as I can. You calm me down when I need it most, keep me from always jumping head first, and always let me know how much I’ve loved and I push you out of your shell, encourage you to go for your dreams and laugh at all of your jokes. Whatever life might have in store for us, I know I can get through it with you by my side. Here’s to 10 million more years with you!

Images//Tracy Turpen

It seems like it’s baby season around here! I’m photographing lots of pregnant mamas but I love it! Katie came to document her pregnancy from Jacksonville and also brought along her sister-in-law, who’s also pregnant. And they’re both having girls! We made it a day of pampering for them both with hair and makeup from Danielle Forte and pictures in the studio as well as out in the neighborhood. Who doesn’t want to feel beautiful and be pampered when you’re probably feeling a little uncomfortable at this point! I can’t wait to share her sister-in-law’s pictures with you next week!

Hair + Makeup//Danielle Forte Makeup Artist

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

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