It all started with Victoria's Secret...
When I went off to college, I was only 17 and no one would give me a credit card, not even for emergencies.
After shopping in their catalog for a year, Victoria's Secret sent me a letter that said, "You are pre-approved!" So, they gave me my first credit card ever, and my love of all things feminine and sexy began to blossom.
I had grown up in a very practical setting: things like fancy lingerie were not necessities, and so we simply didn't splurge on them.
Well, I was also the kind of kid who loved pink and loved being girly, even though I could throw a solid punch and climb a tree like a tomboy. I longed to explore this more feminine side of myself, and well... If buying cute bra and panty sets let me do that, then I would do that!
After years and years of looking at classy lingerie catalogs, and my first-ever credit card had evolved to VIP customer status, I did a boudoir shoot (in front of the camera, not behind it), and ended up loving it.
Sure, it was a bit scary at first, getting shot in my underwear. Even phrasing it like that sounds terrifying! So trust me, I know exactly how you feel. But the photos were meant for a first-anniversary gift, so I braved the wild unknown, for the sake of my husband, who loved the work of classic pin-up artists like Vargas and Petty and Elvgren.
The photos turned out better than I'd expected. The photographer even wanted to put a 20" x 30" print of me up in her studio.
I asked her not to because my job at the time was prominent in the community and I worked with a lot of children. The last thing I needed was one of my kids looking up at the studio wall and saying to her mom, "Hey, that's Miss Melanie! But, why is she in her underwear?"
So that's why I developed my policy of only showcasing clients images if they give their blessing.
A few years later, a photographer friend asked if I would be her model, because she wanted to add boudoir to her list of services. By that point, I'd become a mother, and so it was more frightening the first time because my body had changed. A lot.
This time, it was to help a friend out. But this time, it was also for me.
You see, by then, I'd split up from my husband, we'd filed for divorce, and I needed to learn to see myself through a fresh pair of eyes: My own.
Almost 7 years had passed since that first session, and both time and motherhood had left their marks.
I needed to get on board with the new me and learn to love her, rather than clinging to a version of myself that only existed in memory.
I also needed to find beauty and confidence in an aspect of myself that wasn't intended to attract a man's eye.
That session turned out even better than the first one, and I think the biggest reason why was because the woman who was taking the photos really understood me. She knew me personally before I got in front of her lens. She knew exactly what I was going through at the time. She took a more artistic approach toward crafting the images.
I helped her by being willing to help her build up her portfolio, but that session helped me to build a new sense of self-esteem that was independent of being in a relationship.
I almost cried when I saw the images for the first time.
And for that, I was forever grateful.
Shortly after that, I picked up a camera and began shooting other women in boudoir sessions, and I loved that most of all!
My favorite moment is always during the viewing, when a client gets that look of complete and total surprise as she sees her images the first time and says, "Oh, my God! I'm gorgeous!"
Sometimes, there are even tears in her eyes at that moment.
And, you know, I know exactly how she feels.
So, what do I do?
I get to show women how beautiful they are.
There is no better way to earn a living!