How a sexy, boudoir photo-shoot help me to completely transform my life
A South Yorkshire mum of three has revealed how a sexy, boudoir photo shoot has turned her life around.
Nicola Birtles said: “My self-esteem was at an all time low, I had no confidence, there was no way I could go out socialising.
“Looking back it is hard to realise that person was me as I have completely turned my life-around - and it really was all thanks to a boudoir photoshoot.
“It made me realise that actually I am a beautiful person and I deserve better.”
It is surprising then to think that Barnsley mum-of-three Nicola, 38, had always hated having her photograph taken and her gran is the only person in possession of a rare family snap featuring her.
So it was quite a turnaround when she decided to take part in a boudoir themed photo-shoot in which she would wear sexy lingerie and pose seductively in a bedroom setting.
She was nervous about revealing herself in such a way - especially as she never even felt worthy to own any nice underwear, nevermind show it off to strangers.
It was a major step for her but one she is delighted to have taken as it completely changed her outlook on life for the better.
She explained: “I was going through a rough patch. I was living at the other side of the country to my family, down in Devon with my three children, but I knew deep down I was not me and I was not happy.
“I felt I didn’t have a life of my own but because I was so low I didn’t see a way out. My self-esteem was rock bottom - I was never told I looked nice, and if I made an effort I sometimes wondered why I had bothered.
“I didn’t really have friends and never felt like I was worthy of going out with any because I felt so down.
“I was getting depressed so I went back to Barnsley to visit family members and by chance I saw an advert for a boudoir photo-shoot at Stan Plus Stan Two Photography. I just thought I would love to do that but didn’t think I would have the nerve to.
“I knew the studio because when my three children were younger I took them for a photo-shoot and remembered the staff were lovely. My family said - ‘you should do it you should do something for you’ - so I took the plunge and am so glad I did.
Shelley and Stan Bulmer are a husband and wife team who offer a range of photo-shoots at their studios in Shambles Street, Barnsley.
They have been in business for 40 years and so are experienced at helping clients feel relaxed especially during the boudoir shoots they offer, which many women feel nervous about.
While Stan takes the photographs Shelley advises the client, helps them with poses and even assists them in choosing the right outfits to make them look their very best - all while being very relaxed and friendly.
Nicola said: “I was absolutely terrified but thought I really needed to do it for me - in a way to grab my life back.
“I even felt out of my comfort zone buying nice underwear because it was something I had never done, so was nervous about that.
“But I need not have worried I had my make-up and hair done which made me feel great and then Shelley and Stan were brilliant at making me feel relaxed.
“After having the photographs taken and seeing the results I was honestly gobsmacked. It was such a turning-point, I actually realised that I am a beautiful person and deserve so much more in life - I should do what makes me happy.
“It really did change my attitude and that in turn transformed my life.
“For once I felt worthy and it helped me take control of my life and I made a decision to leave Devon and moved back to Barnsley.
“I buy myself nice clothes and underwear now, I go out with friends and do things that were totally alien to me a few years before.
“I even went on holiday with my children recently to Egypt and for the first time in my life was comfortable wearing a bikini.
“The photo-shoot provided me with the confidence boost I so desperately needed and I know so many women have said the same thing.
“It was a key turning point in my life and I would say to anyone thinking about it - to just do it as it will empower you.
“It doesn’t matter what shape and size you are - you are beautiful and the photos will prove that. I really believe everyone needs to feel like that - it makes life so much more fulfilling and I really haven’t looked back since.”
“I have now booked my mum in for a shoot and some friends because I want everyone to feel as amazing.”
Journalist Cheryl Hague tried a boudoir photo-shoot for herself to see how she found the experience:
“As someone who in the past didn’t really like being in front of the camera - the idea of taking part in a boudoir photo-shoot was definitely going to push me out of my comfort zone,” she said.
“I think that was the appeal of being a journalist to a certain extent, I could stay safely at the other side of the camera.
“So the idea of me as a middle-aged mum of two stripping off and wearing sexy underwear in front of strangers while posing in a seductive bedroom scene was a little worrying.
“But I knew others had tried it and said it was such a positive experience so I decided to give it a go. I mean what did I have to lose apart from my clothes - oh and a few inhibitions!
“I had my hair and make-up done before at the studios by a lovely make-up artist who helped to put me at ease. Then husband and wife team Stan and Shelley, who run Stan Plus Stan 2, in Barnsley, were great at making me feel relaxed and their experience shone through.
“Shelley helped me to decide which outfits to put on for which scenes and helped me with various poses while Stan snapped away.
“After a few minutes I felt quite relaxed and found the process surprisingly easy and pleasant. Having gone through the experience and seeing the results I really can see the appeal- it really made me see myself in a different light.
“I think I realised I was actually more than my main role of working mum - I am all woman too! I think this is something during the course of a busy lifestyle all ladies forget about this and it is brilliant to be reminded that there are more dimensions to you.
“I didn’t even recognise myself in some of the shots because it is so different to how I have come to see myself.
“There is one shot which taken from behind I am leaning into a wall with my back arched which I loved - but having never seen myself like that it was quite a shock, albeit a pleasant one.
“In another, I am laid on a bed with the white sheet fully covering anything deemed sexual but it is very similar to the Douglas Kirkland photographs taken of Marilyn Monroe - who I am a huge fan of - so it was quite something to see myself in a similar famous pose.
“I can see why everyone who has experienced a boudoir shoot says it gave them a confidence boost. It is really empowering to feel glamorous and feminine and more so in this type of environment.
“The only thing I was nervous about was whether or not to let my daughters see the photographs I was a bit sure of how they would react - even though they know I wear less on the beach and that is deemed acceptable.
“When my youngest, aged 12, saw them she said ‘ooo those are naughty photos’ and I said ‘yes I had them done for work’ - she then turned round and said: ‘Oh I didn’t realise they were you I thought they were of a proper model’, which made me smile.
My eldest, who is 15, loved them and said anything that promotes body confidence in a woman has to be a good thing.
She is completely right, of course, and as many women who have taken part in the experience have said - that positivity is a great boost which can help them in other aspects of their life.
Photos: Stan Plus Stan 2