A Lesson in Being Brave: An Indy Mom’s Candid Boudoir Photo Shoot

What do I have to say to convince you to book a boudoir session? I asked myself what I would have to hear from someone before I decided to pull the trigger. Know what I landed on?


There is literally nothing that anyone could have said to me to convince me to book a session. After all, I’m a mother of two, a work-from-home (mostly) mom, a wife, a coffee drinker by day, and a wine drinker by night. I have set schedules and agendas daily. I have a one-year-old that constantly needs to have someone within two feet of him at all times, or he’ll start plotting which blood-curdling scream is necessary to get my attention. I have a five year old that just lost her first tooth and decided to get her ears pierced, all in the same week. I’m not ready for that one to grow up. I have a household that won’t run itself. I would love to get to the gym more. I am the grocery shopper. The nose wiper. The homework helper. The school dropper offer. The school picker upper. The dish washer loader (and sometimes unloader). The laundry folder. The bedtime schedule ambassador.

I. Am. Mom.

I barely have time to get my hair cut and colored, but I find that when I do, I feel like a new woman. It’s just getting me there that proves to be a constant struggle. Same goes for manicures, pedicures, and just about any other effort that is required to put myself first.

So, back to the juicy stuff. I am a fan of Cindy Johnson Boudoir Photography on Facebook. A couple of my close friends had experienced photo shoots with her. I would always look at the photos she took in absolute awe. I pretty much always had the same reaction to every photo: “Oh, she’s brave. Man, she’s beautiful. Ugh. I’d love to do it, but I don’t have the guts.”

Then, you know what happened? I. GOT. THE. GUTS. I had read many testimonials on Cindy’s page and I had cyber-stalked her Facebook page to the point that I was even creeping myself out. The one thing that I constantly read from women was, “Hey, if I can do it, you can do it. I’m the last person to be this brave, and I’m telling you…if I can do it, you can do it!”  At some point, this stopped being words, and I began to listen. I started picturing myself in their shoes, after a shoot, and being able to say, “If I can do it, you can do it. “ And it worked. I scheduled a shoot.

Three things you should know about me:

  1. I’m incredibly self-conscious and insecure.
  2. I had a baby a year ago (read: stretch marks and hair regrowth weirdness. Need I say more?).
  3. I wasn’t ready.

Now that you know that, here was my experience:

I hit Cindy up on her Facebook page. She and I had chatted before, but I could never commit. I finally said, “Eh, what the heck…” and did it. November 1st was to be my fateful day. I had two months to get my body to a place where I was comfortable. I had two months to grow my hair out a bit. Two months to look rested (HA!).b-37-of-81

Those two months flew by. Well, at least my hair had grown a bit. Next thing I know, it’s Halloween. I have one day before my shoot. I have my new pretty unmentionables de-tagged and in the car. I have my heels (yeahhh buddy) in the car and ready to go.

Did I mention it was Halloween? The kids have a successful night of trick or treating. I have pterodactyls in my belly, knowing that my shoot was the next day. I dress up like a cat with a goofy headband and an excuse to wear glitter eyeshadow and winged eyeliner. We go home for the night, five year old in a sugar coma, and all is well.

Next morning: Glitter. Eyeshadow. I had that stupid cat glitter eyeshadow in my eye. Not the brightest idea I’ve ever had. I didn’t let it stop me. I drove to Cindy’s house and she welcomed me with a huge hug, and immediately told me she was proud of me. I was already feeling better about this. Cindy led me back to her sunroom studio in her beautiful farmhouse. We laid out my “clothes” and got down to business.

Cindy turned on a Beyonce station to get the mood right (By the way, she’ll turn on whatever music you prefer!) I met Millie, a foster cat that has lived with Cindy for two years (I’m betting this sweet kitty really has a permanent home at the Johnson residence.) I hadn’t prepared myself for the sudden inability to care if I had pants on or not. My eyes were on the prize, and I was going to ROCK. THIS. And, I have to tell you—once I got my mind in the game, I really did start to realize—it’s just skin. Cindy had said this to me a few times. It finally resonated, and I figured if I was there, I was going to go for it.

IT. WAS. SO. FUN. I never, in a bazillion years, thought that I would do something like this. Ever. Never. No way. But, I did. And it was amazing. I am telling you—IF I CAN DO IT, YOU CAN DO IT. Believe these words. There is a reason that so many of Cindy’s clients say that. It’s because it’s true.b-8-of-81

Fast forward. There is an entirely different emotional experience that happened that I wasn’t prepared for. The pictures. I got my pictures back and I teared up. As soon as I saw them, I sent Cindy a message and told her I had never felt so beautiful. The photos are going to be a present for my husband, and I’m having a hard time keeping it a secret (so, shhh!). The next layer of surprising emotion and newly discovered confidence came when Cindy asked to post a few pics to her Facebook page. I told her she could. I figured, the hard part was over. Why not? I was nervous to be so exposed, but I wanted to keep riding the “brave wave.” The outpouring of love, support, inspiration, and empowerment that came from the comments on the photos were UNBELIEVABLE…

Exhibit A: I have never seen my legs as attractive. In fact, they’re my biggest problem area, and I can honestly say I hate them. However, Cindy posted a pic of me where my legs were mostly showing. There were women commenting on the photo telling me that they WISHED THEY HAD MY LEGS. Umm..what?

Exhibit B: I wear glasses. I need them. I can’t see, and I won’t wear contacts, because I have a fear of sticking my fingers in my eyes (see glitter debacle above). I debated wearing glasses in the shoot, but I felt like I risked squinting on accident if I didn’t wear them, so I went for it. If I looked dorky, oh well. The comments on the photos were nothing less than the following:  “Oh my gosh! She’s so hot! And there’s just something about a woman in glasses.” UM…WHAT, WHAT?

I am not going to lie…I felt very vulnerable. Very exposed. But also very LOVED. Very empowered. I had no idea that there would be so many warm, fuzzy layers to this experience. And my husband hasn’t even seen the photos yet! 

I am here to tell you that if you’re thinking about it, DO IT. Life is simply too short. And Cindy—thank you. Thank you for turning me from ‘Super Mommy’ into a ‘Super Model,’ if only for an hour and a half (with pictures to last a lifetime). I hoped to feel beautiful, but I never expected to feel so loved.

If you’re ready for an amazing, get-me-out-of-my-comfort-zone experience, you can find Cindy here: www.cindyjohnsonboudoirphotography.com

You can also visit her Facebook page here: @cindyjohnsonboudoirphotography. Follow her on Instagram at @cindyjohnsonboudoirphotog.

Cindy also photographs families, maternity, couples boudoir, men, weddings, and more. Feel free to peruse her galleries, and if you find yourself saying, “Man, I wish I could be that brave,” I’m here to tell you: you are that brave. You’re you, you’re beautiful, and you won’t regret it.

Love, Audra <3

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