The Business of Boudoir »

I felt like a cougar looking at catnip.


My words stumbled out of my mouth, I fumbled with my camera and I struggled with where to even start. Standing there with my camera in my hands, I’m certain that there is only one word that would accurately describe the look that had to be on my face.


Damn.  He’s hot.

Ok. Sit here, against this lovely, uncomfortable radiator. Umm, how do I want you to sit? Shit. I don’t know. Sit there like a man would sit.  [SNAP]


Umm. No. SHIT. I’m not connecting with him. What should I do? I know! Snap another!



By this point I’m sweating like a whore in church. I’m frustrated and STILL stumbling through my direction. I was NERVOUS.

Here, I couldn’t rely on my same’ole bag of tricks that would’ve had me through the first outfit in half the time it had taken me to shoot this crap. It wasn’t him. It was ME! I’m the professional. I’m the one who directs the client, puts her at ease and coaxes the sexy out of even the shyest of sex-kittens. But here – I was failing and I knew it. I was so frustrated with the fact that I was struggling that I forgot to just calm the hell down and do what I do.


Truth be told – in the months prior to Colten’s session I’d been bored with my work. For client sessions, I’m all business. I have a very tight shoot flow and shoot for the sale. Sounds great right? In a way it is – but, while I’m solely focused on feeding my family, I’m starving the artist. The artist who yearns to explore unchartered territory, chasing the high that comes with nailing a shot so epic you’ve even impressed your future grand-children.

I decided to take on this project as part favor, part challenge. Colten, at the time, was an aspiring model. He’d just signed on with a local talent agency and was building his modeling portfolio. The owner of the talent agency is a friend of mine and Colten needed some images to show off his sexy side and I needed a change of pace. Aside from the men who come with their female counterparts for couples sessions, I’d never shot a man’s boudoir session. I had no idea that I would be as nervous as I was and never dreamed that I would miserably fumble through the first half of that session.


It’s ok to struggle.  It means that you’re stepping outside of your comfort zone and taking risks. Without risk there is no growth and we become stagnant and stagnant is not a happy place, believe me, it’s a feeling I battle all the time because I find myself constantly operating inside my comfort zone where I know I’m a rock star and won’t fail because it’s become as automatic as breathing.

Wow. I said that. Outloud n’shit.  

Back to Colten and this painfully awkward start of a session. What did I do? How did I finish the session without wasting his time and disappointing us both with mediocre imagery?


I excused myself for a quick break – lied – told him I had to make a quick call, please go grab a coke and chill for a minute. Once outside my studio door I took a deep breath and gave myself a little ego-stroking pep talk while literally trying to shake off the tension that was building and giving me a killer headache. I literally put a fake-ass smile on my face and returned to Colten determined to not fail. Ya know that saying – fake it till ya make it.  It works. The fake smile soon became real and I relaxed enough to admit that I was so focused on not posing him like a girl that I was coming up blank…. and then it happened. He put his arms up on the elevator gate and stood there like a guy.

SHIT. That’s it! Do that. Don’t move, don’t even breathe! [SNAP]

With one shot, I regained my confidence and forgot my frustrations.  I began to behave like myself again and shot the remainder of the session in my normal, assured manner.  I shot like Petra shoots.

Here are my faves from the session:




P.S. – Imagine my thoughts as I found out that Colten is only a few days younger than my eldest son. Yeah. Shit.







Petra Herrmann

The Business of Boudoir co-founder, Petra Herrmann, owns and operates Bella Boudoir located in Kansas City. In addition to running her studio, Petra also teaches through Level Up, a master class aimed at shooting smart and shooting to sell. Petra is the proud inspiration for FloricolorUSA's Boudoir Collection and is known for her naughty, voyeuristic, and romantic style of capture.

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  • February 23, 2015 - 2:05 PM

    tara - LOVE these Petra! You are a breath of fresh air! These are stunning and so is he.ReplyCancel

  • March 23, 2015 - 2:09 PM

    Elizabeth Zimmerman - Wow! I love this! Photographing men is so hard for me — boudoir or not! Really well done.ReplyCancel

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