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In response to “the letter” from the husband to the boudoir photographer about over-Photoshopping his wife

If you’re a boudoir photographer, chances are pretty good that at least a handful of people have posted a link to “the letter”–the one from the husband to the photographer, writing about his dissatisfaction with the retouching she did on his wife’s boudoir photos. (Read it HERE.)

Victoria Caroline Boudoir, based near San Antonio, Texas, wrote a viral Facebook post on Oct. 7, 2015, which detailed an email she received from the husband of a local “public figure” (later disclosed in the media when asked why the husband and wife hadn’t come forward). The wife had done a boudoir session as a Christmas gift for him. At her session, Victoria Caroline says in her post, “She came to me, looked me straight in the eyes, and said, ‘I want you to photoshop all of my cellulite, all of my angry red stretch marks, ALL of my fat, and all of my wrinkles….just make it go away. I want to feel gorgeous just ONCE.'”

So, the boudoir photographer did exactly what the client asked her to do. Then, the husband purportedly writes an email to the photographer, stating that when he opened the album of photos from his wife, who had told him that he doesn’t compliment her enough and who is worried that he will leave her for another woman, his heart sank … because of the retouching.

Sweet, huh? Maybe not.

By the third time I read this post, I was feeling a bit “ragey” about it. Here’s why.


(c) Lynn Clark Boudoir, Denver Colorado

Notes: This is my photo and my client, who felt similarly to this woman. I had her photos edited more heavily than usual because she wanted it. And you know what her husband did? Called me, thanked me, and ordered  more. Because that’s what loving husbands do when they want to support their wives.

Also, if you want to watch me talk about this with much animation instead of reading a 2500-word post, you may want to watch my Periscope cast from 10/12/15. The first 20 minutes are good, then I wander off a bit.

Where do the woman’s feelings come into play?

When a woman comes to me to do a boudoir session, even if she’s doing it as a gift for someone, she’s ALWAYS doing it for herself. Some clients say it straight up when they’re booking, others when they see their photos. Every woman I photograph–just like Victoria Caroline Boudoir’s client–wants to see herself as gorgeous and sexy.

The husband does not address any of these points. The letter is all about his dismay over his wife’s missing stretch marks, laugh lines, cellulite and fat. I want to know:

  1. When she saw her photos, did she feel sexy, beautiful and confident?
  2. Did she feel empowered? How has her life changed for the positive?
  3. How did her marriage improve? Is her sex life better? Does she have better orgasms (or actually has orgasms)?
  4. Does she stand taller? Has she stopped beating herself up a bit when she looks in the mirror?
  5. How’s her self-confidence now?

My clients have reported back to me months or years after their session that the process of being photographed and having beautiful, sensual photos of herself have helped her do everything from rock a bikini at the neighborhood pool after spending years covered up in sweats, to quitting a job, to starting a business, to improving her relationship with her significant other.

If I could reach the wife, I’d say this: You are brave not only for doing a boudoir session, but also for asking for what you want. And I’d also say, I’m sorry that your husband couldn’t see and praise that bravery for what it is and kept his mouth shut otherwise. I hope your heart is OK.

Photoshop is a great thing in boudoir photography

Dear husband: If you think that by removing your wife’s cellulite you’re losing documentation of a big part of your relationship, I feel sad for her. Because she’s the one who is living in the “flawed” body you say you love. She’s the one who feels self-conscious about the cellulite and stretch marks. She’s the one who feels uncomfortable with that tummy roll and hates herself for it. She’s the one who probably looks in the mirror every morning and says mean things to herself about her laziness, lack of self-control, ugliness, undesirability. From your own letter, your marriage needs some spicing up. You’re complicit there, buddy.

When I started out as a boudoir photographer in 2010, my photos were horribly over-retouched (in Picnik, for god’s sake). For the most part, today I outsource my retouching, and I’m much more careful in my instructions about how much to do in terms of wrinkle and cellulite mitigation, body shaping and skin smoothing. I prefer a light hand that maintains the woman’s body shape, and softens all of the details our HD cameras pick up (but are unseen by the human eye).

I believe that when women see photos of themselves the first thing they look at is the parts of their bodies that they do not like. That could be a spider vein or cellulite, or the pooch of her tummy or wrinkles around her mouth. I want her to look beyond those “flaws” to see their real beauty. So that’s what I do.

Every woman compares herself to women on the magazine covers–we know this. But until we see photos of ourselves that are produced in the same manner as those photos, we’re comparing apples to oranges. The beauty of boudoir photography is that it’s not all about retouching. Photoshop is just a tool in our arsenal, which also includes wardrobe styling, hair makeup, posing, lighting, angles and direction for emotion. You know, all of the things involved in a commercial fashion shoot. The resulting photos are closer to that magazine cover than any other portrait she’ll ever have made.

There is a line however: changing body size, manipulating body shape into something that’s far from the woman’s natural shape, removing all facial lines and wrinkles, removing freckles, removing scars unless she asks for it, smoothing skin until it looks like Barbie’s, removing the entire shadow under the eye to give someone alien eyes (this is my new no-no).

Seriously: Let’s say you just paid me $2500 for a boudoir session and associated products. Do you really want the first thing you notice to be all of the stuff I’ve circled in red? Or the gorgeous shape of your legs? I say B.


My friend Danea from Boudoir Coterie wrote a brilliant post about boudoir retouching, which you can read here. She writes:

“But stretch marks, scars and cellulite are part of a woman’s story.” Yes, they absolutely are. However, that doesn’t mean they need to be seen in a photograph. Heck, in my head during sexy time, I look and feel like I did in my 20’s; before my c-section scar and pregnancy belly(can I still call it that 6 years later?). I have a body crippled from RA, covered in scars and deformities, cellulite and now veins and age spots but I certainly don’t want to spend my money on a photo shoot for all of that to be seen forever in print.

It does not mean I am ashamed of my body or my past. I am proud as hell about what I have accomplished and overcome to be where I am today. Wanting to see yourself with fabulous hair, makeup and flawless skin, is not something to be ashamed of like we are being told it is. It’s about seeing ourselves for the sexy confident women we know we are or strive to be. It’s about polishing those little daily insecurities, so we can see how beautiful we truly are.”

As my friend and co-founder Petra Herrmann says, “Women have boudoir photographs taken for fantasy. If they wanted reality, they’d take a mirror selfie.”

The message from the husband is all about shame. Don’t we women get enough shame?

Dear husband, you are cruel. As much as I hate this f-ing letter and the gushy responses to it, Victoria Caroline Boudoir has skills. I am sure that the wife’s photos were gorgeous.

But the husband doesn’t care. All he cares about is by taking away her cellulite he took away her love of baking, that by taking away her wrinkles, she took away documentation of her life. No more fat? No more documentation of her children. Gag. And at the end, he’s going to celebrate her “flaws.” Right. Let’s start that by looking at the photos and recognizing the love and courage it took for your wife to give it to him

Because doing a boudoir session is an act of COURAGE THAT SHOULD BE CELEBRATED.

So, he shames her for asking for retouching. (Because that’s what she paid the photographer good money to do!) And then he shames the photographer for doing the retouching she was paid to do.

Am I reading between the lines? Maybe. But from my own personal experience, I recognize the language of shaming. A loving husband would never write this letter. He’d kiss his wife and say thank you, you’re gorgeous, and keep other opinions to himself.

And: This was a gift! A Christmas gift, one that we as women may obsess over for a long time to get it just right. An expensive Christmas gift? Aunt Edna may have knitted you the most god-awful sweater, but I’m pretty sure you’ll wear it when she comes over without a grumble to her face. Show some respect just for that.

Listen, dude (who doesn’t want to be identified for whatever reason). Stop shaming your wife. Stop shaming the photographer. Just stop.

The photos included with the post are incongruent with the post’s message

Come on. If you’re talking about a plus-sized client, don’t use the photo of a woman who very obviously sacrifices and works out to have a perfectly shaped butt and tummy and legs (by media standards). I’m sorry, but that woman does not have a love of eating her baked goods and Halloween candy. I’m guessing she eats a lot of kale and does Cross-Fit and has a small piece of cake on her birthday.

Mysteriously, the original post was removed (despite being shared nearly 200,000 times). But none of the photographer’s images that have been attached to the photos have been of a size 18 woman, and they’ve definitely not been mildly retouched images of anyone. I honestly couldn’t care less how much retouching any photographer does. I do care about hypocrisy when you are speaking on behalf of an entire industry.


The only thing about this post and letter that I don’t call bullshit on is part of the PS the photographer writes at the end.

“Ladies, I can photoshop just about anything. But I encourage you to think twice about how much “altering” we do. Our loved ones cherish and adore us just as we are … and I cried like a baby with guilt for at least 6 months after that whenever I read it. I encourage you to embrace YOU just as you are!

…oh, and just in case you don’t have anyone telling you how beautiful you are tonight….YOU ARE SO DAMN BEAUTIFUL!!!!”

This I can get behind.

What other boudoir photographers are saying

I have yet to read a single reaction from a boudoir photographer about this letter that wasn’t negative. (Many state that the letter sounds like it was written by a woman, and seriously doubt the credibility, especially since the people won’t disclose themselves.) On Oct. 12, I posted in a Facebook group asking if others were feeling a little pissed off about it, and I found out I was definitely not alone. Many posted the same reasons I have here.

When I’ve posted my opposing response to all of the gushing about it, I’ve been told to shut the fuck up. I’ve been told that I’m jealous, I carry negativity wherever I go, and that I’m reading too much into it. Basically, again, to shut the fuck up. So have many other photographers who have discussed what happens when the post an opposing opinion about the letter.

Sorry. Not going to happen.


“Okay sure it’s awesome that the “husband” took another look and really appreciated his wife’s natural beauty but it’s totally discrediting the the wife’s feelings and reasoning behind the shoot. Sure I don’t really like to over edit, I like to keep it as natural as possible with just a few filters to change the feel but not everyone is like that and if a woman wanted a lot of editing done I would do it. She’s the client and she wants to feel beautiful. Anyone and everyone can tell her she is but unless she gets something to make her believe it then you’ve fallen short of your job. Just my 2 cents.”

From Stacey Ingram, Simply-Boudoir

“TLDR: I photoshopped his wife’s boudoir photos and he loved them and her no less. (watch video)

Yes, I’ve seen the article from the “husband” who’s wife had a boudoir shoot and was upset that her images were edited. In all honesty, I seriously doubt the validity of the article, but that is neither here nor there.

I have and will always retouch the images of my clients in a tasteful manner that reflects back to them how their lovers and loved ones see them. When we look at someone we love we easily look past their “flaws” and love them regardless. On top of that, I am here to make my clients happy first and foremost. If she decides to share those images with her SO then that is just icing on the cake, but her self worth and confidence will come first to me above all else.

This is the video I have shared before but I think is important to share again. This is proof and the husband of an actual client who was presented with an album for their 20 year anniversary. Through those 20 years, he has seen his wife give birth to their beautiful children and she has aged as we all do. Regardless of that, he loves her and the images I captured of her were not devalued simply because they were retouched. It didn’t take edited images to remind him that his wife is beautiful and worthy. Those images reflected back to him exactly what he sees when he looks at her, and I am honored to gift them both with those images to have and love forever.

We all know what our scars, stretch marks, dimples, etc. look like but we do not need to be reminded of them when we look at a beautiful image of ourselves. That doesn’t mean they aren’t okay or aren’t beautiful as well, but we all deserve to see ourselves how others do. We all deserve to see the beauty in ourselves that is there beyond the flaws and after the children are birthed and heartaches pass. Tasteful retouching is not shameful nor does it erase the honesty of the person photographed.”

From Ashley Cox

“What I also want to know, is if the client wouldn’t give her permission to share an anonymous image.. how did she get permission from the husband to post the letter and make it go viral?” ~Ashley Cox

From Missy Mwac

“Your wife didn’t take these pictures for you.

Sure, you were the recipient of the images and maybe the external motivation for her picking up the phone and making an appointment, but, really, they weren’t for you. Boudoir photography is never about the person receiving the images; it’s about the person in front of the camera.

It’s like going to the gym. You think most women running on a treadmill or lifting weights are doing it for some guy? Or doing it because THEY want to feel strong and sexy and healthy and good about themselves?

If you picked door #2, you’re right. (read in entirety here) and watch her Periscope about it.

Please comment, please share. Let’s tell the world how we boudoir photographers really feel about this letter.

I think I’ve said my peace now. Let’s hear what you think about all of this. xx Lynn

Editor’s note: On 10/22/15, I decided to remove a paragraph about the photographer’s style of retouching and to clean up some grammatical mistakes. I removed this section not due to any pressure, but because I realized that I was actually shaming her, and that’s not what I want to do.

Lynn Clark

Lynn Clark is co-founder of The Business of Boudoir. She's a boudoir and portrait photographer in Denver, Colo. with a mission to help every woman bare her beauty ... and leave with an amazing photo of her own ass (because let's be honest, we ALL want an amazing photo of our own asses.) She brings 25 years of communications background in writing, websites, public relations and strategy to The Business of Boudoir. She's also available for 1 on 1 website evaluation, content creation and editing.

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  • October 21, 2015 - 4:31 PM

    Petra - If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: If we, as women, wanted reality we’d look in the mirror with our shit colored glasses and save a few grand.ReplyCancel

  • October 21, 2015 - 5:19 PM

    Danea - A truly loving husband, if he was really concerned about the amount of PS used, would discuss this with his wife. He would tell HER how much he loves her and that she didn’t need to go so heavy handed. A truly loving husband would celebrate in her excitement over her session and the resulting images. A truly loving husband would NOT write a shaming letter to the photographer disguised as a loving concern.ReplyCancel

    • October 22, 2015 - 6:15 PM

      Andrew - No one knows what he said to his wife. He probably told her the pictures were beautiful he sure told the photographer that. All he really said was that he was upset with himself that it got to a point that his wife didn’t know how much he loved her and how beautiful he thought she is. In my head that just suggests therapy. Not undermining a mans love for his wife. That’s what’s wrong with the world today. Women only feel beautiful of they have no wrinkles or cellulite or stretch marks. If women had confidence in every aspect of themselves they’d just enhance their beauty, and not erase it. All I get from this is a man feeling guilty that his wife felt she needed to spice things up by changing her appearance. He’s not an asshole just because he thinks she’s just as hot naturally. Our confidence starts from within ourselves. We need to stop blaming men for feeling shitty about our looks. It’s in our heads not theirs.ReplyCancel

      • December 30, 2015 - 3:19 AM

        T - Exactly. From the beginning this article chose to misquote what the husband said in his letter. As a woman in her 40s, I think that his love of his wife shines through the letter he wrote THANKING the photographer for reminding him to make it clear to his wife that HE finds her sexy regardless of her physical appearance.

        Having the ‘real me’ photoshopped away might make for pretty PICTURES, but they won’t make ME feel sexy. They will just make me more ashamed that I do not look like the person in the photo.ReplyCancel

        • December 31, 2015 - 6:44 PM

          Lynn Clark - T, then don’t have everything retouched away. That’s your prerogative. And find a photographer who holds your same no-retouching philosophy. They definitely exist, and that’s perfect because to each his own. But the husband … He’s SHAMING the photographer for giving his wife the power to say YES to what makes her feel beautiful.ReplyCancel

      • April 21, 2016 - 11:55 PM

        Peggy - It’s not in out heads. It’s in the magazines, Bill boards and the internet. Media fills our heads with images of the perfect bodies. But, the’s images, too, are photoshopped. So if we can be photos hopped to what we believe to be perfect to our significant other, then we do. When, in reality, we already are perfect. The stretch marks, puffy belly and saggy boobs. We are who we are, imperfections make us perfect!ReplyCancel

    • November 30, 2015 - 10:34 AM

      O Miller - As a truly loving (and honest) husband, I could never lie to my wife’s face just to make her feel good about pictures really I didn’t like. Because it is completely dishonest. Husbands are expected to be truthful 90% of the time, but tell blatant lies when it’s convenient to a woman’s feelings. I call double-standard bull! Thankfully, my wife is not one who demands I lie to her. We are open and honest, and I don’t have to worry about her bringing me over-Photoshopped images. I don’t have to worry about my “heart sinking” because she knows I’d rather see the “real her” with only slight polishing. But most men are forced to lie in order to prove they are “truly loving” men. WTF? How can anyone not see the problem here? Forgive me if this comes off vulgar, but think about it like this… If a woman continually fakes orgasms to stroke her man’s ego, how will he ever know what she really likes? Likewise, if men are cornered into lying, how will wives ever know when they are truly appreciated, loved, adored etc?ReplyCancel

      • April 21, 2016 - 10:59 AM

        Brigid - Thank you! My husband and I are honest with each other no matter what. If I ask if I look fat and he says no but I really do I’m gonna be pissed. I wouldn’t have asked the question if I didn’t want a real answer. This is all bull. I’m tired of people saying they want the truth but get mad when you say it. I have kids and scars and flaws. My husband has his owns flaws too. We joke about most of them. I’ve had these shots done for me and he loved it. Mostly because that’s what he sees in me. A gorgeous sexy woman. He doesn’t focus on my flaws. And if I am getting big or flabby he tells me so I can do something about it. Not to hurt me but to help me. I swear some people don’t understand that a healthy marriage doesn’t need to be based on being nice, it does need honesty!ReplyCancel

    • December 29, 2015 - 11:53 PM

      Dave - A truly loving husband, after seeing those pics, and with that lady in front of him, would be way too busy to post on Facebook.ReplyCancel

  • October 21, 2015 - 6:28 PM

    Sontera Mader - amen & amen! There is a happy medium in the world of photo retouching and that’s nothing to be ashamed about. While this photographer is allowed to have her opinion and standpoint it doesn’t mean we don’t all have to agree with it just because we are in the same line of work. Same goes for the husband. I am curious if his acceptance of his wife in her “raw” state helped their marriage and her self confidence. If yes, than good for them! I just doubt it would be the common thing if every husband spoke that way. It’s like reverse fat shaming…now we as women aren’t allowed to be embarrassed of our flaws?! We HAVE to embrace every spot of cellulite?! It is very possible and OK for me to be confident and happy with 90% of my body but still work to improve that 10% that I’m not proud of…both feelings can coexist! (Ok now I’m just rambling lol) the end.ReplyCancel

  • October 21, 2015 - 7:02 PM

    Joel Conner - As a man, I had a hard time putting my finger on why the whole thing bugged me (apart from a lingering doubt that it was real based on the language used in the letter…sounded like it was written by a woman more than a man), but you and others have hit the nail on the head for me. What on the surface is loving the wife for who she is was just shrouded feelings of the man wanting it the way he wants it for himself.ReplyCancel

  • October 21, 2015 - 8:49 PM

    Ashley Sykes - Yes yes yes! You just went through every single thought that ran through my head when I read the letter the first, second and third time through. I was so angry by what was said because it is a huge act of courage that his wife went through to have the shoot and present him with a book of these photos. I know if I were to pay money to have someone photograph my fat ass – I would not want to see one single dimple or stretch mark on it.ReplyCancel

  • October 21, 2015 - 11:14 PM

    Cate Scaglione - Many clients have sent me the post. There’s nothing sweet nor romantic about a man removing a woman’s power and fortitude to feel beautiful. Thanks for writing the letter I was unable to put to words!ReplyCancel

  • October 22, 2015 - 2:08 AM

    Teresa - After reading this…I must say – you definitely come off as a very bitter photographer due to the original photographers moment the spotlight. Who really has time to write these kinds of things bashing on others & nitpicking every single thing to pieces? Focus on your own business rather than ridiculing others 😉ReplyCancel

    • October 22, 2015 - 9:29 AM

      Lynn Clark - Teresa, I appreciate your feedback. I’m really not bitter or resentful over this woman’s 15 minutes. What I hate, and I hope I’m clear about, is that the husband had the audacity to reach out to the photographer in the first place, that his heart dropped upon seeing the photos and that he shared that with the photographer–and with his wife.

      I do focus on my business. This blog? It’s part of my business. I do have the time to write an opinion piece about something that’s happening in our industry because it’s part of my job. As the co-founder of this website, I believe it’s part of my responsibility to be brave and speak out against popular opinion on behalf of every person–boudoir photographer or not–who has said to me “thank you for saying this.”ReplyCancel

  • October 22, 2015 - 1:20 PM

    Boudoir Photographer’s Response to the Anti-Retouch Husband | krugerable - […] Am I the only boudoir photographer irked by this letter that has gone viral? Not even close. Read this very articulate and dead-on response by Lynn Clark here. […]ReplyCancel

    • January 1, 2016 - 1:53 AM

      Aaren - I’ve read and re-read both articals here, the original one under gun fire as well as the retort from Ms. Clark. I is hard for me, as a plus plus size woman, to sit and think that anyone would be inspired to be upset with what someone thinks, has said, or has shared. A woman wanted to feel beautiful, a husband whated to be thankful for the reality check refered to as his current attintion levels at home. There is no shame in what this husband feels, said or did, it was his way of expressing himself. The wife did what made her beautiful in her mind, also perfectly acceptable and empowering, and the photographer did what she was hired to do, then shared soumthing that touched her profoundly, both acceptable and admriable. Just because it bothers you, Ms. Clark, and others of course) does not make it wrong, or demoralizing, it makes it simply what it is, their story, not yours. We spend so much time picking apart other peoples ieals, standards, and choices, and not enough time supporting and remaining open minded to whats acctually important, personal feelings, preceptions and opinions. If we, as people, could spend this much time everytime on our own situations and insacurities the wolrd would be a much better place. No one knows anyone else well enough in this situation (artical) to place a judgment like you have.ReplyCancel

  • November 12, 2015 - 2:29 PM

    Ellie - I love this. I love myself, I am comfortable in my own skin and I think that I am beautiful. However, this doesn’t mean that I don’t have “flaws”. As a teenager I had cystic acne that left me with ruddy hyper-pigmentation all over my face. I cover this up with makeup. Why? Because I don’t think it’s an integral part of me, I don’t think it defines me and I think it’s something that detracts from the way I want to look. I had a breakout a bit ago and my boyfriend looked at me during that time and said “you have beautiful skin” and my immediate response was “even with all of these zits?” and his response was “Yeah, everyone has a few zits, that doesn’t mean you don’t have beautiful skin.” That changed the way I looked at things. Zits do not define me, and they don’t even define my skin. Nor does the hyper-pigmentation. Covering it up so that I can allow my beauty to shine without the distraction of red blotches on my cheeks doesn’t make me dishonest just like editing a zit out in photoshop doesn’t make an image dishonest. My boyfriend loves me and thinks I’m beautiful with and without makeup. But I still like to present myself with makeup, because that is how I like to be seen to the rest of the world.

    I’m really tired of the notion that women need to “be confident in themselves” and just not care about acne or cellulite or stretch marks. I know that I can be beautiful with these things, I am confident that I look good, even though I have these things. But we are told again and again by society that these things are not beautiful, they are flaws. And then simultaneously told that we aren’t confident if we choose to hide them. I don’t think it makes me less confident to want people to be looking seeing me, and not just seeing genetic marker for “skin that scars easily”. Every single person (male and female) dresses a certain way because they want to present a certain image of themselves to the world. Choosing to not share things about yourself that society does not accept as attractive does not have anything to do with confidence. If a woman with cellulite is wearing short shorts and if she wears a pencil skirt that hides the cellulite the next day, her confidence didn’t change, the look she was going for did. Confidence is not equivalent to showing off every lump and bump on your body at all times.ReplyCancel

  • December 23, 2015 - 12:29 AM

    Kristin - Thank you SO much for publically saying this.
    I didn’t want to be the downer, but dismissing the fact that no one has stepped forward to ‘claim’ this as their story/their husband (come on, who wouldn’t want to brag about a man who has gotten so much praise for loving her so dearly?), the entire thing sounded exactly like a very-much-single woman writing an idealized account of what she wished her husband/long term boyfriend/significant other would say upon receipt of those pictures. If that option is disregarded, then the next thought goes immediately to the fact that part of this particular type of photoshoot is an immense amount of trust (as women, we even get told not to let our partners have nudes/compromising pictures of us, and you people are in a profession that involves getting PAID to take those pictures, AND allows you the ability to pose/dress/etc us in any way you see fit, AND you OWN them) that has just been completely disregarded by sharing this confidential communication. Let’s just say it’s one hundred percent real, AND the husband kept his mouth shut to his wife, and rather than insulting the pictures, he lauded them, told her how beautiful she was, that he LOVED the pictures, etc, and wrote this to the photographer in private. Well, surely the wife is now very aware of the true thoughts of her husband about her (private) gift, as well as friends/locals who could probably put together a fairly well educated guess as to who the size 18 mid-forties local celebrity was given the descriptors in the article.
    All in all, it leaves a hugely sour taste in my mouth, and no, I’m not single, bitter, or a competing photographer. Just a woman sick of hearing about other women’s bodies in any way. Can we start building up or tearing women apart on another criteria yet?ReplyCancel

  • December 23, 2015 - 6:26 AM

    Kim - I can see your point. But I’ve had glamour shots done and one of my guy friends saw the amount of makeup and said it best. “Why hide who you are for anyone?” Made me change my way of thinking. I know most women do it for self confidence and I might have thought that at first, but now I look at them and think of how I hid who I am. Now I wear minimal makeup and I feel better about myself.ReplyCancel

    • December 31, 2015 - 6:59 PM

      Lynn Clark - Kim, that’s awesome. I had glamour shots done in the 80s and looked like a clown. I think it’s all about the photographer you choose. If I photographed you, we would not put you in full glam makeup with huge eyelashes, but just enough to look polished for the camera. A good photographer listens to what her client wants and figures out how to make it work within her own artistic aesthetic. I’m happy that you feel good about yourself. In the end, that’s what every single boudoir photographer I know wants for their clients.ReplyCancel

  • December 23, 2015 - 4:20 PM

    Nicholette - Honestly, I interpreted the husbands letter completely different. CAN ANYONE summarize years of their life in a paragraph? No. And that’s probably why you interpret his words differently than I do. Basically, my understanding of the husbands letter is his anger at himself, not his anger at his wife or the photographer. I agree that when women “dress up”, it’s for themselves. When women photoshop their photos, it’s for themselves. I agree that it takes immense courage to take such intimate photos of yourself and share them with someone you love, exposing parts of yourself you don’t want others to see (and I’m not talking about nudity, I’m talking about insecurities). But I don’t agree that the husband was cruel. I don’t know their relationship. I can’t put myself in his shoes, or her shoes. All I see is a wife who loves her husband and a husband who loves every part of his wife.ReplyCancel

  • December 24, 2015 - 12:39 PM

    Hsensor - Im sorry but you are missing the understanding that these women have to look at their flaws everyday in the mirror. I am a heavy set male who has stretch marks in my arms and thighs. I so much more love to hear my wife loves my flaws and finds me handsome over some photoshoped picture by someone who doesnt know my life. Yeah those pictures look great and give self confidence that is false. False i say cause we see a different every day in the mirror. The self confidence that stays is the one from the love of your life who loves you for who you are. Who sees whl you see in the mirror and thinks your amazing. Your false sense of beauty only helps those who seek acceotwnce from strangers who do not know them. Ones who care what their loved ones think benifit more from the love of their closest family and friends for who they truly are.ReplyCancel

    • December 31, 2015 - 6:57 PM

      Lynn Clark - In my experience of photographing over 300 women to date, I have heard zero clients say that having their stretch marks removed in their photos causes them to have lower self confidence. Quite the opposite. We see our physical “flaws” with a microscope and judge our characters by them. I’m happy that you’re happy with yourself. That’s terrific. But this woman was not, and she chose to work with a boudoir photographer whose work is heavily retouched for a reason. I don’t see retouched photos as false beauty at all. I see it as removing the microscope and seeing ourselves through the eyes of those who love us.ReplyCancel

  • December 29, 2015 - 10:45 PM

    Rosaria - Sorry but you didn’t get the point and I just think you’re protecting business (which is obviously understandable). Maybe it’s some dirty fight between photographer, I don’t care. What I got from this story is that the husband loved his wife EXACTLY as she was and admitted he didn’t tell her enough, so he felt ashamed that she had to Photoshop herself and promised to do better from that moment on. Me, I like my body, I like my cellulite (which remained also after some fat loss) and I’d love for my stretch marks to be because of a pregnancy and don’t renege them anyway. Of course, if someone feels better in the illusion of Photoshop, good for them. But, really? I don’t think that’s something real or long-lasting. Real acceptance of your body arrives when you don’t need Photoshop and you don’t need others to tell you what you should look like to feel more beautiful. That’s the problem. You see beauty in fake photos, I see beauty in real photos which are taken so well they don’t need Photoshop to look beautiful anyway…ReplyCancel

    • December 31, 2015 - 6:53 PM

      Lynn Clark - Rosaria, I’m happy that you love your cellulite and your stretch marks, and that you’d prefer not to have them retouched. There are boudoir photographers out there who do not retouch photos who would be a good fit for you.

      I accept my body. But no way in hell do I want to pay $2500 for an album of photos of the cellulite on my ass. But I’d be upset if my photographer turned my size 14 curves into size 0.

      I see beauty in WOMEN, I’m an excellent, award-winning boudoir photographer with a booming business. To tell me that I see beauty in fake photos is unfounded and ignorant.ReplyCancel

  • December 29, 2015 - 11:05 PM

    Nate - When I Photoshopped pictures of myself and of my girlfriend, it put us on par with the magazine people. I realized that there wasn’t anyone out there prettier than us, we just hadn’t had the team of photoshoppers on our side.

    Don’t make the celebrities not use photoshop- give photoshop to everyone, so that we can all know that we can look that good!!

    It was a very affirming thing.ReplyCancel

  • December 30, 2015 - 2:07 AM

    Brandy - I’m a plus model as a hobby. I LOVE the way I feel when my hair and makeup are done beautifully. I love being in front of the camera. I love many (though definitely not all) of my raw pictures. The retouched ones are amazing and do reflect how I feel in that moment.
    I’m hard on myself. I have physical and mental health issues and I am getting out of a long-term emotionally abusive relationship. To have stayed modeling is a big deal for me. I do pinup, boudoir, and fantasy so far. I’ve been published with some truly sexy pinup photos. This increases my confidence; a huge thing after the abuse.
    BUT my photos have never been heavily retouched. I have scars and stretch marks and such. The photographers remove much of them, but who I am still shines through. They know the importance of balance. That is what is important. Balance.ReplyCancel

    • December 31, 2015 - 6:47 PM

      Lynn Clark - I completely agree that balance is the key. I’m not at all like this particular photographer. My clients look amazingly refreshed in their finished photos, and anything I don’t want to see in my photos is gently removed so as to keep skin looking natural. I have had clients come to me asking for what I consider to be excessive retouching–especially body shaping–and I have turned them away. I’d also turn away a client who does not want any retouching because that’s not my style either. I commend you for finding a way to reclaim your power and confidence after having it taken away.ReplyCancel

  • December 30, 2015 - 7:44 AM

    Kmass - I agree with you 100%. When I first read the letter, I was annoyed about how the husband had the audacity to confront the photographer…someone who was doing her job and did what she was asked to do, rather than talk to his wife! It just seems incredibly unhealthy and fishy.ReplyCancel

  • December 30, 2015 - 8:36 AM

    Daya - This is actually a very interesting take on the whole thing. When I first read the response to the husband’s letter I put myself in his wife’s position and thought I would have been heartbroken if my husband hated the pictures that made me feel so sexy and beautiful.
    “Every woman compares herself to women on the magazine covers–we know this. But until we see photos of ourselves that are produced in the same manner as those photos, we’re comparing apples to oranges.”ReplyCancel

  • December 30, 2015 - 9:52 AM

    Margy - Thank you for replying back! The husband’s letter made me literally see red. Yet another selfish, self centred man who thinks that everything women do is for his benefit and that his opinion about someone’s body is more relevant than that of the owner of the body!!!

    So enraged. And I can’t believe so many people shared it without even thinking about the actual message they are supporting.

    Thank you again for replying back.ReplyCancel

    • December 31, 2015 - 6:41 PM

      Lynn Clark - Margy, you’re welcome. Even though this post is a few months old, when I read about this letter (it’s obviously resurfaced), I still feel steamed. I hope you have a beautiful day!ReplyCancel

  • December 30, 2015 - 11:41 AM

    Sarah - While it is a woman’s right to edit photos to make herself feel beautiful, how about we help ourselves and each other to feel beautiful as is. He’s absolutely right in saying “that is not my wife”. It’s not. It’s an untrue version. Let’s not have to use photoshop to feel beautiful. That’s the point here that you so obviously missed.ReplyCancel

    • December 31, 2015 - 6:39 PM

      Lynn Clark - Yes, feel beautiful as is … if as is includes skin exfoliation, tanning, coloring and cutting your hair, shaving your armpits, lasering off your pubic hair, cleaning your teeth. If this woman wanted all of her perceived flaws erased in her photographs, that IS her feeling beautiful.

      No photograph is his wife. His wife is a three dimensional being, who moves and breathes and laughs. A photograph captures his wife at a moment in time–a moment she can study and scrutinize, criticize and flagellate. You entirely missed MY point, which is the session was something for herself that she shared with her husband as a gift. How she feels about how she looks in the photographs is what’s important. And his arrogance in having his heart drop over photoshop and having the audacity to write a shaming letter to the photographer is ridiculous. If I knew who he was, I’d tell this to his face, hug his wife, then gush over how fucking gorgeous she looks in her photos, Photoshopped or not.ReplyCancel

  • December 30, 2015 - 12:19 PM

    Joseph L. Grzeskiewicz, MD, FACS - I stumbled upon this post and your associated response, and I felt compelled to comment because as a practicing aesthetic surgeon, this is a subject that is very near and dear to my heart: peoples’, especially women’s, ideas about beauty, their own self-images, and their motivations to pursue their ideals of beauty. Your response here is intelligent, intuitive, and absolutely spot-on, in my opinion. If you throw away the irksome letters, the “sappy” responses, and the rest of the crap that has been sucked into this issue by well-intentioned but ignorant people, we are left with the simple fact that the heroine of this story gave her husband the supreme gift of being vulnerable with him and sharing her true feelings about herself, and he made it all about himself and what HE wanted or didn’t want. He truly looked a gift horse in the mouth! Just like you, I see this issue on a daily basis, although in the end, those people who wish to go forward with me in the pursuit of their motivations get surgery and not Photoshop, but it’s still the same principle, isn’t it? Just like you, I find myself having to defend my profession time and again against those ignorant and truly shallow people who would make US out to be the shallow ones by asking: “How can you allow women to mutilate themselves for the ‘pleasure of men?'” My response is always the same: “You have to ask them.” I simply do for people what they ask for, and I try to be sensitive to their needs. I just try to do it safely, ethically, and responsibly, and just like you, I try to keep the “essence” of who they are intact and not create deformities or unnatural appearances. But, I recognize that 99% of my patients are doing what they are doing for THEMSELVES, not their husbands, boyfriends, or other people in their lives. They’re just asking for support from those other people, not permission. People need to learn the subtle, but very real, distinction between the concepts of acceptance and adoption. To accept someone else’s opinion or position on a matter does not mean that you have to adopt it as your own. It simply means that you acknowledge their feelings and position and you accept it and go forward with them. All of those “loving husbands” out there would do well to understand this point and stop imposing their own belief systems on the rest of us, their wives or significant others in particular, in the name of “love.” You’re right, this breeds shame, and shame breeds contempt, and round and round we go. Thank you for writing such a well-thought out treatise on a very important subject and for calling a self-absorbed husband on his bullshit and the ignorant masses who reflexively wrote in with their sappy, “awe, so sweet” responses on theirs. They all totally missed the point, and yet another lady is left to feel ashamed of her true feelings and motivations and condemned to live in her own head by those around her.ReplyCancel

    • December 31, 2015 - 6:34 PM

      Lynn Clark - Joseph, thank you so much for your comment! I especially love that you say women have body alteration done to please themselves, because I believe that too. It’s uplifting to hear from an experienced medical professional on this topic, which I think has become incredibly taboo.ReplyCancel

  • December 30, 2015 - 2:14 PM

    Jessica - There are a lot of real things to get mad in the world without “hey, I think my wife’s beautiful just as she is” being one of them. I thought it was extremely flattering– I agree boudoir photography can be empowering, but it also sells a message that there’s only one standard of beauty to be had.

    Clearly that isn’t the case– guy didn’t say anything objectionable.ReplyCancel

    • December 31, 2015 - 6:28 PM

      Lynn Clark - You totally missed every point I made. Especially the point where I mentioned that it was the wife, not the photographer, who wanted “every flaw removed.” If boudoir photography truly sold the message that there’s only one standard of beauty to be had, then I would have included a photo of a 23-year-old CrossFit champion bride whose skin was flawless with this article, not a late-40s, size 14 woman. If a man actually wrote the letter, and I’m very certain that the whole thing is a sham, the kind thing to do is to love his wife and respect the courage and pride it took for her to create such a beautiful tribute.ReplyCancel

  • December 30, 2015 - 10:21 PM

    April - I think this writer hit the nail on the head when she says that women do these shoots for themselves. I just don’t see how the photoshopped images really help in making a woman feel sexy and confident. I think dressing up in sexy clothes does that and the act of being photographed, sure. The results could easily take all that confidence building and shatter it if the results aren’t what you want them to be. It is just too much focus on the outer appearance.. and I can say I do more than enough of that already. I focus on all the flaws more than is healthy at times. I think about the alterations I’d make, the fat I should lose, that I’m not exercising enough, oh my teeth could be whiter.. the list goes on. But, you know what else- no man is going to ease those concerns by telling me how beautiful I am or how much he loves me. And I don’t need a man to feel sexy and confident. I love a man who can appreciate those things but come on, don’t take credit. I work hard to keep myself afloat in a society that is designed to tear me down.
    I know men feel they need to fix these things in us. It just isn’t possible. We find the love in ourselves and do our best to keep ourselves happy and healthy so we can do the same for you! If we’re insecure and we need a boost of confidence and that’s a boudoir shoot, so be it. Photoshop or not.ReplyCancel

    • December 31, 2015 - 6:32 PM

      Lynn Clark - Thank you so much for your comment, April. I know for sure that being able to compare apples to apples when I see finished photographs of myself–and compare them to those of women in advertising–helps me look beyond all of those perceived flaws and see the beauty that my husband and friends and daughter see about me. I recently photographed a client who did not want to show her tummy because she HATES HATES HATES her stretch marks. But her tummy is her husband’s favorite part of her. I asked her to trust me, posed and lit her in flattering ways, then had my editor remove every single stretch mark. Her comment back to me a couple of days later: Even though when I see my stretch marks in the mirror I wish I weren’t there, having photos that don’t show them allowed me to see exactly why he loves my tummy and even in just a few days I’m coming to love them a little more and not see them as flaws. Interesting huh? It’s not an unusual comment either.ReplyCancel

  • December 30, 2015 - 10:52 PM

    Kelsi - A bit late to the party, but I’m so glad I wasn’t the only one bugged. First, it read as completely fake to me–both because of the language, and because I am EXTREMELY skeptical of your average husband being able to articulate in that much detail every “flaw” that had been edited out. He might notice some things that are different–especially something as obvious as missing scars–but that read more like a laundry list from the photog of what she had worked on than something from a disappointed husband.
    Second, as you and other commenters mentioned, the removal of the woman’s agency in this story. The photographer seems to believe she should have IGNORED the woman’s request! The whole thing feels a bit like men saying “but you look prettier without makeup!” to women who spend a lot of time and energy on their makeup looks–they think it’s a compliment, but in fact it’s a dismissal of all that work as well as a suggestion that THEY know better than her how she should present herself.
    Protip, dudes: loving a woman for who she is means loving her flaws AND any way she chooses to present/cover/minimize/embrace them.ReplyCancel

    • December 31, 2015 - 6:21 PM

      Lynn Clark - Thank you Kelsi! I especially love your last sentence!! Truth! LynnReplyCancel

  • December 31, 2015 - 11:45 PM

    Thilini - “Wanting to see yourself with fabulous hair, makeup and flawless skin, is not something to be ashamed of like we are being told it is. It’s about seeing ourselves for the sexy confident women we know we are or strive to be. It’s about polishing those little daily insecurities, so we can see how beautiful we truly are.”
    I guess that is the best statement! Wanting to look sexy and gorgeous for your significant other is not something to be ashamed of.. every woman is beautiful in her own way, it just takes the right man or the right photographer to see it….☺ReplyCancel

  • January 1, 2016 - 7:37 AM

    Kat Hall - Personally I don’t like my pictures being ‘re touched. I like to accept myself warts and all; I like to love myself with all my tiger stripes, veins, cellulite and cake shelf (cuter than a muffin top and its where my cake goes), than be photoshopped and look at those images depressively because I know I’ll never look that way. I wish women would love themselves “warts and all”, because you’re all beautiful just ad you are.ReplyCancel

    • January 10, 2016 - 12:52 PM

      Lynn Clark - I agree that every woman should love themselves warts and all, but the fact is 99% don’t. And it’s not because they aren’t awesome, it’s because everything in our culture tells them they are not awesome enough. So why not remove those “flaws” they use to judge themselves by so they can make an accurate comparison of themselves with zero cellulite, clothing bumps, etc to the women in advertising images with zero cellulite and clothing bumps? Photoshop is a self-esteem tool when used with a light hand.ReplyCancel

  • January 1, 2016 - 10:12 AM

    Jamie Cassidy - I think this is all a moot point, because I highly doubt it is a real letter. It reads like one of those “Awww…!”-invoking things for the internet. But, for sake of argument it IS authentic, I think maybe we are comparing apples to oranges. I think about this in terms of normal school pictures of my children. If my 8th grader has an acne breakout, then some mild retouching is wonderful. If the photographer wanted to straighten her teeth and change her eye color too, that might make an attractive picture, but it isn’t my child anymore, and I don’t want it.
    (On the other hand, I would love to have a picture taken one time using extensive photo shopping, just so I could see for myself how much models and famous people are altered to look perfect, so I can feel better about my normalcy.)
    If this letter was real, the man may not have liked the pictures because it disturbed him that the wife didn’t appear herself anymore. I think most men would have enjoyed the fantasy, personally. However, it was probably that he wanted to express that he loved her and she didn’t need to be ashamed of her reality. If the woman wanted a boudoir photo, though, she of course wants it to create a kind of “Wow!” reaction, which is more likely with a good photoshop. Aunt Bea from Mayberry might have looked stunning in a ball gown with a new short hairdo, but we don’t want her like that. She’s our Aunt Bea.
    My point, and I do have one, is perspective. Nobody did anything wrong here. The wife asked for fantasy, the husband wanted reality, and there is merit in both. Nobody needs to feel guilty or like anybody is controlled by anybody. And if this photographer cried with guilt that long, she needs an antidepressant.ReplyCancel

  • January 8, 2016 - 9:17 PM

    Tina Darling - I absolutely love this, because it’s exactly how I feel. I want to look pretty not my fat, cellulite, etc. Hanging out all over. That’s just sick. I would absolutely do one of these sessions, but I also would be embarrassed, I know there are bigger ladies than I but I just am uncomfortable with cellute, fat, etc. I know if and when I did do a session, when I got those picts. back I would charismatic the shit out of em. Why cuz I had the touched up. Men women hate when they look like shit. Maybe not to you they fo but to some of us we feel that way and for ONCE want to look HOT HOT HOT…..ReplyCancel

  • February 28, 2016 - 10:17 PM

    Marcia Gibson - My thoughts: It never happened! It was probably a publicity “stunt”. I don’t know if it has helped or hurt but it most certainly got people talking about boudoir photography.

    Same thing here.ReplyCancel

  • February 29, 2016 - 11:24 AM

    Joe MacKay - There is more than one “Truth”. As a working photojournalist, for years, that’s all I was interested in (I thought!), the physical reality before my lens. Capture that! And I did and laughed behind the backs of those fooling themselves that photography is an Art! “Hogwash”, I thought. It’s a skill and nothing more. Then I ran into the right teacher and had my eyes opened to the truth, the real truth. We are emotional creatures and we do not live our real lives in these physical places. We live them in out minds and hearts and emotions. If all you want is a physical reality, get out your phone-camera and use that.If you want the emotion, the “Why” of a thing, the real reason for being, then you must consider and capture emotion, and that is not a physical thing and it is in that effort that photography becomes art.ReplyCancel

  • April 21, 2016 - 10:14 AM

    Lynne Wagner - I am 54 years old. My body has been riddled by a fight — which at one point I came dangerously close to losing — to Lyme disease and four other tick-borne diseases. Surgical scars from having three port catheters inserted into my heart, rotator cuff surgery, hip surgery and unbelievable muscle atrophy from more falls than I can count and from being sedentary have made me ashamed and longing for the body I had before I got sick. If I could have photos made of me and photoshopped to the nth degree, I would do it in a heartbeat. I would love to capture a moment where I felt attractive and sexy again. I would love to feel — if even for a moment that isn’t reality — that I am the attractive woman I used to be.ReplyCancel

  • April 24, 2016 - 6:13 PM

    Bob Volk - I’m not a photographer. I am very happily married to a woman who is not built like a fashion model, or a stereotypical “boudoir” subject, either. I would not disagree with the supposed husband’s reply, and perhaps this is too politically (yes, politically) charged a subject to expect clarity or thoughtfulness in responses. I have been sold, like most Americans, a falsified idea of beauty. From makeup to costume to photoshop, there have always been changes considered necessary to achieve beauty. I find this all a huge fraud, partly commercial and corporate, but long entrenched in male privilege. The vast increase in our immersion in media has only served the same ill purpose. I tell my wife every day how much I love her and find her beautiful, never once insincerely, and yet she cannot stop being insecure about her appearance. Her hair, her eyes, her shape, all are wonderful to me even when she first awakes in the morning, but I know she still feels she has to craft herself differently. I hope like hell that I am not giving her any doubts, so I’ll just keep on telling her I love her and that I know she’s beautiful. There is no “but” following that.ReplyCancel

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