A Licentiate of the British Institute of Professional Photographers Leigh Perkins LIPP has over thirty years experience in the photographic industry and is assisted by his wonderful wife Zena – the warm and friendly voice that greets me on the telephone from the Mighty Aphrodite studio in Reading. It’s been a decade since I first started modelling at the ripe age of eighteen when I was signed as a Page 3 Model to the Daily Sport newspaper back in 2006; fast forward two children, a few surgeries, hairstyles I’d rather forget and heartbreak and I now find myself as a strong single mother looking to celebrate my 29th year of existence.
With my 30th birthday fast approaching in 2017 I literally have a bucket list as long as my arm of things that I would like to achieve before I say goodbye to my twenties, one of them being a sassy photoshoot in celebration of all things boudoir and BDSM of course! Having perused the Mighty Aphrodite website after a quick Google search, I found their expertise in tasteful nude photography inspiring and my fear of stretch marks, cellulite and wrinkles vanished the second that I stepped into the reception area. Leigh and Zena had such a wonderful way of putting me at ease, offering me cups of tea and snacks whilst answering all of my questions.
As we’d already spoken on the telephone prior to my photoshoot I arrived in the bright and modern, artfully adorned reception with freshly washed hair and a case of my own favourite lingerie and shoes as requested for my shoot. I’d decided on Package 3 the Digi Shoot costing £850.00 which includes professional hair and makeup, being photographed in three different studio sets, a gift-boxed USB stick containing 250-300 proof photos and digital editing and airbrushing on 30 images of my choice. Seeing as I wanted to use the images mostly for my social media I don’t need to have any printed but the file sizes will happily print at a 12″x8″ with each photo conveniently provided in colour, black and white and sepia to suit every home decor.
I was advised to allow around five hours for my photoshoot and arrived shortly after having dropped my two children at school. We discussed the lingerie I had selected and what sets they’d work best with before I was shown upstairs to the studio where my makeup artist Catherine was all set up and ready for me at her beautifully organised Chesterfield desk and light-bulb lit mirror. Seeing as I have sensitive skin it was an absolute treat to have my face cleansed, massaged and moisturised with vegan-friendly products prior to being made-up and the lotions and creams smelt divine. Undressed and sitting in a fluffy white robe to prevent any marks on my skin from my underwear, I felt incredibly pampered as I closed my eyes and let Catherine work her magic. Together we decided to start with a soft and natural makeup with gentle curls building up to to smoky black eyes and big hair for the final more daring photos. I’m awful at doing my own makeup, can never get my eyes even and have the most flattest, fine and boring hair ever known to man but somehow Catherine transformed me from a ragged-mother into an elegant swan as we chatted about Christmas shopping and nibbled on a wonderful selection of fresh fruit, wholemeal crisps and chilled water which I found exceptionally thoughtful in catering for my vegan diet.
Made-up to perfection and primed in my best lingerie I visited the hotel-style en-suite bathroom for one final tinkle before stepping in front of the camera. Catching sight of myself in the mirror as I washed my hands I couldn’t help but smile at my reflection. It’s not often I get to see myself looking so well groomed, I almost didn’t recognise the person beaming back at me! As women we are far too quick to criticise our own bodies and hang onto the signs of childbirth, age and gravity in places that once upon a time used to be so flawless and pert. I spent most of my teenage and early adult years wanting to be taller, skinnier, have bigger breasts, better teeth, a smaller nose, the usual wish-list that we make in the mirror as we ponder over perfection; but the older I grow the more grateful I am for what I still have and I cherish each moment for what it is – my body warts and all. My reflection hadn’t just make me look beautiful for the first time in a long time, but it made me feel beautiful as a woman and that’s an experience we deserve more often in life.
As the flashbulbs popped the soft lighting washed over my curves and the silky bedsheets rippled between my fingers sending the hairs on the back of my neck delightfully up on end. Any nerves I’d previously had about being undressed in front of the camera were blissfully erased with every hair flick, pout and ping of my bra strap and I soon got into the swing of things. Leigh has a wonderful way of giving guidance and direction throughout in order to find the most flattering positions and poses that are sexy and feminine whilst still being classy and respectful. And with Zena at the helm of the Apple iMac I was instantly able to see my images on screen as they appeared just seconds after being taken on the camera which helpfully allowed me to see how I looked, which shots worked best and change anything that wasn’t quite right – a hand placement here or a dreamy gaze there.
As I wanted to shoot up to nude art we broke each set into three stages, starting in lingerie, undressing to topless and finally removing everything but my heels and a smile for carefully positioned shots to cover my most intimate parts whilst still having the dramatic impact of not wearing any clothes. The studio, like the photography, experience and hospitality has been meticulously planned down to every last detail with Broadway production-style rollers moving walls, backdrops, bedding and props into position to provide a selection of unique and inspiring sets that gave me not just the beautiful photos that I’d hoped for but also a fully professional model portfolio.
The dynamic of shooting with a husband and wife team made me feel incredibly comfortable, welcome, respected and free to express myself at all times. Their many years of expertise certainly shines through in all aspects of the session from the exceptionally high level of hospitality to the state of the art technology used throughout, ergonomically designed studio and flawless finish of the digital photos and printed products. The time seemed to pass by in an instant of smiles and snaps and before I knew it I was fully dressed and zipping up my travel case, ready to view my first professionally retouched image on the big screen.
I am beyond thrilled with my entire experience at Mighty Aphrodite; not only was it a massive confidence boost for me – not to mention a blissfully luxurious break from my schedule as a busy mother – but I can also say that I’ve gained some great friends and it’s no wonder their customers travel from all over the world year after year to come back for more photos and to keep in touch. These are just a few of my favourite photos from my shoot and you can view my topless and nude art pictures here.
Whether you’re looking to start a modelling career, capture a stage in your life when you’re feeling good, celebrate a weight loss or body transformation, immortalise the love and chemistry in a couples shoot, mark a special anniversary or simply surprise a partner, loved one or friend with an unforgettable gift then there are plenty of options, gift vouchers and products to choose from including wallet albums, books, prints, frames, boxes, calendars and digital files that you can print at the studio or from home. They say a picture speaks a thousand words so let boudoir photography be the language of love.