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A few months ago I woke up early on a Monday morning. I reached for my cell phone and as I usually do – started going through my morning ritual. I check the weather, my email, a little FB and anything else I feel I need to be informed that day. This particular morning I saw a post on FB that stopped me in my tracks. It was a video about women and photography.

I watched the video.

The video was showing a woman getting her hair and makeup done. She was getting dressed in gorgeous fantasy clothing that any woman would drool over. Then, it was time to have her portrait taken.

The portraits were gorgeous, glamorous shots. The client looked amazing. You could tell she had never felt like that in her entire life. The message of the video was clear. Come see me, let me photograph you and I will prove to you that you are beautiful. You are worthy. You are somebody.

My heart started beating with panic. The client, although gorgeous, looked NOTHING like her before. NOTHING. It was clear to me that she never felt like that before because she never looked like that before. In fact, after hair, makeup, wardrobe, good lighting and photoshop – she was practically unrecognizable.

(Insert panic here) Is that what I am doing with my clients?

Surely I want them to feel gorgeous and powerful and worthy. The whole day I kept asking myself, am I making them feel this way? Why are we taught that we are worthy when we are all made up? Why is the AFTER picture the worthy one?

What about the before picture?

You know, that photo with no makeup, no hairdo, no photoshop. What about that woman? Is SHE worthy? Is she powerful?

The guilt that I could possibly be sending this message to my clients overcame me. So much so that I took a few weeks off from shooting boudoir. I felt a pit in my stomach. Here I am spending my life thinking I am empowering women and then BOOM, in an instant I am questioning everything I do and say.

It took me a few weeks, a lot of meditation and introspection to come to terms with what I do and my message. At the end of the day – I realize there are two sides to this coin. There is the naked me, and the me that loves wearing makeup and high heels.

See, here is the beauty of women. We don’t have to wear makeup to be beautiful, but when we want to, it’s an awful lot of fun!!

I am all about NOT shaming women, and not feeling shame for who I am. I want to make it clear that I am not shaming anyone who wears makeup, who photographs women who are all decked out, or anything in between.

What I am saying loud and clear today is that the BEFORE picture is the AFTER picture. You are ALREADY worthy. You are already powerful. You don’t need to dress up in lingerie and have your photo taken to be so. You don’t need me and my beauty team. We can’t make you something you aren’t. We can have fun. We can remind you how awesome it is to dress up and be pampered. We can give you some time away from work or kids or whatever you need to escape to remember that you are a person too. We can show you proof of your power in your images.

That woman in the before picture. She IS the woman in the after picture too. The “after” woman would be nothing without the “before”. Let’s celebrate her!

As part of my #ShamelesslyFeminine movement, I have decided to photograph women without makeup on. No professional hair and no retouching. Just her, me, a few lights and my trusty camera. I will photograph what I see. I will remind them that they are perfect just. the. way. they. are.

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Nikon D3S
Sigma 50mm Art Lens
Westcott Spiderlite and Eye Lighter

This is the strong, beautiful Ms. C. She has a gorgeous face and a gorgeous heart. I have known her for many years. I wish that she could see herself the way the world sees her. She is self deprecating at times. She doesn’t have to be. I tried to remind her how powerful it is to take a compliment and to look in the mirror and love what she sees. She was recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. It feels overwhelming, but I know if she can make peace with it, that it won’t define her. She is still the beautiful, loving mom, wife and friend she is and always will be.

She wears makeup to play up her favorite parts and diminish the ones she doesn’t love. She wears it every day. Except for today. Today she bares her face and her soul. Today she is as gorgeous as ever.

It would be an amazing act of kindness and support if you could leave Ms. C a compliment in the comments below. What do you see that is beautiful? Let’s shower her with love.

xo,
Jen

  • Amanda - LOVE this message. And C-you are a stunner!! Look at those lips! Those eyes! Absolutely gorgeous.ReplyCancel

  • Carolyn noll - What a stunner. I am especially taken with your eyes and mouth.ReplyCancel

  • Stacey - She’s beautiful!! Those lips are amazing!ReplyCancel

  • Ivy Towler - Soulful Eyes

    Wisdom | A knowing

    Kissable lips that may say something smarty pants or something kind

    xo
    IvyReplyCancel

  • Dagmara - Great message! and a beautiful photo!ReplyCancel

  • Natalie Kita - Ms. C is gorgeous (cheekbones and lips, OMG!), and so is the photograph itself! Way to go, both of you!ReplyCancel

  • Eric Sanchez - Ms. C,

    I stared at your image for 20 seconds and what I see is a carpe diem spirit! I love the strength and confidence that comes from your expression. I have never met you but I FEEL like you are adventurous and simply a beautiful person.

    Eric SanchezReplyCancel

  • Jennifer - Love this post, love your message, and yes! We are worthy as the “before” shot! Gorgeous, I can’t wait to see more!ReplyCancel

  • Jenny - She looks gorgeous! Her eyes are just stunning….No make-up needed to see how beautiful she is!ReplyCancel

  • Marsha Foster - Ms. C, you have the most beautiful lips! And your eyes are so deep, telling and knowing. I hope you can feel as beautiful as you look. :) ReplyCancel

  • Mandy - She is a radiant, powerful beauty that is stunningly refreshing to lay eyes on. She is gorgeous, and you, Jen, send an awesome message by designing such a project. It’s something I personally very much needed to hear.ReplyCancel

  • Agnes - WOW. What an incredibly gorgeous woman. HOLY HELL!!ReplyCancel

  • Robyn - Beautiful skin!!ReplyCancel

  • Elena Rachor - What a fantastic idea. I’m a person who loves to walk around with no make up on but sometimes felt like it is “not appropriat”. way to go.

    Ms. C. you have great lips, wonderful curves eybrows, strong eyes who tell a story.ReplyCancel

  • Jessica P - What a beautifully written post and a gorgeous photograph. Ms. C, you look strong, confident, wise, and decisive. And all of these things make you beautiful.ReplyCancel

  • Liz - love the post and the message. After all, the before is the after… after we go home and wash our face and hair… “before” is how we go to bed at night, how our families see us, and we are just as beautiful to them. Mrs C looks strong and beautiful to me, enviable lips and eyes!ReplyCancel

  • Amanda - Wow – I think we sometimes think that makeup is what creates our beauty – makeup is only a shiny bow on the package. Ms. C – you are STUNNING. What I love about this is I see YOU – not artfully applied shadow and out to there lashes and expertly shaded contours – what I see is the depth in your eyes and how beautifully shaped they are, I see your lovely skin, a gorgeous mouth that is both sensual and strong. In all, I see a powerful woman goddess who looks absolutely striking. Jen, fantastic idea!!! Too often, we see women who are all dolled up and would never recognize them without it. I would love to see unadorned women in photos like this more!ReplyCancel

  • Donnamaria - Strong, yet buttery shoulders; deep, engaging eyes; full, inviting lips… What’s more beautiful than beautiful? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you “Ms C”!ReplyCancel

  • Jules - those eyes speak such volumes….C you are simply gorgeous!!ReplyCancel

  • maria - beautiful woman. beautiful photo. beautiful message. thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Courtney - Flawless. Your lips are out of this world! Thank you for the inspiration to be NAKED!ReplyCancel

  • Stephen Vosloo - You are a truly beautiful, and powerful!ReplyCancel

  • Deborah - Natural beauty shines through!ReplyCancel

  • Seely - Beautiful skin!ReplyCancel

  • Jenn - Those features! <3ReplyCancel

  • Alissa - Always was a beautiful woman! This picture is stunning! Embrace your beauty.ReplyCancel

  • Monica - Mrs. C, you are a natural beauty! I love your eyes and lips. Your skin is incredible, too!ReplyCancel

  • Kathleen - REFRESHINGLY BEAUTIFUL!!!! May your naked heart travel far and wide in the hopes woman (young and old) realize the natural beauty within themselves!!!!ReplyCancel

  • Tracy Earley - I loved this post…and this woman is stunning. Just sitting here wishing I had that mouth, that nose…they are perfect…and the eyes…you can see the depth of her soul; there is a holy light in there…has to be.ReplyCancel

  • Tina - Ms. C –

    You are amazing. Your eyes are telling a story. Here’s to you!ReplyCancel

  • Wanda - It’s so amazing to see the real you by other people but it’s so hard to experience it on your own specialy when life has put you through many negative experiences. It’s a long process and path to walk through, it takes a lot to gain confidence and love yourself but it’s doable. Big applause for those who are coming along with me in this journey.ReplyCancel

  • Helen - She is flawlessly beautiful!ReplyCancel

  • Lisa - Powerful message and totally agree. Ms C – amazing lips, soulful eyes! You are gorgeous!ReplyCancel

  • Sharie Meduri - You both inspire me beyond words! Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Will Pollock - Ms. C (and you Jen, let’s not forget that) are an inspiration. I’m struck by Ms. C’s unbelievable complexion and overall serenity/confidence in this image — those are the first two things. I could get lost in how awesome the pic is in conjunction with the blog post. You’re inspiring MEN, too, at least this one, to see an act of vulnerability put to such extraordinary light.ReplyCancel

I believe every woman can celebrate her unique femininity, shamelessly. This is what I live for. It’s why I am a photographer. It’s how I live my own life. It influences how I parent my daughter.

When you come to me and shed your clothing and I photograph you, it’s part of the process of living shamlessly. I offer a safe and wonderful place that allows you to express your unique femininity without any judgements. In fact, just the opposite. With many praises. It is an experience that I have seen be life changing over and over again.

It offers you self confidence, freedom, and a retraining of your brain that you can do something daring and good things come of it. I hear from women over and over that they want to do this, they NEED this – but something is stopping them.

Well now, I am taking away at least one large excuse.

Money.

This summer I am offering 10 spots for boudoir shoots that I call “Name your own price shoots.

That’s right!! Email me what you are looking for in a shoot and what you want to pay. It’s that simple. No reasonable offer will be refused. If I can’t photograph you for what you offer, I will come back with a package that will hopefully work for both of us. (edit: After some consideration I realize that I will most certainly lose money on shoots less than $500. All offer should be $500 or above). As a reference, my standard shoots start at $999 and include a 1 hour shoot, professional makeup and 10 digital images of your choice fully edited. (You can also book standard packages as well!)

There are a few guidelines to take into consideration:

1. I am starting by offering 10 slots from now until Aug 18th. If it works out well, I will open more up in the fall – but I may not so don’t hesitate.

2. I HIGHLY recommend you have your makeup done by my staff. It’s a small added expense that lends itself to HUGE results.

3. Sessions are shot Tuesday – Thursday and bookings start at 10am

4. Yes, You can get a few girlfriends together and all come on the same day.

5. What is a reasonable offer? Well, in my mind it is one in which you are happy to pay it and I am happy to receive it. Please keep in mind I need to cover my expenses at the minimum and since I do pay my bills this way making a little money would be awesome too.

6. I offer products such as albums and prints as well as digital only packages. We accept MasterCard/Visa and Cash.

7. I promise you an awesome experience no matter what you pay.

My email is jenrozenbaum@gmail.com – want a shoot? Now’s the time!!

xo,
Jen

There’s a manipulator in my life. She’s sometimes friendly, other times she’s just downright hurtful and rude. Day after day, year after year she is my first contact in the morning.

Her energy is so strong that her mood often set my whole day into action. If she is in a good mood, it will be a a good day. If she’s feeling particularly nasty that morning, it rubs off on me and my mood is also sour throughout the day.

Often I use  her as a measure of my self worth. Which seems crazy since she is so moody herself. Over the years I seem to have put a lot of stock in her opinion. I’ve trusted her to be honest and impartial. Honest she is, impartial I am not so sure.

She doesn’t love me. This I know for sure. She can’t. She doesn’t have a heart. She doesn’t have a brain, and really she doesn’t have feelings. Yet I let her determine mine.

What the hell am I thinking?

Today I am getting rid of the manipulator. She can longer determine my mood.

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I will no longer allow her to determine my self worth.

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What a bitch that scale is. Yes, sometimes she tells me what I want to hear. However even that is sometimes a lie. Of all the people in my life that love me, care for me and heck – have a PULSE… why is it that I let an electronic scale have all the power. More power then PEOPLE? That’s just ridiculous.

If I gain a pound am I worth less than I was yesterday. If I lose a pound do I gain a better mood?

Sadly, the answer has been YES all these years. I am sick and tired of being on the scale roller coaster. Of course I still want to take care of myself and be healthy. Isn’t healthy emotional as well? I think it is.

So today is July 1. For the WHOLE MONTH OF JULY I am not weighing myself. I am going to take good care of myself. Eat well. Exercise. Give myself positive affirmations (something the scale NEVER does) instead. I am going to start my day with something that gives me joy, not aggravation.

I am excited to see how this changes me and my feelings about myself and my body. This is not an excuse to let myself go, instead an excuse to embrace myself for all that I am.

Sound good? Want to join me? Leave a comment in the section below and let’s check in Aug 1 and see how we all feel. Also feel free to share with those you love that are also prisoners to the scale. (Men and Women!) Let’s take back the power and declare ourselves #shamelesslyfeminine !

XO,
Jen

  • Melissa - This is great, I’M IN!!!! After having Milania 7 weeks ago I’m so concerned with losing all the baby weight (like yesterday) that I weigh myself everyday. You’re completely right that number determines my mood. I could be in a bad mood over 1 lb or even if I’m the same weight as yesterday, why let something like a number control my day when I should be the only thing determining my mood/day/happiness!ReplyCancel

  • Mandy - Eloquently put! Imagine if when you stepped on a scale, instead of seeing a meaningless number you see a positive word of encouragement instead? Now THAT’S an invention. I’m with you on this one! #buhbyescale… I won’t miss you.ReplyCancel

  • Cheryl - I’m ready to try this.ReplyCancel

  • Elena Rachor - You are totally right. When I moved out at my parents home I never even bought a scale and I feel so much better. It is now 8 years without a scale in my home and it is great because you learn again to listen to your body and doesn’t determine your life and mood by a technical device.ReplyCancel

  • Wendy - This has been my life for SO long! Thank you from the bottom of my heart!ReplyCancel

  • Liz Fox - Amen! I agree that scale is evil! I am with you Jen no scale for meReplyCancel

  • Marney White - It’s probably been a month since I weighed myself…I’m not sure. This is BRILLIANT. Take back the power! I’m posting this to my daughter’s FB page! Thanks. xoxReplyCancel

Summer is here. I can speak for all of us in the Northeast when I say – Hallelujah!! I have never been so happy to say goodbye to winter. Let’s face it though, there’s only one thing worse that polar vortexes, blizzards and brutal winds.

Bathing suit season. 

As usual it has snuck up on us. We go from being bundled up and covered to pretty much naked in what seems like a blink of an eye. It’s hard to think about my bikini and preparing for wearing it in June while there is 3 feet of snow on the ground. So every June I am faced with the reality of putting my very pasty white body, that might have softened a little (or a lot) over the winter into two small pieces of fabric and parade around the town pool for all to see (aka Judge).

It’s this time of year I have remind myself of the lessons I have learned from my past clients. Let’s start with “W” who was so paranoid about her stretch marks on her legs that she never wore a bathing suit. All the years of fun she must have missed out on. The hot, hot days that she wore pants instead of shorts because she didn’t want anyone to think less of her.

Then there was “N” who loves the beach. So much so that she almost cries when talking about it. She told me she stopped going to the beach because she doesn’t want to expose anyone to her cellulite. She stopped doing something she LOVES because of a little bumpy skin on her thighs.

Think about that. It kind of sounds ridiculous. Doesn’t it? Someone that stops herself from fun, enjoyment and making memories just because of a little cellulite.

It’s not ridiculous. At least I don’t think so, because I too suffer from many of the same body conscious issues. I often let my paranoia about my body ruin my fun. Steal my memories. Getting a pit in my stomach when I take off my cover up is no way to live.

I remember “D”. She hated the vein in her head that popped out a bit when she smiled. So, she stopped smiling.

What “D” doesn’t understand is that no one saw the vein but her. Everyone else saw her beautiful smile. Although she did have a few stretch marks on her legs, “W” had the most gorgeous womanly shaped body that I had ever seen. Who on earth would even notice her stretch marks? “N” didn’t really have much cellulite at all. In fact, here is something I have  learned as a boudoir photographer. Almost every woman has cellulite, so why do we look at it like it’s such a horrible disgusting thing that devalues our self worth. Cellulite doesn’t say a thing about us as people. It doesn’t define our character nor does it represent your personality.

These three women were all so different. What they shared in common is that they are so much more than what they let define them. It frustrates me so that they can’t see their real value and self worth. That the physical clouds the emotional.

I have a choice. I can be that way too, or fight it.

When I say fight it, I mean it literally. It is literally a battle to stop myself from feeling bad in a bathing suit. I battle that inner voice that says “You are too fat” or “Who do you think you are wearing this?”. It’s that same voice that pops up day in and day out that makes me feel “less than”.

I talk all the time about women not shaming each other… but it occurs to me that  I have to stop shaming myself first.

Maybe I don’t belong in a bikini, maybe I do. I don’t know the answer to that. What I do know is that today I am going to put one on and not shame myself for it. Not allow myself to be defined by it. Not allow myself to feel vulnerable to what I think other peoples judgements may be.

It may be something small, but it’s a start. It’s the first step on the path to self love. It’s a brain shift. A training of sorts. For years I have given the women the gift of feeling good about themselves. It’s time I give myself the same gift.

#shamelesslyfeminine

xo,

Jen

 

 

 

  • Elena Rachor - Thank you Jen. I battled tears while reading. It is true and such an eye opener.
    Yes I work with women every day and I see so much more in them than the bits and pieces they criticize about themselves. But I don’t see it in myself the critical voice is stronger yes I have to start with myself and be more kind to myself. Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Alan Ottenstein - Hardly a woman, yet I suffer from the same fears and self doubts. I’m working actively at loving and respecting myself more, which helps me put my body issues in a more realistic perspective. Still, looking in the mirror … not a task for the weak of heart. Your writings are very helpful, Jen. Thanks, please keep it up.ReplyCancel

  • Roselyn Farmer - This was forwarded to me from a dear friend, I think for two reasons actually; because you do boudoir photography (I’d like to get one done) and for your heartfelt words.
    Like Elana, I too was in tears reading this. Seems like forever I’ve been shaming myself. Not believing people who say I look great – only because I don’t feel it or see it in myself.
    I too have the pale skin, the lumps and bumps of age and gravity, and the ability to go outside with shorts on – just in case I jiggle.
    Its time I started believing in me, and stop being so critical. Thank you for your words…ReplyCancel

  • Roy Esterhuysen - Jen I’m sure you will rock that bikini…. It’s all about confidence :) Good post btw, think too many ladies compare themselves to the magazine covers and feel they not good enough, I feel a big part of looking good is being confident and happy with the body you have :) ReplyCancel

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