Fantasy in the Flesh
I’m a guy. A heterosexual American male who admittedly fits into at least a few of the stereotypes that go along with all that. So, it should go without saying that if I had been given the opportunity to date and/or marry a bikini and/or lingerie model, I would have boarded that train – and shoveled the coal myself if necessary. Alas, I attended a small liberal arts college and met the love of my life right before the Internet really took off and would have made it so easy to track down Elle Macpherson.
You can imagine my excitement, then, when a good friend who is a photographer asked my wife if she would pose for an intimate boudoir session. Poof! All of a sudden, after 13 years with Susan, I was married to a lingerie model, no coal shoveling required.
Getting Down To Business
“My business originally focused on young families, especially kids,” says Cat Mayer of Cat Mayer Photography. “Then I shot some couples and eventually got into weddings. Some bridal clients approached me about creating boudoir books to gift their grooms on the big day. It sounded exciting.
“But first I had to build my portfolio – and get some practice shooting women in lingerie. I asked Susan because, quite frankly, I knew she’d do it. All of my clients have to feel comfortable with me or it will show in the images. But for boudoir, clients have to also feel comfortable with themselves. Susan does—and that shows.”
To be brief (and to steal a line from the great philosopher Britney Spears), Susan is a “put-on-a-show kind of girl.” She’s not an over-the-top exhibitionist, but she’s been known to wear a thong on the beach or flash a group of friends when the situation calls for it. “I’m not a very modest lady,” Susan says with a wink.
It’s part of what makes us work as a couple. Throughout the course of our relationship, countless date nights, anniversaries, and weekend getaways have been fueled by Susan’s flair for provocative mischief. Whether at the beach or the bar, the obvious delight she takes in occasionally showing herself off electrifies me.
I’m also utterly enchanted by erotic photography, so the fact that Susan was going to take her clothes off for a professional photographer was like a tornado had ripped through town and transported all the important players to Rydell Johnson Fantasyland.
Back To Reality
Except that there was no tornado. No Fantasyland. “I have no problem showing off—I enjoy it,” Susan says. “But one of the coolest things about this shoot was that it didn’t feel like an exercise in exhibitionism at all. It was about being sexy and creative at the same time.”
That atmosphere was established right away when Susan arrived for makeup. “I’d never had that done professionally before,” she says. “It was quite fun, and I think it also helped get me into a frame of mind about this being a real photo shoot and not something sleazy in any way. The makeup looked amazing—and out of my ordinary—so that really boosted my confidence about how good the photos were going to look.”
Another confidence builder was that Susan provided all of her own lingerie, outfits she had tried on at home a number of times and felt perfectly comfortable in. She understands that some pieces of intimate wear are well-suited to specific body types, and contrary to what I generally believe, she’s also realistic enough to know that some undergarments, no matter how great they look on the Frederick’s of Hollywood models, won’t be all that flattering on her.
So, she showed up with a few self-approved bra-and-panty sets, a couple garter belts, a teddy or two, and a variety of stockings and heels. “The different kinds of lingerie set up different moods and looks,” she says. “Black lace is Jack Daniel’s and cigars, while pink seems very demure, new bride-ish.”
For Cat’s part, she researched other photographers’ boudoir samples. “I had all these ideas in my head about what I wanted to capture—close-ups and details, smiles, how she holds her hair, where she rests her hands,” she says. “It helped to see how other people caught those little moments.”
Sometimes, of course, the best moments prove to be the ones that aren’t planned for at all. At one point during the session, Susan’s instincts took over and she got a few onlookers involved. “We were in a hotel room on the second floor,” she explains. “They were doing a lot of construction on the building across the street and all morning we had been opening and closing the curtains for different lighting. At some point, one of the guys must have noticed us because all of a sudden there was quite a gathering of workers down there. When I saw them all watching, I decided it seemed like the perfect time to pose on the window sill for some silhouette shots.”
Turns out, one of Cat’s priorities is to be sure that all of her models are involved in the process, that it’s a collaborative effort between client and photographer. “That’s when the creativity flows,” she says. “Many women have their own ideas of what they want, and when we can accomplish that together, it really comes through in the pictures.
“Right then, Susan wanted to hop up on that window sill and give those lucky construction workers a show. She was having fun, totally in the moment, and able to completely commit to the moment for this little performance.”
Cat kept the camera clicking, and captured a tantalizing scene that was both spontaneous and an authentic reflection of her model’s personality.
The Greatest Gift
The rest of the day wasn’t as exciting as my imagination would have had it be. There were no pillow fights, there were no moments of utilizing the camera’s self-timer function to capture an intimate shot of photographer and model “rehearsing” a particularly involved pose, and, sadly, there were no wardrobe malfunctions…none caught on film, anyway. As Susan says, “It was sexy, not sexual.”
The root of the word is the same, but the connotation is completely different. “Being sexy is an attitude,” Susan says. “Doing something like this—while I know it’s not for everybody—sparks a certain fire for sure. I’ve heard some other women say, ‘Oh, I could never do that,’ but I’m not sure why. Even in my skimpiest outfit, I never felt vulnerable; I was glamorous and confident, and working with Cat to pick the poses allowed me to have some ownership over the pictures, too.”
As Susan’s husband, I am set to be the beneficiary of those pictures. And it will be a beautiful present.
Ultimately, though, it might be Susan who scored the real reward. “I had the experience,” she says. “It’s being marketed as a gift to your guy, but ladies should know that it’s just as much a gift to themselves. I was a pampered model for the day. I got to play that fantasy and feel like the most beautiful and sexy woman in the world. Rydell has the pictures—and they’re fantastic—but I lived it. That’s worth so much. I get to remember what sexy really feels like.”
Of course, in addition to the pictures—which are way hot, by the way—I get to say that I’m married to a lingerie model. And that’s definitely worth something.