Boudoir is the art of intimate photography that highlights sensuality ususally reserved for the bedroom. When it comes to boudoir photography, most are familiar with images of Rihanna modeling her Savage X Fenty collections, or the luxurious campaigns of Agent Provocateur. But there’s an entire side of Boudoir that rarely gets attention: the experience of empowered, fat femmes.
There are so many reasons to indulge in your very own boudoir photoshoot, but ultimately, the celebration of self is the most enjoyable. Alex Williams, the founder of APW Media, is a Raleigh-based creative that incorporates spirituality and sensuality into her photoshoots. As both the subject and the photographer, she’s been able to forge an entire journey of self-love through lingerie-laced art and aura readings — her sessions are a spiritual experience.
Coining herself a “fat-positive and body-affirming boudoir photographer,” Williams takes pride in pushing back on stereotypes. In the world of modeling, it’s no secret that skinny has somehow become a standard, but that narrative is dangerous and excludes the truth: Modeling is a skill and there’s no one “right fit.”
“The first shoot I actually did [was] a wedding present to my husband,” Williams tells us. She absolutely loved the experience and began to shoot others from behind the camera while still working a 9-5. “I started taking pictures of women and that’s how I built up my portfolio.”
That was a great flow for her, until a peer was looking for a plus-sized woman for a boudoir shoot and she went for it. “I enjoyed it and thought, ‘Well, why don’t I do this more?’ Because I’ve only taken self-portraits.”
“So I said f-ck it and started modeling for my friends mostly,” she says. “This past November, I had my friend take digitals of me and I submitted them to a few local agencies, and got accepted into one in Greensboro. I never intended to do any modeling, and now we’re here.”
The benefits of embracing your sensual self are endless. For starters, if you decide to share the experience with another person, you can treat a lover with your sensual photos like Williams did on her wedding day, or you can plan an entire Galentine’s Day aesthetic photoshoot for your own eyes.
“My mother used to model back when she was a teenager, so I’ve always seen her glam headshots — she was my idol as a kid. I always thought, ‘Ugh, I want to be that glamorous woman.’ You know, in the back of my head, because I didn’t really think I could do that,” Williams reflects. “Until I did my first boudoir session and realized, ‘Oh, I actually am a bad b-tch. I am this glam person.’”
The beauty of boudoir is that it has no limits, and you should never set any either.
”You can either be at peace with yourself, or you can be at war … and I’m going to choose peace every time.”
The biggest misconception of boudoir is that “people think its slutty — as if slutty is a bad thing,” Williams notes. ”Or that it’s just naked women.”
There are a lot of misconceptions about what boudoir truly is and who can participate. She makes it clear that there are no limits. Anyone can do a boudoir shoot — all you need is a desire to know yourself deeply.
“Literally everyone wants to be at home within themselves and feel that sense of love for themselves, but they’re so caught up in what society shames us into thinking.” Williams has never been keen on taking criticism from others, because as a fat femme, her confidence has become her armor. “And that opened up a whole other route of shadow work I had to do,” she laughs.
Affirmations are the backbone of this journey and unlearning shame. Williams shares, “I literally have ‘I’m living an orgasmic life on my vision board.’ I have to look at that every day because it’s the same for me, the world makes you feel like sh-t about it.”
Williams goes on to share more of her affirmation practice, courtesy of The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity.
“Three pages of conscious writing, whatever comes to mind. While doing that I’m visualizing and creating my dream, orgasmic life. It helps me get out of my emotional head. It’s also helped me a lot with my body journey and sensuality journey … it’s like therapy.”
Williams not only shoots body-affirming boudoir photography, but also incorporates enhancers like aura readings. ”Cue “Aura” by Lady Gaga,” she says.
“I had done a boudoir photoshoot and I wanted to create something that was a specific experience … because when you get ready for a photoshoot, it’s a certain type of energy you tap into.”
She asked herself, “‘How can I tap into that even further?’ Aura work just makes it feel like a whole other experience. It’s photography and you also have something you could take home with you that day. It’s not just about the picture.”
“Boudoir is a life-changing experience and that’s what got me on my self-love journey.”
Body image is a huge factor that can affect your confidence, especially when selecting lingerie. It can be overwhelming, but Williams reminds us that “so many bodies can do the same outfit.” Always look at reviews, and don’t be too picky. Push yourself to try things you would avoid due to fear or societal pressures.
Her foolproof tip: “Tap into your teenage self and what she’d like to wear … whatever moves you.” Her personal favorites and biggest inspo are Lady Gaga and Janet Jackson‘s provocative energy — her iconic reminder of how glam she truly is.
“Whatever you’ve been struggling to tap into, maybe it’s time to tap into it with lingerie or boudoir. Life’s too short.”
If you’re struggling with body image, you’re not alone. It’s actually normal to be nervous. “But if you feel that itch … like, okay I’m going to be scared but it’s going to be worth it, go for it — because it is,” she remarks. “It’s going to change your life.”
She also shares that you should look for people who already highlight and represent your body type in their work. It’ll make you feel more comfortable.
During our interview, Williams pulled an affirmation card from her affirmation deck that grounds her daily. She pulled the card of self-compassion which read: “I am compassionate: I understand how important it is to have compassion for myself and for others as well … everyone’s doing the best they can with what they have.”
Tap into your sensuality and book your empowering boudoir photoshoot for Valentine’s Day with Williams.