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  • Hi There! My name is Chelsea McGowan, and I’m one half of the husband-and-wife team that is McGowan Images. In the past, my boudoir work has been featured irregularly on our Wedding Photography Blog, but I decided that in 2011, my “Girls On Film” deserved its own little chunk of the interwebs.

    Boudoir photography is one of the most challenging, and most rewarding aspects of my career as a photographer. Every woman deserves to feel beautiful in her own skin, and it is an absolute blessing to be able to create this experience for my clients. When one of my girls walks out of her session saying she feels sexy and confident, well, I consider that a major victory.

    Boudoir portraits are intimate and powerful, whether they’re intended for someone else, or meant as a gift for yourself. While wedding photography is my full time job, I enjoy shooting these sessions every chance I get. This blog will obviously not be updated as often as our wedding blog, but I do hope you’ll check back every so often to see my new work.

    If you’re interested in scheduling a “Girls On Film” boudoir session, I’d love to hear from you! While you’re visiting this site, take time to comment on one of the posts… you’ll probably make the clients’ day, and we could all use that kind of pick me up in our lives!

Boudoir at the Beach

Have I mentioned yet that I love boudoir at the beach? Because I do. I really really really do.

If you are interested in booking a Girls on Film beach experience session, PLEASE message me. We’d be totally willing to set up another day of these shoots sometime this summer if we have enough people to make the drive worth it!:)

In any case, it’s high time I blogged some of the images we shot down there last month. Miss D is a returning GOF client, and I was so excited that she enjoyed her first experience enough to want to sign up again. She came down to the coast with a girlfriend (who’s shoot I’ll be sharing here in a few weeks), and we had the BEST time spending a morning making them both feel like glam goddesses.

Here’s what Miss D had to say about her triumphant return to Girls on Film:

“Even though I’ve come back as a Girls on Film alum, this beach shoot was an entirely different experience from the first time and ENTIRELY worth the 6.5-hour drive to the coast!

Let me explain what I mean by “entirely different experience.”  After my last session, I talked about how it was just the two of us at the S. Bowen studio and how your way with clients helped put me at ease.  This time around, a few more people were involved.  Meg did a FABulous job with hair and makeup and really listened to my input.  She was also available during my shoot to do some hair primping between shots (at least, what COULD be done with the insane wind), a makeup tweak between outfits, and assist with my massive black skirt (especially when I was stuck to the pier!).  Her involvement with this session, and all Girls on Film sessions, is really invaluable.  Your friend Christy was a real hoot, helping to carry your equipment, jumping in on a last-second hair decision, and holding the reflector.  I also had my own friend “Miss M” there, and all three ladies cheered me from the sidelines!  It was like a supermodel experience!

There were also other people, as in, we shot in public!  Now, before any prospective clients start changing their mind about booking a beach session in the future, I want to say that the star treatment and overall experience was so empowering that I didn’t care.  When the five of us hopped out of the car at the pier, I was the only one in a bikini, but it didn’t matter–I looked freakin’ fabulous!  None of the world existed outside of what we were there to do.

THANK YOU for making opportunities like this available!  I believe in what Girls on Film strives to do and am so glad I’ve come away with something (other than GORGEOUS photos) every time.

Miss D, I’ll just say it… I’m 100% ok if Girls On Film is a yearly routine for you. We’ll keep coming up with ways to take it even more over the top!

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See you next week, Foxy Fans!:)

April 15, 2014 - 3:54 pm

megB - All I have to say is, DANG GIRL! Miss D, you TOTALLY worked it at the beach. You were fearless! Thank you for your kind words, and allowing me to part of your shoot!

April 16, 2014 - 1:41 am

Tiffany - I want to hate dawn because she’s so pretty but I can’t because she’s stupid nice. Ugh. Cognitive dissonance.

Vintage Miss M

Miss M admitted she was crazy nervous coming into her session, but I think it’s pretty clear we worked past that. Between the pinup-inspired first outfit and the vintage Todd Oldham silk robe for her second look, she fully embraced the idea of doing a boudoir shoot for herself… this was all about celebrating the woman Miss M is right now in her life. Her email response to seeing these sneak peeks made me tear up…

“CHELSEA!

Let me just start with saying, I am never a woman without words and you have left me SPEECHLESS. 
 
Okay, maybe I have some words. But WOE is my first one. Amazing. The talent you possess is incredible. You have taken this mom of two and made me feel like a fierce woman again. 
 
I cannot thank you and Meg enough. What you have done is open my eyes to what I have and made me feel empowered. 
 
I never, ever saw myself as this person and you’ve made her real. 
 
Thank you. A million, trillion times, thank you.”
And that right there, Girls on Film fans, is why I never ever ever get tired of my job.
Enjoy these selections from an amazing session!
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Laughing will always WIN a session in my opinion.
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Isn’t this robe delicious? As soon as I saw it, I told Meg B we needed to turn the sash into a headband and add a pink lip… I think it took all Meg’s personal strength not to steal the robe right off Miss M’s cute behind.
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You are WONDERFUL. Your spirit is so beautiful, and I’m so grateful you gave me complete control so we could capture some genuine images of the woman you are. Let’s do it again, k?
April 8, 2014 - 3:25 pm

megB - This session will go down as one of my favorites ever. Miss M – YOU are the reason we do this!! I love the way your sessions turned out, and I’ll echo Chelsea’s gratefulness in your complete trust of us. Can’t wait to see you again!

April 8, 2014 - 6:03 pm

Meg T - Not much more for me to say because my feelings are still the same as in the email. So thankful for y’all. And SO doing it again!

April 9, 2014 - 3:47 am

Toi - These pictures are gorgeous! I love the vintage outfits Miss M chose also. They both bring out her eyes and I love the pink lip color! :)

Just because…

I photographed a couple boudoir sessions on the beach last week… and also, had a little fun one evening.:)

See, my girls and I, we’re not necessarily where we want to be, weight-wise. We didn’t have a ton of time to plan. And lord-a-mercy, my hair situation is pretty dire. But man, we have access to huge tulle skirts, and a beach behind us… my camera, and Meg’s brushes. Why WOULDN’T we take the opportunity to snap a few new “just because” shots of us being super girly? The sun was setting, the wind was whipping, and each girl got about 45 seconds in front of the camera. WORTH IT.

I promise, starting Tuesday I have FIVE gorgeous recent full boudoir sessions to share here on the blog. But I just couldn’t resist putting these out here as a little “extra” blog post this week.:)

See ya next week!

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If you’re interested in a Girls on Film beach session (with or without a giant skirt) EMAIL ME. There’s a possibility that we could put together another date this summer if enough ladies are interested… don’t miss out!:)

 

April 4, 2014 - 3:36 pm

megB - Your camera.
My brushes.
CHRISTY’S EYEBROWS.
Thanks for this bestie. I love you most.

April 4, 2014 - 3:45 pm

Christy D. - Meagan. Those eyebrows exist because of you, so ya know, Imma need that everyday now. I love these Chelsea, and I love what you and Meg create together and I’m grateful that I get to be involved sometimes.

April 4, 2014 - 3:50 pm

Dawn - LOVE love love the shots with all three of you! They’re all great, but there’s just something about a dark, moody sky that I just can’t get over. Way to rock those skirts!

April 4, 2014 - 3:57 pm

Jen Seymour - GAWD, TOO MUCH GORGEOUSNESS. My eyes can’t take it!!! Seriously, love it all. The make up. The skirts. The beach. Y’all are beautiful.

April 4, 2014 - 4:02 pm

Angie - So awesome! That last shot is killer!

April 4, 2014 - 4:04 pm

Ambo - HOLY COW! Amazingly beautiful. Both the pictures and the seriously sexy models. Va-Va-Voom ladies!!!!

April 4, 2014 - 4:24 pm

Jenna - LOVE!!!!

April 4, 2014 - 5:40 pm

LeighAnn - UMMMM..first of all y’all all look amazing! I especially love the dark clouds in the last photo and the skirts and the hair but OH MY… Chelsea’s make up looks amazingly amazing! I’ve got to get my self shaped up from this baby so I have can have Meg’s touch and your shooting!! Ahh! Awesome!

April 5, 2014 - 12:02 am

ann - Body issues be damned. All I see are three fabulously gorgeous women. AMAZING!!

April 5, 2014 - 4:52 am

Stevie - Chelsea I am so down to do this!! Id love to see you all too of course.

April 8, 2014 - 3:37 am

Nicole - WOW! You are all stunningly gorgeous!!!!!!

April 9, 2014 - 3:57 am

Toi - I love all the pictures! They look like such fun, and the last picture is also my favorite! Great job and you ladies, look gorgeous.

MegB on Boudoir Makeup…

MegB has been styling hair & makeup for my Girls on Film clients since September 2012, and in that time, we’ve had so much fun developing this together. I love working with the same makeup artist over and over… she knows how I shoot, she listens to what I (and my clients, of course) want, and she’s an advocate for my business. I’ve had so many clients talk after their session about how much they appreciated their time with Meg… being able to slow down and just get pampered helped them get their head in the game before their Girls on Film session ever started.

And let me be clear… I don’t use MegB at Girls on Film because she’s my friend. I use her because she’s incredibly talented. I think she has an amazing gift for hair & makeup styling, a deft hand an an artistic touch that I trust with these clients who put their trust in ME.

So this week, while I’m prepping more spring minis, killer hotel sessions, and some BEACH boudoir to share soon, I thought it would be a good opportunity for MegB to talk about boudoir makeup in her own words.

Take it away, Meggie!

 
First of all, let me say this: I believe in boudoir. I believe in the power of these sessions – I’ve seen with my own eyes the transformation that happens in the before-and-after. I’ve watched women come in with low self esteem, low self confidence, doubtful that this will “work” for them. Doubtful that they will love what they see. I’ve witnessed the “I don’t really know what I’m doing here” attitude. And we work with that. We work with insecurities. We work with body image issues. With “I really wanted to lose more weight before my session.” We work with “I don’t wear makeup or feel glamorous on a regular basis,” and with “I don’t really know what I want.” I am most encouraged by the women who come in a little scared, a little gun-shy, because I’ve seen the way they leave. I’ve read their text messages, and the thank you emails, and liked their post-session #selfies. I’ve been privy to the most glorious transformations. They hold their heads higher, laugh a little freer, and when they look in the mirror – because they approve.

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Naturally, because I feel this way about boudoir, I treat it differently as a stylist and makeup artist. About 90% of the time, a woman sits down and my chair, and gives me free reign to do whatever I’d like – “just make me look beautiful,” she’ll say. And I always smile, and nod, but really, what I’m thinking is, “You already ARE beautiful.” You can’t make someone beautiful. I am not a magician. My palettes and brushes don’t work magic. I don’t have any special tools that can create something from nothing. Rather, my job is to recognize the beauty that already exists, and bring it to life. To play up the features, carve out the cheekbones, smoke the eyes, and tease the hair (because let’s be serious, that’s about 90% of what women want for their boudoir look, whether they vocalize it in those terms or not). My job is to see the potential.

So yes – that’s what I do. My styling for boudoir is all about sexy self confidence, about bringing attention to a woman’s best features. My goal is for her to look in the mirror when I’m finished and say, “that’s ME!!?” There’s nothing more rewarding than that – or the request for me to be their new “in-house daily makeup artist.” It’s pretty cool to see a face light up, and know that they’ll be looking in the mirror in a new way from now on, because they see themselves a little bit differently than they did before.

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I realize at the end of this post, that this is probably not what you were expecting when you saw the title or author. I hope I’m not disappointing you with the lack of a makeup tutorial, or product list. If you like this little detour from the normal photo post, let me know! I’d love to share more stories from behind the scenes of the most gratifying job I never (ever) expected to have.

April 1, 2014 - 9:42 pm

Toi - MegB, I was one of ‘those’ clients who sat in your chair, a little worried about my photo shoot (“Miss T”) and wondered how you would be able to make me look good. And your added challenge was my short hair! I can’t remember but one or two other boudoir clients with short hair. You ended up styling my hair in a smooth, mussed-up way that I hadn’t tried before, and I loved it! You made me look HOT & FEARLESS girlfriend!! And don’t think that the ‘small talk’ we do while you work on us is overlooked. You quietly build up our courage and help us forget we are there to take pictures. And you have a heart of pure gold. :)

Miss T : “Fifty-ish and Fearless”

I was so thrilled when Miss T signed up for her boudoir session. This woman is such an inspiration to me… so absolutely VIBRANT and in love with her life. She challenges me to see the world with new eyes every time I talk to her, and I actively try to be the kind of generous spirit I’ve seen her to be. Not to mention the fact that she’s smokin’ hot and still in love with her beau of three decades… just an alltogether perfect candidate for a Girls on Film session!

Meg & I met Miss T at a swank hotel suite for this session on a gray foggy morning, and after a few donuts and a killer hair & makeup transformation, she was ready to rock!

After Miss T received the email with her “sneak peeks” from the session, she sent back the sweetest email… absolutely made my day, and reminded me yet again why I’m so passionate about boudoir photography for EVERY woman!

“Chelsea, what can I say about these boudoir pictures and what they & YOU did for me?  Looking at these pictures, no one would know I’ve been through transplant surgery, given 5 yrs to live 15 yrs. ago, had major self-esteem issues because of it, been married for 32+ years, and am a new grandmother.  But, throughout the years, I have fought “for life” and all the wonderful things God wants us to experience here on Earth.  I have wanted to do something “for me” for a long time.  I wanted this boudoir session to remind myself that I am a strong, brave, pretty, “50-something” woman who has learned how to love life again. 

Chelsea, YOU helped me see myself in a new way.  My hope for EVERY woman out there who has been through some of the same issues as I have and has reached the big 5-0-ish, is for her to take a step forward (instead of back), embrace where you are in life, and be incredibly proud of yourself and what you’ve accomplished.  Chelsea, thank you so very much  for the beautiful pictures, your patience in posing me with my lack of gracefulness, and your friendship and mentoring.  I think I will make this a yearly event now.  Oh, and Robert says thanks also!!”

Check out a few of my faves…

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T, you’re such a gem… so glad you love these images as much as I do!!

 

March 25, 2014 - 11:51 am

Dawn - So absolutely smokin’ HOT!! No favorites. Love them ALL! Amazing job, as usual, ladies! This is such a beautiful collection for a beautiful soul, and seriously, you rocked it, T! I’m already looking forward to next year’s session =).

March 25, 2014 - 2:11 pm

Toi - Chelsea, thank you again for the WOW pictures (as Robert puts it). LOL Women are so hard on themselves and their body image. I’m so glad my workouts at the gym show up, but my body image ‘flaw’ is the incision down the middle of my body from surgery. We shouldn’t be that way to ourselves, and I’ve slowly learned to wear my incision marks with pride! Thank you so much for these pictures, your friendship and mentoring. And thanks Meg for making me look so good! I will treasure these forever!

March 25, 2014 - 3:47 pm

Mike - I am amazed! Toi is such a great model. Her photos are great. I have looked and can not see any fault with any of them. Your camera captured her essence at it greatest point. She is beautiful inside and now you have shown her outer beauty. Beautiful job on a beautiful lady.

March 25, 2014 - 3:49 pm

Debby Gwin-Patterson - BEAUTIFUL, SEXY…. Toi you have mot aged at all! You are as beautiful as ever. I know your husband loved these shots!!

March 25, 2014 - 3:49 pm

Robert Forswall - These pictures are absolutely amazing. What you can do with a camera is absolutely fantastic. The images of Miss T are so amazing that I am lost for words. I hope other women see that you do not have to be in your 20′s or 30′s to have fantastic photos taken like this.

March 25, 2014 - 6:01 pm

Adria - Ohhhh Toi! Look how gorgeous you are!! Sooooo glad you decided to do this. You deserve to feel as beautiful as you are! Chelsea: seriously. Killer as always.

March 25, 2014 - 6:28 pm

Veronica - Gorgeous pictures of a beautiful lady inside and out. Love ya my friend!

March 26, 2014 - 3:24 pm

JD - WOW, pure beauty. Such a great life story, faith in God, and to see her as the gorgeous and great woman we know. I like the red outfits, but my favorite is the black outfit and pearls, with Miss T sitting/leaning on the arm of the sofa.

March 26, 2014 - 8:00 pm

Xyanthe - Woman, you are absolutely gorgeous! I had noticed you had commented on my own boudoir session photos last month and you called me beautiful. After hearing that an absolute stranger called me beautiful it definitely built up my self esteem and made me feel like a superstar :) I am so glad that you did this session for yourself and that you feel sexier than ever! Keep on being a gorgeous and uplifting woman :) I wish you the best Toi!

March 27, 2014 - 11:49 am

Bill - Smokin – WOW – she must be in her 30′s