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Photograph by Cheyenne Gil 


Body Positive Boudoir


Cheyenne Gil, a body positive boudoir photographer based in Philadelphia, is changing the way we think about boudoir photography. Cheyenne and I got to chat about starting up her boudoir practice and how it has changed her own life and the lives of her clients. I only met Cheyenne once before our interview but once we started talking it felt like we were old friends; she was immediately talkative and open to sharing intimate details about her life. She brings her bubbly personality and honesty to every photoshoot she does, allowing her to connect with her clients on a deeper level.

Historically boudoir photography has been focused on the male gaze, creating sexy images for a lover or partner but Cheyenne’s sessions are all about the women. Many of her clients are single and book a photoshoot with Cheyenne for themselves. The shoots give women of all sizes the opportunity to see their bodies in a new light and leave with a renewed sense of self-empowerment.

Photograph by Cheyenne Gil 


How did you first get into boudoir photography?

I was 20 or 21 at this point.

Boudoir was a thing but it was different... it was pearls and thongs and high heels...it was super sexualized.

My mom and I were having a conversation and she was like, “why don’t you just make it your own? Instead of making it about sex and the male gaze just make it about the woman and her self.”

And I was like “Hell Yeah!” So with that in mind, 5 minutes after that conversation, she was the first boudoir photoshoot I did.

My mom has struggled with body image and eating disorders her whole life so watching her transform as I was photographing her was unreal. She was giggling and laughing and playing with her hair and wasn’t even worried about looking in the mirror. She was totally feeling herself. If I can make my mom feel this way I want to make every woman feel this way.
Photograph by Cheyenne Gil


For women who come to work with what do you think the most important part of the photoshoot is?

Everyone leaves feeling empowered. That is what it boils down to. It is empowering for them and for me. It is such an awesome experience.
Photograph by Cheyenne Gil


What do you do as a photographer to make women comfortable?

I give all my energy to them. I make sure we feel like we are friends and often I become friends with my clients. Making sure they know it is a safe environment is the most important thing.

Do you have any tips that you use in sessions that women can take home with them to practice in their daily lives?

The photos are a big reminder when they are having a bad day or they are obsessing over food or working out. They become grounded when they pull out their images and can say this is me and I don’t have to freak out over my body.

What is your favorite part of your photo practice?

All of it. Haha
Photograph by Cheyenne Gil


How has your body positive boudoir practice shifted your own body image (if at all)?

I struggled really hard when I was a little girl and a teenager and it stopped me from living my life. It was literally a 24/7 reel of I’m not good enough, I’m not skinny enough, I’m not this, I’m not that.
I was on my way to feeling much better when I started boudoir. I started taking a lot of self portraits because I couldn’t find a lot of clients who would let me share images. When I have those bad days I take a step back and look at the images I have taken of other women; those images inspire me so much.

What has been the most difficult aspect of running your own business?

The most difficult thing is social media. I love what I do and it is necessary for me to give that much energy but it also is physically, mentally and emotionally draining.

I share my whole heart and soul but sometimes I feel like I want to crawl into a hole and go to sleep for a while.

Have you had any experiences running a business as a woman that you don’t feel you would have had as a man?

The only time is with people who don’t know me and just think I am a little girl with a camera. If I were a man and said I was a photographer people wouldn’t undervalue what I do. As a woman a lot of people just think it is a hobby.

Photograph by Cheyenne Gil


How do you see your business transforming in the future/what’s on the horizon?

I am still really thinking about that question. I love what I do now. I love facilitating events for women, which I have been doing. So more of that.

Check out Cheyenne’s full portfolio on her website or follow her on instagram.

                                                                                                                               

      
                                     
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