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Inspire Me Photography Interview #14 } The Boudoir Divas

Today’s inspire me Friday is with a diva duo who has taken the photography industry by storm. Kimberlee & Marissa, better known as The Boudoir Divas had a goal to bring boudoir back and I don’t think anyone can deny that these California girls have done just that! In fact they’ve done it so well, that they’ve taken it international! I love reading their mission statement, and think they say it perfectly when they say, “He gives us the resources and creativity to create a classy and romantic piece of art that ignites confidence and excitement in a wife. Re-enforcing beauty in a woman and romance between a couple.”
We as woman can be so hard on ourselves, what a fabulous gift to not only have someone see the beauty in you, but capture it on film (or – urrr – SD card) and prove it to you! So lets get’s to know the divas!

1. What’s in the Bag?
Our favorite pieces of equipment in our Shootsac: Canon 5D Mark2 & the 50mm 1.2 lens

2. Was there a defining moment when you knew you wanted to pursue?
photography professionally?   Marissa always knew that she wanted to own a business that would make women feel beautiful, and she wrote out the first business plan for the boudoir studio when she was 18 years old (this was before she even knew what boudoir was… she just knew that she wanted to create an experience where she could photograph women and create beautiful pieces of art that would instill confidence in them).

3. How long have you been in business?
Marissa and her husband Weston began shooting weddings in 2003 (, and at that time, Marissa was also shooting boudoir for some of her brides.  I (Kimberlee) joined the studio in 2006, and then our Boudoir Divas’ studio was launched full-force in 2007.  We were blown away by how popular boudoir became once we launched our business plan, and in just a few short years, we moved from a 1-car garage into a 4,500 square-foot studio… we began shooting an average of 20-30 boudoir shoots per month… we hired 4 other staff members… and Marissa and Weston now no longer shoot weddings, because the boudoir business has taken off!

4. If you could only give one speech, for one hour, for one million people, what ONE WORD would that speech be about?

6. What’s been your best marketing idea?
If you know anything about us, you know that we LOVE marketing… and we absolutely LOVE to go all-out when it comes to our marketing and building buzz for our business.  Our best marketing program was the one we launched at the beginning of launching our business back in 2007.  We called it our “Bringing Boudoir Back!” campaign, because at that time, boudoir was considered very old-school. We launched a full-force marketing program that included advertising on popular bridal websites, as well as major bridal publications, including Grace Ormonde Wedding Style Magazine.   Most people thought we were crazy when we said that we wanted to give boudoir photography a facelift and help create a new association to the word, but we were determined to bring boudoir back. Three years later, we are happy to say that boudoir, IS, in fact, BACK!!  🙂
7. What activity always makes you lose track of time?
Brainstorming sessions when we get to dream and come up with crazy new ideas for our business!

8. How many shoots do you like to do a week to be in your happy place?
We have 4 photographers here at our studio, and together we are able to handle about 6-8 shoots per week, plus 1 Pin-Up Party per week.  Personally, Marissa and I only shoot our high-end, top package, so we usually just shoot 1 session per week.  That’s the perfect number for us!

9. What would be your ideal session?
We love shooting all women, of all shapes and sizes.  Honestly I love the sessions where my client is extremely nervous and almost wondering why she’s even doing this.  It is SO much fun to see the transformation that happens in a client when she begins to warm up, and then toward the end of the session, when she realizes that she is drop-dead gorgeous… seeing that confidence emerge is just the best part of this job.

10. Where might we find you if your not working?
Marissa: at the beach with my hubby Weston and our 2 ‘furry kids’ (Boston Terriers named Puddy and Elaine).
Kimberlee: Hanging out with my nephew at Disneyland!

11. Tell us about you usual workflow?
We are happy to say that our post-procession workflow is now completely streamlined… to the point that we are able to do same-day viewings for ALL of our shoots!  Here’s how it goes: Immediately after a session, we have our client leave the studio for an hour, to go grab lunch or a cup of coffee… and while they’re gone, we download their images and edit and process in Lightroom, using presets that we’ve created to go with all of our distinct sets and lighting set-ups.  When the client returns in one hour, we have her proofs all ready to go, and we show them to her during her viewing session (this is where she has to place her order).  Once she’s ordered her products, our in-house designer will image her selections and design her album, and the final product is ready in 2 weeks.

12. What is your favorite professional photography product(s)?
So many things… our camera equipment and lighting equipment are a huge part of getting the ‘look’ we create for all of our images.  But if we had to choose one thing, it would have to be Lightroom!  This program has cut down our post-production time by hours, and our entire workflow has changed because of it!

13. Has there been a book/workshop that you feel was instrumental in your early years?
The Disney Way” was an influential book for our business, because we love the way Walt Disney dreamed big – and then implemented those dreams and made his dreams become reality!  In the early years, attending classes at WPPI was also extremely beneficial for us to gain inspiration and ideas about the trends in the industry.

14. What have you always found to be easy?
Marketing!  We love creating unique marketing programs, then seeing those programs through to completion, from creating taglines to writing press releases to designing postcards and advertisements.  We just love the entire creative process that goes along with marketing and building buzz for our company!

15. Have you felt effects from the economy in your business?
This past year, we saw a few months that did seem to be effected by the economy.  However, as a whole, we are thankful and very blessed to be able to say that we haven’t been affected.  A few months ago, we raised our prices again, making our boudoir packages the most expensive in our market ($950-$2400)… whenever we raise prices, it’s always a little nerve-wracking, but so far this new pricing structure has been great for us.

16. What would you label as your professional weakness?
Is ‘workaholic’ an acceptable response for a weakness?  🙂 This is something that Marissa and I both struggle with; there are days where we will both be in the studio for 10-12 hours, and we have to look across the desk and tell ourselves that we need to go home!

17. What question do you look forward to being asked?
“What’s the best part of your job?”

… and the answer is?
The best part of our job is definitely seeing the look on the womens’ faces when they see the final product. So many women have harsher than necessary views on their own body and seeing the transformation from the first moment they walk in the door to when they leave that day and how much more confident they become and how you can tell they truly realize how beautiful they really are is priceless.  When they say things like “wow, I am hot!” and “I can’t believe that is really me!” are the reason why we do what we do. 🙂

18. What has been the highlight of your career?
Speaking at Imaging USA in January 2010.  It was the culmination of so many dreams… having the opportunity to speak about something that we are so incredibly passionate about, and sharing our speaking program (“Boudoir Is The New Black”) with over 1,000 photographers was just an amazing moment for us.

19.  When you’re getting to have “me time” what are you doing?
Eating dinner with friends’ downtown, spending time with our families, hiking at our favorite spot in San Diego, enjoying a day at the beach, or hanging with Mickey and crew at Disneyland!

20.What’s the most common mistake you see newbie’s making?
When it comes to boudoir, the most difficult aspect is often posing.  We see a lot of newer boudoir photographers struggle with finding poses that are flattering for all body types… there are many common mistakes we see with posing!  This is one of the main reasons why we created our Posebook.

21. So what’s in-store for The Boudoir Diva duo next??

The biggest thing on the horizon for the Boudoir Divas is our awesome REFERRAL LIST! Why did we decide to create our referral list? In short, it’s because we get TONS of inquiries every week from potential clients from across the US and around the world who are interested in finding a boudoir photographer that has a similar style to our photography… and we would LOVE to have a place where we can list the TOP BOUDOIR PHOTOGRAPHERS in every city, state, and country worldwide!

Needing more boudoir divas inspiration? They have plenty for ya!

Sign up for the Divas’ monthly e-newsletters, with tips and tricks for boudoir!

And you can also find out more at the following links:



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