How a session in the boudoir improves women’s confidence

Jaqui Renou by Mikaela Morgan of Strictly Boudoir
Jaqui Renou by Mikaela Morgan of Strictly Boudoir

Glamorous granny Jaqui Renou is 52, has six children and nine grandchildren. Abena Bailey finds out how this picture helped her deal with self esteem issues and learn to like herself again

Photographer Mikaela Morgan has found an unusual niche in the market that sees her go to visit women at their homes or in hotel rooms to photograph them scantily clad in sexy poses.

She doesn’t work for lads’ magazines or tabloid newspapers and the women in the pictures are not models. In fact, many of them don’t even like their bodies very much.

Welcome to the world of the boudoir shoot, which is fast becoming as popular in the leafy suburbs of Berkhamsted, where Mikaela is based, as it is where it first took off in the cosmopolitan districts of America.

It is a world in which everyday women can live out their fantasies of being a 1950s pin-up, a lingerie model or mistress of seduction to make them feel better about themselves.

The photographs can completely transform the way a woman sees herself and help with body confidence issues and low self esteem.

One of Mikaela’s first clients, 52-year-old Jaqui Renou, who has six children and nine grandchildren, is a classic example of why the photographer has embraced the concept.

Jaqui said: “I’m not body confident, I’ve had six children. People always say to me that I am lovely the way I am and I wouldn’t look right if I was skinny, but I don’t see it and I do try to hide myself a lot.

“It comes from being married for 18 years to someone who told me that I was fat and used to say if I dressed up in something nice that he would just laugh at me.

“If you have been married for that long to someone who has been so negative it has an effect. I left the marriage with no confidence and I didn’t like myself.”

Jaqui is a family friend of Mikaela’s and the two were at a get together when Mikaela told her about the boudoir shoots and how popular they had become since she started them back in March.

On average she does two photo shoots and week and demand has increased so much Mikaela will be opening a studio for them at Home Farm on the secluded Gaddesden Estate next month.

Jaqui decided to give it a try: “I had seen Mikaela’s work before and I thought it would be great if she could make me look as good as the women in her photographs.”

For each shoot Mikaela creates a set complete with red satin drapes, vintage chairs and silk bed sheets.

She also brings in a hair stylist and make-up artist to work on her client before she helps them into provocative poses.

She said: “As well as using my own judgement, I always have a chat with the women to find out what she likes and what she doesn’t like about her body, so that I know which parts to play down.

“There are a few tricks you can use such as bringing the arms away from the side to make hips appear smaller or hiding a tummy by photographing a client lying on her back.

“It’s all about finding flattering angles and I always find curvy women easier to photograph because curves are the embodiment of womanhood and they tend to suit beautiful lingerie, such as corsets and baby dolls.”

The end result can be shocking for women who are very critical of their bodies and spend most of their time honing in on the parts they don’t like.

If they want, Mikaela will airbrush pictures to get that ‘magazine feel’ or do more subtle editing for a more natural look.

Jaqui said: “My photographs made me think that I didn’t look as bad as I had imagined.

“In fact I loved the whole experience – I thought I was shy and discovered that I wasn’t at all.

“This whole other person came out, I call her my inner minx. I didn’t even know she was there and now feel like a free spirit and I like myself again for the first time in ages.”

Jaqui’s photograph takes centre stage in her bedroom as a reminder of how beautiful she is.

She went from a person who hid her body to a model on Mikaela’s Strictly Boudoir website.

Her picture, above, features alongside a selection of ordinary women, who have posed in their own photo shoots for a variety of reasons.

Some have done it as gifts for their husbands or partners while others have wanted to keep a memento of themselves at a milestone in their life, such as a special birthday or on finding out they are expecting a baby.

Mikaela explained: “I want women to look at my photographs and realise that the people in them are not models, but everyday women like themselves.”

See more pictures on the website at www.strictlyboudoir.co.uk