In someone else's Arena District apartment, Christina Hamel lounged in a lacy bra and panties as the photographer she had just met posed her seductively on a leather couch, the bed, the floor. "Really look into the lens, and pretend you're looking at your man," said Sunshine Rizzolo, shooting pictures as Hamel touched her professionally curled hair and gave a half-smile and half-pout.
In someone else’s Arena District apartment, Christina Hamel lounged in a lacy bra and panties as the photographer she had just met posed her seductively on a leather couch, the bed, the floor.
“Really look into the lens, and pretend you’re looking at your man,” said Sunshine Rizzolo, shooting pictures as Hamel touched her professionally curled hair and gave a half-smile and half-pout.
“Put your hands on the pillow like you’re crawling.
“Lean onto your bra straps. Yes. Oh, my — perfect. Ooh.”
“Can you get your butt, like, straight up in the air?”
On the morning of her wedding in May, the best man will deliver to the subject’s fiance the outcome of the recent shoot: a photo album tied with a black bow and labeled “For your eyes only."
Hamel, 23, spends most days managing a retail store at Easton Town Center, not creating sexy photos.
A boudoir shoot, she thought, would make a romantic surprise for her fiance (more so than her other gift idea: a computer) — and offer her the chance to become a model for a day, too.
“I’m a homebody: I go to work, and I sit on the couch and watch TV,” said Hamel, 23, of the University District.“It’s something for him, but it’s also something to do for me. .?.?. It’s definitely a confidence booster.”
As gifts for significant others or just for themselves, women in central Ohio are increasingly posing for photos once reserved for the pages of Maxim or a Victoria’s Secret catalog.
Rizzolo couldn’t name any Columbus-area boudoir photographers in 2008, when she started Powder Puff Pinups with a friend.Today, she knows of at least a dozen — with some businesses, including hers, focusing on the boudoir.
“There’s a demand for it,” said Rizzolo, who shoots in rented locations ranging from the apartment to a garage full of classic cars. “It’s not that there are too many photographers; it’s not that our market is saturated.”
Columbus Boudoir, established by Heather Walker in 2008, has been booked at least a month in advance by women planning for weddings, anniversaries, Valentine’s Day and other occasions.
Walker calls the photos a “luxury item”: A session at Columbus Boudoir, which includes professional hair and makeup services, might take four hours and cost $495 or more.
She requires that clients spend a minimum of $500 on products — usually discreet albums but also custom pillowcases and, once, a puzzle.
Yet she has no shortage of interested women: At her 3,500-square-foot studio in Powell, she said, she has averaged a shoot a day.
Worldwide, too, the boudoir effort has become “amazingly huge,” said Denver photographer Erin Zahradka, who in 2010 founded the Association of International Boudoir Photographers.
The group has 200 members, but she figures that boudoir photographers number in the thousands.
Inspiration spreads online, with brides discussing gift ideas on the wedding website TheKnot.com or, as Hamel did, noticing boudoir photos on the bulletin-board site Pinterest.
In the Marysville area, photographer Erica Peerenboom receives calls from women who can’t pronounce boudoir — but have been told about her home studio.
Boudoir by Erica clients tend to show their photos to other people because they don’t necessarily show anything, with some covering themselves with bedsheets or wearing dresses instead of lingerie.
“It’s more implied and classy,” said Peerenboom, who, like some but not all other boudoir photographers, doesn’t shoot nudity.“It’s the glamour shots of yesteryear, just updated.”
Photographers try to make the shoots fun, helping women loosen up with champagne, music and friends laughing in the background.They coach their subjects through poses, figuring out how to highlight assets and downplay insecurities.
“People have this idea that they have to act sexy in front of the photographer. That’s just not how it is,” said Shannon Sano, a Westerville photographer who works for Boudoir by Shannon.
“We’re laughing; we’re joking. They’re being themselves.”
The photos sometimes have more serious purposes, with women documenting themselves after weight loss or before or after cancer treatment.
Peerenboom once photographed a terminally ill woman who planned to leave the pictures to her husband.
One of Sano’s clients wanted to capture her newfound comfort with her body after having three children and, because of a high genetic risk of breast cancer, a double mastectomy. The photos remind Stephanie, who asked that her last name not be used because of her career, not to worry about her flaws or the numbers on a scale.She wasn’t at her ideal weight during the shoot last year but still thought she looked great, as did her husband.
“He enjoys them,” she said, “but I enjoy them just as much, if not more.”