Guest post by Molly Ashlie, Boudoir Photographer, Moss Photography, Vancouver Island, Canada

“. . . Once we begin to feel deeply, all the aspects of our lives, we begin to demand from ourselves and from our life-pursuits that they feel in accordance with that joy which we know ourselves to be capable of. Our erotic knowledge empowers us, becomes a lens through which we scrutinize all aspects of our existence, forcing us to evaluate those aspects honestly in terms of their relative meaning within our lives.”

“The erotic is a resource within each of us that lies in a deeply female and spiritual plane, firmly rooted in the power of our unexpressed or unrecognized feeling.”

“Of course, women so empowered are dangerous. So we are taught to separate the erotic from most vital areas of our lives other than sex.”

~ Audre Lorde

For most of my adult life, I shied away from the use of the word “erotic”. It felt too sexual, too sensationalized. All I could imagine when using that word was a predescribed set of expectations and desires projected onto me by the patriarchy we exist in.

I felt in order to be “erotic” I needed to be highly sexualized, plasticzed, festished, pornographic in nature. It wasn’t until I read “The Uses of the Erotic” by Audre Lord that I felt a deep shift in how I related to the word, and feeling, of eroticism.

I could see the eroticism in every aspect of my life – from my relationship with my sensual self, to how I expressed myself through art, and how I helped my clients express themselves in front of my camera.

We’ve been cut off from knowing and integrating our true deep erotic selves. Told that we can only access that part of ourselves in the bedroom, behind closed doors, and only at the whim of someone else.

What a lie we’ve been fed, to keep that powerful side of ourselves small and inaccessible in other aspects of our lives.

To be in touch with your erotic side is to be in touch with your sensual and spiritual self. It’s to dance with the life-force where you came from, what drives you, where creativity is born, and where our deepest desires and knowledge of ourselves lay.

We exist in a culture that is constantly marketing to us. Selling us it’s ideals and ideations of what they want us to be. It leaves us with deep scars and traumas around our bodies, our sexuality, our sense of self, and our connection to our erotic and sensual selves.

Not one person exists within this society without an ingrained bias around their bodies and relationship with themselves. Not one.

So it’s no wonder that there are those of us out there trying to unlearn those biases, and relearn our truth. There are many ways to reconnect and access those parts of ourselves that have been minimized and neglected, and boudoir photography has been my way to rediscover that in myself, and help others heal in turn.

When clients come to me for boudoir photography, it’s usually because they want to unearth a part of themselves they feel like they’ve lost.

That they’ve been made to feel “small” for years, or that they’re never good enough – or a million different ways to say that they’ve lost touch with that life force, that inner fire, or that eroticism.

After 5 years in this industry, capturing hundreds, maybe thousands, of humans in front of my lens, I’ve been able to attribute my success at what I do to one thing: creating a safe container for exploration.

When people feel safe to fully embrace themselves and explore themselves, that’s when the real magic is unleashed. It’s a perfect pairing when that safe space is introduced to a client who is willing to do the work and embrace the experience.

I try to make the boudoir experience a vacuum of exploration.

Before a session I ask them their intention, and if they feel called to, we meditate together before we dive into the boudoir session. This helps them step into that intention more fully, and ground into their body before we start the shoot.

Throughout the session I offer my clients invitations to breathe deeply (in through the nose, out through the mouth) to really get into the breath, and into their body.

I pair this with what I call “body tracers” – an invitation and encouragement for my client to place their hand on their body, and feel themselves. Feel the touch of their own skin on their skin. This has a dual purpose, it helps create a dynamic pose with movement, and it also gives them a chance to feel themselves, to be with themselves, to explore themselves.

I often say that boudoir is more sensual than sexual – it’s about enlivening your senses and indulging in the simplicity of being present in the moment with yourself. This is often a gateway to deeper exploration at home as well, however that manifests for each individual client.

Sometimes clients tell me how they went home and took incredible self portraits, being able to see themselves in a new light. Or a photography session gifts people with the ability to see themselves as the sexual and beautiful beings that they truly are – and they are able to start chipping away at all the judgement and negativity placed on them by our society.

Boudoir photography is a powerful tool to get closer to your sensual and erotic self, it’s a place to arrive just as you are, and see how powerful and magical you are just by existing.

It can be a profound start to your healing journey, a supplemental tool to connecting with yourself on a deeper sensual level, or a catalyst that ignites exploration at home in many different ways.

I will forever be grateful for every client who entrusts me to help capture them in this way, and to be a part of their process of reconnecting to their sensual and powerful self.

Molly Ashlie is a boudoir photographer located on Vancouver Island, Canada. After discovering the transformative and empowering power of boudoir photography 5 years ago, Molly has honed in on cultivating this craft of self-love photography to help her clients heal themselves in front of her lens.

Her motto is “my art heals my clients, and my clients heal me” – truly honouring the mutual energy exchange and transformative powers that this artform holds. When not in her studio with her clients or creating YouTube videos, Molly can be found hiking and exploring the beautiful island she calls home.