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Lights, camera, seduction: Boudoir photography takes off

W hen Air Force security advisor Marcus Moreno was stationed in Afghanistan recently, he received a care package from his girlfriend, Laura Garcia. Inside the box were the usual M&Ms, Hershey's Kisses and magazines. And there, sandwiched within the pages of Rolling Stone and Men's Health, were two 8-by-10 photos of Garcia.

She wore a vintage military jacket with Moreno's rank — staff sergeant — and little else, save for a pair of gartered stockings and black peep-toe pumps. Her puckered lips were painted fire-engine red. Her eyes flirted with the camera, accented by false lashes. Her hair was coiffed under a military cap. Va-va-voom.

It was Moreno's fantasy come true.

"I kind of just bawled for a little bit," he said.

'You feel like a sex kitten'

Maybe it's the retro factor. Maybe it's because young women like to flaunt it while they've got it. Or maybe guys just like seeing their girlfriends and wives in various states of undress. Whatever the reason, boudoir photos are in.

Boudoir (from the French bouder, "to pout") or pinup photography captures one's sensuous side — often that of a woman, but occasionally couples or guys who want to show off their physique. Styles range from sultry to playful, but it usually involves the lady wearing lingerie. The pictures make popular gifts for Valentine's Day, Christmas, weddings and anniversaries.

Garcia had her shots done at Buffalo Gal Vintage in St. Petersburg because of the store's emphasis on antique glam. Moreno loved how Garcia looked when she'd get dressed up for a night of swing dancing, and he'd been hounding her to take Suicide Girl-style pics.

"I told her, 'I have an image in my head. I can totally see you like that,' " said Moreno, 29, who now works at MacDill Air Force Base.

Garcia had repeatedly refused, which made it all the more surprising when she mailed him the photos. She later e-mailed him more images from the shoot, which Moreno pulled up on his laptop whenever he missed her. His favorite shot is of Garcia saluting, a smile playing on her lips.

"It's actually very liberating. By the time you're done, you feel like a sex kitten," said Garcia, 30. "He wants me to do it again."

In the meantime, Moreno relishes the framed photos on his desks at work and home. He even catches glimpses of his pinup princess in newspapers; Buffalo Gal Vintage has used Garcia's photo in ads for the store. And Moreno wants to get one of the images tattooed onto his arm.

The photos also helped take the couple's long-distance relationship to the next level. "We moved in together as soon as I got back," said Moreno, who's now been dating Garcia for 13 months. "I've known I've loved her from the get, but those pictures meant more than anything to me. It was the best thing ever, 'cause it was exactly what I saw in my head what she'd look like."

Twice as nice

Sometimes couples get photographed together. Amber James and Eric Parker are getting married March 21. They recently had budoir portraits done by Lisa Presnail of South Tampa Photography.

"We're young, and (we) work so hard to eat right and work out. We're proud of our bodies, and why not capture some photos while you can?" said James, 28, of South Tampa. She said being there with Parker, 36, put her at ease and made the shoot more fun.

"A woman's body is naturally beautiful," James said, "and who doesn't appreciate that?"

Boudoir basics

Whether you're ready to brave a professional photo shoot or perhaps try it DIY-style the privacy of your home, heed these tips.

When choosing a photographer, trust word of mouth and check references. Avoid photogs with a no-escort policy; you'll feel more comfortable if you can bring a friend for moral support.

Get your body photo-ready by shaving, tanning and applying makeup heavy enough to show up on camera. Have it done at a department store counter or, if you're engaged, get a trial run of your wedding-day hair and makeup before heading to the studio.

Use natural lighting if possible.

Have the photographer highlight the parts of your body you and your mate love most. For a more discreet picture, stand behind a gauze curtain.

Keep the props and background simple so they don't upstage you.

Look directly into the camera to create a connection.

Photoshop is your friend. But don't go overboard, removing the mole your boyfriend loves or slimming down your thighs to the point where your husband doesn't recognize them.

To loosen up on the set, bring music — think Christina Aguilera's Candyman, Fergie's Glamorous, Beyonce's Diva. A glass of wine helps, too.

If you have kids, keep the photos in a discreet album. And no matter how hot you think you look, resist the urge to post them online.

Share a few pics with your sweetie, and dole out the rest over time. Stash one in a drawer, the glove box of his car or the freezer for a fun surprise.

Leave something to the imagination.

Ready for your close-up?

Here are seven local studios that ­specialize in boudoir photography.

Beyond Boudoir

Jamie Jackson of Jackson Studio in St. Petersburg and Lisa Presnail of South Tampa Photography have teamed up to offer several packages in studio and on location, ranging from $875 to $1,825. All include a Maison Rouge gift card, professional hair and makeup, wine, hors d'ouevres and at least two hours of shoot time. For details contact Jackson at (727) 365-0112 or, or Presnail at (727) 871-2444 or

Blue Lane Photography

Photographer Zekeshem Parsons offers the following packages: For $325 you get two hours of shooting in your home, your images uploaded to a password-protected online gallery, a CD of your 10 favorite images, photo editing, an online slideshow with music and a $50 product credit. For $675 you get the above plus a three-hour session at a boutique hotel or other private location, hair and makeup styling, champagne and light refreshments, a $50 product credit and 10 percent off fine lingerie at The Pink Petticoat in Hyde Park. For $975 you get the above plus 15 images on CD, a $75 product credit, a 9- by 9-inch custom photo book and 15 percent off fine lingerie at The Pink Petticoat. Book by Feb. 28 and get a 20 percent discount on any boudoir package and a free wallet book. (813) 843-5884;

Buffalo Gal Vintage

The Pinup and Hollywood Glamor packages are shot by Fiona Bagwan. Packages include a disc with all shots from the shoot, about 90 minutes of costuming, hair and makeup, plus wine, fruit and a cheese plate. The shoots last 30 minutes to an hour. For $350 you get one look and three edited 8- by 10-inch prints. For $450 you get two looks and four edited 8-by-10s. To be photographed outside of the shop, add $25 or more. 1219 Martin Luther King Jr. St. N, St. Petersburg, (727) 290-8468;

The Gallery Studios

Photographer Steve Poisall's most popular boudoir shoot is the $500 package, which includes a one-hour photo session, glass of wine, in-studio viewing of a slide show set to music (available for purchase) and 25 retouched images set in a 9- by 9-inch hard-cover book. Also available are additional retouching packages, calendars, wall portraits and themed photo shoots. 705 S Rome Ave., Tampa, (813) 254-9575; thegallery­

Maison Rouge

The store offers girls' night out packages: $50 an hour for up to 10 people, $75 an hour for up to 20 people, $100 an hour for up to 30 people. Two hour minimum. The parties include a 15 percent discount on non-sale items and free professional bra fitting. Add a professional photographer for $75 an hour. Food, champagne, DJ, makeup artist, masseuse, flowers, limo, a party with owner Rhonda Shear and other add-ons are available for an additional cost. 300 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg, (727) 898-8400;

Robert Crum Photography

For $100 per outfit — with a two-outfit minimum — Crum will take 100 shots in his South Tampa studio, which includes interior and exterior backdrops. You get four enlarged prints of your four favorite shots in each outfit. Hair, makeup and a CD with all the edited images, as well as calendars and other items, are available for an additional cost. 5260 S MacDill Ave., Tampa, (813) 839-3719; robertcrum­

Summer Urso Photography

Sessions are held at Urso's homor at the home of the client. Get two hours of unlimited shooting and outfit changes, 30 edited photos on a high-resolution DVD, four 5-by-7 prints of your choice and a password-protected online gallery for up to 90 days for $250. For additional costs, makeup artist ($75) and unedited proofs on disc ($50) are available. (813) 545-2208; summer­

Lights, camera, seduction: Boudoir photography takes off 02/12/09 [Last modified: Thursday, February 12, 2009 1:54pm]
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