THE SOPHISTICATED BRIDAL BOUDOIR PHOTO SHOOT
by Jennifer Tallerico
Bridal season is alive and well in New Jersey, and Red Bank bridal boudoir photographer Cate Scaglione sees several brides a week this time of year. As one of the top bridal boudoir studios in the country, Cate Scaglione is booked months in advance by some of the most sophisticated, style-conscious brides, most residing in New York and New Jersey, but traveling from as far as Texas, Florida, California and the Midwest.
I sat down with Cate Scaglione to get some insight into the mind of a sophisticated bride and how she serves them.
TELL US A BIT ABOUT BRIDAL BOUDOIR. WHERE DID THIS GIFT TRADITION COME FROM?
CATE: "It's been a long standing tradition for the bride and groom to exchange gifts on or before the wedding day. Whatever the gift, the idea was to be a more intimate expression of love and commitment, like a personal celebration without all the guests and witnesses surrounding. Typically, the gifts are designed to be of long lasting significance to the marriage. I can't think of a more intimate or long lasting gift than the bridal boudoir album or portraits. Really, in the past few years, it's become one of the most popular (and perhaps even anticipated) gifts exchanged on the wedding day. Some brides wonder what he will do with it... and I say "He'll treasure it, that's what!"
WHERE DOES BRIDAL BOUDOIR FIT EXACTLY IN HER BRIDAL PLANNER?
CATE: "One of the unique things about being a bridal boudoir photographer is that, of all the elements in the bridal planning process... her boudoir session with me is usually one of the last to-do's before the wedding, even though it shouldn't be. This will be one of the most intimate and long-lasting products from that day, and one that impacts her spouse the most profoundly. It's better for her to invest in it and plan ahead. I think most ladies want to lose those last few pounds or feel organized. But none of that really matters ...Truly it makes zero difference in the shoot."
WHAT ARE SOME INSIGHTS YOU'VE GAINED ABOUT SHOOTING BRIDES BEFORE THE WEDDING?
CATE: Wow. This is a big question.
First, I find that her session with me is one of the more therapeutic, or de-stressing activities in her planning process. She usually knows it's a gift for her groom, but ultimately she is treating herself. The afternoon with me is an escape to the mania that can exist in wedding planning. It is like a spa day off in some cases."
Second, I find that I enjoy brides who are doing it for the right reasons. Sometimes I get calls of brides price-shopping bridal boudoir sessions like it's a used car. When you are asking someone to create something intimate of/about you, price should be one of the last questions. It should be more about 'Who can portray me artistically in a way I want to be portrayed,' and 'who will make me feel most confident and comfortable?' ... Not: "Who can I pose in my lingerie for the least amount of money." It's not really about the money for me, and I like clients who that's not their sole focus, either. This is not supposed to be a CHECK-THE-BOX on the to-do list. Your heart has to be in it. Those are the clients I want.
SOME ARGUE THAT INTIMACY IS LOST BY HER TAKING IT OFF. WHAT'S YOUR PERSPECTIVE?
CATE: Lingerie is an accessory, a wardrobe choice. What we are focused on is an expression of her beauty and her expression of intimacy. She could be wearing a down coat and we could still accomplish that. As an all-woman studio, her state of undress it is no different than her getting dressed in front of her bridesmaids on her wedding day.
We are a boudoir studio environment centered on of strong female empowerment. Anyone who cannot appreciate that is not my type of client. And while I can agree this is a gift for her groom/partner...but the experience is solely for HER. It prepares her in unexpected ways. She can reaffirm her sensuality without feeling like it's owned by another.
I never want a bride walking away thinking that the whole idea is solely about what will 'turn on' her partner/groom. Call me a modern feminist here, but in my studio she will only be expressing herself in a way that she feels beautiful and empowered, not about what he thinks is hot. The outcome is if it is true an expression of HER, he should automatically be in love with it.
ALL YOUR BRIDES SEEM LIKE THEY LOOK LIKE MODELS? DO YOU SCOUT FOR ALL THE MOST GORGEOUS WOMEN IN THE NEW YORK CITY / NJ AREA? (No, Seriously)?
CATE: Another photographer asked me this too (Cate laughs)...he thinks I am the official photographer of New Jersey's hottest women." I do laugh, because this is BY DESIGN! -- expertise in posing, lighting, styling, make a huge difference in making a woman look like a model. I can confidently say that one, I have the best hair and makeup artist in New Jersey and NYC area working at my studio. Secondly, I am trained to know how to make women look elegant in their sensuality. It's inevitable they will all look spectacular. But, there's this is a strange phenomenon...
...sometimes the "exceptionally attractive" women seem far more insecure in the session. Don't mistake me, ALL my clients are like gorgeous models to me, I mean that when I say I ONLY CHOOSE TO SEE BEAUTY. But, by popular standards, some clients actually LOOK like models. I find at times these women have a harder time letting go and discovering their true sensuality, than someone who is considered by society as an "average" beauty /average size like myself. These ladies might need a little more hand holding and direction, which I am happy to give. But I can never understand this dynamic.
WHAT KINDS OF STYLING MISTAKES HAVE YOU SEEN FOR THESE SESSIONS?
CATE: In hair and makeup, next to NONE. I require that they use my in-house makeup artist Miranda Richards so that I can assure they will look picture perfect. Sometimes brides will ask Miranda for a look (let's say... a Kardashian contour) that doesn't suit their complexion, but she will gently guide them away if it won't work. They need to trust the process.
With lingerie wardrobe, I try to help brides plan beautifully flattering looks. However, a few times brides have come in assuming the whole wardrobe should look like the bra-and-panty version of a wedding dress. NO! The whites are fun, but you don't need BRIDE across your bottom to express intimacy. If you really wanted to express yourself in a state of love, what would you be wearing? Probably not that.
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WISH YOU COULD TELL A BRIDE LOOKING TO DO A BOUDOIR SESSION?
CATE: This is easy. I can say it like a broken record because I hear the same things from ALL women!
- Yes, you can do this.
- No, you do not need to lose ten more pounds.
- No, no one will ever see these photos unless you'd like them to.
- No, you are not too shy, in fact shy women usually have exceptional sessions.
- No, you should not show up with a bunch of friends. That's what the bachelorette party is for! Make this day about YOU.
- No, bridal boudoir is not cheap, nor should you accept it should be.
- No, you don't need tons of photoshop.
- No, you don't need to look like a model. But you WILL.
- Yes, he will think you look spectacular.
- Yes, this will be the present he never knew...but will be so happy you did.