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Each client has a different reason for having boudoir photos taken: a gift for their lover, a treat to themselves, a way to feel sexy, a memento of this exact moment in time. Whatever their motivation for scheduling a photo shoot with UNVEILED, they all come out with the benefit of feeling empowered. As client Lisa Wilson describes it, “The session was transformative. I went from being frightened, uncertain, and uncomfortable with my own body to feeling at home and sexy in my own skin.”
This incredibly intimate experience then turns into a sense of community and support for many UNVEILED clients. Until now, most of that connection has been maintained online through a private Facebook group page hosted by the staff at the studio. The site started as a way for clients to share their photos and feedback but has provided a medium for building connections and boosting each other up. Samantha McGranahan, owner and photographer at UNVEILED, hoped the online group would be helpful but she did not realize how much it would mean to her clients. “I thought the women would enjoy seeing other people’s photos and share ideas,” says McGranahan. “But I started seeing this community of support and kindness develop through the comments. It was wonderful.”
Through this online connection, clients continue carrying the feelings of confidence and joy that was sparked during their photo session. That empowerment and support has impacted clients like Wilson in many ways, beyond feeling good about their looks. “The engagement of the community is deeply inspiring and helps to revive and maintain that energy I first experienced on the day of the shoot,” she says. “The support from other women to love yourself and one another is ongoing and crucial in a world that tends to tell us to do otherwise.”
It’s the shared experience of being physically and emotionally exposed while having their photo taken that initially bonds the women, but the feeling of worth and confidence is what keeps the connection going. After McGranahan saw the effects of the online community, she wanted to create more shared experiences for her clients and other women. This winter she and the team at UNVEILED relocated their studio and created a space that allows them to host events.
The new space, at 304 W. Howe St., is conveniently close to downtown and the B-Line Trail, with parking for photo session clients. Besides a larger photo session space, there is also a private dressing room, hair and makeup room, and a space to review photos. “The flow of the studio is great for clients, because each space is private,” says McGranahan. “For our team, the divided spaces mean we can see more than one client a day without impacting their privacy, and we have more space to work.”
The new studio will only enhance an already positive experience. “Samantha and her team have a way of turning someone from an awkward and insecure woman into the beautiful, confident person that she is supposed to be,” says client Malarie Lawrence. That is the same feeling women can experience at an UNVEILED event. At a Girls Night Out program that Lawrence participated in, she was thrilled with how different it was from other women’s events. “It had a different vibe, so beautiful and glamorous,” she says. “There weren’t weight-loss pills for sale or vendors trying to make you into someone else — it was more about being the best version of yourself.”
Building on these successful events, McGranahan is eager to host more and larger programs in the new studio. “I want to do more to bring women together and help them feel empowered,” she says. This might include workshops on creating vision boards, speakers leading self-discovery sessions, or discussions on finance or career goals. “All the events will be about discovery and empowerment,” she says, “but I want to keep the events open to different subjects because people feel self-conscious about more than just their looks.”
After attending previous events, Lawrence is excited to join in all the activities at the studio. “Anything that the UNVEILED team is a part of planning, I want to be there,” she says. “As a stay-at-home mom, I don’t get out much and don’t enjoy the bar scene. I’d much rather be at a confidence-boosting, elegant, and joy-filled event.”
To celebrate the new studio, UNVEILED will be hosting an open house on March 2 from 5 to 9 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, but reservations via their Facebook page are appreciated. The open house will feature hors d’oeuvres, a cash bar, a live photo shoot, and special empowerment activities. There will also be aura photography and special-order poetry, which will be free to the first 30 guests. Later, there will be a hair show by Royale Hair Parlor, which also serves as a teaser for the Lumiere Ball, an event that raises money and awareness for mental health.
You can be sure that clients like Lawrence and Wilson will be at this and other UNVEILED events. “I know I will receive a sense of belonging, of ease and comfort with my own body no matter what rolls or wrinkles were showing, and an encouragement to be joyfully whoever I feel like being in that moment,” says Wilson. “UNVEILED events are a place where I breathe easier and leave feeling deeply inspired.”
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