Photographer Hayley Casey believes “everybody deserves to feel beautiful”, and she is loving the chance to help women achieve just that.
Offering boudoir photography came about as a “bit of an accident”, but is now a very popular string to the bow of the Weston mum of one.
“I thought that I would do something for Valentine’s Day. So that’s how it came about, and then I did my first session and I realised how much I loved it,” she said.
“Boudoir is not always about photos in lingerie, it’s about finding beauty in yourself in nothing but lingerie.
“The point is accepting and loving the body you are in, and that is my favorite part of my job – helping women see how beautiful they are.”
Mrs Casey has been a photographer for more than 10 years, starting out on her own when she was just 16 with family photography, before discovering a passion for newborn and maternity photography.
She works her photography business from home, around son Hamish, who is almost 2, and her latest venture has her fully booked until early April.
The boudoir shoot starts in the makeup chair, with Thing of Beauty’s Charli Day, who also does the client’s hair.
“She’s really, really good and everybody raves about her. So they get the confidence boost before they even walk in the doors.”
The shoots have been taking place in a room at the new waterfront Mariner Suites motel, while Mrs Casey is in the process of building a home studio.
Clients can have a “mini” half-hour session or a full session, which takes an hour to an hour-and-a-half.
“I just guide them through all of the posing, and it’s quite a significant difference – once you’ve done the first photo, and you show them on the back of the camera, they’re like ‘oh my God, I do look good’.”
The lingerie is all supplied by Mrs Casey, with a selection of 120 pieces from size 6 to 24. It is double washed in hot water and sanitiser and tumbled dry.
“But if someone’s not comfortable with that, then they’re more than welcome just to do the white sheet, which is really beautiful, or bring their own. But so far, everyone’s jumped at the opportunity to have something new and pretty to wear.
“If girls aren’t keen for the lingerie, we have leather jackets and white T-shirts, and even jeans, so you can do it without being in lingerie as well.”
One of the things Mrs Casey found most surprising was that the women were mostly doing it for themselves, not their partners or anybody else.
“They’re just doing it for a confidence boost. Which is my favourite, actually.
“I love when they message me, and they’re like really nervous to message you’, but they had the guts to do it.
“It’s such a rewarding job.”
Most of her clientele were mothers, about 87%, which again was a surprise, but a good one.
“I mean, because mums never do anything for themselves, so I think it’s really cool that they’re doing it for them.
“I had one, her baby was 6 or 7-weeks-old, and she came just to love her new body, which was really cool.”
Although she does minor skin softening, she does not airbrush photos unless it is specifically requested, and said the photoshoots helped encourage women to be proud of their bodies the way they were.
“Everywhere you look there’s like the perfect body type, and I’m just really proud of all the women I’ve photographed for actually doing it. Especially when they’ve got stretch marks, and cellulite and wobbly bits, and they’re embracing it.”
She could also guide people in their poses to help accentuate their positives.
Mrs Casey said the work has also helped her with her own body insecurities.
“Obviously, being a bigger girl myself, I’ve always struggled with my body image . . . We have a private Facebook group where we share all the images, and it’s just a really nice vibe, it’s really positive. And it’s made me feel a lot more confident as well. It’s really cool.”
The group is for women only, and has close to 500 members.
“You don’t necessarily have to be in Oamaru, but you do have to be a woman. And you have to be nice, or you get kicked out.”