We had the good fortune of connecting with Lynn Clark and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lynn, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I really fell into starting a boudoir photography studio. I had always flirted with starting a business, but I didn’t know what it would be. I’d done freelance writing as a side gig to working in nonprofit communications for years, but that never felt like a business. In 2009, my job bought me a DSLR to take photos for the stories I was writing. I remember as I was taking a class telling myself that this would NOT turn into a business. But then, an acquaintance asked me to do her headshots … then her engagement photos … then a “few sexy lingerie shots” as she was getting ready at her wedding. I barely charged her anything, because it was just a hobby and, to be honest, I didn’t know a whole lot about what I was doing. I had done a boudoir photoshoot for my husband, so I had an inkling about how to get at least a few cute photos for her. When she saw her boudoir photos, she cried. At first I thought what the hell have I done? But then she told me that she had always been the tomboy and never thought of herself as sexy. These photos changed that. I knew that boudoir photography was “a thing”, so I started researching the Denver market, which at the time was wide open. I began learning all I could about posing, the technical aspects of photography, buying equipment as cheaply as I could. I also found a few mentors both in Facebook groups and through other photographers. Those people really helped me figure out all of the things I needed to do to run a business. They helped me decide what to keep and what to outsource from the start (bookkeeping and retouching). They gave me the confidence to charge prices that allowed me to actually pay myself a salary in the future. I started booking clients as models in January 2011 and had my first paying client in March, at a discount. By October I had set up a physical studio in my home — all 450 square feet, including an office. We actually bought our house for this setup because commercial property in Denver is so expensive, and I was tired of paying for hotel rooms. In February 2012, I was booking four shoots a month, and I decided to quit my full time job. I leapt.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Becoming a boudoir photographer was not easy. I had done photography as part of my communications and journalism career, but there was no posing, no comforting of fears, no wardrobe, no lighting … and really no business to run. I’m taught through mentorship, YouTube, online and in-person classes, and lots and lots of questions asked in some great Facebook groups. The bottom line, though, is that I’m self-taught through a LOT of trial and error. I’m really proud of the fact that I have gone from an absolute beginner to being a seasoned, successful pro over the past 10 years. Yes, 10 years ago. I’m still not sure I believe it! I believe that my art is beautiful and tasteful. I’ve worked really hard to create a luxury client experience that builds trust and comfort. But what I’m most proud of is how I’ve built a business that helps women begin to heal the wounds we suffer by being a woman in our culture. I’ve learned how to help women trust themselves and believe that they are worthy of having beautiful photos of themselves just for them — not for anyone else. I am proud of how comfortable I can make even the most nervous woman feel, and of how I can change the opinion of a woman who thinks she’s too fat/small chested/boyish/old/un-sexy/unworthy to do this kind of photoshoot. I want women to love themselves, even the physical parts of themselves that they don’t like. Boudoir photography is a healing tool, and it is my pleasure to use it in the world.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
First stop would be my back yard, given that in my version of this scenario it’s summer. One day, we’d go to Red Rocks and Evergreen with a hike around Evergreen lake. Another day, we’d go to the Denver Art Museum, followed by dinner and a movie at the Mayan Theater on Broadway. We’d also drive up to Vail for some shopping, a visit to the Ford Gardens, and dinner. Then, a spa day at the Havana Spa, which is a quirky Korean spa in Aurora, with sushi from Sushi Den. Of course, there would be a dispensary tour in there because EVERYONE asks (often in a sheepish voice). In between, we’d cook and drink wine, play with my cats and ferrets, and have great conversations.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to shoutout first an foremost to my husband, Steve. From the beginning, he’s believed in me, even when I wasn’t making any money. He’s been a great listener as I’ve run into problems. He’s held me when I’ve cried (this sh*t is hard). I’d also like to shoutout my mentors and friends Jennifer Williams of Jennifer Williams Boudoir Studio in Vancouver, Stacie Frazier of Haute Shots in Las Vegas, and Petra Herrmann of Bella Boudoir in Kansas City, without whom I would not have started the crazy journey. They were at the top of their game when I came to them for advice, and they generously helped me along the way. I’d also like to thank the Association of International Boudoir Photographers, which has been a source of community, education, and opportunity, including the chance to mentor other photographers and teach at their conferences. Finally, a shoutout to my makeup artist Tiffany McCray of Blush Artistry and Company, who makes my clients look stunning, and “Magic” Judy Cormier, my retoucher, who elevates my art and soothes my nerves.
Lynn Clark Portraits for Women Blush Artistry and Company, hair & makeup