When I began this blog a year ago I was decidedly single and dating up a storm. So posing for boudoir photos — which have become as integral to this enterprise as the writing — was something that had a public impact, but not a private one. Meaning, there was no significant other whose feelings I needed to consider.
In December, when I stunned myself by falling in love, my relationship to my blog changed. It no longer felt appropriate to write about my sex life after I became happily monogamous. But what should I do about the photos? They didn’t depict any explicit acts, but they conveyed an aspect of my sexuality that is now only shared intimately with one man.
How could I reconcile unleashing my sexuality on the Internet when it has become more private, and more sacred? If I kept showing sexy photos of myself, did that mean I was cheating?
When I did my first boudoir shoot, my aim was to show that not only are midlife women still sexual beings, but that they also have a mature sexuality that, one could argue, is richer and more textured than that of a young woman. And the more shoots I did (I’ve now had five), the more I became interested in the artistry of boudoir and fine art photography.
I’m a big proponent of “less is more” when it comes to capturing the female form and inherent sexuality. I like photos that tantalize, seduce, and allow the viewer to project his or her own fantasy on the picture. Those, to me, are more compelling than photos that are more overtly sexual.
While I don’t think of my photos as erotic, necessarily, I’m aware that they are arousing for some viewers. And it was this awareness that I carried with me to my recent shoot with Nick Holmes. It was my third time working with Nick so I have no compunction about taking my clothes off in front of him. But standing in his kitchen with my fingers hesitantly skimming the tops of my panties, I felt suddenly, well…shy.
When it became apparent that I was going to need some liquid reinforcements to truly “bring it,” Nick handed me a whisky and ginger ale and said with a gentle prod: “Erica, just because you’re in love doesn’t mean you’re not still a sinner.”
Although I wrestled with my ambivalence the rest of the shoot, once I saw the photos I realized, happily, that my sin won out.
I can’t say that I’ve unknotted my ethical conundrum. My mission to disrupt the narrative that women of a certain age are dried up is as strong as ever — as is my desire to showcase fine art photography, often with subjects other than myself.
But my desire to cherish and respect the man in my life and our relationship is just as strong, and at some point might cause me to step away from the camera.
Just not yet.