Category Archives: Body Positive

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The Art of Self Love

A little inspiration and practical advice regarding the most important and meaningful love of your life…

YOU.

Loving yourself can seem like a vague idea, indulgent or even unnecessary. But it’s vital. Putting self love into practice and creating habits that fill you up is key to a fulfilled life. Daily self love will make you a better human, mother, wife, photographer… a better you.

It’s like going to the gym. (I think. I don’t go to the gym, so I don’t really know.)

I’m fortunate enough to have photographed amazing women who have become friends – mothers, entrepreneurs, single ladies, working ladies… all loving, nurturing, evolved humans who value the art of self love.

Today, I’m bringing you their BEST practical advice – 14 voices for the 14th of February – simple powerful ways to practice putting some loving on yo’ self!

christa_meola_personal_branding_photography_005Kate Northrup
KateNorthrup.com

I Jedi mind trick myself into taking time for myself because I know other people will benefit. So I get the self love, ultimately, and everyone else gets a better me too!

 

christa_meola_personal_branding_photography_008Alejandra Ramos
Food and Lifestyle Expert, AlwaysOrderDessert.com

When it comes to self love, I admit that there are days when it is easier than others. I think that’s true for all of us—we all have days when we’re just feeling amazing and totally on point, and then others when nothing seems to be right. It’s those trickier days when it’s even more important to treat yourself with love and kindness. I have a few little reminders that get me through those days.

1. I try to never say anything to myself that I wouldn’t say out loud to a friend. For example, I’d never say to a friend “ugh you’re such an idiot” or “your thighs look gross in those shorts,” so why on earth would I ever say something so horrible to myself? Our minds our powerful and we believe what we hear over and over again—whether it’s coming from an outside source or from our own thoughts. So many of us are so mean to ourselves in our head—a big part of self love is recognizing that, and taking steps to delete those ugly messages from our minds. It might seem impossible, but like anything else it’s just about building the habit.

2. I never deny myself an opportunity out of fear. Fear is an incredibly powerful force that robs us of the ability to live life fully. If I ever feel like I’m stopping myself from pursuing something, I check in and make sure I’m not doing it because of fear. Note that I don’t mean totally rational fear like the kind that protects us from danger, but the silly kind that keeps you from trying out for an opportunity at work, asking out a guy because you’re afraid of getting rejected, or wearing a bikini on the beach because you’re afraid of what people will say. That kind of fear serves no real purpose and to give it too much control is essentially a lack of trust in yourself and your abilities.

3. I don’t apologize for the things I love. I think there is way too much guilt in our society—we feel guilty about the food we eat, the things that turn us on, what we read or watch on TV, about taking vacations or even sick days, the list goes on. How many times have you called your favorite show “a guilty pleasure,” apologized for preferring something a certain way, or denied yourself a treat? Stop it—that’s nonsense. Part of self love is accepting that everyone deserves to enjoy things, and that those things are unique to every individual. I’m not saying it’s cool for you to sleep with your friend’s husband. (It’s not. Don’t do that.) But there is no need to feel bad about all the wonderful little things that bring you joy in life.

 

christa_meola_personal_branding_photography_001Rachel Rodgers
Business Coach & IP Lawyer, RodgersCollective.com

I think it’s important to do things that make you feel powerful and remind you of your greatness regularly. That might be different for different people, but for me, going to the gym and running, plus lifting weights makes me feel bad ass. And while I do it, I often listen to music, like rap and Beyoncé, that has lyrics where the artist is talking about how amazing they are. And I sing along and speak those same words to myself. I do this several times per week, and it really does make me feel powerful.

The other self-care thing I am committed to is bath time. Whenever I am stressed, feeling uncertain, have too many outside opinions swirling around in my head, I take a hot bath. And while I am in there, I just feel the hot water, relax and let my mind wander. It’s so peaceful, and I am so disconnected that it’s almost a meditation. When I come out of the bath, I always have clarity on my next move. Literally every single time without fail.

So I think in both cases, whether I am at the gym or in the tub, I am meditating on my own power, my own greatness. I dream my dreams and reflect on all of the past dreams that have come true and recognize my power to make my current dreams my reality, too.

 

christa_meola_personal_branding_photography_009Aimee Raupp
Author & Acupuncturist, AimeeRaupp.com

Practice kindness and compassion towards you. Being easy on yourself is the best form of self love. The best way to do this is to begin to hear the conversation you have with yourself in the privacy of your own mind. Once you begin to hear what you’re saying – witness it and then ask yourself: Can I be more kind to me?

 

christa_meola_personal_branding_photography_002Jayne Jewell
Master Coach, JayneJewell.com

A few steps to self love:

One, every day even amidst chaos, take time for yourself – even 5 minutes to step aside do something small yet powerful for you: either list what you’re grateful for, get centered, or do affirmations… whatever it is for you.

Two, when creating your to do list – check it: are you on it? Most of us moms have “have to do’s” on our list that is about caring for others: our career, kids, husband, or the running the house. But do you show up on your to do list? Every week, make sure to do something just for you: either read a favorite book, have coffee with a friend, go to an exercise class – make it be just for you.

Three, look at the things you already do in life and give it new meaning. Something you do over and over again, but you don’t necessarily call it self love. For example, when I had my first born, my whole life revolved around the baby (of course, as it should) – I was exhausted all the time. But I took a bath every day no matter what. Even if it was just 10 minutes and sometimes with candles or a book. I looked at that and said: Whenever I take a bath, that means “I’m taking care of myself and giving myself love and I love myself.” Take something you’re already doing and give it the meaning that: “I take care of myself.” Every night that I read or do deep breathing, or every time I feed myself nutritious food. Something that you’re easily and effortlessly already doing – and make a declaration!

Lastly: This.

 

christa_meola_personal_branding_photography_006Erica Kramer McCabe
Studio Manager, Christa Meola Pictures

I let myself be ok with saying no to things that I don’t want to do and to not feel guilty for doing things that are just for me. Getting a massage or a pedicure is easy, but not feeling guilty that I took time just for me is the hard part. And I’m getting a lot better at it. Because if I feel guilty, then what’s the point?

 

Licia Morelli
Best-Selling Author, LiciaMorelli.com

Every week, I look at my schedule and set aside time for me – it can be one hour a day, every other day, or three times per week. I set the intention to take that time to do something that I want to do. It doesn’t have to cost money, but it feels indulgent, like read a book, go for a walk, or take a bath. It’s important that it’s not for anyone or anything else. So I’ll read a fiction book, not a workbook. I’ll take a walk alone, not with a friend.

And once a month, I make sure to have something scheduled like a massage or facial – again, something indulgent that’s just for me.

The most important piece is not to give. So if I’m going to a massage, I let them know that I’m not going to talk. The not giving at all is SO key. It’s a total game changer!

 

christa_meola_personal_branding_photography_007Mirna Jose (featured on right)
Make-up Artist, MirnaJose.com

Don’t apologize for who you are or how you are. Once you’ve accepted yourself, including your flaws, the rest of the world will have to accept them too. Own your individuality.

 

Danielle Diamond
Mind/Body Wellness Expert, XenStrength.com

My best advice is to let go of what isn’t worth stressing about, and ask myself if it’s going to matter in 5 or 10 years. And if it’s not, I don’t let myself stress about it. The size of my ass- is it going to matter? If my kids leave their soccer cleats in front of the door, again – is it going to matter? If the launch of my new program doesn’t hit the goals I set- is it going to matter?

When people think about self love they usually go right to things they need to do: eat better, exercise more, get a massage. What I noticed was that letting go of things brought me more joy and peace than any scented candle or spin class.

 

christa_meola_personal_branding_photography_010Natasha Lakos
Creative Director, Natasha on Instagram

I ask myself how would I treat or talk to myself as a little girl. Probably inspired by my 7 year old niece, Olivia. I wouldn’t talk to her or expect things of her the way I sometimes do of my grown up self.

 

christa_meola_personal_branding_photography_000Jolene Smith Garcia
High Performance Coach, JoleneSmithGarcia.com

What if your primary responsibility was to operate at MAX POTENCY–bringing as much focus, love, joy, and flow-state to every moment as you possibly can?

(Even while witnessing injustice in the world, and doing something meaningful to change it.)

What inputs would your unique body, mind, and spirit require in order to operate at max potency? More: Hours of sleep? Blocks of unstructured time for creativity? Gracious no’s instead of people-pleasing yes’s?

Which soul-filling relationships would you lavish with attention, and which would you clean up or limit? What kind of self-talk would you allow inside your brain?

I dare you to aim for max potency. We need your most amped up contribution. Stop holding out on us.

 

christa_meola_personal_branding_photography_004Michelle Martello
Digital Strategy for the Modern Entrepreneur, Minima Designs

Spend time with people who are excited about life and don’t talk down about themselves. It’s one thing to poke fun, but if you’re always criticizing yourself (and others) it can really drag you down. A person’s energy is contagious – and you only get so much time on this earth. Spend it wisely with people who want to spend it with you!

 

Richelle Zizian Fredson
Director of Publicity & Book Marketing, Hay House Inc.

Practicing self-love is exactly that–a practice. Some days it’s much easier than others. I try and remember to treat myself with the same compassion I treat others–especially when things get tough. I think we can be so much better at being kind to others, but we must be kind to ourselves too.

I’m a Leo, so luxury and treating myself are NOT hard things for me–but I try and work it into my schedule. Most recently I’ve started doing acupuncture–it’s my non-negotiable. I plan it during the work week, and I make myself get away from the office to do it. It can be hard when things are really jam-packed in my day, but I’m always grateful that I stepped away to do something for myself. Honoring my body and treating it well are my favorite ways to practice self-love.

 

christa_meola_personal_branding_photography_003Juliana Morris
Founder, Be Your Own (S)expert, DrJulianaMorris.com

In our busy lives and with so many competing interests pulling us in many directions, it can be hard to take care of ourselves. We can’t, however, thrive and show up as we want to in our lives if we don’t make taking care of ourselves a priority.

Mind
Have a routine of making your environment positive. Make a collage of positive images and dreams/goals that motivate you and inspire you. Place it by your bed or in your bathroom so you see it when you go to sleep and wake.

Body
Practice words of affirmations about your body. Focus on your favorite parts and send love to the areas that you make a habit of avoiding or criticizing. Thank your body for taking care of you and for supporting you.

Embrace masturbation and self pleasure. Vary your routine if you self pleasure regularly so it feels exciting and fun. Watch yourself masturbate or use a different rhythm and pressure point. Give yourself 20 uninterrupted minutes to explore your body and see where you find pleasure rise within you. If you don’t have a positive relationship with self pleasure, change that! Commit to giving yourself permission to give yourself pleasure, be patient with yourself as you begin to find new parts of your body, and remind yourself the goal is to find pleasure and not perform or ‘achieve’ an orgasm.

Soul
Make a playlist of music that fills your soul. Play it loudly. In the car, in your kitchen, in your bathroom. Keep adding to it. Call it a fun name and let yourself get lost in the mood of the music.

Find a daily devotional that speaks to your spiritual beliefs or inspiration points. Read it at the same time every morning. Make the routine sacred and no more than 5 minutes so you have no excuse to skip it. Light a candle or drink your favorite tea as you read it.

You are worth this self care time and the reconnection with your mind, body and soul will sustain you ten fold. Enjoy and prioritize you!

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Wishing you lots of (self) love,

Christa

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One Size Does Not Fit All

This shoot was a fun study in making it work!

A self-described “plus-sized lingerie boutique” sent us a few fun things to photograph. So we booked a model represented by a “plus-sized agency.”

But when our lovely model showed up for the shoot, she was smaller than me! Hahaa! My first reaction was to think Oh my goodness she’s not big enough. But I caught myself super quick and thought Who the heck is to say who is plus size, minus size, regular size, right size. She’s perfect.

So I hustled. I found this mannequin in a back closet of the studio, grabbed it and had some fun.

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I also gave her my #realisbeautiful t-shirt. She is unretouched in all of these pictures.

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The lingerie boutique and the model agency both have different ideas on what plus-sized is. We will, of course, have to book someone who actually fits the clothing we want to photograph.

In the meantime, I hope you find this story and pics inspirational.

When life surprises you, make meaningful photographs!

Love, Christa

ps. we just had a couple seats open up for our upcoming live workshop! Click here for more details and snag your spot.

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Real is Beautiful, Opening the Kimono Part 1

I’m still riding the positive energy from the huge success of this weekend’s “Opening the Kimono!”  Twenty photographers went behind the scenes to watch me shoot live in NYC. They got a backstage pass to watch me work with a real client, collaborate with my team, how I use the space in my fav studio to create variety, and how I create flattering authentic pictures with no retouching! We had an extensive Q&A and discussed why it’s important to me to no longer retouch the women in my pictures. (More on that below…)

This set was shot in 10 minutes and evokes the scorching heat of summer on the Italian coast in the 60’s – tanning oil, sun worship, and sexiness. If you’ve ever been to Italy in August you know what I mean.

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As I’ve mentioned on the blog and announced in a Q&A last week, I will continue to not retouch the women in my photos and share them on this blog.

This woman (not a model) is unretouched in all of these photos.

Because real is beautiful.

Inspired by recent bad ass and brave beauty renegades, such as…

Taryn Brumfitt, who began a campaign to unite women across the globe to love their bodies,
Brooke Birmingham, who refused to put on a shirt for SHAPE magazine,
Seventeen magazine’s “Body Peace Treaty” which includes not changing girls’ bodies or face,
and Aerie lingerie company who began advertising their own pics that hadn’t been retouched,
among others…

…I was inspired to share my own.

Continue the movement. If you feel moved to, share this link via Facebook, pin the above image, tweet it, talk about it, call your mom.

Because real is beautiful.

xoxo, Christa



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One Hot Mama… Sexy at Sixty-one!

In honor of Mother’s Day coming up on the 12th, I’m thrilled to be featuring… my mom!

My mom, Sandina, was my first symbol of femininity and sensuality. I remember, as a little girl, sitting on my parents’ bed in my soccer uniform, watching fascinated as my mom artfully put on make-up and got dressed up to go out for the evening. Curious why she chose one pair of stockings over another. Putting on heels, sexy slacks (it was the 70’s), a partly sheer top or revealing neckline… to me, it was all so risque´!

Well now many years later, she and I recently celebrated her 61st birthday with a photo shoot. And this time, I helped her choose which outfits, pampered her with a professional make-up and hair stylist, and captured her the way I see her… playful, elegant, hysterical, sassy… beautiful.

My mom also makes the perfect subject for the 2nd installation of our new blog series focusing on having a healthy relationship with your body, being comfortable in your own skin, and enjoying your body and life. So I took this opportunity to interview her to share her inspiration:

Christa: Describe your body in 5 words.
Sandina: Curvy, strong, comfortable, mature, balanced.

How do you feel about your body?
I look in the mirror and start to see the wear and aging starting to set in, and it is frightening! Most days, I feel good about my body, especially when I’m on track with exercising, and I’m wearing the perfect outfit.  When I start to get down about my body, I do something to make me feel better about myself, such as go for a massage, facial, a spa day, and last but by no means the least, shop for that killer outfit.

What do you love about your body?
It’s unique, mine, and one of a kind. There really is not one specific part that I love and always want to show off.  If I have to pick because you’re making me (Christa: Yes, I am), I would say my ass.  It still has a pretty good shape.  And my breasts – I know many women would kill for full breasts – I was lucky and was born with them.

How did you feel about being half-naked in front of the camera?
Well, at first I felt shy and stupid, trying to be model-like, but then I started to open up and get into the zone. Then it was fun and felt glamorous.

How did you feel after seeing the photos we created?
Pretty, sexy and wonderful. When I’m looking at them, I see the playful side of myself again.  And I think: hey, I look pretty damn good, especially for my age.

What’s your go-to item to wear to feel smoking hot?
Silk.

What’s your best tip for feeling gorgeous?
Pamper yourself in every way. (Christa: Really? You do this?)  Absolutely, even if it’s just a quick massage, pedicure, hair color change, or new haircut. It works for me.

How do you feel about your age?
Love it and not afraid to show it.

You used to never want people to know your age. Can I mention on the blog that you’re 61?  
Honestly, I used to be that way when I was 50! But now, I have finally accepted my age. So you’re right – I’ve changed. And yes, I welcome you to show my age.

Do you feel like your age affects how sexy you truly are?
Not at all!

What gets better with age?
Confidence. Accepting who you are. I also think you begin to look at your body differently. I know when I was younger, before being married, I hated my body and tried so hard to be pretty and look good like everyone else.  But now, I accept myself and am okay with the way I look. I have a certain body type that will never, never be skinny, and now with age, I get it!! I no longer worry about pleasing others or how I compare. I’m my own person, and I’m happy.

What’s the best compliment you ever received?
“You’re how old?!”  Just kidding. Any compliment I get from my children is good. The compliment I hear the most is from my girl friends. They say I have nice skin. It’s so nice to hear that. I can be so critical of myself sometimes. So hearing these positive compliments keeps me thinking, “It’s not so bad that I’m getting older.”

And without further ado, here are a few pics from our photo shoot…
My mama loves her hats!

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You gotta love her…

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Thanks Mom! I feel very fortunate to have a fabulous role model for loving life, having a sense of humor about yourself, and enjoying what it is to be a woman.

Lots of love and inspiration to every woman, and Happy Mother’s Day to every mama out there in advance!

xoxo, Christa

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A Curvy Conversation

Welcome to a new blog series that focuses on having a healthy relationship with your body, being comfortable in your own skin, and enjoying your body and life.

Exactly the way they are.

I’d love for you to join me and begin to shift away from a place of criticism, doubt, and dislike to a place of positive focus, celebration and excitement.

I’m thrilled to kick off this body-and-life-lovin’ with Katherine Roll, a beautiful curvaceous woman and model that I photographed recently, who had never done a boudoir photography shoot before.

During our shoot, Katherine was so confident and comfortable with her body, that afterwards I interviewed her to share the inspiration!

CHRISTA: Describe your body in 5 words…
KATHERINE: Beautiful, classic, feminine, hourglass, voluptuous

How do you feel about your body?
My body and I have been through a lot together. I have been a size 10, a size 20, and every size in between. I feel that there are parts that I can work on in order to make it a healthier body, such as working out regularly, sticking to a healthy diet, and steering clear of bad habits. I feel that my body has boosted my career in ways that I never would have expected. Being a size 18 plus-size model, I have had obstacles along the way, but have grown to appreciate, maintain, and love my curves.

What do you love about your body?
I love being able to inspire women to be comfortable in their own skin, no matter what shape or size they may be. I believe that my curves are powerful and can change people’s perception of the plus-sized woman and standard plus-size model. I believe I carry my size-18 self well. I dress appropriately and because I believe in myself, I exude confidence in every direction.

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How did you feel about being naked in front of the camera? (Those pics not shown here.)
As you know, I had never done an implied nude shoot before, and was surprisingly comfortable being nude in front of the camera. You and your team made me feel comfortable, beautiful and at ease, and you gave me great direction to get the perfect shots.

How did you feel after seeing the photos we created?
I feel that they are sexy, sensual, and beautiful, without being provocative, inappropriate or too revealing. I love the way you captured the light so perfectly. I had never had a boudoir shoot before, and loved seeing my body in a sexy flattering way.

What’s your go-to item to wear to feel smoking hot?
I personally love extremely high heels. High heels give the ultimate confidence boost. Once you find a great pair of high heels that are a perfect fit, you automatically stand up straighter, appear slimmer, and exude confidence.

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What’s your best tip for feeling gorgeous?
Knowing what fits. Feeling confident is one thing – but looking the part is another. Too often I see plus-sized women wearing clothing that is not the correct size for them – whether it be too large or too small. Trying on multiple sizes in the same dress or pants can show you what is truly comfortable and what looks the best. A great fitting bra can also give you the support you need to feel 10x better than you did before!

How do you feel about the term “plus-sized”?
I am content with being called ‘plus-sized.’ I find that the ‘plus’ or ‘+’ means ‘in addition to’ and therefore, simply defines my size as additional sexiness added to the straight sized woman.

What’s the best compliment you ever received?
The best compliment I have ever received came from a young girl. She has been following my career since day one, and told me how she was inspired by me to love her curves, accept her body at the size it is, and even pursue modeling. She often messages me with new exciting things happening in her career, and I love knowing that my body and confidence helped get her there.

Thank you, Katherine, for the honesty and inspiration!

(Don’t you just love her point of view on “plus-sized” meaning “additional sexiness!” Now THAT is positive focus.)

Stay tuned for more of Katherine, different body types, lots of inspiration, resources and body-loving on the blog.

Here’s to lovin’ up your bod and life even more today 🙂

xoxo, Christa

ps. this series will be an ongoing open conversation. I’m really excited to hear your thoughts!
What is one thing you love about your body? Lets start there. Leave me a comment below.

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How to Look Great Naked, No. 2

This week, I’ve got my sleeves rolled up and am diving even deeper into writing the new book

I am loving the challenge of pulling forth and putting down all I’ve discovered and learned about how to create stunning photographs of women. The book I’m writing goes beyond photography , to also include how to help women look and feel great by cultivating their sex appeal and coaching a bit of sensuality in their movements in addition to using your photography skills to capture it all.

As we discussed last week in How to Look Great Naked, cultivating sex appeal and looking great naked is not about crash dieting or Photoshop, but rather is about a woman’s attitude, confidence, playful personality, and feeling good in her own skin.

Honestly, that’s 98% of looking and feeling great naked.

So today’s post contains the other 2% to put you over the top with practical and immediately actionable tips to make you look great naked and boost your confidence for when you want to feel simply amazing in your birthday suit. 

How to Look Great Naked, No. 2!

1. Smile and Make Eye Contact
These are two of the most immediate, simple and powerful things you can do (at any given time really). There is nothing quite like the irresistible sex appeal of a confident woman smiling and making eye contact. Nothing else needed. But feel free to read on… 

2. Strap on Your High Heels
Want to add a bit more muscle definition to your legs and instantly feel sexier? Strap on a smoking hot pair of high heels! Obviously, heels make you appear taller (and therefore slimmer, if that’s your goal), but shoes with a slender heel that’s at least 2” high also make the calves appear muscular and much more defined. Nude shoes that match your skin tone are a fantastic choice to make your legs look even longer. However, avoid shoes with ankle straps, a square toe, and chunky shoes which all make legs look wider. Note: of course, this effect only applies when you’re standing. But if you ask me, high heels are the perfect accessory for looking great naked, in any position. 

3. Style Up A Great ‘Do
Everyone knows a good hair day makes a woman feel amazing, so don’t underestimate what a good ‘do can do. When prancing around naked, it’s the one thing you can wear styled, so invest time or money in making it great. Most men love hair that looks shiny, soft and touchable. No time for a polished style? Go for the sex appeal of bedhead. Run fingers through your roots with a scrubbing motion, use a spray wax, spritz all over hair, and then twirl random sections around your fingers. Naughtiness. (ps. I’m loving big hair. The bigger the hair, the sassier and slimmer my body appears.)

4. Get Glowing Skin
When you’re sporting nothing but your birthday suit, you want to make sure your skin feels and looks great. Moisturizing is key. I love Neutrogena Sesame Oil. Not only do I love how it makes my body glow and feel soft and silky, but I’m crazy about the seductive scent as well. A tip: put it on in the shower so it’s absorbed nicely and you don’t end up greasy. Use a moisturizing lotion on your face, and add a bit of  gel stain on your cheeks to get a gorgeous flushed look. Longer term, make sure you’re drinking your 8 glasses a day, exfoliating and moisturizing daily.

Beyond moisturizing, try a tinted moisturizer, self-tanner, or body make-up, which can all hide a multitude of sins, make your bod appear slimmer and give you a healthy glow. Restraint here is a good thing – just enough to give you a healthy glow and make you feel more confident.

5. Find Your Best Light
You can’t underestimate the power of light to flatter a figure. Two things to consider when choosing which light makes you look and feel great naked: the light’s quality and the direction of the source. The most flattering quality of light for your nudeness comes from soft glowing sources, such as a candle, the moon, and pink-tinted bulbs. The least flattering (and frankly, horrifying) light is fluorescent. Yikes.

Ways to create flattering quality of light:

  • Install dimmers. So you can adjust the lights to a level that’s most flattering to your skin and that suits your comfort level.
  • Try candlelight or firelight. The warm glow makes skin look amazing and casts beautiful shadows, not to mention the inherent romantic appeal. Light as many candles to make the room as dim or bright as would please you. 
  • Swap out regular light bulbs for pink-tinted bulbs. Pink-tinted light is the most becoming to skin and casts the most flattering shadows.
  • Place colored plastic gels (pink or orange) over a lamp. You can purchase gels at photography and art stores, or you can use a sheer fabric.
  • Get naked by moonlight. This soft light is another flattering choice with romantic appeal.
  • Go au naturale in early morning light. This scenario is a bit brighter for those who are bolder, but still a soft and flattering even light source.

Ways to position light that flatters:

  • Avoid overhead light. In terms of placement, a light source from behind you, to the side of you, or in front of you are vastly more flattering than the distorting hideousness of overhead light of any kind. Avoid that at all costs.
  • Side light – enhances curves and throws teasing shadows onto other areas. Illuminates less of your body, so it’s great if you’re a bit body conscious and want to have parts of your body “disappear” into darkness. Place lamp to the side of you.
  • Back light – is the least illuminating, throwing your bod into silhouette. Place lamp behind you. 

6. Practice Great Posture
Good posture can take you a long way and is another instant fix to looking great naked. Poor posture sends the wrong message. Excellent posture not only makes you look taller and leaner, it makes you feel and appear more confident. So when we talked about faking confidence until you have it (Tip #2 from last week’s post), this is a great way to do it – through great posture.

Ways to achieve great posture that flatters:

  • Great posture is easy to achieve, but difficult to sustain without constant reminders. Unfortunately most of us go through the day with poor unappealing posture. So practice the following tips while standing in front of the mirror and see how incredibly dramatic the difference is!
  • Stand up straight, pull your shoulders back and down, elongate your neck, tilt your head and chin slightly out and down, pull your stomach in and up and let your back settle into a natural but a bit of an extended arch that pushes out (and plays up) both the butt and chest.
  • Sit on a diagonal, with a slight twist at the waist instead of facing someone head-on. This will naturally cinch in your waist.
  • Place your hands where you want attention to go. If you like your hips, décolletage, or face, put your hands there.
  • When standing, turn a bit sideways, shift your weight to the back leg, and put the other leg out in front of the other, knee slightly bent, and toe pointed, lifting your heel.
  • If you don’t love your arms, position them so that they are away from your body. For example, placing a hand on your hip immediately thins out your arm.

7. Pay Attention to Details

  • Give your hands and feet loving attention. A mani/pedi is a must for good grooming.
  • Style up your nether regions – whatever style (or lack thereof) suits you. 
  • Feel free to accessorize a tiny bit which may make you feel a little less naked, such as a gorgeous statement piece of jewelry on your wrist or around your neck. 
  • A slightly chill room or glass of ice water will do wonders to keep you, um, standing at attention.
  • Lastly, choose make-up to suit your style: minimalism keeps your look au naturale, or you can go bold with smokey smoldering eyes or simply just red hot lips. 

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below… What’s your single best tip for feeling great in your own skin?

Lots of love and nakedness,

Christa

ps. If ya missed it, here are more great tips on How to Look and Feel GREAT Naked!

pps. If you’d like to get your copy of my book The Art of Boudoir, it’s now available for pre-order!

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How to Look Great Naked, No. 1

I am absolutely loving this summer! I’m just back from a blissful two week vacation filled with plenty of summer loving with my beau, sunsets and skinny dipping. So in honor of this smoking hot season and nakedness, let’s talk about How to Look Great Naked!

As you may know, I got a book deal to write a new boudoir book, The Art of Boudoir: How to Create Stunning Photographs of Women. I’ve been writing up a storm and super excited to share all the juicy new content with you.

I’m particularly excited about several sections in the book, which I created for all women who want to feel comfortable with their bodies and cultivate sex appeal, whether at a photo shoot or in daily life.

Today’s post is a little taste of the book’s content that focuses on the art of sensuality, which is truly the answer to…

How to Look Great Naked

1. Know What “Looking Great” Means

The quickest shortcut to “looking great” naked is not actually in how you look. A woman may be a beauty on the surface, but no amount of visual perfection can create sensuality and sex appeal, which is more truly what it means to “look great.” Sensuality is in a woman’s attitude. So, whether you are a photographer striving to create stunning nude photographs or you are a woman who wants to look great naked: The foundation is a woman enjoying herself and her body.

2. Be Confident

Step one in creating allure is to brim with confidence. In fact, confidence is the sexiest thing a woman can wear. Confidence in how you move, how you look, how you feel, and what you do. Remember to stay focused on your postive attributes and know that you can pull off nearly anything if you do it with self-assurance.

I know being confident is easier said than done. As you move through the rest of these tips and techniques, being confident becomes easier. In truth, no one feels 100 percent confident, ever. We all have insecurities and fears. A useful tip that has always worked for me is, if you don’t feel 100 percent confident, then fake it. Merely pretending to be confident will often be just what you need to manifest the real deal.

3. Practice Being Naked

Comfort with your body takes practice. Get very familiar with your body, paying particular attention to the parts you love. Practice being naked. Walk around your home naked. Try posing in the mirror naked. Appreciate and admire your body from all angles. Make sure you focus on the good stuff, and be grateful for the gift of your body.

4. Have Fun

Men (and women) are attracted to women who are genuinely enjoying themselves – that quality matters more than any individual physical attribute. Although this seems simple, it’s often neglected. Have fun! Enjoy being a woman. Enjoy being admired. Be playful. Have fun strutting around. Especially during a photo shoot, it’s important to remember to not take ourselves too seriously. After all, we’re posing in our underwear. Make sure any doubts or concerns take a backseat to having a good time.

5. Focus on Feeling

When a woman feels sexy, she looks sexy. When cultivating sex appeal, make sure to focus on pleasure and feeling good. How you move and how you flirt, dress, undress, and touch yourself—even how you breathe—should be guided by what feels good to you. Sometimes putting on your favorite music or closing your eyes for a moment can help you focus on feeling good.

6. Slower is Sexier

I was photographing a burlesque dancer in LA, and when I asked her to perform a few dance movements faster for me, she refused. Slower is sexier, she said. She’s right. Sensuality has a slow tempo. Take your sweet old time with your movements and gestures. Walk slowly and deliberately. Move your hands along your body languidly. When taking off clothes, tease and do it slowly. Take your time in between each piece. Hint at removing the item before removing it. Teasing out your movements is not only more sensual, but also gives the photographer more time to catch a movement she loves.

7. Flirt!

Move like you can barely contain your desire. Be playful and allow a bit of shyness to come out now and again. Look at your viewer or the camera with a teasing glint in your eye. Let your inner good girl and naughty girl come out to play and duke it out.

8. Know the Innate Power of Attraction

Men and women have enjoyed looking at women since the dawn of time. Stretch marks, cellulite, or some extra pounds are not going to change that. A woman’s attitude is the most important aspect of feeling and looking truly beautiful and appealing, not physical beauty. Trust that your viewer loves it all. Know that any boldness, playfulness, and enjoyment of your body will be appreciated and enjoyed.

9. Know the Tricks of the Trade

Finally, cultivating sex appeal and looking great naked is not about dieting or Photoshop. It’s about working what you’ve got and knowing a few tricks of the trade to enhance what’s already there, which brings us to the upcoming How to Look Great Naked, No. 2!

So stay tuned for more key tips that make a world of difference in feeling and looking great naked!

In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below… Did you find these tips useful? Do you find a person’s attitude their most attractive quality? or What are some of your tips to looking great naked? I love this topic, and can’t wait to hear from you!

Lots of love,

Christa

Curvelicious

Many photographers just getting started in boudoir photography ask me “how do you approach photographing plus-sized women?” My answer couldn’t be simpler: I approach each subject the exact same way, whether petite or plus-sized, male or female, child or adult. First and foremost, I focus on bringing out my subject’s personality, her love of life, love of herself, whatever is distinctive and true about my subject and the sensuality of the moment. Second, flattering someone is all about what you choose to focus on. You can easily flatter (or unflatter) any size/shape woman with lighting, angles, wardrobe and lens choices as well as the spirit in which you capture her.

I’ll let you in on a secret though, if you’re not accustomed to shooting boudoir. You can ask any pro who’s photographed a ton of women – they will all tell you that plus-sized women LOVE their curves! and if a plus-sized woman is coming to you for a photo shoot, she is digging who she is and wants to celebrate herself and her body! Ps. it’s actually the skinny gals who are more critical of their bodies and will require more encouragement and positive feedback during the shoot.

Here’s a few favorite shots from a recent mini-shoot I did with Julie, a beautiful new mom and plus-sized woman who enjoys her body and can demonstrate what I feel is most important to keep in mind when coaching and photographing women:

Sensuality and sexiness comes from within!…

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Location: The Mondrian Hotel on Sunset, Los Angeles
Photography: Christa Meola
Make-Up / Hair Stylist: Rachel Lund – the best MUA and a terrific girl to have on set 🙂

More curveliciousness on the blog soon!

x. Christa

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I could never…


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“I could NEVER do a sexy photo shoot.”… aaaand that’s my cue! I LOVE photographing women who think a sexy shoot is sooo not them, or not what they could ever do, or that they don’t photograph well, or yeah yeah yeah 🙂 I get asked all the time if I only shoot models. Hell no! My clientele is mostly 40+ moms who have never dreamed of stepping in front of a pro’s camera before, especially not in the buff. Exactly the kind of woman like Mrs. C., a dear friend’s wife who I invited to do a shoot, and of course she said she “could never!” Oh, how I love a good challenge! My persistence in putting her on the scheduled worked, and to Mrs. C’s credit, she committed 110% to the experience and showed up with all she had.

Mrs. C has the greatest legs you’ve ever seen, a rockin’ backside, beautiful skin, a gorgeous smile and a playful spirit. We booked a hotel suite, had some wine and a total blast! My team and I enjoyed the shoot as much as Mrs. C did, and everyone went home that day giddy and with smiles on their faces. I think the resulting photographs are elegant, sexy and playful… and definitely showcase what every woman can do, if they just give themselves the opportunity.

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When another woman posted on my Facebook page that she didn’t think she could do a sexy photo shoot because she’s shy about her body, Mrs. C didn’t hesitate and wrote the following comment in response…

You don’t know me, but my new friend, Christa just did the most amazing boudoir shoot with me as a surprise for my husband. I told her I didn’t think I could ever do something like this because it just wasn’t me. But the more I thought about it the more I wanted to challenge myself. Christa is not only amazing behind the camera but also so great and inspiring in front of it! We had such a fun time!! It was so much more than I ever expected. When I showed my husband my album from the shoot, he was absolutely floored! Of course he loves the naked ones the best 🙂 I kept saying to him “Can you believe I did this??”

I’m forever thankful to Christa for talking me into doing the shoot and giving me the confidence and safety to enjoy it. It was not only a fabulous gift for my husband (which he absolutely loves) but truly a gift for myself. I love having these photographs, and I look at myself in a whole new light. I see the things I love about my body instead of the things I don’t.

Christa is truly amazing and gifted and I’m privileged to know her! If you have a chance to work with her, do it! It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done!!

Thank you Mrs. C! for putting your trust in me, for going waaay outside your comfort zone, for your warmth and sincerity, and most of all for spreading the word and letting other women know that they CAN!

xoxo,

Christa

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Real Women

I love real women, and I enjoy helping them see how beautiful they are.  I’ve been so fortunate to work with some incredible girls and every boudoir shoot I’ve done has been fun and memorable.  However, there is something I need to address: I’ve received a ton of emails from girls all asking me the same question – here’s a recent example:

Hello Christa,

First let me say your work is amazing. It looks like you have had some gorgeous women to work with, so I’m sure that helps.

I wanted to know if you only work with professional models or are willing to shoot an average woman?? such as myself. I am looking for a wedding gift for my soon to be husband and this is something I’m sure he would like…

Thank you,

J.

So to answer all y’all’s question: Yes yes yes!!.. every single one of my boudoir shoots are regular girls, not professional models.  With the single exception of Shelby, who’d like to model some day professionally, all of my shoots are with the girl next door.  Regular girls.  Like me.  Like you.

There was Karen, a writer. Lisa, a marketing professional.  Simone, a physical therapist.  And lots of regular girls in the coming weeks…

And most of the girls call me with the same concern… “um, I’m kinda shy – this isn’t really like me to do this – I don’t love my butt – I don’t know how to pose – I’m really nervous.” So, I thought it would be fun to give you a peek behind-the-scenes of a boudoir shoot with me.  So you can see just how silly and fun and REAL it is…

Here isJane, a schoolteacher, and me before her shoot.  I thought it would be hysterical to bring a wig for one or two shots, and I’m sporting it here.  My dorkiness is really shining through here in all it’s glory.  lol!  ps. to make it worse, my shirt is inside out.  Jeesh – can’t take me anywhere.

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Make-up for photo shoots is a bit different than everyday make-up, so I highly encourage a professional make-up artist, and Jeff is the best.

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Nadine, a stay at home mom, getting extensions…

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Here’s Simone and me… getting crazy with the Reddi Whip.  This pic cracks me up for obvious reasons, but here’s a few that aren’t apparent: 1. It’s actually shaving cream we used, 2. Minutes earlier, I had fallen off a stool I was standing on, 3. that fall broke Simone’s toe (she’s fine now, thankfully), but we were having so much fun that she didn’t realize it until later that night.  ps. again, what is up with my shirt?? this is why I say “no prints” on a photo shoot!

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Even my mom, a human resources professional, did a boudoir shoot with me.  For her birthday this year, we had a couple of her best girlfriends come after the shoot to celebrate (see pic at the beginning of this post).  By the way, I love when girls bring their best friend to the shoot – they are so supportive and helpful, will hold the fan, tell you that you look great, even lotion up your legs, make you laugh and we’ll have even more fun.  So please do bring your girlfriends, if you like!…  This is my mom’s raunchy friend Kim.

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Lastly, if you’ve looked at some of my boudoir shoots you’ll see the girls are all amazing and beautiful, and here’s a few reasons why:

  1. Everyone looks their best when they are genuinely having a good time and enjoying themselves.  That is my highest priority on every shoot.
  2. Every woman is beautiful in her own way, and it’s my job to find that, bring it out, and then capture it.  Let me say that again – it bears repeating: every woman is beautiful in some way, and it is so fulfilling to make each shoot very personal and customized to each girl.  Whether she’s got an incredible smile, a feisty spirit, curvy hips, a certain look in her eyes, etc…
  3. Plus, make-up artist extraordinaire, Jeff, will work his magic.
  4. And Vanessa will get your ‘do all did.
  5. Lastly, I will do a little photoshoppin’ and we’ll call it a day.

We’re all just regular gals… real women.  Having fun.  Celebrating life.  Being ourselves.  Being sexy.  Being silly.  Wearing our shirt inside out.

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See? – being in front of my camera isn’t intimidating right? :))

xoxo,

Christa

ps. for more tips on how to feel relaxed and sexy on a photo shoot,check out this post!