Tag Archive: nyc

Shades of Grey

Sunset hour at the studio is one of my favorite times of day, and I love keeping it simple…




This woman chose to remain unretouched in all the photos above. #RealisBeautiful.

xo, Christa

ps. We show all clients their pictures without retouching, and it’s each woman’s choice whether to keep them that way.

Spotlight on Jolene Smith Garcia

Ever meet someone who you know will impact your life in important and positive ways?

That’s how I felt when I met Jolene Smith Garcia.

Jolene is former co-founder of Free the Slaves and a Life Strategist who contacted me to shoot photos and video for her new website.

Her work is about bringing “all the soul-satisfying energy of ancient spiritual traditions, with none of the musty smell.” She wants you to have a repertoire of short, easy, free things you can do to make yourself feel like your SELF again.

Despite the briskness of the NYC winter, her recent photo and video shoot contained all the warmth that Jolene exudes. (My fav photos below, video to premiere in tomorrow’s blog post!)


We started at the studio and then turned to the magic of NYC streets for the perfect backdrop of spiritual magic with an edge…


Jolene believes that asking a simple question such as “Would you like a glass of water?” can be the beginning of envisioning a new future for yourself.


She’s spunky and spiritual, transcendent yet grounded, with a bit of ‘tude. I fell in love immediately and had to know more! Here are Jolene’s engaging A’s to my Q’s…

What do you do?
I help people access magic in their lives because when we do, we tend to do the most good in the world.

Can you tell us a favorite inspirational story of someone you’ve helped?
Suraj Kali was enslaved in Uttar Pradesh, India, and forced to pound gravel into sand with a hammer and paid nothing. Her five children and husband were also enslaved, as was their entire village.

With our support, Suraj worked with other women in her village to convince everyone to band together and stand up to their slaveholder. They literally joined arms and refused to move. The slaveholder sent his thugs to beat them up, and yet they still stood strong.

Finally the slaveholder gave up, and they were free. Almost immediately they began to do their own quarrying, sell sand for themselves, and eventually sent their children to school.

Now Suraj has a job as a caretaker at a guesthouse, where she is earning many times what she did selling sand. She’s still an inspirational leader, coordinating a women’s microcredit group and spearheading village healthcare efforts. She says, “I have come out of slavery. Now I will never go back into it, neither will I let anybody from my village be a slave.”

What are you most proud of?
The people we helped to freedom are still free. They haven’t fallen back into slavery. Many have helped other people to freedom, started businesses, and are employing other people.

What is your greatest gift?
Spotting the sacred and basking in it, bathing in it, and making it easy for others to join in.

How do you keep inspired?
Reminding myself that there is Divine within each of us, including me. Which means we can act like it.

What’s your favorite book?
“Let Your Life Speak” by Parker Palmer

Favorite quote?
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” –Mary Oliver

Favorite object in your home?
A painting by Paula Barragán that my husband gave me.

Favorite hangout?
With a babysitter: Seseribó in Quito, Ecuador. With the kids: Our street, which has a lot of block parties.

Favorite can’t-live-without item?
85% dark chocolate, French roast coffee, red wine, an occasional night of gin tonics.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome as an entrepreneur?
When I was 25, I was deciding whether to go all-in to work against slavery. It would mean quitting my job, and being seen as a kook, or even worse (at that time): irrelevant. Not many people knew about modern slavery yet. Even most of my mentors in the human rights field told me I was throwing away my career. It took every drop of courage I could muster to decide: I don’t know whether I’ll make a difference, or be successful at this, but I do know that I want to be the type of person who tries. And I did.

What is your craziest goal?
It would be amazing to serve as an intern to one of the survivor business owners for a week, if she’d have me, and then go on to intern for another. Mining, shop-keeping, farming, bead-making, whatever. After our daughters are grown, I’d love to do that for a year-long trek through villages in India, Nepal, Haiti, Ghana, Brazil, and DRC where we worked (and where Free the Slaves still works). I think I would cry every day at the poignancy of it all.


To say this beautifully spirited woman inspires me is an understatement.

Check back on the blog tomorrow for the premiere of the little film we shot for Jolene.

It contains the incredibly easy and powerful tool you can use to change how you’re feeling instantly, and feel more like your SELF.



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.

christa_meola_photographer_photography_nude_boudoir_workshop_new_york_not_photoshopped_00 christa_meola_photographer_photography_nude_boudoir_workshop_new_york_not_photoshopped_00012 christa_meola_photographer_photography_nude_boudoir_workshop_new_york_not_photoshopped_05 christa_meola_photographer_photography_boudoir_nude_new_york_workshop_not_photoshopped_000 christa_meola_photographer_photography_nude_boudoir_workshop_new_york_not_photoshopped_00014

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

Chic Brunette, No. 2

Picking up where we left off with Racy Blonde & Chic Brunette, No. 1

Mrs. C ditched the blonde wig and we rocked out the rest of her session together as brunettes. If you take a peek at the previous post mentioned above, you’ll see the same sets – the patterned couch, the bed, the balcony – but all with a different look, in terms of styling, pose, mood, and post. No matter what location I’m shooting in, I hustle my butt off to create variety and tell an interesting story.

That last shot is one of my favs- such a fun and sexy session!

Do you have any Q’s or tips on how to create variety? Share them in the comments! I enjoy hearing from you.

Thank you as always for stopping by and contributing!

Lots of love,


ps. want to see the inspiration for two of the above shots? Follow me on pinterest, check out my boards, and see if you can spot the shots.

Featured Interview on LensProToGo

*One note before we launch into the interview — The deadline to submit your video and join me for free in creativeLIVE’S Seattle studio for my sassy Boudoir Workshop is TOMORROW Wed. Jan 18th! So jump in, record your vid, and I can’t wait to meet you!

Now on to the interview!

I was recently interviewed by the incredibly knowledgeable and generous staff at LensProtoGo.com and their readers. They asked smart questions that are on lots of newbie boudie photogs’ minds. So I think you’ll relate, and I hope you enjoy!…

LensProToGo: For those who don’t know you, can you explain what type of photography you do?
Christa: Sure! I specialize in photographing women. I love to make women feel confident and beautiful, and I incorporate fine art nudes, fashion and portraiture into my private commissions.

How did you start doing boudoir photography?
A few years ago, a friend of a friend was getting married, and she wanted to shock her fiance with sexy photographs of herself as his wedding gift. She is a self-described plain jane and told me she lives in sweat pants and no make-up and this is something he would NEVER expect from her. She said she knew I was a portrait photographer and that she felt really comfortable with me, so asked if I would do it. Of course I said heck yes! I love saying yes to new creative opportunities and challenges.

I, personally, don’t feel boudoir photography is something any photographer can just ‘do’. In one sentence describe yourself and why you you belong in boudoir photography.  
First, I feel that any photographer who feels drawn to photographing women, appreciates the value of it, and has a compelling reason why they want to do it, can do so. Now, to describe myself in one sentence is difficult for me 🙂 so, I’ll just say that one of my talents is creating intimacy quickly.

I find you can make any woman feel sexy and great about themselves without focusing on their ‘shape’. What do you like the photos to show in the end?
My goal is to capture the distinct spirit and personality of each woman, including all the glorious qualities she loves about herself (such as playfulness, bold, elegant, etc) and what she loves about her body (such as her fabulous smile, curvy hips, or the small of her back). I also like to incorporate the qualities which the woman aspires towards. That’s the ultimate success of a shoot – getting to redefine yourself as you wish with your photographer’s help.

Who do you find to be your most common client?
My most common client is also my Ideal Client, who I’ve intentionally focused on attracting. Soccer Mom’s, 40+, who’ve just had a recent transition – either breast cancer survivor, huge weight loss, about to get pregnant again, 10th anniversary, divorce, new partner, etc. Those are my ladies that I love to serve and I find the most fulfilling. Make this client feel confident and look beautiful from doing a shoot with you, and there’s no finer reward.

How do you get your clients to feel ‘comfortable’ with not only you but the shoot in general?
Comfort is over-rated. The more nervous you are the better is what I tell them. Going out of your comfort zone is thrilling and part of this experience. It feels freaking amazing once you’ve push past your fear – that’s when you feel the true reward. So I like when my client is nervous, which most are, and I tell them why. Also, I do a lot of prep work and planning before the shoot. I get specific and ask exactly what degree of nudity/modesty we’ll be capturing. I ask what they love about their bodies. I let them know what to expect. I keep in touch the weeks leading up to their shoot with a few points of personal contact via phone or text. I make sure to have about 1.5 hours of make-up and hair styling time before the shoot, so she has this transition time to get pampered and relax. It also gives me the opportunity to start shooting while she’s in the make-up chair so she’s already comfortable with being half-naked in the room with me shooting. Then, before she’s even completely done in Hair/Mk-up, I pull her out of the chair for a “make-up or light test” and we’re shooting without her realizing the session has begun. That’s important – you don’t want your client to feel like there’s a drum roll going on while you’re dusting off your camera and she’s taking her robe off to “begin” the session. I keep her moving before she knows what’s happening or has time to get self-concious. Lastly, keep your demeanor professional yet playful on the shoot. Demo every action or pose yourself first that you’d like her to do, so she doesn’t feel silly compared to how silly you just looked doing it 🙂 Be respectful of boundaries and always give Constant Never-ending Positive Feedback: everything works “GREAT!”

Sometimes boudoir can be ‘taboo’ for people. How do you deal with those critiques?
I’m not sure what’s actually “taboo” about it, and thankfully only people open to it approach me.

What has been your biggest challenge in this field of photography?
Redefining the term “boudoir” which, in America, has an unfortunate and outdated connotation.

What has been your greatest success in the field? Personal or business.
Every client who is moved to tears by my pictures. Every client who walks taller because of my pictures.

What type of gear do you use while shooting?
The old Canon 5D, 85 1.2, 50 1.2, 24-70 2.8, and for studio: one strobe with soft box and grey seamless background paper.

Is there a piece of gear that you ‘couldn’t live without’?
Nope. I think an essential and thrilling aspect of creation is working within limitations, so give me anything to shoot with and I’m happy.

You are teaching workshops now…online and live. What is the most important thing you want to get across to the participants during a workshop?
It’s easier than they think and to stay focused on developing their own unique personal vision.

What has inspired you the most during your journey as a photographer?
Oooh, that’s another difficult question to pin down to one answer. There are thousands of things that have inspired me along this journey. Mostly, I think it was my love of fine art (drawing, painting and sculpture) that I was exposed to at a very young age.

Any funny happenings or good stories from a shoot?
Every shoot is a good story.

Do you suggest renting gear and why if so?
Heck yeah! Gear is expensive, and why lay out money that is likely better spent elsewhere to get your business off the ground? I rented those prime lenses for a very long time before I bought them just for that reason, as well as to make sure I really loved them and used them a lot during a shoot. Also, renting allows you to experiment, which I’m a huge fan of in order to continue to grow, be creative and find what’s right for you.

What is your go to lighting set up for Boudoir?
My absolute favorite lighting set up is natural light. I work my butt off to make the available natural light work, and 90% of the time it does. I love genuine, natural, unmanipulated circumstances, so working with natural light plays into that. Sometimes, I have to bump up my ISO to 1600+, or use a reflector, and/or do a bit of dodging/burning in post, and I’m totally okay with that. My style is natural, and a big part of that is making available light work for me.

When you first started shooting boudoir, how did you break the ice…how did YOU get comfortable with your clients? You can’t expect Clients to be comfortable if you’re stumbling over your own words!
Such a great question and you’re absolutely right! Your clients will not feel comfortable with you and what you are asking them to do, unless you are comfortable with yourself, your sensuality, and why you’re photographing women in the first place. If you’re not able to talk freely with your clients about showing “nipple” or other grey areas of nudity, then you may want to consider another profession. You can’t have any hang-up’s about sexuality, nudity, or self-expression and do an awesome job as a boudoir photographer.

What do you feel are the necessary items to have in my “props” collection?
Ooooh, I love this question! I love props and highly recommend that you bring some items to set with you to ensure a fun, smooth and profitable shoot. First, black panties. You’d be surprised how many times a client is bummed because she forgot her black panties. They go with everything and are a safe universally appealing wardrobe option. I buy one size fits all “hanky-panky” brand thongs. They are given as a gift to the client if she wears them 🙂 Second, really high heels in size 7 or 8. Again, sometimes you’d be surprised what women forget to bring and are bummed to be without. Sizes 7 or 8 fit most. Other wardrobe staples that work on everyone are: Men’s white button down shirt, silk robe, fishnet thigh highs, a bunch of different gloves, hats, and jewelry. As far as fun props go: I LOVE masks and have a variety of those. Everyone loves the masks and it’s so much fun to see how different people act with the masks on. I also have nipple tassels, temporary tattoos, and a bunch of other fun stuff like that. I also have little note cards that have different sayings on them like “I’m not wearing any underwear,” and “Shut up and take off your clothes.” Props are awesome to loosen up a nervous client because the focus will shift from being on themselves to “hiding behind” a prop. It’s also a super simple and quick way to add variety to your shoot, which boosts sales. I’m always on the lookout for awesome props, and I think it’s great when a certain item becomes your signature, as I think the masks and signs have become for me.

If you could suggest one thing to up and coming photographers, what would it be?
Know why you do what you do, not just what and how. Read Simon Sinek’s book “Start with Why.” Always look inward first for the answer to any question or issue that comes up. I think nowadays, since there is so much information available to us, it sometimes creates a habit of looking to others for answers to questions that are best answered internally. Go with your heart, and you’ll never go wrong. Play. Experiment. Keep it simple. Shoot for emotion not technical perfection. That will come in time. Ask yourself what’s your point of view on what you see and work on capturing that. It’s called Vision, and it’s the most important thing for you to have or strive towards.

Christmas in NYC!

Hope everyone is enjoying a very merry holiday and getting ready for a beautiful Christmas! Since moving to NY earlier this year, I’m so excited for my first NYC holiday! I have been getting my Christmas geek on early and doing all the awesome cheesy stuff that makes this season my favorite time of year! Whether bundled up outside to enjoy ice-skating, Rockefeller Center, the department store windows down 5th ave, and brisk walks in the park, or snuggled up with a cozy blanket, decadent hot chocolate, and National Lampoons Christmas Vacation, we’re in full nerd mode here and loving every minute of it. I bought my first Christmas tree and decorated it with little lights and 4 lovely ornaments (hey, I’m a minimalist – it works 🙂 Gifts have been lovingly been wrapped and given. Here are just a few sights I’ve been enjoying around the city to share with you…

Somehow, Bergdorff Goodman makes EXCESS look elegant…

Kinda creepy if you ask me, but what’s with the bird theme…?

Rockefeller Center and Gucci…

Oooooh something pretty in the window at Tiffany & Co…

My mom arrives in town today to continue the festivities, and I know she has the Rockettes planned for our near future 🙂

And just a quick Christmas heads-up, in case you’re thinking of last minute gift ideas for a loved one or to gift yourself…

We are running out of seats for the ONLINE BOUDOIR WORKSHOP, which starts soon on Jan 2nd! I am so happy with all the wonderful people we’ve got signed-up from all over the world! We are well-represented: Newbies and pro’s, women and men, Canon and Nikon 🙂

And here is some of the AWESOME FREE STUFF we’re giving away to select attendees during the workshop!

A copy of my book “EXPOSED: Redefining Boudoir” signed by me 🙂

A set of The Money Shots™ THE Shots that Sell!

A private one-one-one Coaching Call with me.

Your choice of RadLab, TRA1, TRA2 or Lightroom Presets from Totally Rad Actions.

$100 Gift Card from LensProToGo!

10×10 15-Spread Sequoia Album from Pictage.

20×30 NEW Acrylic Wall Art from Pictage.

20×20 NEW Bamboo Wall Art from Pictage.

Have a MERRY CHRISTMAS and hope to have your beautiful presence in my world very soon!

Lots of love and Christmas cheer,


ps. Here’s where you can sign-up to reserve a seat to the Online Boudoir Workshop and to get more info 🙂


A Design Atelier, Paris

This summer, I was so fortunate to spend two beautiful and inspiring weeks in Paris! It became even more fun when gal pal and fellow design-junkie, Natasha, joined me for my birthday week. Natasha is an incredible designer and is the talent behind the look of my blog, The Money Shots™ and other exciting upcoming products in my line. She and I geeked out big-time and had a full on Parisian girl-fest, including lots of museums, shopping, red lipstick, hour-long foot massages, lots of wine, lots of cheese, and lots of fun in the city of light. And of course, we did a photo shoot for her new site – shot in our incredible flat in the heart of the Marais.

These last two are my favorites…
More pics from unforgettable Paris coming soon!

You can check out Natasha’s gorgeous work on my new set of BEST-SELLING Boudoir pics…

The Money Shots™
a very cool resource for boudoir photographers!

Happy Monday 🙂


Hello Hotstuff No. 2

It’s bikini season! And now’s the time to hit the great outdoors for some hot & fun summer fitness! You’ll be a step ahead with the strong and spirited Liz DiAlto as your trainer! Here’s part 2 from our recent fitness photo shoot…beating the heat in NYC’s Battery Park.

Liz is a phenomenal nutrition specialist and coach as well. Plus she’s just so darn silly – you gotta love her!

Jeans and a t-shirt, a coke and a smile, laughter and silly dance moves = a super sexy good time 🙂

If you missed the SWEATY SMOKING HOTNESS from yesterday, check out Part 1 with Liz!

More salty and sexy goodness on the blog coming up soon!

x. Christa

The Dancer

I love to dance, and I looove photographing dancers! The shoot actually becomes a dance between photographer and subject…. Well except for when I trip over a stool or fall off the chair I’m standing on.

Wow. Enigmatic Portrait.

Thank you for all the emails and inquiries regarding The ONLINE BOUDOIR WORKSHOP.

It is now SOLD OUT! and the workshop is currently in session. Put your name on the list, so you can get early notification of the next one 🙂

Lots of love and nudity,

x. Christa

Shooting up a Storm in NYC!

Just a quick little note while I am in the happy busy midst of relocating my business and life to NYC!! I am totally LOVING it, and shooting up a steamy hot NYC boudoir storm – lots more to come soon 🙂

Thanks to all of you for the comment-love regarding this new site, my new city, and the new Online Boudoir Workshop – soooo many sexy awesome things happening, and I can’t wait to share more!

lots of love,

x. Christa