Most of us have a love and hate relationship with taking photos of ourselves. The way we relate to images of ourselves is a complex and deep experience. After all, there's nothing more vulnerable than standing in front of a camera and exposing the rawness of your being. Thus, photographs can also be a way of celebrating and honoring your body. They represent your bravery to capture yourself in moments in the most authentic way.
In this episode of Whole, Full, & Alive, Caitie and Devin Archilla dive into Boudoir photography. They talk about how this intimate style of photography can help you empower yourself and honor your body. Devin shares her personal healing experience through Boudoir and how she helps women change the narrative in how they see themselves in photographs.
If you want to transform how you see yourself and blossom into comfort in taking photos, this episode is for you!
💡Three reasons why you should listen to this episode:
Discover the healing and empowering experience of Boudoir photography.
Find out how photography is a way of honoring yourself and your body in whatever state it is.
The role Boudoir Photography plays in empowering women to be confident and comfortable in their skin.
Release restrictive dieting, break free from body shame, & create habits that help you live fully! Sign up for Caitie’s nutrition coaching program and community, Whole, Full, and Alive, and get a FREE 20 Minute Discovery Call!
[04:16] Who Is Devin Archilla?
Devin is a Boudoir photographer.
Her style of photography is not for the private enjoyment of romantic partners. It’s for each woman to view herself in a raw, real, and transformative way.
Caitie did a photo shoot with her in Bozeman, Montana in a recent pivotal moment of her life.
Devin was the person who took the photo that become the cover art of this podcast.
[09:25] Getting into Photography
Devin was athletic growing up. It was her drive for everything.
Being in front of a camera always came naturally to her in some aspects.
She got into photography after her dad bought a camera to take photos and videos of her for volleyball recruitment.
She originally went to college to play volleyball but decided to focus on her Graphic Design and Business major.
Everything she knows about photography is self-taught.
[11:10] Her Photography and Graphic Design Career Journey
She has always loved interior design, composition, and layouts in design school.
Despite showcasing many different things, she often felt like all the things she was doing were an 8 out of 10.
She studied under Doug Loman, Bozeman’s grandfather of photography, for around three summers. They photographed over 100 weddings together.
After realizing weddings were not for her, she worked at a design agency for five years. There, she was responsible for graphic design and project coordination.
[13:26] Discovering Boudoir Photography
Devin got married in 2016. She decided to do a Boudoir photoshoot after seeing a photo on Instagram.
At the time, she was also going through therapy for being sexually molested as a teenager.
Receiving the photos from the shoot after her last therapy session was a huge turning point for her.
Once she told people about it, she realized that Boudoir photography is empowering.
Devin: “I don't care if you're 50, or if you're 20, or if you're 17, or if you've had six kids. Everyone at every stage, you should be able to honor and have these beautiful representations of you throughout so many points of your life.” - Click Here To Tweet This
[17:24] Becoming a Boudoir Photographer
A year later, her sister-in-law got married. Devin recommended doing a Boudoir shoot as a wedding gift for her husband.
Her sister-in-law asked Devin to do the photoshoot for her.
From there, she started doing these shoots part-time while working a full-time job and training to become a fitness instructor.
She eventually quit her job after booking herself out six months in advance and securing her income.
She has been working full-time as a Boudoir photographer for three years and has photographed over 250 women.
[22:16] Creating a Healing Experience through Boudoir Photoshoot
Devin personally loves capturing simple moments in the most natural way possible.
But outside her preference, she wants women to feel like they can fully show up as who they are.
Devin: "There's this really unique balance of making someone feel comfortable like you're holding their hand through it but you're also not turning the spotlight on how awesome you are. You have to always turn it back to the client. Like, this is actually for them. If they're not comfortable, then you're not doing your job at all." - Click Here To Tweet This
It’s simultaneously allowing space for clients to realize their value while recognizing when you’re pushing the line.
Being with another person in a space for a substantial amount of time is intimate.
Doing photoshoots is more than snapping photos endlessly; it’s about the human experience.
[27:26] Why Do Boudoir?
Society has told us that our 20s are when we have the best bodies.
Almost all the mothers Devin photographed didn’t have an individual photo of them outside a family photo.
Boudoir is about honoring your body right then and there in whatever state it is.
Photographs have a special way of slowing you down and bringing you back to a moment in your life.
Boudoir is a way of acknowledging the things you do, have done, and have been through, especially as a woman. It's a transformative launching pad to healing.
[33:30] Discomfort as Part of the Photography Process
You can watch people blossom into comfort with themselves throughout a photo shoot.
Almost half of Devin’s clients have struggled or are still struggling with eating disorders.
She makes clients fill up an inquiry form to allow her to be more intentional with her language.
How people react to photographs of themselves and their bodies is their perception of themselves. Boudoir is transformative in this matter.
[40:24] Reclaiming Photography
Devin originally made her Instagram private because her husband was a youth pastor at their church.
She only accepts follow requests from women. She has curated a safe space for women to show vulnerability and feel daring.
We all have a human body, and it should be represented as a beautiful art form.
We can ‘reclaim photography’ by making a return to raw, real, unfiltered photographs.
Printing your photos and hanging them on the wall are a tangible way of reclaiming photography. In this way, we avoid the unrealistic filters and editing we’re used to seeing online and bring back the original essence of photography with hard copies.
Caitie: “It's not a matter of if you have a body—we all have a freakin’ body. And so if you can take the time to actually deeply celebrate it and celebrate other people feeling confident in it so that they can go move through the world and do everything else that they want to do that's bigger than their body, that's amazing.” - Click Here To Tweet This
[47:18] What Makes Devin Whole, Full, and Alive
What helps Devin tap into a sense of wholeness is movement and feeling strong and empowered in her body.
She feels fueled, full, and energized by being outside.
She feels most alive doing her job and providing herself the same fulfillment she pours out to other people.
[50:33] What Devin is Excited About
She has three upcoming photoshoots in Joshua Tree and branding shoots for women-owned businesses.
She is going to Italy in June to photograph a retreat and offer Boudoir sessions.
She will be in the French Alps in July to photograph for her best friend’s company, Kula Collective.
Devin has a merch line coming out called Devin Helen Boudoir Gear and Goods.
[53:13] Processing Prompt and Actionable Tools
Ask yourself, “What is the first thought that comes up when I look at an image of myself? What are those thoughts telling me about my relationship with myself?”
Are you looking at the details of your body first? Or are you first able to connect with your energy in the photo?
Loving images of yourself is about being able to look at a photo and say, "Yes, that's me."
For the action experiment, go outside and spend time away from the screen.
You can immediately feel an energy shift outside your body by stepping away from the screen and into a new environment.
Devin Helen Archilla is a Boudoir photographer. The purpose of Devin’s photography is for each woman to view herself in a real, raw, and transformative way. Her photographs celebrate the radiant beauty and the infinite worth of women and help clients capture their unique presence and individuality. She is passionate about holding space for women and helping them feel empowered and strong in their bodies.
Outside photography, Devin spends her time camping, hiking, traveling, teaching fitness classes, and running in the mountains with her dogs: Thor & Santiago.
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Whole, Full, & Alive is a podcast exploring the art and science of falling in love with your life, with your story, and with who you truly are — underneath your titles, your resume, your relationship status, and your bank account.
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Have any questions or want to leave a suggestion? Come say hi on the 'gram, @caitie.c.rd! You can also sign up for Caitie’s nutrition coaching program and community, Whole, Full, and Alive, and get a FREE 20 Minute Discovery Call!
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Devin Archilla: I would never want to be part of someone's story that didn't make them feel more empowered, more beautiful, more strong. So she took a chance on me and she was like, let's just see what happens. I was like, wow, you're brave. Okay. So she came here, and we did the same thing that I did, because I didn't know anything else. It was the most fun that I've ever had a photo shoot, and I had never been more proud at the time of the images that I took of her. I was like, okay, I wonder if I can figure out how to do this.
Caitie Corradino: Welcome to Whole, Full and Alive, a podcast exploring the art and science of falling in love with your life, with your story and with who you truly are, underneath your titles, your resume, your relationship status, and your bank account. I'm Caitie Corradino, a registered dietician nutritionist, certified fitness and yoga instructor, eating disorder recovery coach, Reiki healer, and founder of Full Soul Nutrition, but underneath my titles and resume, a big fan of kitchen dance breaks, early mornings, all things chocolate truffles, world traveling and serendipity.
I'm here to share no bullshit stories and actionable tools to help you feel unshakably worthy. You have everything you need within you to feel whole, full and alive right here, right now. Let's get into it. Hey, welcome to episode seven of Whole, Full and Alive. Thanks so much for coming back. If this is your first time joining the podcast, thanks so much for being here. I want to say right off the bat that this episode you're about to tune into is a special one.
So this is a special episode that's a little different than the previous episodes that I've published so far, because it is an interview that I pulled out from the archives. So this interview that I'm sharing with you today was recorded much earlier this year. It was recorded in early April of this year, when I was in Bozeman, Montana. Maybe you're not familiar with my story. Maybe this is the first episode that you're tuning into.
So I just want to say very briefly that earlier this year, after living in New York City for 10 years, I decided that I didn't want to be there anymore, and I gave up my apartment lease in March. In March, I started traveling around to different parts of the United States and also parts of Europe to decide where I wanted to live next, because I knew I didn't want to be in New York anymore.
One of the first places that I went on this little nomadic journey was Bozeman, Montana, which seemed super random to a lot of the people around me, especially my friends and family from New York City. They're like Bozeman, Montana, what's that? Is that in United States? It was an incredible place, first of all, to be for the nature, the proximity to national parks, and all of that.
I had a beautiful mountain view from a very affordable Airbnb, which was incredible. The other reason I was drawn to Bozeman was because I wanted to do a photo shoot with my friend, Devin Archilla, and she is on the show today. While I was doing this photo shoot with Devin, I was like I'm going to publish a podcast at some point later this year. I have no idea what the structure of the show is going to be like.
I know it's gonna be called Whole, Full and Alive. I don't really know anything else. But I feel like while I'm here with you in Bozeman, after we're done shooting, can I just record an interview with you. So that's what we did. So the structure and the style, and of course, the audio quality of this interview is a little different than the ones that I've published so far over the last couple of weeks.
But that's because when I recorded this interview, I really didn't know what I was doing. I really wasn't sure how I was going to format this podcast, but I knew while I was there in Bozeman with Devin, this incredible person who I'm going to tell you about in a moment, I wanted to record that interview. So I'm sharing it with you today, and I'm really excited about it.
Because I didn't really know how I was going to format the show at the time I recorded this interview, I'll also pop on at the end for an outro so that I can still give you a processing prompt and an action experiment to take away from today's show. So let me ensure you to Devin before I dive into my conversation with her.
Devin is a boudoir photographer, and maybe you're surprised that I'm having a boudoir photographer on this podcast and honestly if you asked me a year ago, if I was going to interview a boudoir photographer, I'd be like probably not. Devin has really transformed my perspective on boudoir photography, and also gave me, personally, space to explore my relationship with photos of myself.
As someone who's recovered from an eating disorder and anxiety and body image issues and as someone who now works with people recovering from eating disorders, anxiety and body image issues, I've thought and looked at photos, photo shoots in a lot of different ways. The way I related to photos of myself has really gone through lots of ups and downs and highs and lows and twists and turns. Of course, I see that for every single one of my clients on a regular basis, ad so I was really excited to have this conversation with Devin.
We're gonna dive into a little bit of the nitty gritty of some of that. Can you use photos of yourself to empower yourself? How can you use photos of yourself to empower yourself? When are you ready to do that? Anyway, Devin is the perfect person to have this conversation with because she's not a Victoria's Secret boudoir photographer. When you think of boudoir, you might be thinking of the glitz and the glam and the fake eyelashes and the bright red lacy bra tops, ad that's actually not the style of boudoir photography that Devin does.
The purpose of Devin's photography is not for the private enjoyment of romantic partners. It's for each woman to view herself in a raw and real and transformative way. Devin is so passionate about holding space for her clients, and helping them capture their unique presence and their individuality, and she does so in such a beautiful way. I can attest to her skill because I was fortunate enough to be able to do a photoshoot with her right before I recorded this interview that you're going to hear.
I have to say, before I dive into the interview, this was such a serendipitous experience for me. I connected with Devin via and entrepreneur working group and mastermind in late 2021. I started to look at some of the work she was doing, this unedited, non photoshopped, just raw, beautiful photography of women of all shapes and sizes and walks of life. I was like, I really want to get in on this.
I think maybe I'll come visit Devin in Bozeman and do a shoot with her. Then, I booked the shoot for April and then ended up going through my breakup and my nomadic journey and all of that like right around the time that I had booked the shoot for. So it was really serendipitous and awesome to have this empowering space to work with Devin while I was in that pivotal moment of my life.
So I'm super stoked to share this interview with her and you'll learn more about her and what she does by listening to it. Final thing I want to share before diving into the interview though is that I know this is a touchy subject. I know that the way we relate to images of ourselves, and the way we feel in front of a camera is complex and convoluted, and deep.
So if you're listening to this interview and you're feeling inspired by it but uncertain, whether you are ready to use images of yourself to feel more empowered, I encourage you to stick around for the outro of this episode, where I'm going to give you a processing prompt to start thinking about this a little bit more. With that, I'm gonna get into my interview from the archives with Devin Archilla.
By the way, she took the cover art of this podcast. The image that's on the cover of this podcast is one of the photos that I did in a shoot with her so it wasn't all boudoir. It wasn't all the door in the way you think it is. It was a lot of just like some portrait work and fun images that sort of captured me at a really pivotal moment of my life. I'm thankful to use her art for this podcast cover.
All right, let's get into it. I am so grateful to be here in Bozeman, Montana during a snowstorm, post photo shoot with Devin Archilla. Yeah, I love that. That has such a vibe to it. Okay, with Devin Archilla, and we are going to be talking a little bit about what it's like to be a boudoir photographer. But before we get there, Devin, how did you arrive at this career choice? How did you create this business? Where was it born? No answers too long. Take it away.
Devin: Yeah, so I definitely never was like in high school like I'm gonna be a boudoir photographer like had no intention of that. I was pretty athletic all growing up. That was like my main kind of drive for everything. I found myself being the most comfortable when I was working out, when I was in the gym, when I was moving my body, when I was sweating. It's where I felt the most beautiful.
It's where I felt the most normal, most of me and so being in front of a camera did always kind of come naturally to me in some aspects. But like any of us, I feel like we all have a hard time being in front of the camera. The reason that I started messing around with a camera was because my dad bought one to take photos and videos of me for recruiting for volleyball. So he bought this like super professional camera and had no idea how to use it.
So I just started like messing around with it and ended up loving it. I've only technically taken one photography class in high school, and it was like a film class like really, really old school. I didn't really have any intention of going to college for photography, just because in my research, I just found a lot of what was presented to me, I could really teach myself. So I just always had my camera.
So when I went to college, originally went to play volleyball, and then decided not to and decided to focus more on a major and I chose to do graphic design and business, and always had my camera with me. So I kind of became the girl who always had a camera and like, Dev, bring your camera to this event, and will you do this, and will you take these engagement pics, and I kind of just messed around with like the whole nine yards of photography.
I did everything, and really figured out what I liked, what I didn't like and was completely self taught. So then, through design school, I have always had a love for interior design and composition and layouts, and that's definitely what was my strong suit with design. For my thesis, I created an entire magazine. So with that, I did all like the photography for the ads. I did all the photography of the people I featured in it.
So I was really able to showcase that I could do a lot of different things, but I never felt that I was just like, freaking crushing it, and like one thing. I always felt like I was like an eight out of 10 in all the things that I was doing. So I started working under photographer here in the valley. In my eyes, he's like the grandfather of photography in Bozeman, and he's unbelievable. His name is Doug Loneman, and he's been here for 30 plus years.
I studied under him for two to three summers, and we photographed over like 100 weddings together. So that's where I truly learned, like, this is how you actually use your camera. This is what this button really does. His wife was kind of like the background business front of it, so she would do all the meetings with the clients. I watched her how she would coordinate with clients, how she would speak to them, speak to brides and make them feel calm.
So I really had an insider look as like what it was like to be a photographer at 21, 20 years old. So once I did all those weddings, I was like, yeah, I don't know if weddings is my jam. It's a lot. With the lifestyle that my husband I were living at the time, it just our schedules would constantly, we were like ships in the night like we just never saw each other. So I was like, okay, this wedding thing is not gonna work for me, and the investment that's weddings are is huge.
So I'm like, if I'm not freakin stoked about this, I'm not serving these people well. So I kind of put them on the back burner. I got hired at a design agency in town, and I worked there for five years and kind of became the one to wear a ton of hats. I learned so much, and still always loved photography. So I ended up still doing graphic design there and becoming the project coordinator because I learned so much from like organization, managing multiple clients with the photography job that I was like, I can totally do that in this realm.
Once again, I was doing a bunch of things, but never just like crushing it. I felt like at one thing. It wasn't until 2016 that I got married, and I saw this one photo. I think it was on Instagram, I honestly can’t remember, and I absolutely loved it. It was like the super beautiful detail shot this woman's back. I was like this is real beautiful. Like I would love to have that just like huge as hell in my house. It's so artfully done, like a sculpture like in Europe.
So I texted my wedding photographer, Samantha with Orange Photography, and she did our proposal or engagement and was about to do our wedding. It cost me an arm and a leg and I would do it all over again, like I just love her to pieces. She's a film photographer by trade, and she's insanely talented, and I trusted her and so I text her and was like, hey, any chance that like, you would maybe want to take boudoir photos of me.
I was like I've never really seen anything like besides this one photo, anything I look at on Pinterest or anything else is just like, it looks forced. It feels fake, like I don't love it. She was like, totally, let's do it. So we went to a hotel downtown and reserved it for like two hours one morning and had so much fun. She only had four rolls of film, which meant she had 60 clicks, and so it was like I hold the pose. She takes it, that's one out of 60.
Devin: So it's like no pressure which is like pretty intimidating for sure. But she brought fruit. She brought champagne and like mimosas and she played like Justin Bieber the whole time. It just was like super fun and I really didn't know what I was doing but I knew because of how incredible of an artist that she is, that I was like, it's gonna be so timeless that I have have no like doubt, like I full trust in her.
I didn't see any photo for eight weeks because she had to send them to the lab, get them developed, all the things. At the time, I was also going through therapy for being, unfortunately, sexually molested when I was a teenager, and so I was terrified to get married and have that be a consistent part of my life. I was in my last session, and I was driving home.
I got an email from Sam of all the photos, and I freaked out, should not have been looking at my phone driving. But I got notification, pulled off the side of the road and looked at all the photos and lost it and absolutely started bawling my eyes out. So that was like a huge turning point for me, and I was so thankful that even though my story is fairly typical when it comes to like, I'm doing these as a wedding gift. I'm about to get married.
The fact that I got them for months before I actually got married and was able to have them just for me for that length of time. I was like, every woman needs to do this. I didn't tell anyone that I was doing it at the time. Nobody knew, none of my friends knew, and I guess you could say I like circled in a few different friends circles that if I were to say that I was doing that they probably would have been like, why is that important? Like what?
I just didn't really confide or trust in the people that I was really around during that time in my life, and so I kept it to myself. Then, the people that I did feel like I could tell, once I realized like, holy shit, this is so empowering. Like this doesn't have to be over sexualized. In all these photos, I didn't wear a lace. Like I wore like black onesies that I loved and my black leather jacket, and my hats or my denim pants that I love.
It wasn't like your typical, what we see as Victoria's Secret runway type of deal. It just was super empowering, like the experience alone. I didn't even need a photo for eight weeks, because I feel frickin awesome. Like, this was so amazing, and it was so casual at the same time. It didn't have to be this cute like crazy, elaborate thing. So I didn't even put two and two together, that I could offer that service for a whole year.
So a whole year goes by and I tell all my friends and I'm like you need to do it. I don't care if you're 50 or if you're 20, or if you're 17, or if you've had six kids. Like everyone at every stage, you should like be able to honor and have these beautiful representations of you throughout so many points of your life. So from there, my husband's sister gets married a year later, a year after us and her and I are in Missoula, which is a town just three hours west of here.
She found her wedding dress. We were like celebrating getting drinks, and she was like, what did you do for wedding gift for Mark? Like, I can't think of like what to do for George. I was like, well, and she was the only person that I did tell at the time. That’s gonna be weird. Yeah. But she the Puerto Rican, lovely, loud, amazing, hysterical family, and so I should have known that she would have been like, open in the book.
I was like, well, I took these pics. I originally was super nervous to do it, but ended up loving the experience. I told her all about it, and she was like, show me and so I showed her like two or three photos on my phone. She was like, you could totally do this. I was like, what are you talking about? Just like, you can take photos of me like this 100%, and I was like, Oh, okay. And that's such a fine line that I now and like very comfortable in.
But at the time, I was like, well, shit, I can either make you feel like awful or total badass. That is like two major extremes that I would never want to be part of someone's story that didn't make them feel more empowered, more beautiful, more strong. So she took a chance on me and she was like, let's just see what happens. I was like, wow, you're brave. Okay, and so she came here.
We did the same thing that I did, because I didn't know anything else. We rented like the same hotel room, and it was the most fun that I've ever had at a photoshoot. I had never been more proud at the time of the images that I took of her. I was like, okay, I wonder if I can like figure out how to do this, and so that's when I was 26. Yeah, I was 26 at the time, and so I did it part time while I was in training to become a fitness instructor while also working full time at a job.
So I would do the shoots after work and on the weekends. I cycled through like a few friends just to be like, you're going to tell me these suckers or these are awesome, okay? Like, be fully transparent with me. Yeah, I just got hooked. It's been so amazing. I did it part time for a whole year. Then, I told myself if I can continue to book myself out six months in advance and secure my income, and then I'll quit my job. So in October of 2018, I said, okay, if I can book myself out through June, I'll quit in February, and I booked myself out before Christmas.
Devin: Yeah, I had a slow transition out of the design agency out of full respect for them because I love them and they taught me so much for five years but yeah, so I've been full time for three years since this February and I have photographed over 250 women now, which is crazy.
Caitie: Love this. I’m obsessed with this story. I mean, thank you so much for taking us all the way through, like from when you picked up a camera for the first time because your dad was recording you playing volleyball like how cool.
Caitie: Then in the dark room in high school, I had that experience too. I did like a full on film class, and I was like, oh, I kind of like this, but would never go to college for this, but definitely didn't lose passion for it. So I kind of resonate with that a little bit. Then yeah, the twists and turns that people go through to arrive where they're supposed to be, I think, it's so important to hear more stories like yours, where you're here and then there and then picking up little gems along the way, like working under those wedding photographers, even though that's not what you wanted to do.
I mean, so I just shot with Devin an hour ago and the way you were able to help me feel so calm and empowered, and like you just took the reins and we're like, okay, I got this. I'm running the show here. We're doing this. We're doing this. We're doing this, which was first of all amazing. Then also, you were just so nurturing, and I can see how all the little skills you've picked up along the way helped you get where you are today. But I feel like that's such a come to Jesus moment of having your own experience with this and then realizing, oh shit, and also with your partner's sister being the one that kind of gave you a nudge to like, that's so beautiful.
Devin: Yeah, that's amazing. Yeah, she's awesome.
Caitie: Speaking more to the experience that you had with this as a tool for healing, I think it is important to speak to it, because when most people think of boudoir shoots, right, they are thinking about this very kitschy, like, spotlight, bright red
Caitie: Lingerie, right? It doesn't have to look that way. I did tell a few people that I was going to do this shoot here with you.
Caitie: I'm like, I know that's what they're thinking. I'm doing.
Caitie: I know it. Can you speak to how you create a healing experience versus like, yeah, that kind of spotlight a glitzy glam experience? Because I think you do have a good combination of like you do made it a little glam. But it's not like that
Devin: Yeah, for sure.
Devin: Yeah, yeah, I think the biggest thing from the get go from my own photography experience coming from like a more preferred way of shooting is I prefer to shoot the most natural way possible. No disrespect towards like studio lighting and all that beauty that goes into that, by any means. Personally, I love it when simple moments are captured really, really well and authentically, and there doesn't need to be a lot of fluff to distract from the actual, like sole reason as to why you're getting that photo taken.
I have found personally that I love the photos of me that are the most like natural and authentic, like they feel comfy. They feel like me. But then again too if I photographed so many different women now at this point that I want them to feel like they can fully show up as who they are. So if that means like they have like a rockin, bedazzled one piece, let's totally rock it and do it.
Like for sure, I'm never gonna like dim the light on what someone wants to do. So I think that is the number one thing that I always, I've seen so many and it's no like bash on photographers, but there's this really unique balance of making someone feel like comfortable, like you're holding their hand through it. But like, you're also not turning the spotlight on how awesome you are.
Like, you have to always turn it back to the client of like, this is actually for them. If they're not comfortable, then you're not doing your job at all. So if you're not like coming alongside them, just like in therapy, if you're not like absolutely coaching them, talking with them, making them feel safe, then in my eyes, like what are they paying you for ultimately?
So there's this really unique like push and pull of allowing the space for the client to take up their own space and realize their value and their worthiness of being there in that moment, but then also like, recognizing and seeing when are you maybe pushing their line a little bit too much? Like do you need to like take it back a little bit like, I don't know, it's just like a unique, I've seen a lot of photographers almost pushed to their creative idea to the point of exhaustion to where then the person like doesn't feel seen anymore.
It's like no, once that happens like that person needs to like feel like they're fully seen, I mean, even outside of boudoir like it doesn't even have to be boudoir, whenever cameras around. Even for me, when I'm in front of the camera, it takes me like five minutes to get into it. Then, I'm like, okay, we're chillin, I guess I'm all good. Yeah, I just always want them to feel like they're my friend.
I want them to feel heard. That's why it's so important to me that I talk to them before the shoot and not just like show up and then leave like you don't want it to feel like a one night stand.
Devin: This is an intimate thing. No pun intended. It really is, like clothes on, clothes off. To be with a human in a space for a substantial amount of time is intimate, like you're sacrificing your time. They're sacrificing their time, which is time you can't get back. So it's like, you really need to make it worth it.
Caitie: Yeah, I love that redefining of intimacy a little bit because, yeah, when you are spending a substantial amount of time, one on one with a person, creating something especially, but even if you're just talking, that's intimacy. That is something that deserves to be nurtured and trauma informed and intentional. I think you are 100% of trauma informed person and super intentional and I really felt that the entire time I was shooting with you.
Devin: That's amazing.
Caitie: Loved it.
Devin: Yeah. Yeah. I think that goes to like, and mostly everything. It's like, we're always looking for quality over quantity, right? So it's like, it's worth it to me to stop and talk mid photoshoot to ask a question or to maybe let a wall or a barrier come down for that person because then the next few shots after that, they might be like, oh, that was on my chest for some reason, if I got it off. Like, you can see it.
That's one of my favorite things is going through the whole set when I'm toning and batching. It's like uncomfy, uncomfy, and it's like, there it is, like not uncomfy. You can just see the light shine, because you took that moment to talk to them and remember that they're human, rather than just being, I'm just gonna snap 5000 pics, because that's what we're doing here. It's so much more deep.
Caitie: Right, right. The fact that we were in your car driving between scenes, and you were like, so what happened with your boy? What’s going on? What happened with the break-up?
Devin: It's not like a frivolous question either.
Caitie: Yeah, right. I mean, I definitely felt something opened up for me after we were able to kind of have that chat too, which is nice to just reorient myself. Yeah, so you said you would recommend this experience to anyone, whether they're about to get married, already married, young, old, whatever. Why would you recommend this experience? Why does it not even have to be like boudoir necessarily, clothes on, clothes off, whatever?
Devin: Yeah. I mean, for me, personally, I've now taken, you could say, I've had my photo taken a lot, but I have done boudoir specifically now, maybe five times. I tried to do it every year now since I've done it, and it doesn't have to be like an extended elaborate thing. It could be 20 minutes, and one of my girlfriends who takes photos too will take them off me. I think it's so good for me, personally, to go through it, just like I'm asking my clients to go through it, because I need to remember exactly how like, okay, well, it feels this way.
I've done it three times now, still, and it just like takes me a minute. But I think with each age, say like just decades, for example, I mean, I think a lot of us women are told that like in your 20s, when you're in your 20s, it's just so awesome. That's when you have your best body. There's all these things that like are filtered through society and culture. Then, I have found the mothers that I have photographed, almost all of them, consistently have a kind of like a string that connects them that it's like once they have kids, say to like they're 15 years old, or something.
There's not one photo of them represented singularly outside of a family photo. Or it's like the dad and the kids in the photos because the moms always taking the photos. Yeah, they're like my last like, quote, unquote, professional photo was when I was 27, or when I was 28, and I'm now 42 or 41. That's a huge chunk of time that just went by, and so it's been so cool to be able to photograph those moms or the women who just had a baby, and they're honoring their body with where they're at right then and there.
I have photographed two women specifically before, during and very right after having a baby. It's so incredible that they are like, yep, I'm going to show these to my daughters so that they can honor their body at every stage, right before I was pregnant, right when I was about to pop and two months after friggin having a baby. It's like this body did this, be super proud of it and it's gonna change, and it's okay.
I think too, photographs just have a special way of slowing us down and bringing us back to that moment, that time of your life. I think women we all just move so fast, I think, in general, all of us do. We're all always juggling so many different things and we don't give ourselves the time of day to acknowledge all the things that we do and what we've done and what we've been through. To me, that's what this photo shoot represents.
It's not just like, look awesome, I asked looks, which is great, like 100% here for that also, like, fully 1,000%. But I feel like it can just be really transformative. It can be like a really incredible launching pad to additional healing.
Caitie: Yeah, it's about, let's celebrate this iteration of me at this moment in my life.
Caitie: Whether that's in your 20s, or 30s, or 40s, or 50s. It's about slowing down enough to be like, this is where I'm at, and these photos are just me. It's not me and my friends. It's not me and my husband, not me with my babies. It's just I get to celebrate myself as a single human being in this moment, single human being.
Caitie: Whole human.
Caitie: Yeah, that's awesome. So something I really do want to talk about as we're going down this road is photos as a tool for empowerment after you've healed from body image issues.
Caitie: I have a lot of clients, and I, personally, myself have had an experience of feeling so much resistance to photos, and then a subsequent resentment for photos. So I think I'm gonna sit and tell my story, because I think that it sounds like a lot of the stories of my clients. Basically, when I was in the depths of my eating disorder, hated photos, hated having myself photograph, because I could always find something to pick apart in it.
It would just put this spotlight on my body image issues, and I just didn't want to have my photo taken. Then in my early stages of recovery, I had this sort of like resentment for photos, like I was saying, because I was like, photos are such a superficial thing. We shouldn't be judging people based on their photos. We should be judging them based on their personality and their values. I hate that the world uses photos and media and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, so I was just like, Instagram stupid.
Anyone who posts a selfie is superficial. That was like the mountain I would die on in my early 20s. Then, I started to wake up a little bit too. I think it was after I went through my first breakup, which was like a four year relationship. I started to wake up a little bit to how much empowerment I got from taking photos of myself and or seeing photos of myself and or just putting a little more time and attention into physical beauty like taking time to curate intentional outfits and do my hair a little bit more.
It was just a way to like love on myself a little more, affirm my sense of self worth. Now, that I'm doing the shoot with you. Of course, I'm way past these early stages of that, and I fully kind of embraced that. I can be in front of a camera in a way that isn't superficial. I can be in front of a camera in a way that's not like, these photos are just through my dating apps or these photos are just for my Instagram.
It's more about the experience and the sense of embodiment. I would love to hear your thoughts on this, though, because how do we help people who are in that stage of either I detest taking photos of myself because I can always find something to pick apart kind of like what you're saying with your sister in law. It's like this could go really well or this could go really badly.
Then also, those people who are like, photos are superficial, and I really do think there's much more nuance to it than that.
Devin: For sure. Yeah, I think, yeah, my response to that would be similar in a way that when you're having a conversation with someone, you can't control how they're going to react to what you say with however you say. It could be with the most beautiful intention, and it could be a trigger point for them and you have no idea and so I think just like leaning into that space with grace of I'm human. I'm going to do like the best that I can.
I mean, I've had some of my clients definitely have had like breakdown moments like mid shoot which I fully like absolutely embrace and honor and like they need a second to recollect like 1000%. We can like recollect. I mean, you can feel it out like clients kind of like some girls are like, throughout the shoot, you can watch them blossom into like comfort into themselves.
Some, it might take them the entire time and then the last five minutes, they like totally shine but it was like you have to like go through that unique kind of uncomfy blossoming no matter if you get there quickly if you get there slow. If you get there,it's just totally your own. I think to speaking specifically with eating disorders, I would say I have probably had at least half of my clients have told me that they struggle, have struggled, still struggle, have had that experience before.
Most of them will tell me in the inquiry form when they first reached out to me which I love because then I can just be so much more intentional with my language and how I speak to them, because if I don't know, then I don't know. I could absolutely say something like, with no intention of hurting or harming or causing anything. But I think the thing that I always try over communicating is I absolutely cannot heal you, because I am human.
I can't promise you that this will be the healing thing that you need. Maybe you've tried all the other things or whatever, that all those other things are for you, but I hope that I can be part of this healing process for you. If I'm not, I'm so sorry. But if I can, amazing, and if you can maybe trust, amazing. And I try to like, try and hit home. To me, it's always quality over quantity.
So even if, they get the whole gallery, and there's like two images in there that they're like, oh my gosh, I don't know. Seeing that part of my body is sending me into a spiral or in the next few images completely reversed that and they're like, oh, my God, that's me.
Devin: Whoa. It's, once again, absolutely how they react to it. It's totally their perception of themselves. One of my friends who's so sweet, her name is Cheryl, and I thinks she's 52. She could be 55. If Cheryl listens to this, I’m sorry. But she's in her 50s, and she's a frickin magical boss babe. She's amazing. I have photographed her three times now, and she always, always says when she's promoting me or talking about me, and she's like, you will be honored to be able to see yourself through Devin's lens.
She sees people in a different way than I've ever seen before. She says that all the time to people, and it's so, so sweet. I think handing over the reins to allow another person to trust you or to trust with your body is so friggin vulnerable and so courageous. So I just try and try to as lightly as possible, and honestly, just hope for the best outcome. Yeah.
Caitie: Yeah. I think what you're saying about I cannot heal you is so vitally important. I mean, that's something, as a counselor and a nutritionist, I've had to grapple with myself. I cannot heal my clients. What I can hope is that they're coming in with the intention to heal and within the process, I'll be a facilitator for them to heal themselves.
Devin: Yes, beautiful.
Caitie: But we will never be the complete source of healing for someone. We can be the facilitator if they come in with the intention of healing themselves. It sounds like most of your clients do you come in with that intention. No one's coming in with like a, I've tried everything, and now, I'm just gonna throw myself into this and see what sticks. Everyone's like, oh, this could be healing. Let me give this as much intention as I can.
Devin: Yeah, absolutely. That's why I've tried so hard to use language and vocabulary constantly with like, truly not ever specifically targeting brides. The reason is not because I have anything against brides. Oh, my gosh, I love weddings. But I don't want to come at it with the intention like this is for somebody else. That's the most common sight column space for that is like, Oh, this is a gift, which is funny, because that's how mine originally was.
Most of the women that I have photographed that are brides are like, oh, hold up. This is way more transformative for me than I anticipated. I'm surprised. I'm shocked. I had this one gal actually, that I just photographed last Thursday, and she's stunning. She was so beautiful. I didn't hear from her for like three days, when I sent her her sneak peeks. I was gonna, like, oh, no, no, I always just kind of settle in. I'm like, I'll get back to you, and you get back to me.
We all have our own lives, and they're busy. She emailed me back yesterday, and she was like, hey, sorry that it took a little bit to get back to you. She's like, if I'm honest – and I just love it, I absolutely love it, when my clients are honest with me – when I got the sneak peeks, I went through them as fast as I possibly could, and then like, close my eyes and like breathed, because I was really nervous to sit with it and look at the still.
She's like, and then, went through again, a little bit slower, but still pretty fast. She was like, and then I went through them again, really intentionally, one by one, and she was like, I was scared shitless to go through them. But now, I'm realizing like, wow, I am so beautiful. Thank you for giving me space to be patient to get back to you or not feel like I have to. I've had that happen so many times too where sometimes it's taken girls a few weeks to get back to me and they're like, I need to collect my thoughts.
I'm so grateful for this, but you'll hear from me again soon. I'm like, no worries, no rush. I love that they're that honest with me, that they can feel like they're uncomfy, and they can sit with it. I'm like, yeah, be uncomfy. It's okay. Take as long as you need, like there's nothing and that's also too like, why I'm so adamant about being like, I don't need any photo to share on the gram.
This is your body. If you're comfortable, incredible; if not, incredible. They're yours for however long you want. This is not about my game.
Caitie: So while you're on the note of the Instagram, you make your Instagram private and only accept women.
Caitie: Why do you do that? What inspired that?
Devin: Well, to be totally honest, so my husband was a youth pastor at our church. When I was doing this, I was scared out of my mind that high school moms are gonna lose their shit that the youth pastor's wife is doing boudoir photos.
Caitie: Yeah, yeah.
Devin: I don't have a Facebook anymore. I used to. So with private Instagram accounts, you cannot link it to Facebook, because Facebook owns Instagram. So therefore, my Instagram is not a technical business, according to them, because it's not linked. I didn't want to do Facebook, because moms are on Facebook. I was like, I'm only gonna do Facebook page, because that's just more opportunity for them to freak out.
So I'm just gonna do Instagram, and so I made it private. That's the main reason why I did it. Then, six months into it, still doing it part time, I was actually is pretty dope cause thiis is private. I'm curating this very safe, hopefully, like space where women might feel a little bit more daring to share their photo. If it's just within women's space, not feel threatened, not feel embarrassed and maybe be part of it, but they're like, ooh, I'm part of this very unique space of women where we're all just like constantly encouraging each other.
I want to be part of that. So that's kind of how it started, and it's been incredible. It's pretty funny, because I totally have had guys like request to follow. It's funny when they continue to try and request and I'm like, clearly, you're not understanding. It's like requests, like two three times. I just blocked them straight up. But yeah, that's how it originally started, and I've loved keeping it private ever since. I think I think it's awesome.
Caitie: Yeah, that's awesome. I think that connects to the final question I wanted to talk about too, which is like, you're reclaiming photography. You're reclaiming selfies because I do think there are so many ways that photos, especially with face tune and everything now that's out there, Tik Tok, what all the youths are using nowadays. It keeps photos of ourselves trapped in this superficial box through which we can objectify ourselves, sell ourselves, prove ourselves.
Having a private Instagram, first of all, is one way of reclaiming and rewriting that narrative, right? Because if no one can see it, if only this community of women can see it, these other women who are just going to gas you up, essentially, and there aren't men on there that you're putting yourself off to, and there isn't something you're trying to sell with your body in that case. That's one way of reclaiming it. How else can we reclaim photos?
How can I, someone who is a very trauma informed, body positive, eating disorder recovery coach, how can I reclaim photos of myself in a way that's going to be empowering for other women rather than a look at this hot selfie of me and this selfie defines me, and I'm all about my face and not my personal values? Of course, you don't have to have a hardcore psychologist answer to this question. But what's your opinion on that?
Devin: Yeah. Well, I think a tangible way, honestly, I mean, we're getting a little bit past COVID times I feel, so people are coming into people's houses more frequently now.
Devin: There's pictures of me on our wall, not in my bathroom, not in our bedroom, in our living room. It's not like that I would hope that any image that I would take of these women would be truly an art form to wear just like when you're walking around in Europe, and you see us full on naked sculpture. No one's like, oh, really Zeus like come on? It's like that's beautiful, love that for you.
Like why can't we have that same reaction when we see a photo on Instagram. Love that for you. You were so confident that pic, way to go. On your collage wall, like amazing, look at that, so stunning. Like, heck yeah. You could say this about my private account, maybe even like hiding because my account is private. It's a little secretive, but it truly is out of the respect of the woman body, of women coming together and supporting one another.
I think this conversation is also just so unique when I have it with men. When they asked me what I do and it definitely is a day by day basis of how much I want to say if I have the energy for it or not, but it's like when I have my husband's friends come over or anyone come over, my parents, his parents. It's like we all have the human body, and we all walk around. We're all looking at each other's bodies. Bodies are an incredible thing.
They should be represented as like a beautiful art form more often than not. So I think just finding more tangible ways to remind yourself every day why you're awesome. So I would say printing your photos is a huge thing, and that's why I talk about prints, so much more than albums because albums, you can tuck away, put in the corner, not see it, like a print. It's right there.
I mean, I interchange a lot of my photos on our gallery wall quite often, like maybe once a year, but they're there every day, and you see them multiple times every day. How could that change your narrative on yourself if you saw it every day?
Caitie: So exposing yourself to it.
Caitie: In the most natural way, your poses are very natural. Your lighting is very natural. I'm all for if you want to edit a zit off your face, like whatever it is. Go for it. You're not slimming down and smoothing out and it's like so natural. Yeah, really giving yourself the exposure to that consistently. But then also, accepting that bodies are a part of everyday life and neutralizing your experience with it as much as possible, right?
It's not a matter of if you have a body, we all have a frickin body. So if you can take the time to actually deeply celebrate it and celebrate other people feeling confident in it so that they can go move through the world and do everything else that they want to do that's bigger than their body, that's amazing.
Devin: Yeah, totally.
Caitie: Beautiful. So my podcast is called Whole, Full and Alive.
Devin: Cute, I love it.
Caitite: So wholeness is about recognizing that you are a whole person. You have a sense of self worth beyond your identity, your job title, whatever it is that you do. Fullness is about fueling your body, nourishing your body, giving your body energy, and aliveness is about expending energy intentionally so that you can feel more energized. So my last three quick, rapid fire questions are.
Devin: Oh, yay.
Caitie: Number one is, what helps you tap into a sense of wholeness, a sense that you are a whole human being without all of the things that this world attaches to you?
Devin: Yeah, I mean, I would say absolutely movement. I'm also a fitness instructor. Being able to feel empowered and strong in my body is my favorite thing. It's where I feel the most me, feel the most comfortable. I absolutely love it so much, and I love offering and creating that safe space for other people to show up and make them feel awesome and empowered in their body. So yeah, I would probably say that.
Caitie: What makes you feel fueled and full and energized? It doesn't have to be food. It can be your bowl of oatmeal in the morning. That's cool, go off, but if there's something else that gives you a sense of fullness and energy, what would that be? Like restores you, nourishes you.
Devin: Probably, I mean, I would say there's a