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Beautiful: Local women find new photo trend empowering

Boudoir studios have cropped up across WNY, and women are striking a (sometimes scantily-clad) pose. Some say they are also shedding their insecurities.

Lindsay Kozyra, a 31-year-old mother of two young boys, recently posed for boudoir shots. “It was such a great confidence boost and so empowering for me,” said Kozyra. She said she was nervous at first, mostly because she didn’t know what to expect. “But as soon as I got there, it was like I was hanging out with friends,” Kozyra said.

“I think the biggest downfall for most women is they feel like they could never do this because they need to lose ten pounds and they’re feeling insecure,” said Robyn Buyskes, owner/photographer of Bubbles & Berries Boudoir. “But you don’t have to be this tiny little girl – curves are beautiful and there are lighting and posing techniques that show everybody and every body in a very flattering way.”

Buyskes’ clientele includes everyone from professionals to stay-at-home moms. A lot of her clients are brides-to-be, but she also has customers in their 50s and older.

Maureen Giuga, 49, did a boudoir shoot as a gift for her husband’s 50th birthday. These are her before and after shots. (Bubbles & Berries Boudoir)

“I just want women to be themselves and be comfortable,” said Buyskes, who estimated that posing for a boudoir shoot is outside the comfort zone for probably 95 percent of her clients. “I’ve only had a very few women come through the door and be like ‘yeah, let’s do this.’”

But she pointed out how quickly even the most timid clients start to relax and have fun, and how self-assured they are when they leave.

Photographer Destiny Rogowski of Sweet Heart Pin Up Studio agreed. “If I can make someone feel like she is the most beautiful woman on earth, then I’ve done my job,” said Rogowski. “I’ll work with someone for five hours if that’s how long it takes, because the most important thing is their self-esteem and making them feel good about themselves.”

Amy Brackenridge, 41, said she and her two friends decided to do a boudoir shoot as a girls’ day out, and spent the day at Rogowski’s studio. “We were all really self-conscious at first, but Destiny made us feel so relaxed,” said Brackenridge, who is now trying to convince her 63-year-old mother to do a shoot.

Rogowski, a former wardrobe and hair stylist and celebrity make-up artist who recently moved back from Los Angeles, said she started her business because she wanted to give everyday women the celebrity treatment. “I wanted to take pictures of women who didn’t necessarily think they looked good in photographs,” said Rogowski.

Like Buyskes of Bubbles & Berries, Rogowski said women often come to her studio feeling insecure. “Some are having marital problems, some have lost their sex drive, some are just not feeling good in general. What I hope they take from the experience is a new sense of confidence,” said Rogowski, who added that some clients have been so moved they cried when they saw their photos.

Chelsea Frieder of North Tonawanda, 32 (left), said she “walked in feeling self-conscious and nervous and walked out feeling like a model.” On right is Katie, 41, of Buffalo. (City Lights Studio)

Erica Eichelkraut Zilbauer, owner of City Lights Studio, also does boudoir shoots. She said that when she used to work on fashion shoots in Miami, she hated how the models didn’t look like real women, especially after photoshopping.

“I wanted to pursue something glamour-inspired when I moved back to Buffalo — but celebrating real women and their bodies, showing the best versions of themselves,” said Eichelkraut Zilbauer, who added that she’s had clients up to age 70. She said she is surprised at how many women do the shoots just for themselves, not as a gift for a significant other.

“Most women are seeking some pampering, a way to celebrate themselves and to capture that forever,” said Eichelkraut Zilbauer.

Salon-like sessions

From complimentary champagne and wine to luxurious robes and professional hair and make-up, boudoir studios offer the royal treatment. Cost varies; shoots start at $250-$550 and price may include prints, outfit changes, hair and make-up and shooting time. For specific packages and pricing, contact the individual studio.

Bubbles & Berries Boudoir
1170 Losson Road, Buffalo; 713-8803

City Lights Studio
Hotel @ The Lafayette
391 Washington St., Suite 6, Buffalo; 866-6603

Sweet Heart Pin Up Studio
59 Main St., N. Tonawanda; 803-5993

Spoil Me Silly
Eastern Hills Mall
4545 Transit Road, Williamsville; 634-7459

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