Interview Of The Week with Nicola Grimshaw-Mitchell: Boudoir then and now

Boudoir style photography had its heyday from the 1920s through the 1940s. Sensual images depicted women in private sitting rooms, bedrooms, salons and studios from the late 19th century, such as erotic themed French postcards. The first iconic boudoir pictures were taken of Hollywood actresses like Clara Bow, Mae West and Jean Harlow.

Around the beginning of World War II the US government wanted to encourage young men to fight for their country by featuring pin-up girls on their recruiting posters. The term pin-up refers to them being pinned up on walls and admired. Betty Gradle and Marilyn Monroe were the biggest stars of the campaign. This made the pin-up girl one of the most recognizable forms of boudoir and paved the way for modern boudoir.

Boudoir made a comeback in the mid 1980s and the classic boudoir style is now more popular than ever. Photoshoots are accessible to everyone and getting dolled up like a pin-up girl in sexy lingerie  for a photo session in a beautiful environment is a fun experience.

Nicola Grimshaw-Mitchell from @nicolamyboudoir is a premier UK Boudoir & Pin-up photographer and editor at Femme Rebelle Magazine and Bombshell Magazine. She talks about her career and tells us in a few words why you should try a boudoir session.

How did you become a boudoir photographer?

I started with wedding photography in 2000 then moved onto boudoir in 2008 – I found my passion! I just wanted to create beautiful images and I found a gap in the UK market, so everything happened at the right time. However running my own business takes up a LOT of family time and it’s physically exhausting but I love my job. I get paid to do something I love and I can be creative! Boudoir is so much fun and very satisfying.

Now I’d like to focus more and more on vintage style. I have a retro set called the Boom Boom Room which I LOVE shooting in!

Boudoir/pin-up makes women of every shape, size and age beautiful. Why is that?

For me, it’s down to the photographer. I make women feel comfortable. I’m very down to earth and a bit of a mother hen – I look after them! If they are comfortable in front of the camera I get the best photos.

Also, pin-up is a very feminine style that suits everyone. In today’s world, women are no longer expected to be perfectly groomed whenever they step out the door. This is the beauty of what I do – boudoir transports girls back to a more glamorous time! When I look at a client I get an idea of what would suit her, and me and my make-up artist will gently guide her in the right direction so that in the end, the client will have the look that she desires in her photos.

Where do you get inspiration from?

I love Helmut Newton and Pre-Raphaelite art. Also, perfume ads give me great ideas. (Pre-Raphaelites were a secret society of young artists founded in London in 1848. They were opposed to the Royal Academy’s promotion of the ideal as exemplified in the work of Raphael – BWG note).

What would be your advice to someone who wants to do a boudoir session?

Just get it booked in! So many people are scared of doing one but it’s so much fun!


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