INK’D: A BLOG SERIES ON SELF EXPRESSION THROUGH TATTOOS AND BOUDOIR PHOTOGRAPHY
TATTOOS AND BOUDOIR PHOTOGRAPHY FEATURING AUDREY
Meet Ms. A! After being hired to capture her surprise engagement to Ms. L, I was so pleased when both women wanted to do a boudoir session with me and more specifically, a boudoir shoot featuring their tattoos. We talked about how we’d shoot each woman separately and then do some couples photos as well. The couples element was new territory for all of us and these ladies rocked it!
Ms. A admitted that before the session, “I was a little anxious, (pause) I was a lot anxious.” But afterwards she said, “I felt super comfortable and it didn’t feel weird or awkward.” We asked her some more questions about her tattoo journey and here’s what she had to say.
First off, tell us about yourself!
Hi, hello! My name is Audrey and I instantly forget how much tattoos hurt after every session. I box for fun and love bouldering as well. Growing up in a filipino household as a girl meant fitting a very traditional expectation of a girl. I think this is why I always took interest and competed in male dominated sports or hobbies. I definitely have a chip on my shoulder and have the need to shove the fact that people cannot and should not be judged or held back for their gender.
Boxing has helped change the way I approach challenges in my life. There’s nothing quite like being pushed to your absolute limit or fighting your flight response while someone is trying to take your head off.
I have a wonderful fiance and a fur baby that I love very much.
What inspired you to get your first tattoo? How old were you?
My first tattoo was inspired by thinking I was super original and deep at the age of 16. 16 was the minimum age you had to be to get a tattoo at this particular shop and I got “Breathe” tattooed on my hip. I got it to remind me to relax. It’s so cringy and hilarious to remember how unique I thought that was being.
Did you face judgement when you got your tattoos? If so, how did you work through that?
I’ve definitely felt judgement. I remember having a virtual interview with a recruiter and her face went from a smile to being shocked when my camera turned on. She also told me that my style was very “alternative” and that I’ll obviously have to cover up my tattoos if I get hired. One of my previous employers told me that they didn’t know I had tattoos and they wouldn’t have hired me if they had seen them during the interview.
Funnily enough, I kept my tattoos a secret from my family till I was an adult. The only comment I remember getting from an aunt is that I looked masculine and the tattoos didn’t help. My grandma, we called her Nanay which was Tagalog for “mother”, always joked around and pretended to wipe my tattoos off. Other times, she would study each piece carefully and then say “ganda” which meant beautiful in tagalog. She’d follow that up with “tama na” which meant she didn’t want me to get any more work done. I kept going; sorry, Nanay!
How many tattoos do you have? What meaning/memories do they hold for you?
I’ve lost track of how many tattoos I have. Getting a tattoo used to mean getting a piece of art to mark a milestone or a way to describe myself through stories. It’s really funny looking back on those tattoos because you can tell how young I was based on how obnoxious or cringy they are. A great example is a matching tattoo I have with an ex-girlfriend on my right shoulder blade. I was 17 and thought she was the love of my life and wanted to remember it forever. We got our zodiac signs mushed together (Libra and Sagittarius). I also have a jellyfish on my back that looks VERY phallic and I didn’t notice until half my friends on Facebook wrote that as their comment.
I think the reasons why I get tattoos done has changed quite a bit for me in the last decade. I collect tattoos from certain artists like I’m collecting pieces of art in my house. Or sometimes it’s because it’s a Friday and there’s a tattoo gun or an artist available.
A very unexpected part of doing either was meeting such amazing people and having some of the coolest conversations I’ve ever had. All my recent pieces remind me of the hours of learning about new topics, laughing, hearing someone’s journey to becoming a tattoo artist and the experiences they’ve had in their life.
What advice would you give someone on the fence about getting a tattoo?
Do it! Don’t get too hung up on the why because it’ll be a great journey regardless.
What did it feel like to have a photo session that focused on exploring the art of your body and on your body. It was definitely a mix of scary and cool. Some of the tattoos on my body can only really be seen if I was naked or nearly naked and it was very cool to be able to finally highlight those and to highlight the beautiful artwork artists have shared with me.
How did you find your tattoo artist(s)? Do you have a favourite one you can recommend?
I use Instagram to find my tattoo artists. I think I’ve searched very specific tattoo tags and now the algorithm just throws artists at me. I definitely recommend checking out @leftytombu. He’s an amazing artist and an even better human.
Here’s the Insta handles for all of my artists:
Share anything that you might think other women would love to read/know about expressing yourself through the art of tattoos?
It’s very freeing to be able to paint your body however you see fit. I think it’s always scary when something is so permanent, but it’s also so liberating to express yourself in such a concrete manner. They definitely hurt (some more than others) but you are stronger than you think.
What were some of the fears you had about doing a boudoir/intimate portrait session? Did those change during the process, the shoot or afterwards?
Oh man, there were a lot of fears. I was afraid that all my insecurities were right. I don’t see myself as an attractive or sexy person so I wasn’t sure if I could let go and enjoy myself during the shoot. I didn’t think I’d be comfortable being close to nude with another person in the room that wasn’t my partner. I certainly didn’t think I’d be able to look at the photos afterwards because of how I may tear myself down. I was so wrong on all accounts.
The boudoir shoot gifted me with new self confidence and appreciation for my body. It showed me that I can look soft and still be myself. I can look happy and still be myself. And, most of all, I can actually smile. I didn’t feel uncomfortable during the shoot and it all felt so…normal! It was such a powerful experience.
What was it like for you doing an intimate session together with your partner?
Our couple’s boudoir shoot with Michele was incredible. It made us feel connected to each other and our bodies in a very unique and beautiful way. I don’t think we would have felt comfortable with anyone else but Michele. She made the experience so easy and natural!
It was amazing seeing the best qualities and vulnerabilities of our bodies showcased together in such an intimate way. We truly cannot be thankful enough for this experience.
I mean come on! How sweet are these two?! We did a quick post tattoos boudoir session live interview on FB and Audrey also said that during her session “Her heart felt super soft.” Hearing that made me melt. I felt truly honoured to be able to capture the love between these two. Their bond was felt in the studio and you can absolutely see it in their images together. Thank you both for gifting me this incredible experience of photographing you together.
I learned after their session that these two have their own podcast called ‘My Brain on Random’ and they did an entire show on their boudoir session with me. I teared up listening to it as it was so meaningful for me to hear their kind words. It was just so open, honest and raw and I’m so proud of both of them. If you’d like to listen to it and learn more about them (they’re funny too!), you can do so here: https://spoti.fi/34uFwXw
If you’re considering a boudoir session or a shoot to capture your tattoos, I’d love to work with you. Please contact me for a complimentary consultation.
Photos shared with permission.
Michele Mateus is a Vancouver Boudoir & Portrait Photographer located in Coquitlam, BC.