“Bombshells!” That’s how boudoir photographer and make-up artist Jaime Rampersad calls her clients and that’s how they look and feel after a session at her studio, she believes.
“Boudoir” refers to a woman’s private room or saloon, and boudoir photography centres on intimate portraits of mainly women, often with an artistic and glamorous flair.
Photoshoot themes generally range from playful and sultry to vintage and fine art-nude. But Rampersad’s less than conventional photoshoots are on the more conservative side of the risqué spectrum, she assured Sunday Guardian in a recent interview.
They are meant to capture the inner and outer beauty of women, boosting their confidence, brightening their mood and the way in which they view themselves, and beauty in general.
Her clients are mostly middle-aged women of wide-ranging body types which adds another element of uniqueness to Rampersad’s non-traditional art.
The photographer is no stranger to standing out from the crowd, however. She was the first to introduce airbrush make-up artistry to T&T and blends in her 18 years of experience to her boudoir shoots, sometimes adding her hairstyling skills as a bonus.
Aware that many would have reservations about her type of artistic work, Rampersad said she shows understanding about how women feel when they enter her studio–often shy but curious–and she strives to do shoots based on each client’s comfort level.
Her clients are free to choose their own outfits and most use the experience and photos for themselves as keepsakes; to celebrate their own bodies. For women who have a hard time embracing their natural beauty and for those who, in the hustle and bustle of life, have lost touch with their inner selves, it allows them to see themselves in a different light, reminding some of their positive traits and revealing such qualities to others who never knew they had them in the first place.
For the person in front of the camera, doing a boudoir photoshoot can be, in essence, life-changing, Rampersad felt. A picture transmits emotions and aspects of one’s personality. As her boudoir shoots teach clients the impact of their body language on others in everyday life and in business, the confidence gained is often channelled into other areas of their lives. It helps them to go after their goals, improve intimacy with their partners and also serves as a form of relaxation and escape.
Her shoots have impacted Rampersad herself. They have afforded her freedom of expression and a chance to do what she loves while empowering women. She is also happy to help transform society’s image of what beauty looks like.
Her work over the last nine years is a far cry from her days in Houston, Texas, where she felt constrained working with photographers to build her portfolio as a make-up artist. Back then, Rampersad felt she was not getting the types of shots to do justice to the make-up work she did on clients. As her interest in photography developed, she was able to obtain her certification as a photographer and started doing both make-up and photoshoots for mostly friends.
In 2015, she moved back to Trinidad with her family and revamped her business, offering a complete service of photography, make-up and hairstyling. Initially focussing on portrait photography, she then began to specialise in boudoir photography.
Apart from describing Rampersad’s friendly disposition and ability to put them at ease, clients on Rampersad’s private Facebook page who gave reviews commended the experience that the photographer offers, with many reporting that it was tastefully done and set them on a journey of self-love.
One woman who had struggled with divorce and weight issues talked about how “enlightened”, “empowered” and “desirable” she felt after a photoshoot, another about how “fun” it was to see herself in a “sexy and glamorous” light, while another said she was happy to finally see herself in the positive way others saw her.
Q&A with Jaime Rampersad
How do women in T&T generally respond to your type of photography?
One misconception is that boudoir photography has to be about skimpy clothes and lingerie or even nudity, but the type that I do is catered to the comfort level of my clients. If a client says I want to use normal clothing, we definitely do that. I have done boudoir shoots with just a white button-down shirt and those have been some of the most beautiful shots. Sometimes women are scared to voice their opinions about wanting to do a shoot of this nature because they feel they will be ridiculed, but I have built a safe space (online) where it’s all about uplifting and empowering each other.
Is it that you show women that their body type doesn’t matter?
Exactly! I am a size-inclusive studio so that’s one of the things I want to highlight too, that boudoir photography is not limited to people with a certain body type. I serve clients that are all different sizes. Also, most of my clients are over 40, so it’s not only for young women.
When you think about boudoir you don’t think about those things. The methodology I use when I’m coaching and directing clients in their shoot, I’m not just posing their bodies, but their body language as well. What this does is create images that allow women to see the inner part of their beauty. Body language is how we’re able to show our inner beauty. It’s the invisible magnetic force that draws us to some people, but repels us from others, so body language is important in getting the shot that really captivates others.
So does this help in ensuring that the pieces end up looking like art?
Absolutely! I want women to look at themselves as worthy of being pieces of art.
Do you have any examples you can speak about of women who perhaps came in with issues and had success stories?
Definitely. There have been clients who would have left their boudoir session feeling really empowered and it gave them that confidence to put themselves out there for their businesses. That is one thing I see reoccurring. Some of them have small businesses–not that they put their boudoir pictures as their business pictures obviously–but just the idea of being seen as a representative of their business is something they become more open to, bolder about.
Even in terms of their relationships, personal life, they get a lot of confidence. They may be more open with their partners. Some of them say I don’t usually wear lingerie and when they come in and get to try on different pieces–because I do have a client’s closet and they get to bring in their stuff too–I give them little tips on how to wear this and what looks better for their bodies, it really opens new doors for them. They get really excited and I think that really helps them.
So a lot of it is make-up and the entire styling of the outfit?
I offer the complete experience, so one of the things, when clients come in, is that they need to feel good before taking a good picture. One of the ways of making them feel good is by making them look good. It starts with prepping them with the airbrush make-up and once they see that and they see they look more beautiful, they feel more confident. This allows them to be a bit more open when they are in front of the camera.
How does airbrush make-up differ from typical make-up?
Oh my gosh, airbrush make-up is amazing. I’ve been doing it since 2004 and I was actually the first to introduce it to Trinidad back then. It gives you a flawless finish…literally drops of make-up for an entire face, but you get maximum coverage and it still looks like skin so it photographs beautifully. It is the best of all of the make-ups, honestly speaking.
Does your propensity for the arts come from your childhood, did anything in your childhood inspire you to be a creative?
What inspired me is when I was little, I used to look at my mother apply make-up every day for work. And that just intrigued me. I always remember her red lipstick, till this day she loves a red lip. I never thought about it as a career until I was 24. I woke up one morning and literally said: I want to be a make-up artist…just like that. And this was after I had finished doing my degree in Information Systems and Management, so it’s something totally different.
In terms of the business aspect, how successful has this type of photography been?
It’s something that you have to work at, especially in the early days. You can’t just open up a business and not have to work really hard to get it to a certain level. It takes a lot of work and you should be really passionate about it.
Jaime Rampersad is @jaimerampersadmakeupartistry on Facebook