CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When photographer Ashton Kelley first began her boudoir shoots, she remembers her client being hesitant -- squirming in her lingerie and feeling insecure in front of the camera.
The woman almost walked out of the shoot three times. So Kelley flipped her camera around to show her what great pictures she had captured of her on the screen.
"She started crying. Then the security-blanket friend she had in the room started crying, and then I started crying," said Kelley, an on-location photographer from Charleston who specializes in everything from weddings to newborn shoots.
"This is about making women feel confident. Every woman comes out of it feeling pretty," she said. "It's been really empowering for them, and it's been emotional to watch."
Empowerment and positive self-image is at the heart of Kelley's risqué boudoir photo shoots, which she shares online through social media and encourages people to "love every body."
Kelley got the idea when she first got her hands on a camera a few years ago, taking pictures of her aunt, who had lost 75 pounds. Then, she realized the impact a good photo can have on your self-esteem.
To promote the unique campaign, Kelley reached out to all different kinds of women with different body types to become her official boudoir models -- asking them to fill out personal surveys about themselves.
"It was about picking a plethora of women who could really reach out to other women . . . so that one of those women would look at a photo and see herself looking back at her," she said. "I picked edgy girls, curvy girls, the girl next door. I always wanted to market to real women because those are the women I'm shooting -- I'm not marketing models. I don't work in the fashion industry."
The "every body" campaign worked, and Kelley now schedules glamorous private boudoir shoots, which women typically sign up for to gift to their significant others.
"Of course, we live in West Virginia -- there's a huge conservative market here -- but most of my clients are married women doing it for their husbands, and that's wonderful too," she said. "But it's not always just for the guy. They're doing it for themselves, too."
To schedule an appointment for a boudoir shoot or other photo session, contact Kelley at 304-561-4471 or visit her website at www.asthonkelley.com.
Reach Mackenzie Mays at Mackenzie.m...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5100.