Do More, Wear Less Challenge #2 Winner: Lindsay Rae D’Ottavio

January 9, 2017

By Jacqueline Tobin

Canadian boudoir photographers Brianna and Ewan Phelan are at it again in helping other like-minded shooters to up their skillset by offering weekly challenges on their Do More Wear Less website. Most recently, Lindsay Rae D’Ottavio of Troy, New York, won a challenge with her approach to boudoir, which she says centers on building a relationship with her clients and recognizing that boudoir is about vulnerability.

“It’s about the breaking down of barriers,” she notes. “We believe that sexuality and sensuality can exist without being overt.” Before taking her clients to an outside location for a boudoir shoot, D’Ottavio conducts a studio session first, allowing them to “let the inhibitions go and trust us,” she says. “That’s why we offer three different types of sessions (though only one is available to new clients): our Self Love Experience (at-home sessions), Fine Art Boudoir (outdoor or on-location sessions with more intricate posing) and Intimate Lifestyle Portraiture (where we go to our clients’ homes and really have them connect with their space). The Intimate Lifestyle sessions tend to be fully nude and are always a more relaxed and laid-back approach.”

Check out our conversation with D’Ottavio for more insight on the Phelan challenge and her boudoir business:


All Photos © Lindsay Rae Photography

Describe the most recent challenge you won on Do More Wear Less. What did the image look like?
LRD: The DMWL challenges are really fun. I have won four of them over the last year and each time my win shocks me because the level of talent in that group of photographers is astronomical. There is a common thread with DMWL, and that is pushing limits. The challenge that I won most recently was centered around an indoor shot [unfortunately, Rangefinder was unable to include the winning image due to company restrictions on images showing full nudity]. The broadness of the topic presented the biggest hurdle because you can really go in any direction. I decided to focus on the home environment for my shot and really honed in on the connection between my subject and the space she was occupying. Having her nude in her own kitchen with her child’s art on the fridge in low key light really symbolized what it is like for me as a mother when I have those brief moments to myself home alone to just exist quietly in my own skin.

Do you also shoot weddings? Boudoir can often be presented as an add-on that wedding photographers upsell to their couples.
LRD: I worked as a second shooter and then associate for a larger local wedding company for a little over a year, but my heart was never in weddings. For me, when I pick up my camera I want to have control over the art, and I believe when it comes to weddings, you really need to release control and allow the moments to happen naturally for the couple. Although this is also true for boudoir, there is more control when it comes to posing, locations, timing, scheduling, etc.

How much posing or directing of your subjects do you do during a shoot?
LRD: When it comes to posing, I have been known to be a bit of a ball-buster. I will pose my clients within an inch of their life, from their fingers to their toes, to their lips, to the pace they breathe. I actually send clients an entire guide on how to prepare for their sessions, from how to prep their skin leading up to the session to tips in stretching in order to really be able to push themselves in tougher poses. I believe the main difference between a portrait photographer and a boudoir photographer is the strategic and implied posing.


What are three of the top poses you like to use that help subjects exude confidence and self love?
LRD: It is a pretty known fact that a back arch is one of the sexiest things we can do with our clients. The few times we think of women arching it typically is in intimate situations, so bringing that to the shoot really helps to portray a sense of confidence in female sexuality. I am also a big believer in not being afraid to touch yourself. I don’t mean this in a vulgar way; the intimacy portrayed from simply brushing your hair out of your eyes or gently touching your lips is really extraordinary and can evoke more sensuality than a full-body shot. Lastly is a close-up. I think it is important to give our clients something they can share on social media. Having a boudoir shoot is an accomplishment in itself—the bravery it takes to strip down both literally and figuratively in front of essentially a stranger is something to be celebrated, so we always try to take at least a few shots that are “Facebook-friendly.”

How do clients find you? It must be hard when you get censored online or restricted on Facebook—do you have ways around that?
Oh, Facebook and their double standards! As much as Facebook is an incredible tool for marketing, it becomes quite challenging when you are a boudoir photographer. I have been banned from Facebook multiple times for completely censored images or even clothed images that show cleavage. Heck, I have even been reported for a close-up shot of a finger touching lips. In fact right now, my 11-year-old Facebook account is on a 30-day ban from doing anything at all, so I had to create a backup account. It is incredibly hard to market my work online.

I have found that creating a private group on Facebook for women only has been the best thing for me. This group is a safe place for women to be real, to talk about their body issues, to share empowering stories, to motivate and support each other. I find that our clients will add their friends to the group and are excited to share their images in there. It is a place where they know that everyone in the group is going to celebrate their shoot with them, where no judgement is allowed. I have also been trying to post more and more on Instagram, but when it comes to that, I find that the audience is more photographers who want mentoring and reach out to me than clients who want to book shoots. Probably 75 percent of my inquiries via IG are photographers and 25 percent are convertible leads that turn to clients. More recently, however, our inquiries are coming from our website and word of mouth. Looking at our ratios, I would say about 30 percent come from Facebook, 10 percent from Instagram, 30 percent from word of mouth and the other 30 percent from our website.

7-31-16AllisonShawShermanBoudoir-6945What do you love most about boudoir?
LRD: It is not just the intimacy and limit pushing, but the power that it gives to our clients when they are able to look at an image of themselves, of their entire beautiful body, and say, “Wow, I can’t believe that is me, I never believed I was pretty before.” Boudoir is not just a photo shoot; it is an experience in self-awareness. Our clients come to us with all different life stories, struggles and accomplishments, and each one of these brave and gorgeous women share a bit of themselves with us. They strip down in such a deep sense that we are changed a little bit more by each woman we encounter.

If you ever have an opportunity to read our blog, you will find these stories, these struggles and accomplishments. One of the most amazing things that a client told me when she first saw her teasers was: “Love them is an understatement. You and Erin have singlehandedly (doublehandedly?) given me a completely different perspective of myself. I’m beyond grateful.” Boudoir is one of the few genres of photography that has the ability to completely transform people’s opinions of themselves. I am on a mission to empower women, to take away the power from a media that sets out unrealistic expectations of beauty and to show each of my clients that they really are an undercover supermodel. It is my blessing to be the mirror to reflect this fact right back to them.


How Brianna and Ewan Phelan Are Helping Photographers Up Their Skillset in Intimate Lifestyle Photography

Boudoir As Seen Through One UK Photographer’s Eyes