Learning self-love with body-positive photography
Nancy Greindl has always been an artist, but she didn’t start exploring photography until her 20s. After purchasing her first digital camera in 2000, she started shooting landscapes and senior portraits for teens who couldn’t afford to have professional images taken.
One thing led to another and now, over 18 years later, she’s honed her craft. Greindl still shoots breathtaking landscapes and stunning senior photos, but she’s added something a bit sexier to her resume: She fell in love with doing body-positive boudoir sessions (by accident) after a friend requested a session.
Word got around of Greindl’s body-positive photo shoots, and she now has a studio located in Topsham.
After seeing Greindl’s work, I was in awe of the beauty and confidence of the women in the photos. I felt like it was something that I, a 42-year-old mother of three, shouldn’t do. It’s hard to transition from mother to a woman who feels sexy in lacy undergarments—your seductive side can get hidden under all the other roles in your life. Mine had. And I was positive I would not have half of what these ladies had in front of the camera. But then I decided that was the reason I should do this for myself.
I had no idea what to expect. As I arrived at her studio, thoughts started to take over—How should I sit? What do I do with my hands?—and I began to feel nervous as I got out of my car. But it was the kind of nervous where you let it go because you it’s so out of your comfort zone, you can’t wrap your mind around how it will go. I decided not to think about the finished product and focus on the experience.
And let me say, it was an experience.
Before my shoot, I had a consultation with Greindl and she reminded me that it was her job to make me feel comfortable and she wasn’t going to let me stand there like a deer in headlights. She asked that I bring some fancy undergarments, a favorite t-shirt or button-down shirt—anything that made me feel sexy. And the exciting part was she has racks of fun fur coats, robes, heels and oversized sweaters you can wear as well. I got to go into her dressing room and play dress up.
Greindl knows what photographs well, and she will be as involved or as hands-off as you want when it comes to what you want to wear. After five minutes, I felt so at ease with her that I forgot I was standing there in a thong getting my backside photographed because we were talking about everyday life—about being a woman, about falling in love, about work.
The next thing I knew, I was wrapped up in a crisp white sheet, sprawled out in the sunshine on a bed. Greindl suggested I sit there like I was waiting for my guy to bring me some donuts and coffee.
There was music playing and a bubble machine blowing, and before it was over I had danced in front of her, stood outside in the snow in a fur bikini and posed in front of huge windows dressed with lace curtains wearing only a tiny pair of undies.
It’s been one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. It was life-changing. Truly.
Greindl helped me see myself in a way I’d always wanted to be seen. She captured me in a way that was true to me because she made me feel so at ease and comfortable with myself in front of her. I told her I’d always hated my backside, and she when she gave me a peek at some of the shots and said, “You mean that butt?” I was amazed it belonged to me. It was as if I was able to see myself through the eyes of a woman who wasn’t riddled with the self-criticism we put ourselves through when we look in the mirror. There is something about posing in lingerie—or even just a sheet; you aren’t just baring your body, you are showing a beautiful, vulnerable side, and Grindl helps you lean into that feeling.
This experience was a huge step in my journey to self-love. It’s a rare moment when a woman takes the time to really see herself and embrace all she is, and this is what that shoot did for me.
Greindl says she hears over and over again how it has changed the way women think about themselves, their self-worth and how they value their bodies. “Many start out doing it for a loved one, and then soon realize it was a gift for themselves,” she says. She has photographed women who are in their 70s as well as women in their 20s, and says no matter what a woman’s age is, “her beauty should be captured.”
While Greindl does edit, she doesn’t body morph or alter bodies in any way. She relies on light, styling, wardrobe and skill to “showcase the clients body,” she says.
Greindl told me she’s seen clients come in after a cancer diagnosis, a divorce, a death of a loved one or those who have been on a weight-loss journey. They all have their own reasons, but the big picture seems to be this: having a body-positive photo shoot brings women a deep sense of joy. And I can’t say enough about what it did for me—I’ve already scheduled my second visit.
Katie Bingham-Smith is a writer, shoe addict and mother living in Bowdoinham. She pays her kids to rub her feet and never turns down anything with caffeine.