Updated: Sep 14, 2022
A healthy relationship with yourself comes from accepting and loving our bodies. It takes looking at yourself in the mirror or taking photos and wholly loving every part you see. The experience of boudoir photography has helped women embrace body confidence, sexuality, and inner beauty. It allows women to see themselves in a raw, transformative way.
In this episode of The Pollen Podcast, Devin of Devin Helen Boudoir joins and shares her journey in empowering women through her craft. She imparts her experiences being a boudoir photographer, including the challenges of breaking the stigma around her work and surviving the pandemic. Devin encourages us to embrace this one life we have, and live well and fully in the body we are given.
Listen to this episode and be empowered by Devin’s story and craft!
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🔥 Here are three reasons why you should listen to this episode:
Understand how boudoir photography can reconnect you to your body confidence, sexuality, and inner beauty.
Debunk the stigmas and stereotypes surrounding boudoir photoshoots.
Learn how boudoir photography empowers women of all ages and walks of life.
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Attract your dream clients with my free masterclass!
Access other courses from Diana Davis Creative.
Book your boudoir photography session with Devin here!
Read Her Stories through the Devin Helen Boudoir blog.
You can also connect with Devin through her personal Instagram.
🎧 Episode Highlights
[04:57] Getting to Know Devin
Devin is a full-time boudoir photographer based in Bozeman, Montana.
She aims to make women feel strong and empowered in their bodies through photography.
Diana: “The purpose of [Devin’s] photography is not for the private enjoyment of a romantic partner, but rather for each woman to view herself in a real, raw, and transformative way.” - Click Here To Tweet This
Devin loves moving her body in her work as a fitness instructor at Zephyr Cycling Studio.
She also loves camping, mountaineering, and traveling with her husband, Mark.
They have been married for 10 years and have two dogs: Santiago and Thor.
[07:24] Devin’s Childhood
Devin’s father worked in the Navy and was deployed to different places.
Her family moved a lot and she did not have a lot of friends growing up.
Devin describes herself as a self-sustaining child.
Even as a child, she felt strongly about empowering women.
[10:09] Devin’s Journey to Photography Business
Devin shares that she never excelled in one thing as a child. She explored, did a lot of things, and gave it her 150%.
She has always been intrigued by magazines' layouts, images, and fonts.
She pursued graphic design at Montana State University and got a small business minor because she felt like she should also learn about businesses no matter her path.
Devin was also very interested in photography and explored the craft.
Throughout college and for years after that, Devin worked with wedding photographers before deciding to get design agency experience.
[16:16] Getting into Boudoir Photography
Working in a design agency allowed her to wear multiple hats.
Her first encounter with boudoir photography was beautiful, artistic, and classy.
She decided to get one as a wedding gift for her husband and remembered feeling safe, powerful, and strong throughout the process.
Devin: “And it doesn't matter how many kids you've had, or what surgeries you've had, or scars or like health things that you've gone through. I just think every woman deserves to feel awesome. And even deserves to like work through emotions that come with the whole process.” - Click Here To Tweet This
Devin tried taking boudoir photos upon being encouraged by her sister-in-law.
[29:10] Expanding the Boudoir Photography Business
Devin’s boudoir photography is mainly outdoor, which isn’t the norm.
She keeps her boudoir photography on Instagram private to create a safe space and build camaraderie among women.
She currently advertises her work on her website to reach more people.
Her business thrives on word of mouth wherein she announces her next location and her clients respond and refer her to people.
[34:53] Breaking the Stigma Around Boudoir Photography
Devin wants people to know that boudoir photography is to empower women and not merely for the enjoyment of men.
Boudoir photography can also inspire women to see how their bodies have changed and look back on how empowered they felt throughout the process.
Women from different age ranges and walks of life can have boudoir photoshoots done.
[38:16] Surviving the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Devin’s business quadrupled despite the pandemic.
She had to be flexible and reschedule many of her shoots during the early pandemic, but things still worked out.
[41:06] Religion and Boudoir Photography
One of the challenges in Devin’s work as a boudoir photographer is dealing with the prejudice around it, especially with her husband’s work as a youth pastor.
Mark has always been supportive of her, especially in her efforts to empower women.
He even came up with Her Stories, a photo series that shares stories of why women booked their boudoir shoot and how it impacted them.
Still, Devin does her best to not cause harm or miscommunication, especially among middle school and high school moms who are involved in the church.
Visit Devin’s blog for the Her Stories series.
[44:25] Empowering Women Through Boudoir Photography
Boudoir photography isn’t necessarily red room, crazy leather, and whips; rather, it’s about being in your body and being yourself.
Part of her work is also debunking these stigmas and stereotypes.
Every woman needs empowerment.
Devin: “...Many facets of a Christian woman, that demographic of women, need a lot of empowerment. [They] really need to feel beautiful in their body and feel like they’re not just serving all the time or not just a mom. Every single woman deserved to be able to feel and not be made to feel small because of their feelings.” - Click Here To Tweet This
[48:04] What’s Next for Devin Helen Boudoir?
Boudoir photography can be highly emotional and taxing.
Her work is about supporting women along their journey, not counseling.
She is currently exploring design agency work, particularly branding photography.
She also wants to target the older generation of women from 45 to 65 years old. Devin does this through a friend who offers retreats to that audience.
Devin currently goes on retreats where she offers boudoir photography on the side.
Devin Helen Archilla is the founder of Devin Helen Boudoir. She is passionate about holding space for her clients and capturing their unique presence individually & wholeheartedly through boudoir photography. Through her craft, Devin aims to make women feel empowered and strong with their bodies.
Outside photography, Devin spends her time camping with her husband, hiking, teaching fitness classes, running in the mountains with her dogs: Thor & Santiago, sharing good food with good people, driving dirt roads, traveling, and inhaling protein shakes.
Enjoyed this Podcast on Women's Empowerment?
Empowerment comes from within. Boudoir photography is more than just a photoshoot; it’s an empowering experience that can reconnect you to your body confidence, sexuality, and inner beauty. When all is said and done, what matters most is that you emerge from this experience realizing that you are brave and empowered.
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Devin Helen Archilla: I had a boudoir shoot scheduled with my wedding photographer. I saw one photo somewhere. I don't even remember where I saw it of this moment back, and I was like, “Wow, that's so beautiful and artistic and simple.” So, I texted her and I was like, “Hey, have you ever done like an intimate boudoir shoot before? I would love to do it as a wedding gift remark.” And so she was amazing. She had four rolls of film, and at the time, I really didn't have like a full concept. I just knew I trusted her.
Diana Davis: Welcome to Pollen, the podcast for creative entrepreneurs. I'm your host, Diana Davis, multi-passionate creative, business coach, Gemini, manifesting generator, matcha drinker and travel junkie. I'm also the founder of Diana Davis Creative, where I went from a six-figure photography business to coaching creative entrepreneurs like you. If you want to have a career and a life you love, you're in the right place.
On this show, I'll be coaching on all things creative entrepreneurship, and you'll hear stories from fellow creative entrepreneurs that will show you it is possible to do life the way you want to. They'll share the nitty gritty of their journeys, like the real shit, and how they are doing it differently. I'm stoked to have you along on this journey. Let's go.
Hello, Pollen listeners. We have a very special guests today. I am so excited for this interview. Devin Helen Boudoir. Devin is one of my really good friends. You'll hear all about that. She's based in Bozeman, and she's just an incredible human who does boudoir photography. I've had shoots with her several times, and I'm getting another one soon. So empowering, and also just her story is really, really empowering. She's had a very winding road as well, dealt with a lot of challenges and she's resilient. She's incredible.
Devin's bio: she is a mountain loving adventurer ready babe excited to capture you at your bravest self. Outside of photography, she spends her time camping with her foxy husband, hiking, teaching fitness classes, running in the mountains with her dogs, Thor and Santiago, sharing good food with good people, driving too fast on dirt roads, traveling and inhaling protein shakes.
Devin and I relate a lot because we both eat a lot but she works out a ton, especially because she's a spin instructor. She's also training for the RET, which is a mountain race in Big Sky Montana right now, so there's probably many protein shakes being had. Her style of photography celebrates the radiant beauty and infinite worth of women.
To her, this boudoir gig is so much more than feeling sexy and lingerie. It's about women feeling empowered and strong in their bodies. We only get this one life, which means we must live well and fully in the body we are given and celebrate it. It's not about celebrating the way you look. We, of course, do that. It's about the way you feel. The purpose of her photography is not for the private enjoyment of a romantic partner, but rather for each woman to view herself in a real raw and transformative way.
Her passion is to hold space for her clients. She calls them brave babes and capture their unique presence individually and wholeheartedly. Those big and small changes in our lives are some of the most important moments in time to be documented. It is a tangible representation of our bravery. All life transformations are worth celebrating, even if you are the only one who knows about them.
After all is said and done, what really matters is that you come out of this experiencing yourself for who you really are: brave. She's incredible. I can't wait for you to listen to this episode. Let's get to it. Hello, Pollen podcast listeners. I am so excited to bring you our guest today. Her name is Devin. She is a great friend of mine as well as someone where we've worked with each other, which I think is the coolest relationship.
It's a whole triangle situation where I have been in photoshoots where she has been photographing me. She's been in my coaching containers. We've originally, when I was a photographer, we did shoot swaps all the time. We hang out. We traveled to France together, all sorts of stuff. So Devin, hello, I'm honored to have you. Welcome.
Diana: So good to have you here.
Devin: So good.
Diana: Where are you based? Who are you? What do you do? What is your title as of now? How would you introduce yourself to someone in a bar?
Devin: I live in Bozeman, Montana. It's the longest place I've ever lived. I lived here for 12 years now, which is crazy. I grew up traveling. My dad was in the Navy, so we moved every two to three years. Been very fortunate to live in a lot of places. Therefore, I am not scared to travel to a lot of places now. But right now, I am a boudoir photographer, so I empower women through photography to feel good in their body in any sort of way.
That is my main, you could say, full-time job and then, my for-fun-because-I-love-it also job is I am a fitness instructor at Zephyr Cycling Studio here in Bozeman. Mainly a spin studio, but we recently, over the past two years, have also incorporated mat-based classes which are both done rhythmically to the beat of the music. I've been there now for three years, and I absolutely love it.
It's super fun to have both of those forms of empowerment in humans, which has been incredible. They feed each other so well, which has been awesome. Given the fact that Zephyr is heavily women, it's been a really great opportunity for me to just naturally meet clients too, which was not my intention by any means, but it's awesome that it worked that way. But outside of all those other things, I love being outside. I love camping.
I'm married to a lovely human that I've been with for 10 years, which is also crazy. We've been together our entire 20s, and we have two wonderful fluffy dogs named Santiago and Thor, and they're our adventure buddies. We're outside as much as possible, and we love it here in Montana. I love traveling. I love moving my body.
Diana: Yes, I love it. Mark, I approve of him, very amazing human and the dogs are great, too, and the whole thing. Devin, we're going to get in to your juicy story, really juicy story. But before we get into that, I want to know, you already said your dad was in the military. He was in the army…?
Diana: Navy, navy, navy. Very important. Very different. Okay.
Diana: No, that's important. He was in the Navy. You moved around a lot. I know you've lived in other countries, which I would love to hear more about. Who was Devin as a kid, like as a little girl? What was that? Who was she? What did she like to do in a nutshell?
Devin: Wow, okay, let me think about this. Well, I'm an only child, and so I have always been very self-sustaining. My dad was gone a lot on deployment for six months to a year at a time, multiple times when I was little, and so it was truly me and my mom. I saw my mom self-sustain and kick ass, and so I was like, “Yeah, me too.”
But, yes, I didn't have many friends growing up because we moved around so much, and so I was always entertaining myself, figuring out what to do. Don't have many memories hanging out inside. If anything, I was just hanging out with my stuffed animals, talking to them.
Diana: Now, you have real stuffed animals.
Devin: Now, I have real stuffed animals. But I was always outside always messing around, playing with nature and that still resonates today. I was born in Florida. We moved all around the East Coast. We lived in Japan for a few years when my dad was on deployment over there.
But to be honest, it's really hard for me to remember a lot of, I don't know how you could say, like, core memories of a childhood because I'm not really sure why it was hard for me to remember. I don't know if it's because I didn't have like a ton of monumental things that I like don't recollect, but my memory I feel like starts in like fifth grade.
Diana: Okay, where were you in fifth grade?
Devin: Fifth grade, we moved back to the States, and we were in Washington. I remember specifically because we moved back from Japan, and this is probably a core memory. The kids in my class were so disappointed that I couldn't speak Japanese. I was like, because I was in like an English school in Japan on base, so it's not like I was super immersed in the culture.
I remember this kid who ended up being my very first crush. Of course, later on, but he was so upset with me that I couldn't speak Japanese. That is the only time that I've ever been to the principal's office and I decked him in the face and broke his glasses. I was like, “No, you're not going to disrespect me like that.”
Diana: Wow, wow. This is a new thing I learned about Devin today. I love it.
Devin: I don't feel like that's changed. I get quite defensive over women. So I feel like that aligns probably.
Diana: Yes, I love that. A lot of this is still implemented into who you are today, the decking of boys for being disrespectful and also the nature and all of this. So, Devin and I went to design school at the same school just a few years apart. How did we get there? How did design school come about? How did the photography piece come about? Let's talk about that journey.
Devin: Yes, so I was heavily athletic, middle school, high school, and played volleyball really competitively all year round nonstop. I originally pursued Colorado State University to play volleyball there, and then quickly decided not going to become a professional athlete in this type of realm. I've always considered myself growing up, I never felt like I was really, really, really good at one thing.
I wasn't like, this is my thing, and this is the only thing I'm going to be good at. So therefore, I'm going to go hard and do all the things. I always felt when I put my mind to something, I give it 150% effort, but it wasn't like I was an A++ student. School is really, really hard for me. Math, and all the standard school curriculum things were very hard for me. But when it came to art, it really intrigued me, but not in like, I can't paint or draw to save my life.
But whenever I found myself, for example, after volleyball practice, and I would get magazines, and I would like save them, and then, I would take an ice bath, and a hot bath in alternate. I would spend like three hours just wondering why I was so intrigued by magazines and the layout and how the image was taken, and the fonts that were used. It made me feel something because when I moved my body, I'm very much so aware of how everything is feeling.
In other spaces, I would feel uncomfortable, and so moving my body is very comfortable space and other spaces that required me to be like highly academic or really, really be able to articulate or communicate and express my thoughts are intimidating. So, finding that safe space of design made me feel safe, and it made sense to me, and so I pursued graphic design.
I came to MSU and toured the school, and I didn't know anybody and Montana State University that is, and I loved it and something about the town with its outdoorsiness and everything just really resonated. It felt big enough and small enough at the same time that I had been in small towns growing up and big cities growing up that it felt like a really nice size. So, I went to design school, and I absolutely loved it.
The graphic design program, as you know, is pretty competitive here. So once again, I found myself being hard on myself with knowing that, “Okay, I know I can't use illustrator like this guy over here.” But I know what is and what isn't going to work, and I can tell you what things will mesh and I will give you my 100% effort.
That's when I decided to also do a small business minor instead of a photography minor because I was like, “Well, if anything, small business is kind of your classic add-on to be like, well, this is good for all the things after school.” I remember having a conversation with myself and being like, “Do I do this or photography minor?” To be frank, I wasn't super impressed with the photography program here because it's like, take a photo this leaf and try and sell it and I'm like, “No.”
I don't know. I remember a few people that I knew were in the program also weren't vibing with it. So I was kind of like, well, if anything, I feel like I should learn the small business stuff no matter if I am or am not a small business owner. I had zero, absolutely zero intention of being becoming a small business owner, like not even in the cards. It was a huge challenge for me, but it was really, really great.
I'm super grateful that I did both, and photography, I always had a camera in my hand since high school. My dad actually got a nice camera then, like a Nikon camera, and he got it to take photos and videos of me for volleyball recruitment, and he had no idea what he was doing. I mean, I didn't either, and so I would mess around with it when he wasn't using it and take photos with like blades of grass and stuff.
I was really intrigued by it, and I liked how design and photography can be combined. They support each other so well. I think because I went to design school, I really do think my photography has changed because of that perspective, too. So I just kind of became that girl that always had her camera, took photos of all the things and a bunch of different places. Throughout college, I slowly started doing weddings and engagements.
I worked under some photographers here in the valley as second shooters, which was really helpful because then I wasn't only just teaching myself, but I had hands-on implementation of how to actually use my camera and mechanical sense of what all these things on the camera actually meant.
It was amazing opportunity to watch how the photographers I worked under would work with the client in ways that I was like, “Oh, that could have been said a little bit better”, or like, “Oh, I liked how this person supported this person when they felt awkward here.” Even on the flip side, some of the photographers I worked for were work couples, and so one was the photographer, the other one was kind of like the business person.
I was able to be their designer during the day, and then during shoots, I was their second shooter. It was a great opportunity for me to also watch how the business side actually is worked within the business rather than just in like business classes.
Devin: [inaudible] a more hands on, which obviously is always way more helpful.
Diana: Yes. So you got a design job. You were second shooting. You got an actual agency design job, right?
Diana: You were there for a while. You did your design thing. How did you decide to get into boudoir? Let's tell that story. And then, I want to talk about when was the day you decided to quit the thing, quit the agency and take this full-time.
Devin: Yes, so I worked under some wedding photographers for about four years and then after college, and then graduated in 2014. Then within about a year period, I wanted to transition out of photography with working with them specifically because I wanted the design agency experience. And so I applied to all of them here in and out of state, to be honest. I was not married at the time, was not engaged at the time.
So I was applying to places all over and ended up a few connections through people, someone told me, “Hey, this agency is looking for a designer.” That turned over a six month period from one day a week to full-time. I was there for four and a half years and was their very first employee, and now, they're a normal sized agency, which is really cool. They're doing really, really great work still. They were called Armstrong Marketing Solutions.
They're now called Hardy Brands here in Bozeman, Montana. They've done a gamut of businesses here in and out of the state. But while I was there, I wore multiple hats, and I love that because I was able to dip my feet so many things simultaneously. It was equally as exhausting as it was challenging and fulfilling because I felt like once again, I was in that moment of like, when I was in high school of being like, “Okay, I'm still like an average B.”
All of this because my brain is like being asked to work in 12 different spaces. I feel like I don't have the typical or cultural typical, artistic brain where you can just like hah and go there. But then, I also feel like my brain is very strategic and planning-oriented, probably because my father highly influenced me with just the way that he raised me with military things, which I love, and I'm so grateful for.
The agency, I feel like, saw me crush organization, and so sometimes I'd be working on a logo. Then other times, I'd be literally planning the entire sequence of how we would finish a brand from start to finish over a six month period. I'm like, I can't, like I feel mentally challenged right now. Then, I would also go take photos of this new brand’s like menu and all their food and I'm like, okay.
It was a lot, but nonetheless, I learned a ton and I wouldn't change anything for it. So I continued to use my camera while I was at the agency. Mark and I got engaged in 2015, and then we got married in 2016. I had a boudoir shoot scheduled with my wedding photographer. Samantha, who owns Orange Photographie, also here in town, is a film photographer. She's unbelievable.
She's so classy, and she was totally born in the wrong era. She should have been born in the 1920s. Everything about her just class and just absolutely timeless and I respect her work so much. She did our proposal, our engagement and our wedding photos and I trust her entirely. I saw one photo of somewhere, I don't even remember where I saw it, of this woman's back, and I was like, “Wow, that's so beautiful and artistic and simple.”
So I texted her and I was like, “Hey, have you ever done like an intimate boudoir shoot before? I would love to do it as a wedding gift for Mark.” She was like, “I've never done it”, because her account, at the time, even then had thousands of followers, and that was a lot for Instagram in 2016. She was like, due to my account being public, it's hard to like ask people willingly if I could use that content, and I was like, “Totally get it. You can totally use me. I'll be your dummy, like you could practice on me.”
And so she was amazing. So she had four rolls of film, which meant 60 clicks, which is kind of a lot of pressure coming from a digital mindset. I was like, “Oh, shit.” But at the time, I really didn't have a full concept. I just knew I trusted her, and so I brought a few black sets of lingerie and a leather jacket and some simple stuff.
I really did it not because I was not thinking, I'm getting married, I have to do this. I was not thinking Mark expects this. I've truly was just like, “Mark would never expect this from me, and this is funny.”
Diana: Yes, yes.
Devin: That was like my mindset going into it, and so we did it. It was so fun, and it was super relaxed. The way that she made me feel during the shoot was just normal. I have been fairly comfortable with my body my whole life, and so it wasn't super scary for me to wear my underwear in front of her. But, it was just really sweet, and I really, really enjoyed it. After the shoot, I was just kind of like, “I feel like more people should be doing this.”
In the circles that I was running through in that time of my life, I didn't tell anyone I was doing it either, so I did keep it really private, all things considered. I just was obsessed with how I felt. So because it's film, I knew I wouldn't see the photos for at least eight weeks for her to develop them, ship them back, convert them, all the things. So at the time, I was going through premarital counseling, going through other variations of counseling.
Right after high school, mostly my first year of being in college, I have had some unfortunate sexual encounters that were not pleasant, that really scarred me, were really intimidating for me to go into marriage. Mark and I chose to not have sex before we were married, and I was really nervous, too, because the last time that something of that nature happened to me, it was not my will. It was scary.
So I was working through that. I was in some of my last sessions and I was driving home. This is when I had email on my phone, which I now don't, but I had gotten email notification. I pull off the side of the road, and it was from Samantha and it was all of my photos. I just lost it, started crying. Just the timing of it, of leaving one of my last sessions, and about to be married, receiving these photos.
It just was like, “Wow, this could be really healing in my story, like how I view myself sexually, how I can feel safe again sexually, how I could feel strong in my body in a different way than just in movement, like so many different ways.” I was like, “Wow, everyone needs to do this.” And so then, I told everyone. I was not quiet about it, and I was telling all of my friends. I really do think you should be at least 18 just because of maturity, but all ages, I feel like should totally do this.
It doesn't matter how many kids you've had, or what surgeries you've had, or scars, or health things that you've gone through. I just think every woman deserves to feel awesome, and even deserves to work through the emotions that come with this whole process. I've talked about all the time, but I feel like we only take photos of the big things. We have enough of the little guys, and that's why I feel like a lot of times we cherish our iPhone photos sometimes more like the small things that make the conglomerate of your life.
That's kind of how I got initiated into boudoir, but I didn't even put two and two together that I could do that. So this is still 2016. We get married. It's lovely. A year later, my sister-in-law, Mark's sister, gets married. We're in Missoula, which is a town three hours west, three hours west of Bozeman. I was turned around for a second. That was surprising. She found her wedding dress. We were celebrating.
It was just me, her and her mom, so my mother-in-law, my sister-in-law, and she was struggling with trying to figure out what wedding gift to get her future husband. She was like, “What did you do for Mark?” And I was like, “Well, I did like the classic things like the tie clip and the watch and I was like, and then I had some pics taken.” She was the only person I tell like immediately and she's so chill. She's like the most awesome human being on the planet.
I love Isabel so much. I was like, “Well, I had some pics taken.” She was like, “What type of pics?” And I was like, “Well…” So I showed her a few on my phone, and she loved them. That's the other thing was Samantha's work. They're so classy that I really could care less who would have even seen them because they're so well done. They don't not like me. They don't look forced anyway.
Isabel immediately was like, “You could totally take these photos.” I was like, “What are you talking about?” She was like, “You could take these photos of me like this, like you've done every other type of photo at this point.” I was like, “Oh, dear Lord.” That's a fine line of making you feel great or making you feel just not awesome, and so I had no idea what I was doing.
I basically tried to repeat the same thing that Sam did for me because I didn't know what else to do. Long story short, it was the most fun thing that I've ever done, and we had a fabulous time. She loved the photos, and she was, technically, my first client and I ended up practicing on a few other girlfriends just to be like, “You need to tell me if [inaudible].” Because I'm not about to do this and add more awful things to women's lives. If anything, it needs to be the opposite.
I did it part-time slowly, slowly started Instagram situation and grew a small one splash page website and just tried to create my way into it just to see how much it would catch on, and it just really caught on. I started doing it after hours of work because that time is in the summer, so it's light till 10. So I'd work full time at the agency, and then, I do shoot at night.
I did that for basically a whole year, and then by the following year, so end of 2018 summer, a year of doing it part-time, at that time, I was a bar instructor doing that, and the agency and Mark was like, “Hey, we're doing a lot.”
Diana: Too much, too much.
Devin: I was like, “Yeah, you're right.” He's like, “You're legit working from 5am to 10pm.” And so I was like, “Okay.” I was like, “I think I could do this full-time.”So I told myself, if I can book myself out six months in advance, by Christmas, then I'll quit my job and have that conversation. So that was like, around this time of year, almost September-ish, that we had that conversation, and I booked myself six months in advance before Thanksgiving, and then had a conversation with my bosses.
They knew that it was probably coming, and we had a lovely conversation. I was so scared because I just was like, “I'm like your small child. I’m your first employee.” I was super nervous, but they were so supportive and had this really sweet sendoff party for me. I phased my way out of the company over eight weeks just to make sure that they all felt supported because I wasn't like in a rush to leave or anything.
I started full time February 1 of 2019, and yes, that's how… that's what happened. It's been now a little over three years.
Diana: Yes, amazing. I love it so much. You're so fucking talented, and I've done two shoots boudoir-wise with you. Like I said, we did a lot of shoot swapping, including in negative 30-degree weather, which was one of our first times which was so fun.
Devin: That was amazing that I can't like [inaudible].
Diana: I know right. But for me, as a little experience, it is so empowering, and it's so healing. One was in Colorado, and I had just moved there. I was kind of re-getting to know the state that I was from. I wasn't super stoked to move back. It was really fun to fall in love with myself and the place and I cannot recommend being topless in the mountains. There were little quirks and stories of being boobs down in the dirt and the hiker coming up to us and just kind of going.
Then, we went to Joshua Tree, which I'd love for you to kind of speak on. We have a lot we could speak on but just speak on how you have expanded this business, not just in Bozeman, but into these content trips, if you will. Let's touch on you also are doing some brand photography and things like that and how you're combining all of that.
Devin: Yes, totally. My Instagram is private. I chose my Instagram to be private from the beginning because I want to create a safe space for women. I also think that it just builds a school camaraderie, and you feel like you're a part of something kind of like cool underground.
Diana: Yes, totally.
Devin: Like sneaky. You're like, “Oh, I totally saw a pic of her but she doesn't know but we're all in the same.” Anyway, it's really cool. With it being private from the beginning, I really wanted to streamline how people got in touch with me. So, Instagram are like my website. I didn't want to have Twitter and Facebook and TikTok, even though I know TikTok is all the rage right now. I just… I don't have time for it in this moment, and I don't think my age demographic is 13 to 19, so that's fine.
Diana: Fair enough.
Devin: But with Instagram being private, it kind of limits my opportunity to classically advertise so I can't do sponsored ads. I can't do all these huge targets. My hashtags don't even mean anything. They're just cute in there for funsies because Facebook owns Instagram, therefore I can't do all the things. Because of that, I have been trying to advertise my work with Devin Helen Boudoir on tour to reach more people out of the state, out of this incredible small business community that is heavily women small business community here in Bozeman, which is amazing.
Devin Helen Boudoir on tour kind of blossomed from me wanting to feed my love and desire for travel for me to choose specific places to go to, and then also meet women in other locations and other areas that may not know about me, and that can spread and grow the people who don't know I exist, actually. So Devin Helen Boudoir on tour is me going to Moab, me going to Zion or Joshua Tree or Alaska, whatever.
Devin: Yes, for a week and being like, “Hey, I'm gonna be here for a week. These are the slots I have. If you would like to meet up and do boudoir shoot, let's talk about it, even if this molds into a portrait session of more classics, great, love it.” Oftentimes, I will reserve an Airbnb that I deem photography-worthy, so women can meet me there at a great spot that's beautifully well-lit, has easily access to the outdoors.
We don't have to spend a lot of time trying to get to places but if they're looking for a specific vision of, like, “In Joshua Tree, I really want to go to X part of the park”, I'll meet them there, and it's just a fun way to meet new women and other places and get a variety, obviously, of backdrops because most of my boudoir, if you have not seen my page, is heavily outside, which is also not the norm of when you classically think about boudoir, so I tried to go to more outdoor scenes.
Diana: Yes, having the private Instagram is its own challenge, just like you said. You can't have traditionally market yourself. Not everyone can find you. You're approving every one of your followers, which honestly is really impressive. The amount of followers you have are actual humans. That's not [inaudible] for everybody. When you've done this Devin Helen Boudoir on tour, how have you gotten the clients because you can't technically market yourself and go “#JoshuaTree I'm coming.”
Devin: Yes. Honestly, what has worked in the past and what has been amazing, I think this is a huge quality of women that's incredible, is word of mouth has just been huge. I tried to intentionally choose places that I know my followers live, and then, they tell their friends and they do it and then they get their friend to do it has been like the case. Honestly, just on my Instagram Stories, asking my current followers, “Where are you from?
Where do you live?” Even everyone that has inquired to me on my website, I have all the information from every single person that's ever inquired. So I can see on my website and in the SEO where people are. Honestly, it really is the word of mouth. I feel like, once the gal does it, like me, I booked it, didn't tell anyone.
But then, once I did it and got the fix back and had the experience and then I told everyone, that's the ripple of what happens. I find that post summer, moving into like, fall, winter, I get a shit ton of inquiries, because everyone's like, “My friends did it, and it was amazing.”
Devin: Because my most highly frequented time that people want is like summer and fall, and so people get super amped come winter to book for the next year. Oftentimes, too, even if people inquire, I get a lot of people from the northwest that inquire and so even if they're from San Diego or Seattle or Portland, I'll ask them like, “Hey, if I were to come to you, would that be appealing?
Or are you truly looking to visit Montana for the first time because it's so awesome? But if you're over there, I'm more than willing to see how many other people over the next six weeks inquire from that region and when we can try and make something work over there.”
Diana: Yes, totally. Switching gears a little bit here. We've talked about why you did boudoir photography for yourself and a lot of people do and think of boudoir as for a wedding for a partner. I want to talk about the diversity in your audience as far as the age ranges and the different types of people and the different walks of life, and even like you said, scars and all.
I know you've had people who have had mastectomy who have had shoots. Even when I did it, I was hearing from people, after I was sharing about it, saying, “I wish I would have done this before I had a kid.” And it was like, just like you were saying, you should be celebrating or I invite you to celebrate your body the way it is now. Because how cool, your body birthed a child and so I want to talk about it. It was so powerful for me to do the boudoir.
Even though I had a partner at the time, it was not for him. It just wasn't. It was for me. I did the last boudoir session in Joshua Tree, and we talked about the breakup on here, so here we are, but I did it right before we broke up. But we were in an extreme turbulent state, and it was so empowering to me to have that at that time. You can see in the photos how I'm plugging back into my power. So can you talk a little bit about all of that?
Devin: Totally, yes. The variety of women that I have attracted has been amazing. From the get go, I really, really wanted to attract a variety of women. I didn't want to use language that was constantly like “pre-wedding add on”.
Diana: Totally. [inaudible]
Devin: Yes, and there's nothing wrong with that at all. That is the nature of it. That's gonna happen, and that's happened with me. I've had many, many, many brides that I have photographed, which has been great. I've had many women do it as a holiday gift for their significant other and Valentine's. But I have loved that when I actually look at all of my clients over the past three years, and look at the numbers, it's less than 10% that actually doing it for that classic view of what people know boudoir as.
I've been really proud of the way that I've been able to verbalize, this really isn't for anybody else. It can be, but I hope that it can be for you for a second before it can be for somebody else. Even for the women that do reach out for it to be for somebody else, it's always so cool. There's nine times out of 10 that they come back after their shoot, after they get the gallery, email me or text me or DM me, and they're like, “Wow, I really didn't think that I would get this much out of it, and this is what I've made out of it.”
But I photographed many women. Now that I've been doing it three years, there's been some women I have not photographed three times, which has been so cool, and that was like something that I kind of dreamed of from the beginning. How amazing would it be if someone could do this on some sort of consistent basis. Not necessarily yearly.
That's a lot truly, but even if it was like every five years, and not that I even know how long I'm going to be doing this. But what a cool thing to be able to watch your body change, to be able for you to go back and be like, “I remember exactly how I was feeling in that moment and what I was going through because these photos were taken.” When COVID happened, I would have only been doing this a year full-time then COVID came.
I was like, “Oh dear Lord.” I was like, “My business, technically, is not a need. When you really slim the things in your life, it is not a need. It is definitely a want. Do I absolutely talk about as a need? For sure. And so I was like, “Well, shit. Mark, we're screwed.” It was a scary time, because within a six month period of that, my husband had lost his job.
So then, I was like, huh, okay, but I was blown away that through the midst of COVID, not one client cancelled with me, and my business quadrupled. I was like, “Lord Almighty, this is a sign.” If there's ever a sign when the world is shutting down, you really probably shouldn't be spending X amount of money on stuff.
You should just be really, not hoarding but just taking care of the necessary things and the fact that so many women thought that this was necessary for them, and how many women were like, “No, I've committed to you. You're relying on me for you to live too. I'm not going to take that from under your feet.” It's just like, oh, wow.
Diana: Yes, that literally brings tears to my eyes.
Devin: Yes, and so many things got postponed of course. I remember in April and May of 2020, I had to reschedule 19 shoots, and that was so terrifying. This week actually, two days ago, I photographed a gal that was my last legit 2020 reschedule.
Devin: Even in the midst of the reschedules, you know everything always weirdly works out the way it works out and you kind of come to terms with it, even if it's hard as hell in the moment and you're like, “Why? Why?” But it's been wild to hear of the women who have had to reschedule who knows how many times because of all the things and I've had a lot of grace for it because so much of it is out of our control that they're like this reschedule of this date actually is now even more substantially impactful than I think would have been then, and so even that has been really cool.
Diana: That's part of being a business owner, right? How can we be flexible? How can we trust in the process a little bit? We're gonna have this freak outs like, “Oh, my God, I have to reschedule 19 shoots. My husband been just lost his job. What are we going to do?” But also, there's a trust there, and there's a faith that things are going to work out because we can't control everything at all. Yes.
Going into even more of a juicy topic, your family, your little nugget of a family, with you and Mark and the dogs, are part of a religious institution. What was it like to be a boudoir photographer, which can be very taboo. Sex’s taboo, money's taboo, all of this stuff. We're photographing women's bodies.
Diana: What was that like? Can you talk more about that?
Devin: Yes. Mark was a pastor. He is a pastor now still, but he was a pastor at a church here locally for a substantial amount of time, and a youth pastor, specifically. One of the main reasons why I did have my Instagram private was also because of that reason. I really did want to respect and didn't want to cause panic of middle school and high school moms potentially being like, “I'm confused. The pastor's wife does what?”