JENNIFER SMITH/SHANNON SMITH

11 Boudoir Shoots You Need To See To Inspire Your Next Sexy Photo

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Does gifting yourself a boudoir photo shoot count as self-care? Because I'd like to advocate that it should. The best boudoir photographers can make you feel like the strongest, most confident woman in the world, which is just one of the many reasons you should book a session ASAP. More than just about posing for a sexy photo in a lace bra, boudoir photography is about emphasizing the parts of yourself you find most beautiful — even those you didn't think were beautiful until now.

A successful boudoir photo shoot is one that leaves you feeling good about yourself, one that encourages you to embrace your favorite features, and, most importantly, one that helps you let loose in an intimate setting. Some women schedule boudoir photo shoots as wedding gifts for their soon-to-be spouses (with or without them present), while others do it purely for themselves.

Rachelle Friedman Chapman, who was paralyzed shortly before her wedding, says she did her boudoir shoot to prove that anyone can be sexy regardless of physical ability, race, gender, or sexual orientation. Photographed with her catheter, Friedman Chapman turned her personal photos into a social media campaign called #WhatMakesMeSexy in July 2015.

She's not alone in her mission to change what it means to be sexy on mainstream channels. Boudoir photographers are aiming to showcase more diversity and inclusivity in their work so that even guys feel comfortable doing their own dudeoir shoots. One day, hopefully, no one will be fired for doing a body-positive, boudoir photo shoot like one Texan woman, Stephanie, was. She claims she lost her job as a direct result of a boudoir photo shoot she did with her fiancé, which quickly went viral. Her former employers allegedly found the beautiful images "inappropriate."

If you need inspiration for your next (or first!) boudoir session, I've rounded up 10 images from four amazing photographers who are here to make you look and feel your best in front of the camera. These women know that the images you see online affect the ways in which you see and judge yourself. Their clients come from all walks of life. Some of them are battling invisible illnesses, while others are advocating for gender equality and LGBTQ+ rights. Although they are different individually, they have one common message: you are beautiful in your own way.

Wherever you go, go confidently.

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Nothing can stop you now.

Be unapologetically you.

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You don't need to fit neatly into anyone's boxes.

Come as you are.

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This woman posing with her insulin patch is here to remind you that you are not your illness. You can be diabetic, and sexy, and strong.

Show off your best assets.

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It's not always about posing in lingerie. Swap that lace teddy for your stethoscope if that's what makes you feel like a bad*ss.

Believe in yourself.

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Don't shy away from the attention on photo day. Your shoot is all about you so strike a pose and own it.

Live life in color.

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Instead of covering up your tattoos (or piercings or scars or blemishes), show them off because they make you who you are.

Embrace your better half.

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This day is about you, but you don't have to go through it alone if you don't want to.

Rep what you love.

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Who says you need to wear heels to feel sexy?

Conquer your fears.

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Photographer Shannon revealed that both she and her client were afraid of heights before they snapped this photo on a downtown rooftop in Alberta, Canada.

Hold your head high.

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No one knows your journey better than you do. Acknowledge all that it took for you to get to this point and encourage yourself to keep moving forward.

Love who you are.

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Because self-love is self-care.

I know from my own journey to self-acceptance that it helps to see images of real women online — women whose images aren't retouched and whose bodies resemble my own. Thanks to these photographers, images like that exist in boudoir photography, too, and I'm here for it. Of all the reasons to schedule a boudoir shoot — to give as a wedding present, to photograph your baby bump, or to challenge yourself to do something new — your overall happiness and comfort levels should come first. If you're truly comfortable in the moment, your photos will reflect that.