GTPulse: Traverse City Photographer Empowers Women Through Taking Sultry Photos

The first time I saw Sarah Brown I was at a workshop being hosted by Grand Traverse Woman. She was photographing the event and went up to briefly speak about herself. While she was addressing the audience of women she said, “I wish you were all naked right now.”

I leaned over to my friend at the table and said, “I want to meet her!”

My expectations of Sarah were everything and more. She is bubbly, kind and yeah, she really does wanna get you in your underwear with her boudoir photography, Sarah Brown Photography.

Sarah is Traverse City born and bred and never thought she was going to end up working as a photographer, although she’s loved taking pictures since childhood.

“My parents bought me my first camera when I was in 5th grade. It was a Canon, it was all film. I had to have flash cubes. You could only shoot four times and then you’d throw that flash cube away and use a new one.”

Sarah went to NMC where she graduated with a business degree and eventually ended up working a shiny, gray corporate job that brought her a lot of money but not a lot of passion. Photography was still a big part of Sarah’s life and she stuck with it while working. 

“I would take my camera to weddings but I was just a guest who would take pictures and give them to the people.”

A family member volunteered Sarah to be the photographer for a friend’s wedding. Sarah had never done a professional gig and was intimidated at the opportunity.

“I was like, ‘why would you do that? I’m not!’ I was scared to death. I thought I was going to mess up their wedding day. I ended up taking this job and it was the most fun I’ve ever had.”

The gig went so well that Sarah started daydreaming about life as a full time photographer.

“I was on call all the time, I worked a lot and I loved that job…until I shot that wedding. I thought ‘I could do this and make money?’”

She made the jump and it was both difficult and blissful. She continued to photograph weddings, which eventually turned into photographing portraits, family photos and children. 

She went to a photography expo in Las Vegas where she met photographers of all kinds, including boudoir photographers.

“I met boudoir photographers and instantly wanted to do it. It’s very pretty, you can be very creative but mostly I loved the idea of being able to empower women.”

She loved the idea of shooting boudoir and began offering it to brides she worked with. Brides and bridesmaids were enthusiastic about the idea and encouraged Sarah to offer the services as a part of her photography business. Once Sarah started with boudoir, it’s all she wanted to do.

“Three years ago I stopped shooting weddings completely. I loved weddings when I shot them, I just loved this so much more.”

Boudoir photographs are not porn. The photos are feminine and tasteful, with not all parts of the body exposed.  

“When I first started shooting boudoir in this area a lot of people were like, ‘oh my God so you do porn?’ Even my dad was like, ‘so you’re gonna shoot porn now?’ Once I explain it, it’s different. Women have been being photographed naked for forever.”

In her corporate job Sarah didn’t have passion for the work she was doing, the exact opposite is how Sarah feels towards being a boudoir photographer. She loves the sense of empowerment it gives the women being photographed. As women, it can be hard to feel beautiful or sexy and Sarah gets a lot of joy from being able to give women that feeling.

“I actually had a client say to me, ‘is it bad that I love all of my pictures?’ That made my day. You should love all your pictures, why wouldn’t you?”

Photos are done in lingerie of the woman’s choice and Sarah handles the direction and posing. Hair and makeup are done in the studio by a stylist, and the studio feels like a friend’s stylish apartment. Women come in to book sessions that are gifts for a significant other, of course, but she also said that more and more women are coming in that just get the photos done for themselves.

A point Sarah made that I considered was how we never truly see ourselves the way others see us. Even in a mirror, the reflection isn’t how we actually appear to people.

“I’m trying to use my camera as a mirror that shows them the reflection of how beautiful they really are.”

Her life as a photographer and as a woman radiates inspiration to feel confident, beautiful and be kind. It’s impossible to feel awkward or self conscious around Sarah Brown.  I wonder if she wants to be BFFs?

Categories: GTPulse