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Smitten Boudoir wants you to love yourself. (PHOTO: Dana Dufek)

Smitten Boudoir shoots sexy, confident photos for women of all types

When photographer Dana Dufek started Smitten Boudoir, she thought it would entail fun, breezy, champagne-infused shoots of women in cute lingerie. However, once she got into it, Dufek realized the endeavor went a lot deeper.

"It's not just fluffy stuff," says Dufek. "It's really about empowering women."

Dufek, who offers boudoir photo shoots in her Bay View studio, recently started a campaign called "Go Love Yourself." The concept is for women to care for and accept themselves – all of themselves – in a more positive light.

During the "Go Love Yourself" campaign, Dufek – and hair and make-up stylist Cait Ciaccio –will donate $100 from every session to Planned Parenthood through the end of February.

"I picked Planned Parenthood for so many reasons," says Dufek. "They've helped me and so many women and because their future is uncertain – but also because I realized Planned Parenthood's take on positive body image is very similar to what I want to provide for women with boudoir."

Dufek says women sometimes arrive nervous, anxious or scared for a boudoir session – which is natural, she says, because it's not something most women are accustomed to. However, Dufek's warm and positive personality contribute greatly to a comfortable experience.

"It's not that we aren't good enough or we're too old or too fat; we're scared or nervous because it's something we've never done before," says Dufek. "But being scared is generally an indication of something we should do."

Dufek says most women complain about their least favorite body parts or features during the photo shoot – which is also natural.

"I totally get this because I have body issues, too," says Dufek. "I try to get them to see themselves through someone else's eyes for a little while."

Dufek says the first few photos in the session are generally a little tense, but by the end of the session, the women are much more comfortable.

"Seeing someone let go of insecurities while their confidence and comfort levels rise is really fulfilling," says Dufek. "By the end, they are hanging out half-dressed, and it's no big deal."

Smitten Budoir sessions include the photo shoot with Dufek and, for an extra fee, make-up with Ciaccio.

"Working on the campaign is incredibly uplifting," says Ciaccio. "Something about starting this project at the beginning of the New Year coupled with the importance of what Planned Parenthood does has made me so proud. It's great to work with such amazing people and help show them how beautiful they are – inside and out."

Women are encouraged to bring a variety of different garments and adornments to the shoot – whatever they feel sexy wearing – or they can borrow items from Smitten's collection of vintage clothing and jewelry.

"If someone feels the most comfortable in a T-shirt and cowboy boots, then bring that," says Dufek. "Or if they want to wear lingerie or buy something new for the shoot – it's all entirely up to the person."

Dufek also operates a photography business called Dana Dufek Photography that caters primarily to weddings and events. She was able to focus on Smitten Boudoir after weddings tapered off for the season and has found it to be extremely fulfilling ever since – for both her clients and herself.

"Loving yourself doesn't mean you have to always be OK with yourself or that you'll never think negative thoughts about yourself. It's about learning to love yourself – even, if at first, it's just for a few minutes," says Dufek.

To win a mini-session on Instagram, go here. #goloveyourself


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