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The Change We Need to Make

The Change We Need to Make

I’m talking all about our new podcast: The Art of Empowerment. I wanted to share with you what my story is, why I am doing this podcast, what our mission is and the change that I want to see in the boudoir industry. 

My Photography Journey

My name is Molly Keyser and I have been in the photography industry for 10+ years. I am also the owner of Boudie Shorts; our mission is to help every photographer profitably offer boudoir and collectively empower women around the world. I am originally from Wisconsin; I lived there for 31 years, and I more recently moved to Austin, Texas. I really fell in love with photography in high school when I took an art class where I got to focus on photography and it was really fun. It helped me fall in love with the darkroom and film photography! 

After school, I would convince my best friend to play dress up. We would get her all these cool outfits from Goodwill and we would go around town taking photos, it was so much fun. However, I just remember thinking there is no way that I can make a living from this. There is no way that I can make enough money from this, it just can’t be a career. I also had a lot of my friends and family telling me photography wasn’t a legitimate career path, so I ended up going to college. 

I actually went to three different colleges. I studied marketing, graphic design, photography, art, painting, lots of different things! I was well into my college journey when there came a time where I decided that I was going to drop out. Everyone says college is going to help you make money and put you on the best career path, but for me personally, with what I wanted to do, it just really didn’t seem like that was going to happen. 

So I gave myself an ultimatum. I said look if you can book x amount of weddings then you can drop out of school and that’s exactly what I did.

The only reason I started with wedding photography is because I believed that it was the only way I could make money because I had interned with wedding photographers. I had people tell me that the only way to make money is by shooting weddings. 

That is just not true. That was a false belief that I had. That was a bad mindset that I had. I don’t regret starting out with weddings. Honestly, I feel like it gave me a really good base for my photography skills. I feel like I am a better photographer for having shot weddings. That said, do you have to start that way? No! You can start out with boudoir. I have had several students go from zero to six figures, even up to$ 500,000 plus per year, with Boudoir and some of them didn’t even have a camera before they started. 

Going back to my journey: I shot weddings for multiple years. I did end up dropping out of school and I remember, maybe four or five years into my wedding journey, I just was becoming very burnt out. I wasn’t able to spend a lot of time with my family and friends. I was constantly gone every weekend. I was gone in the summers and living in the midwest. I mean, the summer is where it is at!

The Session That Changed My Life

So what happened next was that I was doing an engagement session and one of my brides-to-be pulled me aside and she said, “Molly, is there any way that you would take photos of me in lingerie to give as a gift to my husband?”

It really stopped me in my tracks. I had never even heard of boudoir photography at that point but I really won’t say no to much so I had her book a hotel room for us to do the photoshoot in.

When I showed up I was so nervous. I think I was more nervous than her because at this point

I had never shot boudoir. What’s crazy is that not only was I nervous, but she was extremely nervous, too. She was actually very self-conscious and it was crazy because she and I both very quickly gained confidence.  Her with how she felt in front of the camera and me with me being behind the camera. I will never forget showing her that first image on the back of my camera.

She looked at the back of the camera and tears just started swelling in her eyes. She kept saying, “no way that is me!” Seeing her reaction; I still remember that moment! I knew right then and there that this was what I wanted to do. I am going to transition out of weddings. I am going to transition out of everything else that I offer.  I am just going to focus on boudoir.

The Conversation That Could of Broke Me

I had been shooting boudoir for about a year, but I was still transitioning out of weddings because you know, people booked their weddings about one or two years in advance, right?

I was still in the back of my head thinking this is scary. Can I really go full-time with this? Am I going to regret not having the wedding income? I felt kind of panicked. And I remember this guy came to my booth. He was older and he has been in the industry for a long time; he’s a

wedding photographer. He came up to me and he whispered. He like kind of like was like come over here and he whispered in my ear. “Hey, This is cool and all, what you’re doing, but just know if you want to have a successful career, if you want to make money in this industry, you have to shoot weddings. It’s the only way it can be done. I’ve been around, you know for x amount of years. I know what I’m talking about. I’ve seen people come and go, you know, and this is great and fun and all but don’t give up weddings, you’re gonna really regret it.”

That shook me. I remember I ran into the bathroom and cried after that because I was already not one hundred percent confident. 

It made me cry because it was rude for him to come in and tell me what to do. And you know, even though he’s been in the industry for a long time. His business was not necessarily very successful. So it really hurt my feelings. It was kind of like somebody coming up to you and whispering “hey, you know what? I don’t believe in you”.

But, I remember when I was done crying in the bathroom, I wiped my tears. I was like F this. I’m getting back out there. I am going to book a lot of shoots. I am going to go all-in. That could have broken me and there are going to be bad times in your career. There are going to be moments like that that can break you and you can’t let it happen. You need to be solid on your mission and you need to be very clear on knowing

that there are going to be bumps in the road running a business is not completely an uphill journey. It is a roller coaster. There are ups, there are downs and it can be very hard. If you do not go into it with the right mindset.

It can be very hard but it doesn’t have to be, you just have to know things are going to go great and things are going to go wrong. That’s how I got into boudoir and how I ended up transitioning out of weddings. I was able to grow my studio to multiple six figures. I had a studio manager and a second photographer.

The Launch of Boudie Shorts 

A few years into our success, I had a lot of photographers reaching out to me asking me how I did it. They wanted to know my business model and what we were doing to have success.  I started doing some mentoring and started Boudie Shorts and offering programs. I found this to be my calling. I absolutely I love being able to create positive change in our industry. I love being able to grow a team at Boudie Shorts that all have the exact same level of excitement and enthusiasm and care for our customers.

I love that we are able to help, literally thousands of boudoir photographers around the world and elevate their businesses. What I love about owning boudie shorts is that I am able to have basically a waterfall of empowerment.

I am able to empower my team at Boudie Shorts to empower our students, who are going to empower their clients, who are then going to empower their family? Right? 

The Art of Empowerment Podcast 

This podcast is a mixture of solo shows with myself and a mixture of interviews with our students, Boudie Shorts staff and other women who share the mission of empowerment. 

I want this podcast to be about our community. Who we are as we boudoir photographers and what we are doing to change the industry.  How we are elevating each other and what we do in our shoots to empower our clients and making a true impact on this world. 

I feel like people try to put Boudoir in a box. They say look boudoir. It’s a shoot where it has to happen in a bedroom with a bed right?

I say no. I say let’s break down those walls boudoir is about empowerment. It’s about doing a shoot one-on-one with a human being and having them leave feeling more confident and more empowered than when they came in. That is boudoir. Let’s come together and make a difference and empower women and people in general around the world. 

The Boudoir Photography Industry

I am ready to see this industry doing more of that,breaking down these traditional old boxes that have been put around certain labels in this industry. I am ready to see more photographers offering Boudoir. I am ready to see more photographers offering boudoir being profitable. I think sometimes as photographers.

We think, you know, since we are artists, we have to be starving artist and that is just not true. Here’s the thing guys. You can empower more people with your business, if you are profitable, I am going to say that again, you can empower more people with your business if you are profitable. You can make a bigger difference, a bigger impact if you are focused on profitability within your business. 

Lastly I want to see this industry, having no more secrets. When I first started, you know, 12 years ago. Education was not as readily available to photographers. Photographers were not as willing to share what was working for them. 

Right now there is this movement going around with community over competition and I got to say it’s pretty freaking awesome. I would love to see more friendships being made in this industry. I would like to see there being less clicks. I would like to see there being like I said less boxes around what certain terms mean. 

I am ready for there to be a change. Things can change for the better. You can make it happen. I can make it happen. We can make it happen together. So this is the art of empowerment podcast. We are going to be putting out a podcast episode every week and I look forward to sharing with you! 

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Molly Keyser

Boudoir photographer and business coach, I am dedicated to changing the world with the power of a camera. Originally from Wisconsin, I'm now in Texas, but I help photographers around the world learn how to go full-time with boudoir photography.