The pure magic of making an instant connection – that’s what happens when passions click. Venice Simpson formed an unlikely, yet electrifying bond with visual arts, specifically in the field of photography.
Born and raised in Jamaica, Simpson grew up as a bookworm. It wasn’t until she migrated to Alaska and became a registered nurse that she wanted something more. She said: “I’ve been a registered nurse for over 10 years now, and I love it, but I never felt as though that was it”. In 2015, on a drive home, her husband encouraged her to tap into the world of photography since she was already taking pictures of plants and nature. No one could have imagined that she would discover boudoir.
As soon as she got home, she googled ‘online photography classes’ and came across CreativeLive. It, she says, changed her life.
After many classes online, many trials and errors, frustration, and a few tears, she surpassed her own expectations and got the hang of it. Convinced that she had to learn every type of photography there was out there, she took a liking to brand photography. Her plan was to specialise in branding images with a focus on helping women in business build their personal brand. But in her quest for knowledge and understanding, the artist came across a handful of boudoir lessons and thought that it was easy and that she could easily do it. But then, she realised that it was far from easy. This intrigued her.
“I mentioned boudoir to a local photographer about 2016, and he said it was a good idea. He did it for a while and did great. I couldn’t get anyone to model for me, so I left it alone,” she said. Over the years, however, she got familiar with the work of other photographers, searching Pinterest to find images she loved. The boudoir images, she said, were mostly black and white. The thought didn’t cross her mind to do just black-and-white portraits until she met a photographer last year who did black-and-white boudoir. That was it.
Four years into the profession, she explores the best of both worlds in her work: boudoir images in black and white and branding images in colour. Boudoir photography, according to Simpson, is the style that leans more towards portraying women as art. “You say ‘boudoir’, and many people think ‘naked with booty out’. It can entail that, for some photographers, but that isn’t my style,” she said.
She loves when women are comfortable with their sensuality and applauds them for not being afraid to show it off. “I’m all for it,” she declared. So, her goal is for every woman she photographs to love their portraits more than any other image of themselves they have ever seen.
Looking back, she cringes at some of her earlier images because they aren’t as good as she thought. But she is happy with the progress and the thrilling learning experience. “Boudoir in black and white makes my heart literally skip a beat. You see the art, and the background fades, and you aren’t distracted by different colours. Your eyes go directly to the art, which is the woman and her form,” she said.
PASSION AND BUSINESS
Treating her passion like a business wasn’t as simple as it looked. Learning that aspect, knowing the work put in behind the scenes, and giving value to her work became honed skills. “I was too comfortable knowing I could always fall back on my RN job. I also used to be afraid to charge due to lack of experience. Now, I would rather not have a session than not charge enough,” she said. She learned to effectively build her photography career and has grown in strides ever since.
Getting the same genuine feeling of excitement with every session, she provides a comfortably artistic environment to conduct shoots. “I have a guide clients get before their shoot. It prepares them for everything, from location and wardrobe to time. Clients have seen my images and know what to expect. I do get to know their style to decide if it goes with my brand and if I’m comfortable shooting.”
Good at making people comfortable, shaping bodies, and getting expressions and laughter out of her clients (it’s cracking up and rolling from laughter during sessions), the Canon user prefers a studio setting for her boudoir shoots and loves editing so that she can see the end products. Her ultimate aim is to unleash her clients’ sex appeal and capture its essence on camera. “No other type of photography does it for me. I couldn’t have chosen another form to specialise in,” she said.
Her most moving client was her hair and make-up artist, Kyli. She was the answer to her prayers when she suggested that she shoot thicker women. “I wanted your everyday woman, but it was hard to find her. Kyli is gorgeous! But it was her demeanour during her shoot that gave me the best portraits I’ve ever taken. She was so confident, loved her body, and wasn’t uncomfortable in any way. She gave me confidence to go after these women I wanted as my clients,” she said. She stands by the notion that her favourite session is always her next last session.
When she isn’t nursing or photographing, this wife and mother is spending quality time with her family. Her advice to aspiring photographers is to learn the business aspect and practice. She also encourages persons to watch CreativeLive. Free classes are on air for those who can’t afford to purchase classes.
To see more of Simpson’s boudoir work, visit her website: www.venicesimpson.com or follow her on Instagram: @venicesimpsonphotographer and Facebook: Venice Simpson.
Story by Krysta Anderson