BEAUTY beyond boundaries. This is the motto motivating Jaime Rampersad to inspire, transform and empower women from behind the lens.
The 41-year-old has weaponised her two passions – photography and make-up artistry – to fight what she refers to as society’s biased beauty status quo with her novel, nonconformist take on boudoir photography.
“I am challenging the status quo by creating an opportunity for women – regardless of their size, shape or age, to see themselves as beautiful,” Rampersad said.
So what is boudoir photography? Boudoir is a French word which means a woman’s private salon. Typically, boudoir photography is an intimate shoot that usually involves a certain level of undress. However the degree of nudity depends on the photographer and their subject.
Rampersad dispelled some common misconceptions about boudoir photoshoots, saying, “The misconception that boudoir photography is only for a specific size of person…that it’s only for a specific age of woman. Also, a lot of people think that boudoir has to be this overtly sexual, raunchy kind of pictures. It is art, this is an artform.”
She said her core message is about changing people’s definition of what beauty is and empowering women to embrace their beauty and who they are.
Rampersad revealed to WMN that her journey into boudoir photography started as a personal one. In 2020, she made the decision to consciously discover herself as she was fast approaching her milestone 40th birthday.
To accomplish this, the wife and mother of one felt inclined to do a boudoir photoshoot to mark the occasion.
“I wanted to do a boudoir photoshoot with one of my favourite photographers but she at the time was based in Austin, Texas. Covid came and I was not able to go and do my shoot with her.”
So, Rampersad decided to do her own boudoir shoot since she had 18 years of experience under her belt as a makeup artist pioneering airbrush makeup locally and had worked as a professional photographer since 2013.
“I was able to see myself in such a different light and it gave me such a deep level of appreciation for myself which I think is so important. You do lose yourself when you step into different roles in your life, being a wife, being a mother. This really helped me to rediscover who I was and in doing that and seeing how powerful that was, I said this is something other women need to experience.”
“My whole awakening has been because of boudoir. Even though I was doing the other genres of photography before, it wasn’t until I found boudoir that I found my purpose.”
Rampersad said like her, most of her clients are on a journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance.
“What I hold to be important in my life is connection with others. Doing boudoir photography allowed me to get that deeper connection with women and also empower and uplift them and help them. And it allows them to get a deeper level of appreciation for themselves and for some of them, it is discovering a whole new side to who they are.”
“I have made it into an experience where they get to connect with their mind, body and soul. It’s not just to come and take some pictures – it is a whole experience.”
And quite the experience it is since clients can expect an almost therapeutic service that supersedes what one would anticipate from a typical, run-of-the-mill photoshoot.
Upon booking with Jaime Rampersad Photography, clients receive a guided journal that asks deeply personal and introspective questions that help them gain deeper insight into who they are.
Rampersad also engages her clients with her bubbly personality via Zoom where she reassures and dispels common boudoir misconceptions and asks pointed mentally and emotionally stimulating questions to gauge their comfort level and boudoir goals so they could have a more fulfilling experience with photos they love.
In addition, she offers stylist services guiding clients on possible outfits for their shoot. Most clients wear lingerie but some may opt for implied nude or fully nude shots if they desire. By the time clients arrive at Rampersad’s photo studio they have already received their boudoir baptism and Rampersad said they are fully prepared and more at ease with her during the shoot.
Rampersad begins her boudoir experience by helping her clients feel like their “most beautiful, confident selves” with hair and make up. “I know when we as women look good, we feel good. For me, I want to get them to a place where they are no longer feeling anxious but they are feeling good.”
The next step is wardrobe – clients have access to a size-inclusive wardrobe that Rampersad has outfitted with pieces ranging in size, shapes and colours from extra small to 5XL.
Just before the shoot, Rampersad chats with her clients and reassures them that they are in a safe space to be authentic. “I let them know that this is a private and a shame-free, judgment-free, guilt-free, safe space and that they are invited to be whoever they would like to be and to be just themselves.”
Rampersad said boudoir helps shape a woman’s mind and allows them to see that they are beautiful as they are.
“It’s my hope that more women don’t just accept society’s definition of beauty as their truth but find the courage to form their own and that their own includes themselves.”
Rampersad’s passion for helping women accept themselves prompted her to launch her #beautybeyondboundaries campaign on the private, women only Facebook group she created to provide a safe space that supports women interested in boudoir while promoting body positivity.
She said boudoir photography empowers women because it allows them to be free. “When they do a boudoir session they are breaking those societal constructs of beauty. It is also freedom of expression. They are allowed to express themselves in a way that a lot of times society has told us that we shouldn’t.
“Society would say, don’t be too sexy, but why? Boudoir allows you to express yourself the way you want to express yourself. There is also freedom to live and be unapologetically you. Freedom without the boundaries in terms of how you look and behave.”
Rampersad said she captures shots that are emotive and speak to the soul of the women she photographs so they could see what they look like when they feel vulnerable, happy, desired or confident etc. She said this can be very illuminating for her clients who are usually ecstatic when they see their images.
“The soul part of it is what really gets me excited. When I shoot it is fully guided. I not only put my clients in their poses and direct and coach them, but I also guide their body language. Eighty per cent of our communication with the world is subconsciously done with body language.”
“I don’t just put my clients in the ‘sexy’ pose. It is actually about the opportunity to show them different facets of their personality because their body language would show different things. What you look like when you are vulnerable, what you look like when you are in a body language of desire. You really do get to see a range of emotions…there is power in vulnerability.”
Rampersad encouraged more women to try a boudoir photoshoot, saying, “It allows you to see different facets of your personality and is an exploratory process into who you are. It is a way for women to see and redefine their definition of what beauty is through themselves.”
She had this advice for women who are interested in a boudoir photoshoot but for whatever reason may be lacking the confidence to do it.
“You don’t have to have confidence before. The confidence comes once you do the shoot. All you need is a little bit of courage to reach out to me and I will take you by the hand and lead you through the entire process. It’s really one of those things that would forever boost your confidence to a new level.”