The strangest item in Paige Pederzani’s prop and lingerie closet is probably the life-size, feathery handmade angel wings. They’re especially popular among millennials, who grew up when the Victoria’s Secret angel was seen as the height of sexy. “It’s living out a certain fantasy when you put those on,” says Pederzani, who owns Roar Boudoir in Pleasant Ridge.
The photography studio specializes in boudoir photography. Boudoir is French for bedroom—it’s an intimate style of photography. The subject is often in lingerie, or sometimes less, or sometimes nude. The photos can be sexy, sultry, or sassy. Playful, artful, or naughty. Or all of the above. “They’re beautiful portraits of yourself in positions that might not be family-friendly,” Pederzani says. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, they could just be the perfect gift for your special someone—or the perfect gift for yourself.
How She Got Started
Pederzani shot a lot of weddings in 2013, and the brides would occasionally ask if she would shoot boudoir photos. Some of Pederzani’s peers in the industry were on the receiving end of the same question, but not everyone was comfortable with that kind of photoshoot. Pederzani, though, was immediately into the idea. “I said, Oh, my gosh. This is totally for me. I’d love to do this. I think I’d be good at doing this.”
Before Pederzani could advertise that she was a boudoir photographer, however, she needed a portfolio. As she says, photographers can’t just tell their subjects, Come over, take off your clothes, and let’s have fun. “You need to show people what you can do,” she says.
So Pederzani bought lingerie for her friends, she kicked her husband and her dog out of the house, she brought in someone to do her friends’ hair and makeup, and she hosted a daylong shoot to build her portfolio.
Using those photos as a reference point, she started to book clients. Because she couldn’t bring everyone into her home for the photoshoots, she would rent Airbnbs as studios, always being upfront with the host about how she would use the home. Whenever she promoted photoshoot dates, her schedule filled up immediately.
A range of clients book with Pederzani. Most are cis and trans women, cross-dressers, and those who like to be photographed in a feminine light. She shoots only adults, and clients range from 18 years old to senior citizens.
“The oldest was in her eighties,” she says. “The older women are so much more confident in what they are offering me. When we’re younger and maybe in our twenties, we’re really self-conscious about our bodies. When we get to be that age, you get really excited to present a sexual side to the world.”
During the pandemic, Roar Boudoir is accepting just one client a day. Pederzani asks them to bring a black bra and panty set, and then they can borrow something from the studio’s lingerie closet, which boasts about 1,000 pieces, ranging from size XXS to size 5XL.
While some clients are uncertain or nervous about the shoot, they often start to relax, chat and laugh during hair and makeup. “My studio space is on the smaller side,” Pederzani says. “It feels like cozy living room. Almost 99 percent of our shoots feels like friends hanging out and taking pictures of each other.”
While some clients want boudoir photos to give as a gift to a partner, Pederzani stresses that the style of photography is empowering. Social media presents an idealized version of what a woman “should” look like, but it takes a lot of work for those women to look like that. Pederzani’s clients receive that same treatment: Prior to shooting, they go through hair and makeup. The photos are professionally lit and then professionally retouched.
“Boudoir is a fantasy for most women,” she says. “This isn’t our everyday self. It’s a nice way to get out of our shells and experience body confidence. The difference between you and the girl in the magazine is just a whole team of people. That’s it.”