Featured Photographer – Jessica Rae

Jan 15, 2021



Business Information:


Jessica Rae

Name of business

Artist Jessica Rae

Location of business

Vancouver, BC






Technical Specs:

Camera used

Canon 5D Mark IV

Lens choices

Canon 25-70 2.8 and Canon 135 2.0

Processing Software (just provide the names of the one’s you use)

LR and PS

Do you use any actions?

Embrace Presets Mostly

Do you retouch and if so can you give me a quick rundown on if you use any plugins, etc.?

I learned a long time ago to outsource. Retouching is the most time consuming part of our jobs and my efforts are better spent creating art and marketing. I trained my partner, he loved it and went on to mentor under some of the best retouchers in our industry and now runs his own successful retouching business.

We both use Jen Swedhin’s Ultimate Boudoir Retouching Workflow for PS and it has been a game changer!





What most people want to know is how you market to your clients. Have you qualified who your is your ideal client?

I run an inclusive studio. That means every body is welcome regardless of gender or sexual orientation, etc.
I have never been one to do cold calling or to solicit people – I am all about relationship building. I feel this method of marketing is best suited to boudoir as it is such a personal and intimate experience.
I get out in my local neighborhoods and attend networking and social events. For example, a group of ladies started a monthly Wine Club. I am there without fail every month!
During lock down I attended every online networking event going on and even hosted a couple myself. It’s all about getting out there, meeting people and building rapport and trust.
As well, because I am one of the very few photographers in my area that will photograph male boudoir, I get many referrals for male identifying clients from other photographers in my area.

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Do you have any inspiring client stories you can share? Also, have you had any issues with clients and how did you resolve them?

Doing this for nearly a decade now I have many inspiring stories!

One of the most recent that stands out in my memory from earlier this year was a young lady who lives with a Colostomy Bag. She has seen her share of trauma with over 28 surgeries in 5 years. It started with an emergency surgery 10 years ago at a young age that was unexpected and she was not mentally or emotionally prepared for. This, along with all the physical scars, from her literally fighting for her life, left her self esteem broken.

She would wear many layers of clothing to hide herself away from the world. So, having an intimate portrait experience was a scary and nerve racking venture for her. We took our time, I provided a safe place for her to try and navigate through some of that trauma and together we created beautiful art together. This experience and the final product that we produced were liberating for her.

Her words carry more weight than mine could:
“I want to thank you Jessica for everything you have done for me. You will never understand how much you have done for me mentally and physically. You have helped me see myself in a whole different way. You have helped me come out of the bubble that I have spent the last 10 years hiding in, even after everything I have been through, you made me feel beautiful. It has been years since I have been able to look at myself and not see a sick weak useless woman! Scared and helpless. Thanks for helping me love myself again. No words can ever thank you for what u have done for me“ – Cassandra




How do you sell to your clients? Can you provide info on your sales process and your pricing? Can you provide numbers on what you charge for a session and what products you offer?

I charge a session fee that includes “complimentary hair and makeup service in studio”

I offer matted prints and digital image file collections that range from around $1600 – $3500
I do offer prints and digital files separately (a la carte and min purchase is $1200 but no one ever purchases those they always go with a collection)

Client comes in for their session – at the end we schedule their Image Debut Appointment which typically occurs 2 weeks after their session. This is where they will come in to view the final edited images (typical client gallery is about 60 images in both colour and BW)

The day after their session I typically send 2 sneak peeks via email that are also Referral Vouchers – I use Kara Marie Studio’s Referral Program for this.

What products perform best in your studio?

Matted Prints!!!
I don’t even offer albums.
I believe we are creating art and art is meant to be seen. Also I believe that each individual photograph is it’s own work of art and tells it’s own story!
This encourages my clients to hang up and display their images. However, as I provide them with a beautiful hand crafted presentation box to store their prints in, they can just as easily tuck them away some where safe and private – like they would an album.
I exclusively use The Boudoir Album for all my matted prints and boxes (and albums when I offered those)

I use Laminart Industries for my Metal Estate Art





Best describe your workspace. Do you have a studio or work from home? How large is your space? What are the challenges with it? What works really well for you?

I have a home based studio. It is the first floor of my home and includes a main space that is 13′ wide by 29′ long, as well as two bedrooms approx 11×11. One is also used as a shoot space and the other is my office, sales, and makeup room. There is also a small bathroom.
OH and we recently converted 2/3 of our garage into a portrait studio for me. It’s small but I make it work!
I love working from home but also LOVE having a dedicated space!
When I first started I used our main living room as my studio space and the dinning room was my office / makeup area. I had to clean up, set up, tear down, etc. every day I had a session. It was exhausting but I did that for over 2 years! Remember we all start somewhere you don’t have to start out with some expensive commercial studio space. You work towards it (if that is a goal of yours).
While I do have some decent natural light in my studio there are a number of areas that require some help. I call them flat or dead light spaces. I have started to incorporate the use of lamps with daylight bulbs in my lifestyle studio space and they have been a game changer for me! I adore the look!
My design style is considered TRANSITIONAL. I blend old with new and this makes for a comfortable, welcoming space that feels warm and inviting.

Do you have any plans to change and/or grow from your space in the near future.

We are working on our back yard – I have run out of interior spaces to take over, haha.
We want to build a covered deck, a greenhouse, and other lovely areas outdoors to utilize when the weather allows.

Do you keep strict hours of operation with your clients?

Yes I shoot Monday through Thursday. We start at 9am with Makeup. However I do not put a strict time limit on the session itself. Some clients require more time to warm up. Some, specially ones that are coming in to navigate a trauma / body image struggles need more time and that is ok. I am a boutique business model, not high volume, so I can accommodate this.
I do have specific times for in person consults / zoom consults and Image Debuts set out, and use Acuity Online Booking Calendar to have clients select their preferred date and time from what I have available.

Natural Light, Studio Light, combination of styles? What’s your preference? What are your strengths and weaknesses with lighting, if any?

All of the above! Depends on the situation and aesthetic I am going for.
My main space is what I call a Lifestyle studio. It’s meant to look natural so I don’t tend to use traditional studio lighting here. I use natural window light mixed with lamps and other ambient lighting.
If we are using the portrait studio that is all traditional studio lighting and then some. Strobes, Constants, etc. I love them all!

Do you have makeup artists you work with in your studio? If so, can you give me a run down of what the rate is you pay them and how you feel about the importance of that relationship. If you don’t use them, is there a reason?

I hire professional artist to come to my studio to help ready clients. I use this time to help build rapport with my clients. We chat and converse and I show them products. It’s a nice relaxing way to start their day.
Average rate in my area for makeup with simple dry hair styling (loose curls, waves, straight, no up-dos, etc.) is $150

They are an integral part of my brand and business model. Male identifying clients also receive makeup. I explain to them it’s like they are a news anchor, we just want to even out skin tone, remove shine etc. It’s a wonderful, pampering experience.

Do you play music during sessions, and if so, what are some tracks on your playlist? Do you ask clients what music they like and if they would like certain music during their session?

Yes. I don’t typically have the clients input on music. My feelings are that music tends to illicit emotional response and they may choose stuff that just does not contribute to the energy of the session well.
I tend to choose music that feels like background filler and not the center stage. It’s got good base beat but it’s down tempo and sensual in feel.


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How long have you been in business? What were you doing before you started your photo business?

I have been a full time boudoir photographer for over 7 years.
I used to work in the Print Industry prior. I have worn many hats over the years from production, sales, marketing/networking.

Did you go to school for photography or are you self taught?

I learned the basics in high school. We had a dark room and shot on BW film, developed our own prints and negatives etc. Other than that I am self taught.

Did you always want to be a photographer or was it something that came later in life?

I’ve always been an artist, and photography was a big draw for me to do as a career. However, I found myself living on my own soon after high school, so I had to get a 9-5 job. A few years later I found myself with 3 kids on my own and somehow decided then it was time to follow my dreams. I had so much riding on it, so much to lose in a sense. Rather than letting that hinder me, I used it to fuel the fire, and well, here I am nearly a decade later. I am so grateful to myself for having taken a chance on ME!

What is your biggest struggle in this business?

The business end of it – Accounting, book keeping, etc., but that’s why you hire professionals that excel in those fields. Just because you CAN do it all doesn’t mean you have to or should! OUTSOURCE!!!

Is there a reason you shoot boudoir and do you shoot any other genre? If you’re exclusive, and/or recently went exclusive, can you give the readers some insight into why you did? If you’ve only ever done boudoir, again we’d love to hear why.

I want to say I am 100% boudoir but I love portrait work too and I am starting to get back into that more.
I have and still occasionally, if bribed enough, photograph weddings, but that’s very rare these days. They are stressful and perhaps I am a pinch cynical, ha!
I love working one on one with individuals, learning their stories, and capturing vulnerability, and boudoir is the perfect genre for me to do just that.

What process did you go through to find your specific style? Where do you draw inspiration from? 

I find most of my inspiration in the quiet and still moments.
Late at night when I am alone with my mind in the silence and the world sleeps.

I also find a lot of lighting and mood inspiration from cinema!

I tend to stay away from the groups where everyone is sharing their images because it can have a detrimental affect on your self esteem and abilities if you let it

My style has grown and evolved over the years, as well as my WHY and continues to shift and change. I think there’s beauty in that.





If you knew someone who wanted to be a photographer, and could give them one piece of important advice, what would that be?

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them as an artist” – Pablo Picasso

Have you ever done a boudoir session yourself? Do you think it’s something that is important for boudoir photographers to do?

110% everyone should experience this like their client would from start to finish.
It’s fun to do trades with friends and colleagues in the industry but I truly believe you should have the same experience as your client. So hire someone and invest in yourself!

How do you feel about the male / female debate regarding boudoir photographers?

If you are asking me to comment on the handful of male boudoir photographers that take advantage of their position to victimize their subjects / clients, I am going to say that this sadly can and does happen in many situations, industries, etc. It is not exclusive to our industry or genre within it.

There are male gynecologists, so why not male boudoir photographers?!

Be a good, quality human – end of story.

What do you do to avoid burn-out? Is there ever a time when you just want to throw your camera out the window?

I would get burned out if all I worked with was clients. It would start to just feel like a job. So making time for creative shoots that feed my soul and ignite my passion are key for me. Also, making time for other hobbies and self care is super important.

What do you love about the business?

I love the people that I continually meet, both clients and peers.
I love the blend of artistry and technical that comes with photography.

What do you hate about the business?

I dislike when there is competition over community.

Do you compete and do you have any opinions on it? AIBP runs contests regularly. Do you participate? If not, is there a reason you don’t?

I used to, but just kinda been keeping my head down and doing my own thing.
The only person I am competing with and against is myself – Who I was yesterday, where I am, and how I am better today!
I think they can be good and can serve a purpose, but it’s really going to be up to the individual and their idea of success.

How long have you been a part of the AIBP family? Tell us a little bit about why you joined and what benefits and/or things you particularly love about the AIBP community?

2014, so six years.
I love the relationships I have built and gained over the years with like minded and like valued peers.


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Favorite food?

Wine! Oh, wait food… Thai.

One guilty pleasure in life?


Favorite piece of clothing?

Not underwear!

What’s one song on your playlist?

If ever I stray by Frank Turner – my life anthem!

Favorite shoes to wear?

Birkenstocks – they don’t leave my feet ever! Well except to sleep and shower.

What are you currently reading?

Re-reading Mists of Avalon.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would that be? 

Scotland – my homeland <3

If you could go back and do over anything in your life, what would that be?

I wouldn’t quit sports or playing piano

What do you struggle with the most in life? (not photo related)

My non neurotypical brain

Are you married, single, have kids, husband? Is life a juggling act for you?

Divorced with 3 kids
Blended family of 5 now

Life is definitely a beautiful juggle.

Who inspires you the most in life? Work?

Humanity as a whole, meeting new humans and learning their stories.

If you could provide one single piece of advice to influence a young person’s direction in life, what would that be?

Value yourself above all else. This is not a selfish act. It is essential to your overall happiness and well being. When you do that, happiness surrounds you.


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