When was the last time you held a photo of yourself you absolutely loved?

Jennifer James is a Jacksonville FL boudoir photographer and owner of Supernova Boudoir
Photo by Luminous Boudoir

Girlfriend, I get you. I never really liked photos of myself, either. Until I had my own boudoir photoshoot.

Before then, I’d grimace when I looked at photos taken by friends or family. I’d shy away from being in pictures because I didn’t trust the person behind the camera–or cell phone–to capture me in a flattering way. I picked apart my “flaws”, like why does my forehead looks so big? Do my arms look chubby? Ugh, I don’t want to see myself in a bikini! And forget lingerie! 

So, I know, as well as any other woman, we all want the same thing: to look and feel like a million bucks! To walk with confidence! Why does that have to feel so hard?! So I ask you this: When was the last time you held a photo of yourself you absolutely loved?

When I saw my boudoir photos, I was floored. That’s ME? I look like that? Friends and family have been telling me for years how cute I am. That I have beautiful eyes. A great chest or butt. My purple hair (which IS awesome, I know). I didn’t see it. Until my own boudoir photoshoot. 

I know. And I understand. Completely and with my whole heart. I GET YOU.

Everyone who hires me leaves my beautiful Saint Augustine, Florida studio with a huge confidence boost that doesn’t just vanish the next day or in a couple of weeks, because you will be able to pull your photos out whenever you want to see yourself the way others see you: 

– Strong
– Beautiful
– Confident
– Sexy as hell

All you have to do? Show up. And trust me.

Check out my very own boudoir shoot below! Just click the image.

I often am asked how I got started in boudoir... and in photography.

The answer is complicated and a bit long.  I have always been an artist, I think it is something deep within my soul.  From my earliest days in preschool, I could be found with a pencil or crayon and some paper, drawing things I saw (I was very obsessed with drawing horses, which lasted into my late teens).

In high school, Art and Ceramics were my favorite classes (and psychology… more on that later).  I was pretty decent at drawing but I was awful at ceramics!  Still, I loved it, it was therapeutic in a way. I drew a LOT of naked fairies… some of that work still hangs in friends’ homes today.

In college, I first majored in Psychology. I wanted to be an art therapist and help heal people through the creation of art.  Art is so healing, it makes you feel things when you look at it, it helps you exorcize the mental demons trapping you. But I quickly realized it was not for me – and I was not following the path that talent had already laid for me.  So after just one semester, I switched to double-major in Fine Arts, with a heavy focus on studio and figure drawing, and graphic design. 

A lot of people comment on my composition and attention to details, such as light and shadow and the way it affects photographs.  Truth be told, these are skills I honed during drawing class in art school and they are the reason my work looks like it does today. 

Very ironically, I absolutely hated photography in college, and I would often turn my nose up at it as “easy” art.  In fact, I failed Photography 101….TWICE.  Trust me when I say, there is nothing easy about photography; I was just being lazy because I hated developing my own film by hand! Hahahaha!

And to bring this full circle, the work I do now is a kind of art therapy in and of itself. Many of my clients have told me their boudoir session was better than therapy. If that’s not a ringing endorsement, I don’t know what is!

Some of my artwork

Click to view a larger version of the image.  In this gallery, you will find drawings and landscape photography.

So how did that translate into a photography business?

Well, I’ve always had a camera in hand.  In fact, my very first camera was given to me by my dad when I was just 8 years old.  It was a hot pink Concord camera, the kind that took the 110 film that looked like a parentheses and you had to wind it up for the flash to fire! As a child of the 90s, I took a LOT of photos of everything I saw.  I still have most of them boxed away!

During winter break my freshman year of college, my stepdad was diagnosed with stage 4b lung cancer, the most advanced stage a person can have. I spent all of my college years living at home and commuting to school, plus learning how to inject medicine into his PICC line, occasionally taking him to the hospital for oncology visits when my mom couldn’t (where I would run his wheelchair down the hospital corridors as fast as I could before letting him go while he laughed), and watching him put himself through hell in the form of chemotherapy, radiation, and clinical trials to try to eke more moments out of his limited time left. He passed away after a four-year battle in February of 2003.  To put it simply, this experience devastated me. It was then that I set down all my pencils, my camera, and anything else remotely resembling art.  I didn’t touch it again for over ten years.

But artist blood runs through my DNA and that is hard to avoid.  Both of my parents are artists.  My mother has always created collectible things, and since 1992 she has been an international, multi-award-winning collectible Teddy Bear artist, with customers  from all over the globe collecting her work.  My dad was also a photographer and he used to dream about opening his own studio and photographing fashion. 

In the fall of 2015, my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  I flew down to Florida to visit with him post-op and I took my little starter camera with me, because I had an increasing interest in photography again.  It was on that trip, during a sunset “expedition” to the local marina in Julington Creek where the sun spun amazingly beautiful colors in the sky, that I watched my dad appreciating that sunset. A literal fire was born in me.  I’ve said before that it was during that sunset when my purpose came crashing back to me after a more than ten year hiatus. As if the fiery color of the clouds and sky beamed down into my heart. Suddenly, I knew what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be, and it all snowballed from there. In 2016, I legally opened my business and in 2017, I decided my heart belonged in boudoir, helping women realize they are beautiful NO. MATTER. WHAT.

My dad passed away in September 2020 but his legacy lives on through me and my business as I do the work he always dreamed about. 

Looking off the dock appreciating the sunset
My dad with his camera in the 70s
Photographing the trees at Arlington National Cemetery

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