Category Archives: Session Tips

Muffin Top

Famous Dave's cornbread muffin top. Rayleigh is a beauty and boudoir photographer with Photography by Rayleigh. For more info, visit

The muffin top is where it’s at

From the minute we pull in to the parking lot of Famous Dave’s BBQ, we are hooked. That amazing smell wafting in to the car, I can hardly get inside fast enough. We order our usual, a split order of chicken tenders with a side of broccoli, a side of mac and cheese, and that oh-so-amazing cornbread muffin. If you’ve ever eaten at Famous Dave’s you know that this is not just any corn bread. This is I’ve-died-and-gone-to-heaven cornbread. And the muffin top is the best part.

The only problem with splitting a meal, like we usually do, is that we only get one cornbread muffin, which is never enough. I joked with my husband, Nate, that I wouldn’t mind as much, splitting the muffin in half, if we were cutting it in such a way that I were getting the top half. So my husband, being the sweet guy that he is, gave me the top half of the muffin. Now that is love.

What does this have to do with photography?

When I pose my clients, I pose them in a way that celebrates the parts of their body that they love and I downplay the parts that they don’t love as much. If you have a sweetie, I’m sure he loves you for all of you. But I totally get wanting to focus only on your favorite parts. Now that I think about it, though, “muffin tops” aren’t always a good thing. Am I right?

False Eyelashes | Beauty & Boudoir Photography Portland Oregon

Wear False Eyelashes. boudoir photography in Portland, OR. Photography by Rayleigh.

Beauty and boudoir Photo shoot tip – Wear False Eyelashes

False eyelashes make look a bit fake in real life and when you first put them on they feel so heavy and just, well weird! However, in your photos they will make a HUGE difference. You actually don’t really notice them in the pictures, but you will notice their effect. They accentuate your eyes and give them a gorgeous almond shape. These are a must-have!

At the Photography by Rayleigh studio, my hair and makeup artist will provide false lashes for your shoot, so you don’t have to worry about bringing your own. But aside from your shoot, if you want to wear them for an event or just to feel a little extra pretty, check out this site for some great tips on everything false lashes. There are also some tips on making your own lashes appear longer.

Importance of Sleep

boudoir photography portland oregon

There is so much to do everyday that it’s sometimes tough to add in the time to sleep. It’s common for my husband and me to get less than 6 hours of sleep a night. Yikes! While everyone’s sleep needs differ, I know that I could benefit from more sleep. I’ve read that between 7-9 hours is ideal.

This is true for every day life, but it’s especially true for the night before a beauty portrait session. Photoshop is pretty awesome but I can’t edit out a sleepy look from your eyes.

There are a million articles on the importance of sleep and just as many on how to get a good night’s rest. Here is an easy read from the Mayo clinic.

Are you getting enough zzzz? Are there any rituals you do that help you sleep better?

Exist in Photos

It’s impossible to remember everything

It’s nearly impossible for almost all of us to remember everything we’ve ever looked at or read (unless you’re really cool and have that neat memory trick, which, I totally don’t), or every family member you have…or had. Every Holiday dinner, every birthday morning, every family vacation, every time you cut a class in high school and went to the beach or behind the Taco Bell with your friends. Unless those memories exist in photos.

Have you ever stopped to think about just how long you’ve been on this earth? About how many days you’ve lived….how many sentences you’ve spoken….how many things you’ve really seen??

If only we’d stopped to take a few pictures

Exist in photos. A Heritage photo of me from the 90's. For more info about beauty photography, visit
This is me in 1991 with my New Kids On The Block birthday cake. A great memory I might have forgotten without this photo.

There’s so much that we’ve lived through that we’ll never remember, because we don’t have images of them. The memories that we DO have, we have because they left an imprint on us, whether it was good or bad, it was a strong enough moment visually, emotionally, physically…that it left a mark in our minds that is easy for us to access either whenever we’d like, or, when something sparks up a related memory of that time, like a certain smell or a song.  But can you imagine how much we would remember if we just stopped to take a few pictures along the way?

Albums full of photos but almost none of my Mom

I feel so blessed that my Mom was very much in to pictures of my sister and me when we were growing up so I have albums full of photos to look back on. But do you know how many of the photos include her? Hardly any of them. Mostly because she was the one always taking the photos. So she doesn’t really exist in photos from my childhood.

I would love to look at a bunch of photos of what my Mom and Dad both looked like in the early 80’s as I was growing up or in the 70’s before I was born. Maybe some photos of them together when they were dating.  

Exist in photos. A Heritage photo of my Mom from the 1970's. For more info about beauty photography, visit
This is one of very few photos I have of my Mom from her younger days.

I totally get it, though. I find it difficult to allow myself to be in photos because I never like the way I look in snapshot photos and I’d rather just have photos of all my friends. Plus, I just feel so comfortable being the one to take the photos.

Exist in photos

One day when my children want to look at all my old albums, they won’t care about seeing photos of my friends. They want to see me. They won’t care if I was having a bad hair day or if I needed to lose weight. So I do my best to just exist in photos and to quiet the voices in my head that tell me that I’m not pretty enough to be seen. To be remembered. I want to leave an imprint on this world and a memory for my family members to look back on with love.

So take some time to have your photos taken. WITH your family. WITH your friends. Take some selfies! We have the ability to catch these memories now. To preserve them. There’s no reason not to. Nobody who loves you will care if you are too skinny or too big or balding or not tan enough. The only thing that will matter to them when you are gone, is that they can look back and laugh and cry and ultimately remember you and how wonderful your time together was.

A selfie of me with my two little girls. I had to go back over a year to find a candid picture of me with them. So even I need to hear this advice.

How about some gorgeous professional photos of yourself to pass down to your children?

This article is mostly talking about candid photos of daily memories. But I also can’t say enough good things about gorgeous beauty photos of you and your family. These are the photos that will be hung on the walls for decades. And even hung on your children’s walls after that!

Please click here to see my beauty portrait gallery and click here to see my family portrait gallery.

Exist in photos. Family photography by Rayleigh. This image is of a mother, father, and young daughter, embracing and laughing in front of a white background. For more info, please visit

If you’d like to talk about how to create some beautiful photos for you to pass down to your children so that you can exist in photos, just shoot me an email! I can’t wait to work with you.

Thank you, Angela Yodice of Whirlie Girl Photography, for inspiring this post.

Pinterest & Your Session

boudoir photography portland oregon

So, you have a beauty or boudoir session coming up and you’re not quite sure what look you like best. Aside from trusting your photographer to know that she knows exactly what to do and how to make you look your absolute best, you still might want to do a little research to see what kind of look you want for your photos.

Here’s a few tips on how to use your Pinterest boards to collaborate with me (your photographer) and to inspire yourself to step out of your comfort zone!

Pinterest and your session

1. If you’re not on Pinterest, get on there now! Seriously, it’s pretty awesome and there’s almost nothing you can’t find on there for inspiration and ideas….for more than just photography!

2. If you’re a Pinterest veteran. you probably know all about secret boards and how to use them, but, in case you’re not, this is a great tool from Pinterest that will help you create an inspirational board that nobody else can see unless you give them permission. When you sign on to Pinterest, you have the option to create a new board and you can make that board secret by clicking the little button (by the arrow!). You can also add me to your list once you are following me on Pinterest so that I have the ability to see what you are putting on your board.

boudoir photography portland oregon

Here is my Pinterest Page. Sharing your board with me will come in extremely handy, especially if you have difficulty explaining the style that you have in mind. I can just look at your board and see exactly what you like!

3. I would also have the ability to pin images to your board with suggestive ideas for clothing or accessories if you’d like. You can find a lot of great ideas on what type of accessories you may want to have for your session and the images link to the original post of the image, so you can most likely find out how to buy that item online!

4. Don’t forget about your hair and makeup!! I know when I go to the salon with an idea in my head for a color or style, it’s extremely hard for me to explain it to my stylist. When you use your Pinterest board, you can search for just the right style and makeup application that you want for your shoot and then your stylist can work with you to get a look similar to that for your own session.

Never underestimate the power of social media and how it can really be used to communicate with other people aside from family. Step outside your box, find something that speaks to you, that moves you, that inspires you….and go for it!!!

Let’s chat about your shoot! Just shoot me an email and we can go over all the details.

Groom’s Gift Idea | Boudoir Photography Portland Oregon

This handsome guy is my brother-in-law, Rod. I had the pleasure of photographing his beautiful Bride-to-be, Alison. She had the album of bridal boudoir portraits delivered to him on their wedding day. I can’t imagine a better Groom’s gift idea for the wedding day!

Groom's gift idea. This is a wedding image of a man receiving a boudoir photo album as his wedding gift. For more info about boudoir photography, visit
(Wedding photos used with permission by Kirsten Hammericksen)

I love what Rod had to say about the photos.

“A few months before our wedding, my fiancée went to visit Rayleigh to have some sexy photos taken. On our wedding day she completely surprised me with a boudoir photo collection book and had her maid of honor deliver it to me just before I saw her in her wedding dress for the first time. What a great groom’s gift idea! Thoughtful, memorable, and a clever way to help with any pre-wedding jitters. The photos were tasteful and classy and sexy. As you can imagine, it was a topic of much interest and discussion among the groomsmen.”

Groom's gift idea. This is a wedding image of a man receiving a boudoir photo album as his wedding gift. For more info about boudoir photography, visit
(Wedding photos used with permission by Kirsten Hammericksen)

“She was a little nervous about getting it done, but said that Rayleigh did an excellent job of helping her feel comfortable. Really allowed her to let her own personality show up in the photos, and I can tell. Good times and great memories every time I see that little book of fun! We undoubtedly recommend Rayleigh to anyone considering doing it. And if you haven’t considered it, you should. Take it from a recently married man, it was a great groom’s gift idea.”

–Rod L.

The Bride’s boudoir photos

Wearing white for boudoir photos always adds to the bridal feel and I love the lace robe that this bride wore. Lace adds interesting texture and looks so feminine.

You might also consider bringing some wedding day accessories, such as your veil, wedding shoes, and any special jewelry.

Groom's gift idea. Boudoir photography by Rayleigh. This is a backlit modest boudoir image of a woman in a lace robe on a chase. For more info, visit

Groom’s gift idea

Having the album delivered to your groom in his dressing room while he is getting ready for the wedding is a fun idea because it adds to the anticipation of seeing his beautiful bride walking down the isle and for the fun honeymoon you have planned together.

Another option, though, is to gift the album to your groom the night of the wedding, when you are alone and winding down from an amazing day. I really like that idea, too, because it’s fun to look at the photos together. You get to see his expressions as he looks at the beautiful images of the woman he cherishes.

Want to see more?

Click on the links below to see more photos on the following topics:

Bridal Portraits
Boudoir Portraits
Session Tips

Please contact me if you’d like to chat about your bridal boudoir shoot for a great Groom’s gift idea!

7 tips for how to feel confident while being photographed

7 tips for feeling confident while being photographed. This is a modest boudoir image in a photography studio of a beautiful plus size woman lying on her tummy on a couch in black babydoll lingerie. She's touching her hair to her mouth. Photography by Rayleigh. For more info, please visit

My top 7 tips for how to feel confident and relaxed during your photo shoot in Portland, OR

If you are like most of my clients, you have no idea how to “look sexy” in your photos and you certainly don’t feel confident. In normal every day life, I totally feel like I’m not that girl, so I totally get it. I’m excited to share with you my top 7 tips for how to feel confident and relaxed during your boudoir or beauty photo shoot at my studio in Portland, OR.

Tip #1: Have Fun!

If your goal is to get great shots, you may feel more nervous or even overwhelmed. But it’s my job to get the great shots and all you need to do is relax, trust me, and focus on having fun! If your smile is fake, it will be noticeable in your images. But if you are genuinely having a great time, you’ll have an extra sparkle in your eye and you will love your images so much more. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a woman who was smiling a real smile, who wasn’t beautiful.

7 tips for feeling confident while being photographed. This is a modest boudoir image in a photography studio of a smiling Asian woman lying on her back on the bed, covered by white sheets. Photography by Rayleigh. For more info, please visit

Tip #2: Visualize

Visualize your shoot ahead of time! Don’t focus on your nerves or feeling awkward. Instead, picture yourself having a good time, feeling relaxed, looking fantastic, seeing your images afterwards and absolutely loving them.

Visualize it from your point of view, in your own shoes. Do this several times before your shoot. Then when it’s time for your shoot, you will be excited and ready for a fantastic time.

Tip #3: Get inspired

What is confident beauty to you? Everyone has a different picture in their minds of what confident beauty is. It may be dramatic clothing and  a serious gaze. Or it may be laughing and having a casual, giggly, fun time.  

There are lots of places to look for inspiration such as magazines, photography websites, movies, and art.   Communicate with your photographer what style you like and what mood you want to have for your portraits.

Tip #4: Show up with all you’ve got

If you want to feel confident during your boudoir shoot, you’ve got to really be in to the shoot and be open. Posing is my job.  But posing is only half of it.  Confidence will show up in your photos and you have to bring that.  Even if you are just faking it!  

Feeling self conscious about your body? Just pretend you aren’t. I know, it seems silly. But when you see your glowing face and your rockin’ curves, you aren’t going to care if your love handles are a bit more lovely than they used to be. Those things will mostly be hidden, anyway, by posing, lighting, and wardrobe.

Come on! Stretch outside your comfort zone and give it all you have. 

7 tips for feeling confident while being photographed. This is a modest boudoir image in a photography studio of a woman standing in front of a white background and laughing. she's wearing a pink sweater. Photography by Rayleigh. For more info, please visit

Tip #5: Remember the context

The sheer fact that you are willing to be in front of the camera being photographed is awesome! It’s powerful and vulnerable at the same time. I love that my clients trust me with this experience.

Tip #6: Use all of your senses

Bring out your sensuality through the use of all 5 of your senses. While at my studio, enjoy some music, indulge in some Ghirardelli, sip on some wine, wear your favorite scent as well as an outfit that makes you feel smokin’ hot.   Think on memories that make you blush and smile.

Tip #7: Be yourself

Honor who you are, in this moment. The time is now. You are lovely and beautiful just as you are.

Want to see more info?

I invite you to check out more of my blogs about these topics:
Boudoir Photography
Session Tips
My beautiful Plus size clients

Would you l like my free guide on How to Prepare For Your Shoot? I’d be happy to send it to you!

For the privacy of my clients, I try to post only modest boudoir photos online. If you’d like to see my full boudoir gallery, please send me a message and I’d be happy to send you the private link.