LuckyLadygroove Unconventional Bridal Boudoir

When Alex with Lucky Penny Creative and I met (I walked up to her at a coffee shop, said "I love your Feminism t-shirt" and it was happily ever after) we knew instantly that a badass collaboration would soon entail. We both share a love for authentic, honest, and unexpected women. Neither of us gravitate toward the yoosh. So we came up with the LuckyPenny meets Ladygroove woman-centered inspired bridal boudoir. Did you get all of that?

We wanted this shoot to be one that certain women looked at and said "UMMM well there I am. Breaking cakes and being boss". We were aiming for a bride who screamed "yes please... I 100% want to eat my wedding cake with my bare hands. And sit on the floor drinking white wine with my dress half on. And throw my gown in the air and on my face even if my makeup gets on it ."   

I once took a photo of a bride putting on her deodorant before the wedding and she got soooo upset. (totally okay if you are that bride and this still wouldn't be your jam). But one thing that I SO LOVED about this shoot is that while I think these images are STUNNING they aren't "perfect". I wasn't tiptoeing around what was "supposed" to be shot and how she was "supposed" to look. I believe that every bride is wonderful but the LuckyLady bride is raw and honest. She may be scared shitless but she ain't gonna hide it. No fakin' it till you makin' it. No show. 

Our ridiculously insanely beautiful model allowed us to photograph her with her ovarian removal scar showing. I photographed her in an IG unfriendly way (oh my god her nipples are showing).  I didn't photoshop any of her blemishes. We didn't even have the hair and makeup artist stay around to do touch ups. I captured her mid talking. I left some of the dirt and scuff marks on the floor and the backdrop instead of creating a perfect scene. There's the moment we broke the cake before I had gotten my lighting right. An image of one of my light set ups. A snap from Alex's hand brushing the model's hair mid-shot. I even included some images that don't necessarily meet my "lighting and quality standards". Gasp.  

Also cannot say enough thanks to the women involved in this shoot. Lucky Penny Creative you are a gift, a well of resources, a safe place to land, and a badass boss lady/stylist. Thank you Tessa Pinner (cake at the intersection of food and art) for designing such beauty. We are sorry not sorry that we broke your cake. The loveliest veils, dresses and skirts from Wild Flower Bridal out of Asheville NC. Jewelry made specifically for this shoot by the mega talented Amber Hatchett Designs. Isabelle with bellemaquillage is a dream queen Hair and Makeup Star. And thank you Allie Monday with Ladygroove (yeah I'm the one writing this) for your hard work within yourself and within Ladygroove.  Job well done to all of us!



A Movement Ladygroove Session

Michelle is an artist. And a dream. You can find her moody and mysterious work here. I invited her into the studio for a movement based session. I honestly want to cry when I look at these images. They feel so ethereal and light. They pull me in. The colors feel mysterious but soft. The lines and shapes that her body made were an absolute delight. I could have watched her move all day and I am still so inspired by her connection to her body and the willingness to freely explore her movements with me. 

Disclaimer: it takes 99% of women some time to get comfortable enough with me, with being in the studio, and in front of the camera to freely open up. People don't just pop right in and say "okay I'm ready to let all of my walls down and let all of me out." It can be vulnerable to be in a new space, in front of me, and then let your guard down in this way.  I believe it's worth the risk. I believe the gain of stepping out of your comfort zone and of listening to the thing inside of you that say "A part of me really wants to do this" is worth entertaining. I do all that I can in my power to create a safe, judgement free zone. You are free to practice your body love and your movements with me. And by practice I mean you may feel uncomfortable or nervous or unsure of yourself for the beginning part of the session. If there is a pull toward doing this I would explore that pull. And I will meet you with  a tool bag full of direction and coaching, a glass of champagne, and a glowing face:)



My own sexual liberation.

One of the reasons I started Ladygroove was because I experienced my own sexual liberation. It wasn’t a sexual event or a specific teaching it was a change of my perspective and a letting go of my boa constrictor style fears. I literally felt like a boa constrictor was around my neck. My liberation came from pain. It came from discontentment. It came from exhausting myself from using SO much energy to resist the fears. My liberation meant that I FINALLY looked my fears dead in the eyes and said “Come and get me”. You know that Ray Lamontagne song “Empty” that says “I looked my demons in the eyes, laid bare my chest and said do your best to destroy me”? Well yeah I did that. No, like, I really did that but that is not required for liberation :) Little did I know that my “demons” did not want to destroy me but rather they wanted to set me free. 

I have always been very pro sex, pro-it not being a dirty thing (in high school, during my 6 year stent of abstinence and for the 7 years i've been married). However there was often still some discomfort, confusion, and strict boundaries that was choking my view of sexuality.  I got really tired of these recurring feelings. So so so tired. And they kept coming out in different ways. Just like whac-a-mole. I’d like to address these fears with y’all. I hope you that you can take a deep sigh of relief as you read this. I hope it pulls at your fears and encourages you in knowing that you are not alone. I hope it answers a few questions and invites more. I believe that your sexuality is connected to all parts of you. It’s not just an isolated, compartmentalized part of you. And where there is fear in one part of you the rest will also be affected. 

Disclaimer...I consider myself a moderate on the sex spectrum. I am not advocating for sex everywhere, with anyone, without beliefs or commitments. I'm a huge fan of boundaries and I am in a committed, monogamous relationship. This blog is about my experience. It may look very different from yours. You may whole heartedly disagree and that’s okay. It’s my story and I’d simply like to share it with you. 

Let’s jump in!

Fear #1.  

If you connect to your sexuality fully you will cheat on your partner because lust will overtake you. 

I’d like to say these words to you and I would like for you to believe them. YOU HAVE A TOOL CALLED SELF CONTROL. You have access to this at all times (drinking alcohol can make it harder). You are fully capable of being able to disconnect your thoughts and actions. Your sexuality isn’t some big bad wolf or powerful evil spirit that is going to overtake you. The spirit of sex is not going to enter your body and then you’ll wake up and you’ve just had an affair.  You are responsible for your own choices. I’ve had people say to me “Well I hope you are being covered in prayer before you go into Ladygroove sessions so you don’t get overtaken with your feelings and have sex with them.” While I have compassion for this belief system (because I understand it) I believe it is fear based and it takes the responsibility off of a human being’s ability to choose.  We are responsible for our own actions. It is not the bad man’s fault. Hear me, I have boundaries set up and I am an aware human.  And I know it may be hard to wrap your mind around it when you see my work but it’s not just a big sexual feeling fest during my sessions. I do not shy away from sexuality (women connecting with their own sexuality is a part of Ladygroove) but it’s not directed at me. Just because a client is alive and connected to her sexuality does not mean it is an invitation for me. Or you for that matter. Just because I see a woman naked and say “Wow you are so gorgeous and you are full of sexual energy” this does give me the right to engage with her relationally. It is her OWN energy and her OWN body.  And If it were being directed at me in an invitational way I am a grown ass woman who is fully capable of handling her own feelings, who is committed to one person, who thinks that affairs are WAY too much hassle to have to deal with on the other side of and who is a fucking professional. I am able to appreciate someone else’s sexuality without thinking it’s about me or for me. And so are you. And so is your partner. 

Fear #2. 

“You need to wait on your partner to bring out your sexuality.” Another version is “You can't feel sexual without your partner being present.”

This was a big one for me. I think this belief came from a mixture of miseducation, shame, and untrue beliefs. I think it came from ideas I perceived through society and social circles, through my own past experiences and also through certain religious beliefs.  Here are my thoughts on this. 

Number 1. It is not your partner's responsibility to teach YOU about YOUR sexuality. So if this is true then it is YOUR responsibility to learn yourself and your sexuality. Your partner doesn't know what you like or don't like. Your partner doesn't define your boundaries. Your partner doesn't need to carry the weight of YOUR sexuality. Your partner didn’t have your parents, they haven’t had your experiences and they aren’t in your body. They aren’t you. Only you are you. I'm telling you what people!! this can cause mass chaos, confusion, and disappointment in a relationship. 

I also have something else to tell you. Get ready for this one because it might smack you right dab in the face. We are not in control of our partner’s sexuality. We are not in control of their growth, their thoughts, their anything. I KNOW! Such vom sauce! Puke on a platter right now! Somebody change the damn system because this shit sucks. I’m with you. But the energy I’ve wasted on trying to do something that I never could or should is now being put into other life giving things. This realization and practice of letting go of perceived control is mobettah for everyone. Especially for me.  I cannot express the weight off of my body and mind when I stopped kicking myself in the eyes by trying to do this. I have worked through jealousy and judgement and insecurity and all kinds of painful things. I still work through these things but their power has decreased immensely and I finally have tools to deal with them. 

Number 2. You can't feel sexual without your partner present. Okay this is where I'd like call in the big fat word of REPRESSION. I spent so much energy "taking my thoughts captive", turning off music that made me feel sensual, and expecting ALL of my learning and expression of sexuality to be done with my partner that I couldn’t even see the web of codependence that I was in.

It's just not a true belief to think that you will only have sexual feelings when you are with your partner.  This does not mean you are cheating on your partner. This does not mean you are going to have sex with other people. It simply means that you were a sexual being before you got into a relationship (you went through puberty right?) and it’s an unrealistic expectation to think that these feelings will magically only happen when your partner enters the room. (side note I imagined that happening every time they walked in the room and it gave me a good laugh). When would you learn how to have self control? When would you learn your own limits and boundaries? What would you do if you were watching a tv show and something turned you on?  Shut it down shut it down does not work, at least not for me. I believe this can be channeled into your sexual relationship with yourself or with your partner. You still have self control you lovely people. But there is a difference between choosing not to act on all of our feelings and immediately shutting them down out of fear. Physiologically our bodies were designed to react to certain things. Sometimes these things happen when you aren’t in the bed with the lights out and under the covers. That’s okay! It’s more than okay, it’s normal. And just because it happens doesn’t mean that you have deep issues of lust or that you are a crazy sex addict. 


If you connect to your sexuality your thoughts will get out of control and you will imagine having sex with everyone. 

Thanks to Christian and non religious therapist I now like to view our thoughts as informers and not as dictators of our identity. Thoughts = Information. NOT thoughts = character issues. The more I don't judge myself for having certain thoughts the more easily I can draw from the information they are giving me. Let’s say you have a fantasy or a desire for someone other than your partner. You can think these thoughts, not judge yourself, and then ask what they mean.  What are you needing or wanting from this fantasy? Power, attention, love, control, passion etc. And then don’t judge yourself when you find out what you are wanting/feeling. Use it to teach you. Here’s another one: You find yourself thinking “hmmm...I’m really wanting attention from that person right now”. Instead of instantly shutting it down, first, relieve yourself from that guilt. It doesn’t mean you are a shitty person who is destined for divorce and a life of indulgence. Second, dig a little deeper into that thought. What qualities do they have that are desirable? Are you feeling insecure or angry or lonely?  OR light bulb!!! maybe it was JUST A THOUGHT and there wasn’t much more to it so you let it pass and move on with your day. And guess what! This is a ubiquitous method for all of your thinking and not just your sexual thoughts.  If you allow yourself to dissect your thoughts without fear and judgement you can REALLY learn who you are and you can find ways to get your needs met in a healthy, safe way. (You can also do this while still maintaing a religious belief system in case you thought I had totally strayed).  AND you wonderful people I believe you can meet your own needs more than you have ever imagined. I think this is a very safe and healthy alternative if you are single, if your partner isn’t able to meet a need, or if you are just trying to learn who you are. The main thing is to learn how to be HONEST with yourself about your thoughts. When I learned how to do this, the power of these thoughts became so much less. I don’t identify who I am with these thoughts and I don’t keep them hidden from myself.  And once the sting of the fear is gone you can use this system to build intimacy between you and you AND you and your partner. 

Fear #4.

If you connect to your sexuality you will be shameful, dirty, or wrong. 

This one can be complex but I promise it’s worth dissecting if you have these feelings. Here are a few places this could come from. 

This fear could stem from sexual trauma. According to the Center for Disease and Prevention, 1 in 5 women have been raped. Wow! 20% of the female population. And that number is just for rape. Crapola y’all. What about all of the other forms of sexual assault? What about the times you weren’t comfortable with something sexually but someone continued. Or what if you knew you didn’t like something but didn’t feel confident to express those feelings. Are you still doing things sexually that makes you uncomfortable? This is worth examining. If you have had any negative experiences with a sexual encounter this can most definitely color your belief system on sexuality. If you are one of these people I am so damn sorry for your experience. I see you and you are not alone.  If this is you and you haven’t worked through these painful memories I commend you for surviving up until now and I am proud of your journey. I know several amazing therapists who know how to walk with you through these events so please reach out if you need a recommendation. You are a badass. 

This could stem from how you were taught(or not taught) from your parents about sexuality. Just think about this for a minute...when did you learn about sex and what did your view of it become throughout the years?  Was it an ignored topic in your family or even an overly discussed topic? How could your childhood have played a part in who you are today regarding sexuality? If memories are still coming up, flashing back or even floating around in your brain it might be worth looking into. Sometimes we think that memories are just memories but often times they can unlock the doors to unresolved pain (and eventually pleasure). 

Another place fear arises is from cat calling. Especially when we personalize it. I could write a whole other blog on cat calling. I’ve had screaming matches in the streets, at gas stations and out of my car window. I have photographed men mid cat calling and I have considered fighting on multiple occasions. I have raised my hand in their faces and confidently yelled obscenities. These days I have a new tactic which is that I ignore them so that I don’t give them any satisfaction but if you catch me on the wrong day and I feel disrespected and I am momentarily not keen on practicing self control, game on bitch.

Certain religious beliefs can create shame or feelings of being wrong. (Disclaimer..there ARE some healthy sexual viewpoints within religion but it can be tough to find.) The belief that women are supposed to just endure it for the husband’s sake. The belief that you are asexual until you say “i do”. The belief that masturbation is wrong and shameful. The belief that masturbation inside of marriage is wrong and shameful.  The belief that if you look at pornography you are wrong and shameful. I’m not advocating for or against porn. I’m advocating against the belief that you are wrong or shameful. The belief that you have to have sex with your husband to keep him from lusting or using porn. YUCK. NO MAM. Forget this! You ARE NOT responsible for your partner’s sexuality. When we bare the burden for another human’s growth, character and CHOICES things get yucky and twisted and confusing. Nope. Nope. Nope. Not True. Not True. This is a cop out and this puts ONE human being’s choices and sexual growth DEPENDENT on another human which is super unhealthy for both people. I am all about discussing these things and talking about your wants and needs with your partner (creating vulnerability and intimacy is KEY for great sex) but putting the pressure on yourself to have sex so that your partner doesn’t “sin” is bassakkwards and will suck the life out of your sex life in a quick minute. I will now semi refrain from minute jokes. 

In my opinion if our sexuality isn't recognized, honored, and taught how to grow, shit can get weird. I don’t believe we are taught how to view naked bodies as JUST bodies. We aren't taught that in order to GROW in our sexuality we have to be let go to explore it. We aren't taught what our thoughts and feelings mean but rather we are taught to shut down those thoughts and feelings until we are married. And then and only then is it sort of okay. Nope. Not okay. This does not set people up for success. This is a recipe for disappointment, for A LOT of HIDDENNESS, and for a warped view on sexuality.  

A note on hiddenness...I believe that hiddenness can be a form of shame. And I think it can be devastating for a relationship. It can be scary as hell to be vulnerable and it is SO HARD to not personalize your partner’s feelings and the things that they share. This takes so much freaking practice (and pukey feelings). It takes acceptance of yourself and your partner. It takes you learning to separate yourself from another person’s years of built up beliefs, experiences and needs. It is quite possibly one of the hardest practices I’ve ever done. Y’all I’m not an advocate for coming home and saying “okay tell me all your thoughts you had today”. This is unnecessary and ineffective. But I am an advocate of sharing who you are first with yourself and then when you feel comfortable, with your person. And Ughhhh DAMN IT it can be so so difficult. I am with you. Tear your hair out and roll on the ground screaming bad. It’s the worst. But for real, it’s the best. Freedom is the best.

A note on seduction. I think seduction is great. But my personal view is that it should be used to seduce yourself or your partner. I’m not into this stealing husbands and wives bullshit. A person can be fully alive in their sexuality and still not try to control others with it. You are not a threat to others just because you are connected to your sexuality. We all have choices and it always takes two to tango. 

Fear #5.


In order to connect to your sensuality (which CAN but doesn’t have to also lead to sexuality) you have to experience emotions. If you are a person that often lives in my your mind and not in your body this can be tricky. Not only because it can be a new thing to experience such pleasure but also because quite possibly your real reason for not connecting with your body is so that you don't have to deal with pain. For real, we avoid pain because it sucks major ass and sometimes it feels like we are going to straight up fall out on the floor and die from it. If we are going to experience the energy of pleasure we must also be willing to experience the energy of pain. I tell you this from experience. I was the queen of escaping, blaming, judging. Cramming feelings, eating feelings, throwing up feelings. Staying busy to avoid feelings, condemning myself for feelings, cocaining my feelings, sexing my feelings.  ANYTHING to not actually look pain square in the face and ask it what it needed from me. I'm not saying your path will look like mine but the more I lean into that pain, instead of trying to shop it away at TJMAXX, the greater my capacity for pleasure. Pain and pleasure go hand in hand.

Another reason for not connecting to your sensuality would be that you just don’t know how to. That’s SO okay! I’m going to do some teachings on sensuality in the future. Stay tuned on my Ladygroove Instagram @ladygroove page for more info regarding that. Really really excited about that venture. 

So you beautiful people, there’s my heart and my past decade of growth. All of the tears and journals and heart racing conversations wrapped up into a blog. All of the therapy sessions and prayer and the practicing and failing of these lessons. The avoidance and indulgence that lead to it and finally the practice of the release of control. I’m sorry if parts of this blog made you feel like you were going to bacon strip your undies. If nothing else I hope you have been given a fresh perspective because we can’t potentially change our perspective until we are aware of a new one. 

Here is what we have learned:

Don’t be afraid to yell at cat callers. The nagging, annoying, exhausting thought or feeling you are experiencing will not go away until it has taught you all that you need to know (thanks Pema Chodron). You are not a pervert. And clearly the most important thing in life is that your Ladygroove Experience awaits you ;) Thanks for hearing me. You are beautiful. 



Lady Kaitlyn and the stag ovary

Lady Kaitlyn and the stag ovary

Kaitlyn contacted me a few months back to document her process of acceptance and story of her ovary removal. Our time together was just so beautiful. She was brave and present and vulnerable which happen to be 3 components that make Ladygroove so successful in my opinion. People showing up as they are...celebrating themselves and the roads they have traveled. Her journey through ovarian cysts, laparoscopic surgery and finally the full removal of her left ovary (which she lovingly now refers to her right ovary as the one who has to go on dates stag) is inspiring and real. I found her words and her journey to be extremely relatable even though I have never had ovarian issues. Isn't it beautiful how so many of our experiences look different yet take us down the same road of self discovery and growth. 

Here are a few snippets from her experience:

“Do you want to have kids?” Is not the same as “Do you want to be a mom?” I always knew I wanted to be a mother, although I never admitted it.  I resented the question in high school and college. I am naturally nurturing, naturally a caretaker, but I wanted it to be my choice, not an expectation of a life goal. Being a mother does not mean you have to birth children. I had not even considered how much I may value my specific genetics, or how I felt about carrying a human to term. I became enamored with the idea. My artwork became more intimate, more delicate.

I felt like somehow, I had failed. I had failed my body. I had failed my family. If I had eaten differently, or lived differently, had settled down immediately or kept up with the doctor, perhaps this wouldn’t have happened. If I had more faith, or had been a better person, maybe I would not be losing the chance to do the one thing that is supposed to be the easiest thing in the world-become pregnant. When you go through 15 years of periods you hope there is some sort of payout (or I did). And while I was only facing the loss of one ovary, we didn’t know what could actually happen with the other. I felt stuck with a fate I didn’t choose, analyzing every choice I made in the past that led me to finding out something in my body was against me.

My identity as female, as a woman became a burden during this time. I believe in the choice of motherhood, but my choice did not seem good enough. And I wondered how I could be good enough in other aspects of my life. Who would want to be with me if I couldn’t have kids? It seemed so strange that such a tiny thing could determine so much. Ever since I was little, I had faced the statements regarding my gender as a challenge. Any idea that I could not do something- climb trees, be strong or intelligent, or travel alone, simply because I was female was an idea I was going to prove wrong. I could overcome anything because I was a woman, because I knew my abilities, not my sex, determined what I could accomplish. But I couldn’t do anything to overcome this. I could only go through it, and I was afraid of what was waiting for me.

It has been 8 weeks since I had my ovary removed, and I can’t say I feel much different physically from before. My reproductive organs do not make me a woman, and the lack of one does not make me less a woman, I know that. But after a week of looking at my red and swollen incision, I knew that somehow I needed to document what had happened. Part of me felt gross and broken, and part of me felt I needed to be able to show how I became the woman I am. You can feel like a victim of life or you can own it, and I wanted it to be my scar. My story. And my story is pretty damn beautiful.

Studio Swag

Studio Swag

This studio is a long awaited, happy dancin' kind of dream come true. It's my daily office and the space where Levi and I both shoot. It's the space that I have and plan to have many women leaving feeling pampered, empowered and alive in their femininity. It has already been one of belly laughter and tears. I never imagined my life to look this way (married to a photographer while being a photographer, shooting boudoir, 7 years in with no kids) but I can honestly say I'm thankful that it does. No one could ever know what has been put into our marriage, our personal growth, and our work lives to get us to this present place but we do know and we are very proud. And this studio is certainly the fruit of a hell of a lot of that labor.  

I teamed up with Whitney McGregor (Interior Designer and Stylist) to make this space beautiful and functional. She's good y'all. Real good.  She has an eye for luxury and traditionalism but always with a side of whimsy. For the studio we went for a worldly eclectic space with a minimal tone for the functional. Whitney says "It was amazing to watch the space evolve from concept phase to finished. I think we always had that original inspiration in our brains even though we took a few winding roads to ge there." Whitney designed this multifunctional wooden screen (backdrop, changing room, room divider, architectural presence) and Anthropolgie Display coordinator and Craftswoman Emily Barton  built it. I painted the walls and floors and door and Levi designed/installed the greatest backdrop holder in history. Whitney chose this Katie Walker original that hangs above the black settee and I just want to hold it like a baby all day long.

We think it's the coolest time to be a part of the current movement in the Pendleton Art District and we both love (well, I think Levi is very happy about it and I'm like crying and boogying over here about it. this is typical) that Village Studios and Gallery is our home. Also a big thanks to Ryan Johnston for his magical landlord skills and for all of his hard work in contributing to the economy and liveliness of Greenville SC.