My Dudoir Experience

I do a fair amount of boudoir photography from behind the camera. Earlier this spring, I had a gentleman who was about my age contact me wanting to do a male boudoir shoot. I felt at a loss. As a hetero male, I have a sense for what I find sensual or sexy in a woman, but I have no idea what makes a man sexy. 

Having photographed women of all sizes, shapes and ages, I think there is a very wide range of female imagery that can be considered sexy. You can be a heavy woman but still bathe in the sensuality of your soft, luscious curves. However, for men, I feel that there is a very small spectrum of “sexy”. It’s young hard, muscular, and angular.

So I had no idea what to do with this older male client and referred him to another resident at the studio, Nikki Breslin, who specializes in “dudoir”.

The whole experience got me thinking about what it means to be a sexy older male and how to represent that in a boudoir style genre. I felt the best way to understand it would be to have the experience myself.

I used to be a professional ballet dancer when I was young. I was muscular and cut. I was shredded. My naked body was featured in a national ad campaign for a drugstore chain on the theme of “celebrating nature’s masterwork, the human body.”

This month I’ll be 60. My body has definitely changed since I quit dancing. It’s aged. My face is craggy. Things are sagging. I’m not particularly fit. My stomach is soft. The truth is that my self-concept has still not caught up with the reality of my aging body.

So I was nervous doing this shoot. I felt extremely vulnerable. I have recently done a number of art nude shoots, but those felt different. They were about lines, shapes, abstractions. I’m an object in those kinds of shoots. This shoot was more personal. It was about me as a person. And more specifically, because it was a boudoir style shoot, it was about my attractiveness or sexiness as a male.

Although I still don’t feel that I exactly know what it means to be sexy as a male, I have to say that the experience was empowering. Nikki, who directed me through the process, and MJ, who came along to cheer me on, provided me with a wonderful experience that made me feel sexy.

Just like women with body dysmorphia sometimes shoot with me to get an objective view of themselves, these images allowed me to look at myself with some objective emotional distance. And you know what? The person in those photos doesn’t look horrible. I can look at that man in the photos and say, “You are just fine. No, you are not 20 years old. Yes, your body is aging. But there is a certain beauty in that body that has carried you through the past 60 years.”