THEY are ladies of a certain age and the provocative, sensual poses are not quite what you might expect to pop up in the family photo album.
Poured into eye-popping tight corsets and pretty basques, pouting seductively at the camera sometimes with just a strategically placed prop to hide their blushes, a growing number of 40-plus wives, mums and countless others keen to show off their curves, are throwing caution – and clothes – aside to capture their looks in sensual boudoir-style photographs.
Edinburgh portrait specialist Nicola Bald says she has seen a steady stream of slightly more mature client visiting her Haymarket studio in Clifton Terrace for saucy – but tasteful – boudoir shots.
“I am seeing an increasing number of women in their 40s, 50s and even 60s wanting quite sexy portraits,” she says. “They are generally quite confident about removing their clothes.
“Women in that age group often have some money to spend, some have worked really hard to achieve great figures and want to celebrate it. They have an inner confidence. Many girls in their 20s and 30s are very critical of themselves, but an older woman is often much more comfortable.”
She says some want to capture stunning images of them at their sexiest for husbands and partners, while others – inspired by television shows such as Gok Wan’s How to Look Good Naked – just want to have a glamorous snapshot of how they are at a unique point in time, perhaps post-children and before Mother Nature takes over.
Nicola says she’s photographed women fresh from divorce seeking a confidence boost, professionals, such as lawyers and doctors, armed forces wives who want to surprise partners with a sensual image for their next posting, and seen groups of best friends, middle-aged sisters, mums and grans peel off for the camera.
Most, she adds, are perfectly happy to reveal much more flesh than even they expected. “No-one is encouraged to go topless,” stresses Nicola, 36. “But often, once they have relaxed, and had their hair and make-up done, they really enjoy themselves.
“They know stars like Madonna have some help with the airbrush and they are open to a bit of that. What’s important is that at the end of it they still look like themselves.”
Most clients spend around £500 for their glamour shoot – some hundreds more – with the images ending up in a discreet book of classy shots. Nicola says some have had a favourite image hugely enlarged, framed and hung on bedroom – and sometimes living room – walls.
“I imagine they can be quite a talking point,” adds Nicola, right, who also caters for more traditional portraits at her studio. “They look classy and good, they’re not showing much more than they would on the beach, so why not?”
For more details about Nicola Bald’s Hushhush Boudoir Photography, go to www.hushhush.uk.com or call 0131-510 1105.
Now I’ve done this I’ve not looked back
EMMA SCOTT-GILKES, 49, of North Berwick admits she was slightly wary when partner Andrew said his ideal 50th birthday present would be some “boudoir” photographs of her.
“I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting myself into,” she laughs. “There’s a fine line between titillating and sophisticated, and something that can look a bit tacky.
“As it turned out, the whole experience was very empowering. I felt quite liberated and it turned into something that was as much for me as it was for Andrew.”
Mum-of-two Emma, right, says her nerves relaxed as soon as she met Nicola and her team at the cosy Haymarket studio.
“When I was 20, I’d never have dreamed of taking my clothes off for a photograph,” she adds. “Now I feel happy within myself, I’m happy with my body – I keep fit and have always eaten healthily – but sitting in front of a camera with a stranger is something different.
“I actually surprised myself. I knew I didn’t want the photographs to be me with feathers or lace, so I took along some basic undies and a white shirt, but pretty soon all that came off. I actually felt more comfortable being photographed nude.”
The couple now have an album of Emma’s stunning images and framed prints hang on their bedroom wall, Andrew’s study and their living room.
“There is more attention on older women now,” adds Emma. “Gok Wan’s show, How to Look Good Naked, is part of it, shops are using mannequins that are different body shapes and there are people like Carol Vorderman who is in her fifties and modelling.
“For my mother’s generation, to be 50 tended to mean you covered up, you’d had children and that was it. Women that age are now going out, they’re into their sport and fitness, they want to make the most of themselves.
“Now I’ve done this, I haven’t looked back. It’s been a great experience.”
‘We were having a ball, it was a laugh’
SHARON KING, 41, originally had no intention of stripping for the camera, but soon she was posing nude for a series of sensual photographs.
“I saw a special offer for a boudoir photo session and figured it would be an ideal Christmas gift for my sister, Michelle,” she recalls. “She’s quite brave – I’m not. Then I thought that rather than her going alone, we should probably go together.”
And in the end it was her, not her sister, who stripped right off for the camera. “We had a couple of glasses of prosecco, we were having a ball – it was a right laugh,” she explains. “I started to relax and really enjoyed it.
“I’ve got a painting at home that I like of a woman with a bare back and I thought it would be really nice to get a picture like that. Next thing my clothes were off and I was doing a bare-back shot that I never thought I’d ever do.”
Sharon, above, of Clermiston, was pictured naked, just a brilliant pink flower in her hair. In other sensual images, she posed coyly with a red guitar strategically placed in front of her naked figure or in sexy undies.
“The pictures aren’t tacky or cheap looking at all, they are really romantic,” she says. “I just figured that if I don’t do something like this now when I’m in my forties, I’d never ever do it.”
Sharon, who works in catering, says her partner, George, loves the pictures, but her 21-year-old son and daughter, who’s 19, are less enthusiastic about her plan to hang her bare-back picture on the bathroom wall. “They’re worried their friends will come around and go to use the toilet, and see me”, she laughs.
Sister MICHELLE KING, 42, meanwhile, opted for less risqué photographs: “Sharon was braver than me,” she says, admitting she felt too self-conscious to strip off completely.
“I’m outgoing and don’t tend to bother what anyone thinks about me, but I just wasn’t sure I felt like taking everything off. On the day Sharon just went for it.”
Michelle, a social care worker, stuck to wearing her undies – and says she has no qualms about putting the final images on show in her home in Wester Hailes.
‘Age sholdn’t be a barrier’
SUSAN WROE, 55, of Caiyside, Swanston, was inspired to pose for a series of sexy boudoir shots after watching television makeover host Gok Wan persuade women to shed their inhibitions for the cameras.
“I used to think I’d love to do something similar. I told my daughter, Sarah, who’s 26, and she said, ‘well why don’t you?’, she recalls. “So I did.”
Susan posed for a stunning series of sensual shots in bra, skimpy pants and stockings, with her flowing grey hair tied back, towering high heels and strands of beads and bracelets.
In some photographs she wears a sheer shawl wrap for a slightly more demure look, in others she’s stripped to undies.
“I thought it would be scary to do, but once things got going I felt absolutely fine,” she says. “Besides, I knew that anything I really didn’t want to see in a photograph could just be airbrushed out – we all know that’s what all the celebrities do.
“Age shouldn’t be a barrier,” she adds. “Some people might think ‘who do you think you are doing that?’ but it doesn’t matter what people think. I like them and my fiancé, Meng, who’s 22 years younger than me, thinks they’re great.
“One or two of the pictures might be bit risqué but I’m not showing any more than I would on the beach in summer.”