Business + Marketing

Embodied Boudoir: Creating a High-Value Safe Space 

September 22, 2023

By Abbey Pleviak

People crave to be seen, to let go of their worries, and relax into their beauty and power. Vancouver, Canada, photographer Michele Mateus guides clients into just this experience in her 300ft² home studio, where she creates embodied boudoir portraits for a select group of clients. They place so much value on her work that she consistently sells at $3k and higher. Mateus recently sat down with host Nikki Closser on The Portrait System Podcast to talk about how she cultivates a safe space by expressing her values and artistic intention through careful communication and a very soft sell. 

Mateus has always considered herself to be a total freedom-warrior type of person. In university, she studied social justice and feminist theory, which deeply informs her passion for connecting clients with their inherent power rooted in the natural grace of their bodies. When she started her business eight years ago, focusing on personal branding, she lost touch with this heart connection because she was overly focused on making money. Four years ago, she made a change. Now in addition to doing personal branding shoots on-location, she offers just four boudoir shoots a month in her home studio, and she has turned her focus away from making sales to making true and deep connections with her clients. 

[Read: The Boudoir Photography Empowerment Movement]

Mateus’ process for choosing these clients begins with a discovery call, where she interviews them as much as they interview her. If they feel like a good fit, she will book them in right away. Next, Mateus provides an optional questionnaire for them to fill out before their creative consultation. Her questions reflect a trauma-informed level of care. In addition to finding out how they want their session to make them feel in their bodies, she also finds out their pronouns and if they have any triggers, sensitivities to noise or light, or want to make her aware of anything. It helps them feel that she truly cares about creating a safe space for them. 

[Read: Empowerment Photography with Boudoir Confidence]

As a former student of Communications, Mateus places high value on the quality of her interactions with her clients. She sends her clients more than 38 emails between the time they sign up with her and a year later when she follows up with them after their shoot. She also relies heavily on her newsletter for bookings. In fact, the only ads she runs online are to get people to sign up for the newsletter. Once there, they are treated to weekly messages full of tips and techniques from the embodiment coaching training she has nearly completed. Mateus’ newsletter boasts an impressive 65% open rate compared with the industry average of 25%. She calls it a “slow-burning candle,” but her long game pays off with clients who are deeply in tune with her purpose and message and ready for the embodied boudoir experience she provides. 

© The Portrait System

To learn more about Mateus, her photography and her coaching, visit Mateus Studios. To learn about how she does a “soft sell,” see the caption in the slideshow above.

The Portrait System Podcast helps portrait photographers navigate the world of photography, business, money, and much more. Hosted by Nikki Closser, the podcast is powered by The Portrait System, a comprehensive, online educational platform that teaches all aspects of running a successful portrait photography studio. If you’d like to be a guest on The Portrait System Podcast, send them a voice message. 

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