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Meet Julie Sterk of Adore la Vie Boudoir Photography

Today we’d like to introduce you to Julie Sterk.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I didn’t set out to be a photographer, in fact, quite the opposite, I had been in media advertising for almost 19 years and was at a Media Director for a large Los Angeles agency for the last nearly nine years. Photography had always been a hobby of mine and I’ve always been a crafty person, both since I was very young. When my 3rd child was born, I decided to teach myself how to use the manual settings on my camera and how to use and edit in Photoshop. She was just born and while she slept, I was learning everything I possibly could. I quickly discovered boudoir and I was intrigued at how feminine it felt to me. A simple idea of making someone feel beautiful consumed me and so my learning continued into this specific genre. Even if I didn’t do anything with all the knowledge I was acquiring, I just loved that I knew how to take beautiful images. I honestly thought I would go back to work and maybe take pictures of friends for fun! I decided to try it out and get a few clients and that is what I did. I was so nervous but so excited at the same time.

At first, it was just to see if I could do it and then women started to share their stories with me and that is when I was hooked! I was impacting how women felt about themselves; giving them confidence back, validating that they are beautiful, making them feel like a women (not mom or wife, etc.) and so much more. Once my maternity leave was finished, I went back to work and after a month was mentally distracted with the conflict of what was safe (my career) and what could be profoundly important to women and even myself. I decided to leave my job by a certain time only to have the universe laugh and say, “why wait?” I was let go six months after returning to work and free from the conflict that I felt. I loved my 19 years career but I was so excited to leap full time into something amazing. I have slowly built a small following of women who love what I do and appreciate the value that boudoir can give them! I am here to change the mindset of women and give them their power back of self-love and validation!

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It’s definitely NOT been a smooth road. I had an amazing career built on the shoulders of other people and now I have to be the one the build my new career. For every yes I hear, I hear 20 no’s. That is deflating! I am not the best at social media marketing and to build a business nowadays, you have to be everywhere. I am one person trying to be the photographer, the accountant, the social media manager, the marketer, negotiator, editor.. all while trying to get clients in the door! It’s definitely not easy and absolutely stressful but my clients drive me and I am giving it my all to make this work! We are almost two years old and only growing!

Please tell us about Adore la Vie Boudoir Photography.
Adore la Vie is a boutique Boudoir Photography studio. I am the photographer and owner and my #1 goal is to give my client a beautiful experience where she walks away feeling amazing about herself. I do this by getting to know my client first, understanding what her style is, what her boundaries are, what her goals are and fulfilling them to the best of my ability! I service three areas in Boudoir: Classic Luxury Boudoir, Bridal Boudoir and Maternity Boudoir. I am a natural light photographer and my style of Boudoir is soft, classy, sophisticated, elegant, clean and feminine. All of my sessions include professional hair and makeup and I offer clients access to our Client Closet, which allows them to use studio lingerie and accessories for their session.

I specialize solely in Boudoir; it is my craft. Clients are always worried that they won’t look sexy or have sexy facial expressions and I tell them that my job is to capture the essence of them naturally and unforced – this is what makes them look sexy! Sure lingerie helps but it’s just one aspect of the story. The other aspects, and most importantly, I am known for my posing, angles of my shots, use of light and my softly composed images where clients look stunning.

I am most proud of being able to say that I am a part of women’s lives! When a client sees her images, her mindset about herself instantly changes and not only does she remember me and her experience, but she remembers she is beautiful! I am also very proud of our private ladies only Facebook Group, where our community is growing and supporting one another every single day. Ladies share their triumphs their fears, their problems and we celebrate body positivity and strength while having fun!

I personally think what sets me apart from others in my space is my process. I am very client-centric and I make the day about no one else by her! I only take 1 client per day and that is on purpose. I don’t want to rush her or make her feel like she’s 1 of many. I want to make her feel like she’s 1 in a million! All clients get a pre-booking call where I learn a tremendous amount about my client; I educate her about my process, what her experience is going to be like and who I am. I’ve cried on the phone with ladies; I’ve listened to ladies tell me private secrets and I’ve laughed so hard on the phone with women! It’s so important in our relationship-building to start off knowing that your session will be with someone you can get along with. All sessions also include a pre-session consultation, where we talk about styling, wardrobe, hair, makeup, etc. We play music, sing and dance during our sessions so ladies are relaxing and allowing themselves to have a great time. It’s scary to reveal yourself to someone you don’t know so I try my best to have every single client get to know me.

Clients tell me constantly that I made them feel very comfortable and I think that is because I’m real. I am just like them. I have kids, I have a husband, I have myself to look after, I need to lose weight too, I need to love myself a little more, I am pulled in 100 different directions…. all these things they identify with and it makes them feel like Boudoir is something they can explore with me. My process also includes an image reveal portion of the session which means clients get to see their images the SAME DAY! This is profoundly important because they look and feel amazing and they don’t have to wait three weeks to see what they look like. Clients have told me this is the icing to their cake because they are so nervous! 9 times out of 10, women do not think they will look good or the images will turn out the way they have envisioned it in their minds and they are amazed that the woman looking back at them in their images is them! EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. So when she gets to see her images the same day, she is instantly validated that her session went beyond her expectations and the shift of how she sees herself has begun!

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Oh my gosh, I have too many. My parents always allowed us to try our own experiences and make mistakes. They also encouraged ideas that we were excited about. My father always told us that while they may not agree with our decisions or ideas, they will always support them! That empowered me to be confident as a child and to feel freedom in trying things without the underlying pressure of maybe getting in trouble. We were always explained right from wrong, matters of safety and the impact on other people, but outside of that we were allowed to develop our interests and pursue them! That is what I love most about my childhood!

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