Fashion Masochist: Boudoir Portraiture

Billed as a flirty gift for a significant other, boudoir photography has made a comeback in Boston. It’s now part of the bride-to-be checklist, plus it’s all the rage with the wives of the Celtics and Red Sox. To find out whether risqué poses can look good on a regular gal (or simply spell a trip to Cringetown), I decide to strip down for shoots with two local boudoir photographers with two very different styles. For my session with 30-year veteran Daphne Weld Nichols of Arlington’s Fantasy Photography, I’m instructed to bring items like false lashes, No Nonsense pantyhose, heels, corsets, and family heirlooms (silk rose petals, however, are provided). Nichols says her mission is to make all women feel like the models and actresses of the glossies, so she calls herself "The Equalizer." Judging from the portrait she shows me of Sylvester Stallone’s teddy-clad 87-year-old mother, it’s clear that "Equalizer" is synonymous with "Airbrusher."

Nichols (who’s a psychic on the side—yes, really) greets me with champagne and a cheese plate. After evaluating the contents of my suitcase—about 10 pairs of heels, my entire underwear drawer, and a corset I bought at Victoria’s Secret that morning—she suggests a black garter ensemble for my first look. "Are you comfortable with starting out on the chaise longue with the faux-chinchilla throw?"

For the next four hours, I play dress-up. Nichols is so enthusiastic and flattering, it seems perfectly normal to be doing things like crouching in a thong à la Pamela Anderson. (As Nichols sees it, Pam and I are practically twins.) After a full afternoon of girl power, I’m almost sad to say goodbye.

Next up is a shoot with Rachel Hadiashar of Merge Weddings. I repack my panties, dust off my corset, and head to her loftlike studio in Lowell. Hadiashar is earthy and low-key, and her stylist, Tricia, is fashionable and easygoing. Also—the horror!—they don’t believe in extreme airbrushing. Instead, Hadiashar is focused on natural light and finding my "natural beauty" as we spend an hour working on three distinct outfits (corset, bra-and-panties, Daisy Dukes). When I get the password-protected link to see the photographs online weeks later, I’m amazed: Sans touchups, there are a few I prefer to skip over, but generally I’m astounded that it’s me in the frame.

Silly as it may sound, I’ve come to believe that every gal could use some naughty snapshots in her life. With the ladies at Fantasy Photography, the experience is a riot, at the very least—and if your S.O. is into less-than-subtle eye candy, it could be a real turn-on. And for those looking for a more stripped-down effect, the Merge Weddings shots are remarkably restrained. Fantasy Photography, 781-641-2100,; Merge Weddings, 857-233-0810,