Selective Focus: Duluth Boudoir Photography

© Mad Chicken Studio

Duluth Boudoir Photography is a gender inclusive photography studio dedicated to helping humans build confidence and see themselves in a new light. Led by Jes Hayes, a Duluth Boudoir session provides clients with hair, makeup, dress, full studio and safe space to feel sexy.

How did you get into boudoir photography? Do you do other kinds of photography?

I used to photograph weddings, families, seniors, and newborns. I was good at what I did, but the artist in me felt incomplete. I had a really difficult time because I felt like I couldn’t experiment as much with those genres of photography. If an experiment didn’t work at a wedding, I messed with someone’s wedding photos and took valuable time away from myself. If I didn’t get a photo of all the kids looking and smiling at the camera during a family session, the whole session was a loss, and I get it. I want that shot too, and I would be upset if my wedding photos suffered because the photographer wanted to try something.

Being stuck with a checklist did not feed my soul. I noticed that with boudoir photography I have the opportunity to create fantasy and to constantly push myself to try new things. I was always leaving a boudoir session feeling happy in a way that the rest of my work was lacking. It allows me to be better today than I was yesterday. It allows me to create the art that I want to.

© Mad Chicken Studio

How did Duluth Boudoir Photography come to be?

I have always had more of a connection when photographing femme presenting humans. I think the life experiences of those humans are something so messed up that it can never be quite rectified. We are literally told to be opposite ends of the spectrum on everything, and the result is the same: we are never good enough. This damage starts from the day we are born and can never really be undone. When I made my femme presenting humans feel beautiful, I felt like I was actually doing something. I felt as if I was starting these humans out on a journey to not only find themselves, but healing some of the damage that had been done throughout their lives.

Over the years, I have come to realize that masc presenting humans aren’t immune from these feelings. The difference is that they aren’t allowed to discuss their feelings for fear of ridicule. They have to act as if they don’t want their photos taken. It is just as important for these humans to feel validated in their feelings about themselves. We recently branched out into photographing all humans, and I have never felt so complete as an artist.

© Mad Chicken Studio

What does a boudoir photoshoot entail?

First off, we do a full day studio reservation for each of our clients. We devote our entire day to our clients and they never have to worry about us rushing them out of the studio to make room for other clients.

From the moment they book their session, we help them throughout the entire process with a series of emails and phone calls. We also ask each client to fill out a questionnaire to give us an idea of the type of shoot they want to have, and they also provide us with a list of their sizing so that we can prep for their session.

When they arrive for their session, they are whisked away to our closet to try pieces on. We have a closet with over 1,000 pieces, and we pull a custom closet for each client. Once they narrow down their options, their outfits get styles with shoes, jewelry, harnesses, fishnets, etc. so that they truly have a custom look for their session. After that, our clients are treated with hair and makeup. Our hair and makeup artist helps design a look based on what our client is looking for, and make sure the look coordinates with the outfits they have selected. This also gives our client the chance to sit back, relax and get pampered.

After hair and makeup, we go into the actual session time. We talk about studio sets, level of undress, image sharing options and types of posing right at the beginning of the session to make sure that we are all on the same page with expectations. My goal is to get my client out of their box a little, but not change who they are as a person. They are in control at all times and can say no to anything that we ask them to do.

Once the session is over, our client has about 90 minutes to relax or grab some lunch, before we come in to show them their images. Yes, by the time our client leaves our studio, they have seen the images from their session. They are not left wondering if we captured anything good; they already know how good they look. We will finalize their order, select any customization options, and even give some gifts before our client leaves for the day! It is a full day experience!

© Mad Chicken Studio

What are some misconceptions folks may have about boudoir?

There are so many misconceptions! People tend to think that I photograph porn. Even though that isn’t what we do, if we did, why is that a problem? Boudoir sessions are not about having photographs done in lingerie — sure it can be, but it is about feeling worthy enough to be photographed in nothing but lingerie. Even at the end of the day, you can wear whatever you want for your session, within reason. We have a huge selection of gowns and other wardrobe items to go as daring or as conservative you want to go for a session.


© Mad Chicken Studio

It is commonly thought that you only do a boudoir shoot only if it is a gift to your husband and that it should only be for his eyes. I feel like this plays into boudoir being only for straight couples, and that your husband owns you. You can do a session to celebrate yourself, and this is the reason most of our clients do a session. Even the married ones. Do it for yourself, and your spouse just so happens to be able to benefit from it. My clients decide if they want their images shared, not their spouses. We photograph women, men, non-binary, trans, gay, straight, couples, solo, indoor, outdoor, etc. We do not kink shame or judge  we provide a space for you to be authentically yourself during your session.

You do not have to be a model to have a session. True story. You do not need to lose weight, get ripped, have anything done to yourself to deserve a session for yourself. You can look exactly how you do, right now, in this moment, and have beautiful images created of you.

What is the mission of Duluth Boudoir Photography? What do you hope clients walk away with?

Our mission is 100% our client. We help humans build confidence and see themselves in a new light. A session will help get our clients to start learning to love themselves, to show that they are worthy, regardless of what they look like. They do not have to fit any specific mold to have beautiful images created of them.

© Mad Chicken Studio

Where can folks keep up with Duluth Boudoir Photography?

Facebook page:
Facebook group (femme presenting humans only):
Instagram: @duluthboudoirphotography
Private app:


Dana Marty

about 2 years ago

I can truly say that my photo shoots at Duluth Boudoir Photography have been some of the best and most meaningful days of my entire life. Jes is a rare talent and she and her team are changing the world, one person at a time!


about 2 years ago

Duluth Boudoir Photography is a rare find with its magnitude of talent and artistry only supporting their true focus on empowering and building every human up. Yes, they have beautiful humans, a glorious studio, a grand scale/quality variety of wardrobe and accessories, but that doesn’t even come close to comparing to the level of respect, acceptance, support, and genuine interest they passionately pour into everyone of their clients.

I have experienced more than one kind of session with Duluth Boudoir Photography so far.

My experience truly started as a stereotypical bucket list idea that once the first session actually happened I left the studio exploding with power and confidence. Of course I had to do it again, and I hope to continue doing more sessions in the future.

The level of self esteem and confidence this experience brought out from within me is immeasurable and I can’t even start to describe how or why.

All I can say is that Jes and her team are wonderful and truly amazing at what they do so passionately and with their whole being everyday. 

It’s not only an amazing opportunity and self investment but it can be so much more than an experience with continued supports and encouragement this group provides to all humans through varied social media platforms as well.

I highly recommend the experience to every human and know you will somehow grow from the experience.

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