By Rae Taryn
My name is Rae Humenick and I am the Owner/Photographer/HypeGal of Boudoir By Rae Taryn, a Boudoir Photography Studio based in Syracuse, NY. I have been in business for about two years and the majority of that has been focusing solely on Boudoir (pun totally intended).
As long as I can remember, photography has always been a passion of mine. I grew up with both of my parents being incredible artists. My father was able to create photorealistic drawings and my mom was equally as talented. Their talents for art and drawing skipped me and hit my sister as well as my daughter, but left me without the ability to draw so much as a stick figure! But I’ve always been able to take a dang good photo.
My dad taught me photography on his old Minolta SRT-101 film camera, that I still have to this day. I took photography classes in high school and learned to develop my own film and prints. One day I’d love to be able to have a dedicated dark room and get back into that! As I grew up, I always bought myself the “fancy” Nikon cameras. Some women indulge in purses, I indulged in camera gear. But regardless of my gear, I was always just a passionate hobbyist who won a few awards as a young adult.
Photography kinda became my therapy (especially after covid). It was so calming to sit out in nature and capture the beauty of the world around me. Often at stupid o’clock in the morning before the rest of the world wakes up, just me and whatever I was capturing at the time. It was just an incredibly peaceful feeling.
As my kiddos grew up and got involved in sports and activities I took my fancy camera to all the events with me and took pics of them and all their friends doing what they all loved. One day in early 2021 I posted an image I was particularly proud of and a photographer friend of mine suggested that I seriously consider photography as a career. Of course I was kinda hesitant, I was a Nurse already making pretty good money – but to be honest, after Covid I really just wanted out. So I started looking more into how to start a business.
I honestly just thought that I’d be doing weddings and families, because that’s all I’ve ever really encountered. It wasn’t until October of 2021 that my best friend from Florida asked me to do her boudoir shoot. I was like bou-whoojiggy? So of course I look more into it and decided that I kinda dig it. So she flew me home and we hung out for a weekend taking photos. It was so much fun and we died laughing most of the time, but the realness hit the day I showed her her images.
She cried. She told me she has never felt more beautiful besides the day she was in her wedding dress. She told me her husband even looked at her differently. From that point I was hooked on boudoir photography because I instantly fell in love with the feeling I got watching her and my other clients see their images for the first time. I fell in love with watching them fall in love with themselves and finally seeing their bodies in a different, and much more forgiving light. I fell in love with “I hate pictures of myself” turning into “OMG I am HOT!”
I am in my 40s. I grew up in the era of Playboy, Victoria’s Secret and the SI Swimsuit edition shoving their beauty standards down my throat. You had to be tall, thin, blond and big-boobed to be beautiful. There were no nice words for curvy. It was just fat. I struggled so much with body-image issues as a kid and teen. I was never, ever, ever stick thin. I’ve always been pear shaped and had a big butt, even before big butts were cool. I had the definitive thighs of thunder. I was always the short and curvy friend. The doctors’ offices always reminded me that my BMI was too high (I was an athlete too!). Then, of course, my body changed drastically when I had kids (two via cesarean). I was left with stretch marks and this floppy belly and just felt, gross.
Sometime in 2019 I had managed to lose about 60 pounds via diet and exercise. I felt incredible! Although I was still “curvy” I just felt great in my own skin. So at that point, I decided to stop giving a F**k what people thought of my body. This thing has been with me through years and years of use and abuse, between always having very physically demanding jobs, to being a clutz in general to having two amazing kids, my body has always delivered what I ask of it.
I decided that if people didn’t like looking at my thighs, they have a neck that they can turn their face away from me. They didn’t like my personality? Fine. That’s actually a them problem and not a me problem. It was an incredibly liberating thing for me to finally start to feel love for myself. It allowed me to be a better mom for my kids, which also allowed me to not project my own insecurities onto them. I was a happier wife and a better all around person for myself and those around me.
After starting my boudoir photography journey, I discovered that I can empower other women start to fall in love with themselves too. I can help women start to appreciate that their bodies are beautiful exactly how they are and for all they’ve done. I can help women learn that self-love is the best form of love and that when you are your own definition of beautiful you can be unstoppable because the opinions of others take on less of an impact.
I want to use the only tool I know, my camera, to inspire others to go on a journey of self-love and self-acceptance and realize that all the crap we have been spoon fed about our bodies has just been the insecurities of others that they are projecting on us. I want to inspire people to love themselves more because when people love themselves they are happier, and happy people aren’t jerks.
Happy people uplift other people, and we can use more of that.