Dino Alexander: Wow! Thank you for the opportunity to shed the light on you and your amazing work, Leyla! Please tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
Leyla Cadabal: I was born and raised in the Hudson Valley. I attended SUNY New Paltz, earned a teaching degree, and taught elementary school for a few years after I graduated. My husband and I met right out of high school, we were married in 2002 and now live in Highland with our 3 kids. We all enjoy this area and especially love hiking at Minnewaska as well as swimming at the preserve.
My teaching career was something I am grateful for, and although I didn't follow the path I intended to, moving on to create my photography business was something that just felt like a good fit. Once I started my family, my focus shifted to being a mom, and the entrepreneurial role felt right at that time in my life. Having worked since I was 16, I needed that sense of making a difference in society as well as supporting my family. My interest in photography had always existed since I was younger, and I took a class or two in college to learn the basics of film shooting. But it wasn't until I had my kids that I really began the consideration of becoming a full-time photographer.
Dino Alexander: How cool! So how exactly has your passion for photography evolved into an actual business?
Leyla Cadabal: It was around the time that I had my son, now 13, when I had a few friends and acquaintances mention that it's something that I should pursue since I enjoyed it and it was flexible with my schedule at that time. I started to book appointments and dig into the elements of photography. Once I felt more comfortable with manipulating settings on my DSLR to achieve the results I wanted, I began booking weddings and portraits at a steady rate. During those years, I also worked hard not only at developing my skills but learning how to run a successful business on my own. This year I'll be celebrating my 10th year at my studio!
Dino Alexander: Congrats on your anniversary! Now let's get to today's hot topic, the very best Boudoir Experience in the Hudson Valley and Upstate, NY. How did that come along?
Leyla Cadabal: I knew I wanted to create something that would encourage self-indulgence and confidence. It's not very often women take time for themselves. With all of the demands of everyday life, it's so important to take a step back and celebrate who we are, at this moment. Life gets hectic. Essentially, what I'm doing is crafting an experience specifically made for my clients, who are then able to savor a few hours of indulgence with no distractions. The images I create are meant to be a daily reminder of how amazing you should feel every day, not just at my studio.
I and my staff create a body-positive environment where women can truly be themselves and feel beautiful in their own skin. This is an important aspect of my branding. The truth is, we're hard on ourselves. We celebrate the season of life you're in, whether it's a birthday, wedding, pregnancy, personal accomplishment, or no reason at all. In the end, my goal is to encourage you to see yourself as those that care most about you do. It's a creative outlet and a collaborative process that shifts the mindset from "I'm not good enough." to "I'm worth it."
Dino Alexander: Impressive! Please tell us more about those self-judgment vs. building the confidence dynamics.
Leyla Cadabal: Honestly, I have to start by saying I am humbled by the journey this has taken me on. It has taken me over 8 years to craft this experience to the level I've wanted to reach. There are always things I'm working on to make it even better. I guide my clients through planning the entire session, even if it takes going shopping with them on FaceTime or getting texts with wardrobe options. We carefully craft something together, which in turn, builds trust and confidence even before the session. My clients are fearless and brave. It's not every day that you walk into a portrait session with someone you may have just met, and begin to peel away all the layers you rely on to protect you from others' opinions.
I want to express that through my images, fueled by the experience I'm providing them. I don't create static poses. I give my clients movements, thoughts, and expressions that build up confidence throughout the session. I've seen this happen numerous times, right in front of my lens. For me, it's liberating. That's exactly what I'm looking for. I want them to feel amazing, that day and beyond. The countless women that I have photographed are always so grateful for the opportunity I've given them to see themselves in a different light. I can't even begin to tell you how many clients have told me how their self-confidence improved after their experience. It's all about celebrating yourself and empowering every woman in a positive and fun atmosphere.
Dino Alexander: I would imagine that some ladies would still be hesitant to try your Boudoir Experience. What is your message for them?
Leyla Cadabal: The first thing I would tell them is to ask any of the women that have had a session with me. To see their images, to hear their stories, to understand the emotions from beginning to end. I think it's important always to seek out feedback from real people who have already "been there, done that", especially something of such a sensitive and personal nature. It helps to hear from those clients about what it's really like. They would be happy to give any advice or support to anyone on the fence about it.
There is such a stigma associated with "boudoir" as if it's inappropriate photography and not for everyone. It's definitely not about getting fancy lingerie or walking around naked. It doesn't matter what you wear, it should just be something you are most comfortable in. This is another false sense of "I could never do that" I want to eliminate when it comes to my work.
I have a private Facebook group called Empowering Women that's exclusive to my past, current, and future clients, and we are a huge support group to those looking for ideas, advice, and anything else in between. We even get together and do group shoots every few months with a different theme. It's a great group of ladies. I would suggest doing a quick search and joining us if it's something that has crossed your mind.
Looking forward to 2022, I am hoping to keep the momentum I've been fortunate to maintain even through the pandemic. There is no better time than now, we all need that sense of luxury and wanderlust to melt away the stress of the modern world. I'll be doing a special giveaway and hosting some events in the coming months to celebrate my 10 year anniversary at the studio, so I would recommend a follow on Instagram to stay up to date on the latest.
Essentially, this kind of experience is for everyone. You have control over the outcome, it's not just about my vision with the camera. My expertise about wardrobe selection, using shadow and light, moving the body into natural poses... they're all important elements. Our goal is to celebrate femininity, strength, the emergence of a side of ourselves we may have lost along the way, or haven't yet discovered. It is through The Boudoir Experience that we renew that spirit.
Dino Alexander: Thank you so much, Leyla! You are such an inspiration for all of us and we'll be sure to keep an eye on your work and will definitely circle back on what's new in the very near future!