Library Themed Empowerment Session with Chicago Boudoir Photographer Ezlan Powers

“I had the privilege to work with one of my favorite photographers who has inspired so much of my own photography; Ezlan Powers. We took so many amazing photos together. They way they captured me is so stunning and empowering. I feel seen in a very authentic way. I love dressing up in costumes and being a character, but it was nice to just be me.”

-Sara 2023

In the book Sara holds below, “A Soul to Heal,” the Duskwalkers play a significant role in the protagonist’s journey towards healing. They’re a mysterious group of monsters who guide and support the main character with mindful sexuality as she navigates through her past traumas and current struggles. Through their wisdom and guidance, the Duskwalkers help the protagonist to confront her fears and insecurities, ultimately leading her towards a path of self-discovery and healing.

Their presence in the book highlights the importance of community support in the healing process. Something she truly brought to the table for myself as a person. Knowing her since 2014, when she found me via my viral fine art project, she has contributed so much to her community.

This blog from here down includes NSFW imagery. Writings and interview questions cover topics surrounding suicide and depression.
Please advance at your own comfort level.

“Fantasy in general for me, as a genre, is an amazing practice of escapism. Worlds with fae, vampires, witches, monsters, animal shifters, etc are so much more interesting than real life. I will only read HEA (happily ever after) books whereas life kind of sucks for us in reality right now. There are so many people in the world suffering in our current reality. These books help to escape that reality for awhile.”

-Sara 2023

The inspiration for this session was Nameless the Duskwalker

Based off the books by opal reyne
Artwork by @maund_o

In this book series, Duskwalkers find a human mate and eat their soul. The human then becomes connected to the Duskwalker permanently and the soul sits above the Duskwalkers head. In this book, her soul is blotched with black spots. She is heavily depressed and suicidal. During the book she goes through much healing, but the splotches remain and she never fully gets rid of the suicidal urges.

Much like Sara, in fact. She too has splotches in her soul.

She tells me, “I relate to that SO much. I have struggled with depression and suicidal ideation my whole life. Many people don’t understand having your default settings on not wanting to live. And that’s different than wanting to die. Because I have been to that point and have attempted. But usually it’s just passing thoughts through my brain. I don’t want to die, but living is so hard. And I’m tired of surviving.

Tired of surviving is relatable for many of us. We can all relate to this feeling like life is just never-ending stress but not at the capacity of those living with suicidal ideation might. Living in this in between state forces feelings of suffocation, sadness, defeat, and this overwhelming sense of yourself just sledging through life. You really feel like you’re walking through a thick, suction cup like mud field to the other side of the earth. Alone. Sure, you’re alive, but all you do is work super hard for meager progress and a never ending feeling of loneliness.

It’s completely understandable for folks with depression and suicidal ideation to feel this way. For whatever valid reasons someone might have, stewing in unprocessed emotional pain for long lengths of time or enduring environments of extreme turmoil can certainly provoke this. The battle with their brains is not an easy one. But there is hope, there are methods of coping and adjusting your life to be a happier person. To feel things easily, rather than overwhelmingly. This session is one thing.

This is why I really feel this is my soul work, boudoir that is. Boudoir photography can assist survivors of trauma and folks living half alive in ways you might not notice at first. But over time, you can go back to their shoot and note that was the day things changed significantly. Just taking the photographs can really be cathartic and give you a swirl of fun hormonal releases. It can capture images of themselves that celebrate their personality, gender, beauty, and sensuality.

The process of planning their session with me and embracing sexuality visually can be really transformative for survivors. Allowing survivors of trauma to confront their fears and insecurities in a safe environment is central to regaining feelings of personhood. Sara describes needing that safety and comfort in this current world climate, I can fully agree with that need. Which is why I provide this space. Outside of our pain, outside of our restrictions from society, completely free of restrictions. Truly expressing yourself how you wish to be seen.

Sara’s outfit was compiled of different items to mimic her favorite character above. From the gloriously placed chain link top from a past client (Sara is also a boudoir photographer and past pole teacher) to the classic purple strap on from a local shop called Toolshed. Constructing an outfit to recreate the Duskwalker look was the main focus of our session.

“The Duskwalker in that book I also love because he is what is book readers call a cinnamon roll. It means he is a super nice male character who would do anything for his mate and treats her really well. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy a good bully romance in print, but irl I need a cinnamon roll! I need to be treated nicely and taken care of when the mental health gets too heavy.” Sara explains to me when I ask what about this character drew her in most.

My beliefs about healing trauma are complex. I don’t think I could explain healing from trauma to anyone in one sentence. I can write entire books on that lifelong process. I will say sexual empowerment can be a valuable component in the healing process for survivors. By embracing your sexuality and celebrating your body can help you begin to heal from the emotional pain still remaining in your after your trauma has ended.

It’s like playing dress up with an adult spin. By doing this, Sara created her safe space. She took ownership of her theme and attire. All she needed was me to take the photographs really. I was there to guide through most of the planning, sure, but she brought the energy you’re seeing in these images.

Survivors of traumatic outcomes can rediscover old and new ways to feel/center pleasure in life. That is why I am so intimately involved in this process. Just as the Duskwalkers provide a safe sexual healing space, my goal is to do the same. I will always encourage my clients to live authentically through creative expression with my help.

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