A body image activist and photographer in the Capital Region has made it her mission to empower women. Her business is called "Self Love Experience."

Tucked away in a loft in Troy, Lindsay Rae D’Ottavio has photographed hundreds of women, many — stripped down — in their most vulnerable form.

"You give a chance to be vulnerable without judgement — you give them power...It’s not about lingerie, it’s about liking yourself, liking your body, and being okay with yourself," said D’Ottavio.

What You Need To Know

  • A local photographer and body image activist utilizes boudoir-style photography as an empowerment tool for women

  • A session at Self Love Experience includes professional hair and makeup, outfits styled by Lindsay Rae D’Ottavio, and an hour and a half of photography

  • Her goal is to help women of all shapes and sizes heal their relationships with body image and harness their strength and beauty

Jalisa Green is a returning client who had her first Session at Self Love Experience one year ago.

"At first I was super nervous, and I thought I was going to bomb everything and look awful in everything, and I walked in the door, and it was like meeting two new best friends," said Green.

From the moment you walk in, you’re embraced and pampered. A session starts with professional hair and makeup.

"I love to get to know people and hear their stories. If people can trust me with that, that means a lot to me. I hope I can help them with their journey to self-love," said makeup artist Natalie Dekermendjian.

Lindsay curates several looks from the shop for each client to help remove self-judgment from the process.

"So many women don’t know how to dress their bodies, especially if you’re a bigger, curvier woman like myself, and I can’t even shop locally," said D’Ottavio.

Like so many women, Jalisa has struggled with body image most of her life. And at 18 years old, a man attacked her and left her with severe injuries.

"After that, I went into a severe depression, and questioning everything in life, ‘why am I here?’ " Green said. "Just kind of spiraled. But this ... changed everything, and it was years later.

"It took until I was 31 to find Lindsay and this whole experience, and after it completely changed my mind about myself, how I felt about my body, how I felt about everybody else and how they looked at me — I didn’t care how they looked at me anymore."

That is why Lindsay does what she does: to give women a chance to heal and to feel confident loving your body, exactly how it is.

"It healed my own journey, my own traumas, my own abusive father’s words in my ears are silenced every time a woman looks at a picture of herself and says, ‘oh my god, is that me? I can’t believe it!’ That’s my reason," said D’Ottavio.

The Self Love Experience is booking out to 2022. You can visit this site to book a session. You can also visit her shop in Troy to purchase clothing and lingerie ranging in size from XXXS to 5X.