One of my gifts, as a photographer and a human is that I am able to see everything beautiful in you and everything that you maybe, aren’t super happy about, too. So, how did I feel about my own before and after?
When I first entered photography professionally, I was immediately drawn to modern portraiture. As a college student (a hundred or so years ago), I loved the edgy, black and white aesthetic. it was the 90’s. Everything was edgy, then, haha! As my photography grew and I was able to hone my skills, contemporary glamour was easily where my heart burst with joy. There is something so simple, yet so magnificent about stripping away everything you don’t like or hate about yourself and lighting everything that is beautiful. Defining that in a magazine style portrait that just, well, it sings.
Recently, I’ve been on a bit of a rampage in purchasing new pieces for our studio wardrobe. Beautiful satin and lace dresses for anyone to wear during their photo shoot here in Asheville. Elegant pieces to go that extra mile in ensuring you feel beautiful for your photo shoot. You might come in thinking, “Oh I just need new head shots” or “I’m more of a casual girl” but, having that extra piece of drop dead gorgeous never hurts anyone.
So, what better time than to test the waters myself? So, I donned one of the new pieces and called a photographer friend over, hung my black velvet backdrop and put on a face and stepped in front of her lens.
“What are you doing, Cat? Why on earth do you NEED a portrait? You just had a full on beauty session a year and a half ago with another photographer. Do you really need another one? Do you even really DESERVE another one? God, this looks horrible on you. Your makeup looks awful and you haven’t touched up your hair color and you could use to lose more than just a few pounds. You’re almost 40. There’s no way these will be even remotely resemble the you, you remember…”
“OK deep breaths, Cat.”
All the voices, I acknowledged their existence. Always in the voice of the 12-year-old me. She was constantly berated so, I can’t really blame her for being scared. It’s her job to protect me from suffering that kind of attack…oh wait…
Be careful how you speak to yourself. You are listening after all.
I took my “Before” picture in my kitchen, after a single cup of coffee in front of a window. No makeup, I don’t think I’d even brushed my hair. A real “before”, to say the least. Yup, that’s me in the morning. How did I feel about the before? Seeing the truth sometimes can be jolting. I got to see all of my flaws in the cold light of day, and then I was going to put it out there for all the interwebs to see. Haha! The dark circles under my eyes, the scowl lines in between my eyebrows from spending 20+ years in the Florida sun, my growing chin (what’s THAT about anyway, jeez) and the list goes on. The point is, that is my face. That is what I look like. In a normal day, I might throw on a little moisturizer and some eye makeup. I might even go so far as lipstick if I’m feelin sassy. I’m a pretty good lookin gal, curves and all. A little face can go a long way.
In editing the footage we shot that day, we were very careful to only go as far as we would for any client. I am very meticulous about retouching. As much as I wanted to wave my magic photo shop wand to get rid of everything I see, it was very important that I remain my beautiful self and, not some idealized version of myself. My portraiture is based on highlighting everything beautiful about my client and if I went the “extra mile” on my own portraits, it would have defeated the purpose.
So, what do I see staring back at me?
- a woman who loves her work
- the courage to let all of the voices have their say, and then move forward to embrace this moment
- a woman with doubts and fears, just like everyone else
- a woman who is loved
- a woman who has worked tirelessly to build her business
- a beautiful portrait, now part of my legacy
I put this image out on social media yesterday. Clicking the “post” button definitely took a minute…or two but, here’s the thing, if I can’t share my very own before and after, how on earth could I ever expect you to come into my studio, let alone experience your very own transformation with us?
Our service, our process is not one of turn and burn, wham bam thank you ma’am. I want you to be able to envision yourself having your portraits made with us. I want for you to see that my purpose here is not to just photo shop everything away, it’s to showcase everything wonderful about you, right now. It’s to help you see past all of the little things you hate seeing in the mirror: all of the shoulda, woulda, coulda, all of the when I lose 15 pounds, all of the when I get to the salon or the gym, all of the maybe one days, all of the “I’m not good enough”. You ARE good enough. You DO deserve beautiful portraits. Your family and loved ones deserve beautiful portraits OF YOU.
They are your keepsakes. They are your heirlooms.
In the words of Sue Bryce, “You are beautiful. I want to capture you for All time.”
I would love to photograph you.