Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Why I Ask My Clients for the Before Shot

So for a while now, I have been asking my clients to do a Before and After shot to include in my marketing materials. Most of you have been incredibly gracious about them and some of you have been (understandably) hesitant. I realized that it's a bit unfair of me to ask for something that I myself have not yet done. So this post is about my own before and after. But, before you get to see me at my worst, (I deliberately chose a horrendous picture of myself to prove a point) I would like to walk you through what the Before picture is all about.

The Before

No, the point is not to showcase you at your worst. The point is to show you as a blank canvas, fresh faced and natural. I will grudgingly admit that I've done a few Before and After shots in my photography infancy where the woman looked much better in the Before shot simply because the makeup was too heavy or too fake looking, or she was uncomfortable during her session and I was unable to get her to open up. But the Before shot is simple. Big smile, straight on to the camera. Perfect!

Before I started showing the Before and Afters, I had many women tell me: "Well I could never look like that." or "I need to loose 20, 30, etc pounds before I let anyone photograph me."  "All these women in your portfolio are so photogenic! I look horrendous in pictures!" "You must photograph models." I needed a way to illustrate that ANYONE can look incredible in their portraits. That's when I decided to show a Before image.

I take portraits of regular, every day women and I show them they can be as stunning as any Hollywood star on the cover of a magazine. I DON'T photograph models. In fact it's boring to me. They know how to turn it on and look stunning in a portrait. I yearn to photograph the woman that has never seen a good picture of herself, the woman that doubts her own beauty, the woman who thinks that just because she is pounds heavier or years older she can no longer look appealing. I want to photograph the insecure teenager and the overtired new mother, the curvy women and the mature women and anything in between.

So many of my clients do not identify with the hollywood starlet. They do not believe they could ever look as good. When I only show the beautiful, finished images they can not even begin to imagine that that could be them. A client's Before shot is there so you can see yourself in her place and so that when you see her after images you start to wonder, Wow, could that be you?

And I ask you to pass it on. Let's do your own Before and After so that other women might see themselves in you and decide that maybe, just maybe, there is hidden beauty inside them too. And don't worry your Before will look much better than mine. I promise.

Alas, I can not put it off any longer. My own before image is a picture from high school. I was nerdy, insecure and had no idea how to put myself together. And yes this was a while ago, but trust me, I can still look JUST like this on bad days. And don't take a candid photo of me because this will be the result! The After was taken just a few weeks ago because I needed a good headshot.

Here's the thing though. Yes, this Before picture is me. But really and truly so is the After. I identify just as much with the before as I do with the after. We're all a complexity, a paradox but so many women choose to only focus on the things they hate about themselves. They choose to believe that a bad representation of their physical selves is actually the truth of who they are. And that is SO false! You have the potential to be STUNNING. You have beauty inside you that you have never seen! I challenge you to find it and embrace it.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Mother-Daughter Session

"A daughter is God's way of saying 'I thought you could use a lifelong friend.'"

I had two beautiful, "lifelong friends" come into the studio for a shoot the other day and it made my heart so happy. Too often we forget to celebrate those who are closest to us. We get busy with life, maybe we live far away, or perhaps we think there are more pressing things to deal with right now.

And really, all of it is true and all of it is valid, but I think it's so important to take some time and spend it with the people that are most important to us. A Mother - Daughter bond is unlike any other. As a daughter, inevitably, there comes a time when you realize "Oh my God, I'm turning into my mother!" and then soon after you also realize that it's really a grand thing because you now recognize the strength and depth of character of the woman who raised you. As a mother, the years pass and you get to witness the seeds you've planted day after day take root and grow and blossom into this beautiful lady before you, and your heart is happy and proud.

It is a beautiful love to celebrate, and an important connection to capture in a portrait. This type of portrait only grows in value over time just as a mother-daughter relationship only grows in love. 

I love how alike these two are. They have an elegance about them that is in many ways identical. It's like their essence is the same. And really, when it comes down to it, I suppose it is...