“WHEN DID YOU STOP THINKING YOU WERE BEAUTIFUL?”
Six weeks ago I asked that question on Social Media. It was a ‘just for fun’ questionnaire – not a competition. No prizes.
The answers were anonymous. All I asked was that you ticked a box to let me know the age bracket that you fell into now. I just wanted to know why every little girl who stands in my studio thinks she is pretty. Beautiful. A Princess!! And why every woman I meet thinks she is not.
Your responses were heartbreaking.
I suddenly realised that this wasn’t a ‘Just for Fun’ Questionnaire at all. This was a heartbreaking insight into a generation of woman who – somehow – seemed to have had all of the stuffing knocked out of them.
And there was NO AGE DIFFERENCE. It didn’t matter if you were Twenty, Thirty, Forty, Fifty, Sixty, Seventy or Eighty. You all had zero confidence. Hated being photographed. You were all ‘too fat’ or ‘too old’. You would NEVER come to a photography studio. And had never (other than on your wedding day) considered having professional photographs taken. Not EVER!
In fact one girl said that she would only consider going to a photography studio if they were holding her dog to ransom!
Was I shocked? Yes – to see it written down made it real.
Was I surprised? No – probably not. Because in reality that is my life. Although I mainly do newborn and children’s portraits it is invariably Mum who comes to the studio. Mums who then refuse to be photographed with their children. Nor Grannies. Beautiful women who are ‘too fat’ , ‘too old’, ‘look a mess’, ‘have fat arms/thighs/backsides/waists’ and can’t possibly be in a photograph.
Beautiful women who have no idea they are just that – Beautiful Women.
Beautiful women who have no photographs of themselves. Who do not exist in print.
And suddenly I felt the weight of responsibility land firmly on my shoulders. How do I make you UNDERSTAND that you are gorgeous? How do I explain that I can make you loose that half a stone that you want to loose simply by the way I make you stand? That how I position your chin will make you loose that ‘fat face’ you hate! That your arms ‘look fat’ in all of your i-phone photos – in fact YOU look fat in all of your i-phone photos – because the lens on your phone is not a portrait lens and you are seeing distortion. That you do not ‘hate your wrinkles’…..you hate the shadows they create, and that is all!!
How will I prove this to you if I have to steal your dog and hold it to ransom to even GET you in front of a camera! How will I get MY generation of women …..my tribe…… to exist in photos?
Meet Jenny, Lauren and Louise!!!
One evening these three lovely girls were having a nice, quiet meal together in my local pub.
Yours truly (stuck in the corner, the only girl in a group of farmers, listening with zero interest to tales of woe of harvest weather and failed knotters) was surreptitiously watching them out of the corner of her eye. I had NO idea who they were – but they were BEAUTIFUL! I didn’t know if they were sisters or work colleagues or friends but the chemistry between them was magic and I was riveted.
So – suddenly – (with an idea half formed in my head) these three girls….. happily minding their own business…..had a mad woman who they had never seen before plonk herself down at their table and announce “You three are GORGEOUS. Will you let me photograph you?”
Despite their initial reaction (which was somewhere between hysterical laughter and an ill-concealed desire to flee from the nutter who had cornered them) I managed to talk them in to it!
I told them to come to the studio just ‘as they were’. To bring ‘something nice’ to wear. But their own clothes. This was not going to be a ‘Make Over’ session where you end up with images that look NOTHING like you. Where you are photo-shopped out of existence and your face resembles a melted welly. This was just to be ‘them’ …… but ‘them’ at their very best.
To help with the ‘very best’ bit Becky from‘Beautiful By Becky’ was brought in to do hair and make up. I knew Becky would be good at this (she may well be my sister-in-law but she is also has her own business as a hairdresser and make-up artist, and has been known to transform even me with a few deft flicks of an eyeshadow brush.) I have photographed a lot of weddings in my time and I have seen a lot of MUAH girls in action and yet Becky remains one of the best wedding make-up artists I have EVER watched work. I gave her a brief of just ‘normal make-up’ and just knew she would find the inner Goddess in all three girls.
And because I am a baby photographer and my studio is set up for Newborns and not Fully Fledged Goddesses we had to move nappies and toys and baby hats to cobble together a make-shift dressing table to give her room to weave her magic. With a mirror propped up on a window seat!
But the girls were happy drinking their orange juice (OK. OK. So it was Prosecco. But there was orange juice in it) surrounded by all the dresses they had brought with them.
Not a baby hat in sight!!
And these three gorgeous girls became Goddesses in front of my very eyes.:-
Ladies – don’t make me have to kidnap your dog!
You deserve to exist in photos. Book a session with the other important ladies in your life : your mum, your daughter, your best friend. You DO NOT LOOK LIKE THE PHOTOS YOU TAKE ON YOUR PHONE! Your phone does not have a portrait lens and you will see distortion. You will never know how beautiful you are until you see yourself in PROPER photographs. Trust me!