NY Boudoir Photographer | The Before as the After
A few months ago I woke up early on a Monday morning. I reached for my cell phone and as I usually do – started going through my morning ritual. I check the weather, my email, a little FB and anything else I feel I need to be informed that day. This particular morning I saw a post on FB that stopped me in my tracks. It was a video about women and photography.
I watched the video.
The video was showing a woman getting her hair and makeup done. She was getting dressed in gorgeous fantasy clothing that any woman would drool over. Then, it was time to have her portrait taken.
The portraits were gorgeous, glamorous shots. The client looked amazing. You could tell she had never felt like that in her entire life. The message of the video was clear. Come see me, let me photograph you and I will prove to you that you are beautiful. You are worthy. You are somebody.
My heart started beating with panic. The client, although gorgeous, looked NOTHING like her before. NOTHING. It was clear to me that she never felt like that before because she never looked like that before. In fact, after hair, makeup, wardrobe, good lighting and photoshop – she was practically unrecognizable.
(Insert panic here) Is that what I am doing with my clients?
Surely I want them to feel gorgeous and powerful and worthy. The whole day I kept asking myself, am I making them feel this way? Why are we taught that we are worthy when we are all made up? Why is the AFTER picture the worthy one?
What about the before picture?
You know, that photo with no makeup, no hairdo, no photoshop. What about that woman? Is SHE worthy? Is she powerful?
The guilt that I could possibly be sending this message to my clients overcame me. So much so that I took a few weeks off from shooting boudoir. I felt a pit in my stomach. Here I am spending my life thinking I am empowering women and then BOOM, in an instant I am questioning everything I do and say.
It took me a few weeks, a lot of meditation and introspection to come to terms with what I do and my message. At the end of the day – I realize there are two sides to this coin. There is the naked me, and the me that loves wearing makeup and high heels.
See, here is the beauty of women. We don’t have to wear makeup to be beautiful, but when we want to, it’s an awful lot of fun!!
I am all about NOT shaming women, and not feeling shame for who I am. I want to make it clear that I am not shaming anyone who wears makeup, who photographs women who are all decked out, or anything in between.
What I am saying loud and clear today is that the BEFORE picture is the AFTER picture. You are ALREADY worthy. You are already powerful. You don’t need to dress up in lingerie and have your photo taken to be so. You don’t need me and my beauty team. We can’t make you something you aren’t. We can have fun. We can remind you how awesome it is to dress up and be pampered. We can give you some time away from work or kids or whatever you need to escape to remember that you are a person too. We can show you proof of your power in your images.
That woman in the before picture. She IS the woman in the after picture too. The “after” woman would be nothing without the “before”. Let’s celebrate her!
As part of my #ShamelesslyFeminine movement, I have decided to photograph women without makeup on. No professional hair and no retouching. Just her, me, a few lights and my trusty camera. I will photograph what I see. I will remind them that they are perfect just. the. way. they. are.
Sigma 50mm Art Lens
Westcott Spiderlite and Eye Lighter
This is the strong, beautiful Ms. C. She has a gorgeous face and a gorgeous heart. I have known her for many years. I wish that she could see herself the way the world sees her. She is self deprecating at times. She doesn’t have to be. I tried to remind her how powerful it is to take a compliment and to look in the mirror and love what she sees. She was recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. It feels overwhelming, but I know if she can make peace with it, that it won’t define her. She is still the beautiful, loving mom, wife and friend she is and always will be.
She wears makeup to play up her favorite parts and diminish the ones she doesn’t love. She wears it every day. Except for today. Today she bares her face and her soul. Today she is as gorgeous as ever.
It would be an amazing act of kindness and support if you could leave Ms. C a compliment in the comments below. What do you see that is beautiful? Let’s shower her with love.