I was nervous.
I consider myself confident, comfortable, and extremely in love with my body. It took years of work and reframing and growth and learning, but I think my body rocks! I have a beautiful butt and cool, powerful thighs. And yet, and still... Leading up to my session I started getting lots of nagging thoughts.
Why did I have to get a break out on my face this week? This piece of clothing doesn't fit like I thought it did. Do my pubes look crazy right now? Am I gonna shave them? How? Should I not shave them cause that's conforming to the damn system? Why does my face look like that when I try to smile sexy? So and so's boobs are much fuller than mine.
So I get it. I know it's hard. Up until this session, I had always taken my intimate self portraits myself with a timer on my camera or had my partner hit the shutter button a few times. It felt really different to me to have someone else take these images, even though she and I are very close friends. It felt...really intimate. And trust in my photographer and in myself is the only way I followed through.
My good friend Sophie was the photographer for this entire session, and then I did all the editing for the images.
Most of the time, I'm the photographer. As the photographer I know that whatever or whoever I am taking pictures of will be through my personal internal lens. If I'm doing it right, the pictures will reflect back to you what I see in and feel from you. I was curious to see what Sophie sees in me.
I look FREAKING GORGEOUS in these pictures, so I can feel how much Sophie loves me. What do you see in these pictures? What's your sense of the person I am? Intimate Portraiture is so much about the subject and what they are bringing. BUT it also has a lot to do with your photographer creating a comfortable environment for you to feel encouraged in being yourself. My deepest thanks to Sophie for creating that space for me.
To be honest, I was not feeling especially pumped for my shoot. I was in the middle of a round of depression. The news of more tragedies and deaths was weighing heavily on my heart. The Covid pandemic had finally caught up to me in a way that registered physically in my body. So, I practiced what I tell my clients to do. I paid special attention to self-care in the days leading up to my shoot and I did things that I know make me feel better. And on the day of, I made it a celebration!
Here's what I did:
Doing things based on how to look your best for pictures might seem shallow, but the deeper truth is that it's about making time for yourself and having routines that make you feel good. It's about taking the time to sit with your feelings and process. It's also very much about taking the time to sit with your body. Give yourself a foot massage, dude! Notice how your bum squishes when you sit. Rest your hands on your stomach and feel your breath from that point of view.
It feels forced at first.
For sure. But as the shoot went on, I felt more and more sure of myself- of my body and of my person. We ended up having tons of fun playing around. We even climbed up on the roof like I loved to do as a kiddo.
As I was editing, I caught myself smiling at the pictures of me smiling. I felt my posture automatically change- I sat taller in my seat as I edited these images of me looking strong. I giggled at my blue eyes, soft belly, and cellulite. For three days after the session I felt truly obsessed with myself in the best way. And I still smile and get a confidence boost when I look at my images. It really is amazing to see yourself reflected back to you in a beautiful image. And I'm proud. I'm really proud of the person I see in these images- a person that is sometimes hard for me to see in the mirror. The things that I see most clearly in these pictures, that I often can't see about myself, are strength and joy.
These next images are sexxxyyy and I am here for it! I love the shadows, the lines from my rolls, the leaf pattern in my bralette while chillin in the woods, and feeling a sexuality that is completely mine. These aren't for anyone but myself. You all only get to see them cause I'm bragging! And if you don't like them, great! Shove off! I don't care!
This set of Black and White images are especially fun for me. They are Sophie's work more than mine, but they fit right in with an ongoing series of self-portraits of mine called "Nudes in Nature". The play of mirrored shapes and textures between natural elements and my body are just Delightful!
And now, for power poses and hair flips!
As someone who pumps up other women and celebrates the beauty in every form, I've still got my own hangups. That's still true. The hangups are still there, but the voice in my head that criticizes me is quieter and comes around less. After my session, I feel reaffirmed in knowing my beauty- one that is rooted in so many parts of who I am.
We've been force fed consistent criticism about our bodies for so long that it becomes an internalized belief. And while we may see others as beautiful and strong, it's harder for us to believe the same about ourselves. My goal with my Intimate Portraiture work is to help people confront those voices and knock that nonsense out of their hearts. If this sounds like an experience that would help you in any way celebrate yourself, book a session with me. Let's go! Let's do it! I promise it is worth it.