You have used your kid to hide behind in a photograph. You have offered to take the group photo of your family or at a work party. You step into the shadows or take a little longer in the bathroom so that you can avoid the obligatory photos at the end of the night. We have all done this. You are not alone.
I have heard it time and time again when I ask a mom to get into the photo with their child, they make excuses about not having makeup on, not doing their hair, they didn’t sleep and have bags under their eyes or they are working hard to lose that last 10 lbs before they are in a shot. We have it in our heads that a photo needs to be perfect in order to be taken. And when they are taken, we have to have it redone until everyone in the group is satisfied with their angle, their round faces tilted just right, or their arms in the chicken wing pose.
I personally see photos of myself and wish people wouldn’t have posted them because I am focusing on the extra weight I have put on. But, when those memories pop up in my FB feed a year or two later, I look at them and think “why were you so hard on yourself?” I see the fun that I was having, the laughs with my friends or how I didn’t look as bad as I had thought of myself back then. I should have been kinder to me.
This is one of the reasons why I decided to hold the Be My Valentine Model contest.
“I can’t say enough about my positive experience with Molly at Motion Inspired Art Photography. I saw a post on my friends Facebook page with the details of the Be My Valentine photo shoot contest and I thought why not try and enter.” – Jill
I wanted women to be brave, inspire others to get in from of the camera and step out of their comfort zone. What I did not realize was how many people were ready for a chance like this. A chance and need to feel good about themselves. There were a lot of entries. And I am in awe of every single one.
There were stories that made me cry and laugh and pulled at my heartstrings. But, as soon as I saw a FB comment from Jill and the support of all her friends and family chiming in, I fell in love with her and her journey. I went back to find her entry and I knew she needed to get in front of the camera.
“I’ve recently lost a 164 lbs and always hated taking pictures. I would either offer to take the picture or hide behind people or things so my face was showing and not my body. I didn’t even take that many pictures with my son due to this. I realized I needed a change and lost the weight.” – Jill
Yes, her weight loss is incredible, that is no easy feat. But, what got me, was that she didn’t have very many pictures of her and her son together when he was a baby because she didn’t want to be in front of the camera. To have a chance to show her son that she is a confident and deserving woman is a magical thing. He deserves to see photos of her where she is having fun as a strong, individual women. And, hopefully, it will remind her to capture the memories of the two of them now so that he can tell and share the stories of his beautiful mama to his future family.
During her session, Jill shared stories about how her son is just so loving and protective of her. How he was checking in on her throughout the afternoon to find out if she was having fun that day. How her father offered to pay for her new dress and how her husband fell in love with her before the weight loss and has been so supportive every step of her journey. Not everyone has this type of support. Not everyone gets this type of love. That is why I choose to have a safe place open for others. That is why I have surrounded myself with women that are so kind, strong and uplifting.
When we lift others up, we give them a chance to reach their goals. Goals so high they never could have seen them from the ground.
“The hair and makeup team was amazing as was her assistant Melody.” – Jill
On Friday, January 19th, makeup up artist, Michelle from All Blushed Up and hair stylist Alyce Basic came in to set up early. We went with a natural, yet glamorous makeup look. Her skin was gorgeous and did not need a lot of cover-up or correction. We decided on a loose curl for her gorgeous textured bob, that had playful movement and lift for her striking facial structure. Melody from Melody Makes Up was the perfect assistant for the day, making Jill comfortable, glittering and taking behind the scenes shots. I swear that lady knows what I need her to do before I even begin to ask it.
Jill came in with a bag of clothing and shoe options and we went through the structure of the day. Starting with the rose backdrop and her new black cocktail dress, we eased into the photography portion. I had her play with her dress, and take some shots looking away and at the camera. We practiced some angles and talked through some of her feelings about her new body.
“I was very nervous for the shoot because this was so out of my comfort zone. Molly made me feel so comfortable and made sure that I only did what I was comfortable with.” – Jilly
When we have such a drastic change in our bodies, we can still have many of the insecurities we had before. Our minds take longer to catch up with our reality. New insecurities also pop up while we get used to our new silhouette or how our skin and bodies settle differently. I wanted Jill to be comfortable with what we were doing and I always want to be sensitive to specific needs and feelings. But, Jill was up for experimenting and trying anything we gave her. She changed into her new lingerie set with a gorgeous satin robe. We played with rose petals and I was so happy to see how natural Jill was in front of the camera and with direction.
We then moved to the rustic sweetheart setting, where I created a large, suspended heart with ombre balloons that was located in front of the limestone wall. Jill brought in a set of adorable valentine’s day pj’s and I LOVED this look. When you take portraits like this, it has nothing to do with being naked or being in sexy lingerie. It’s about feeling good about yourself and having fun with yourself. You can be wearing anything. A sweater and pair of jeans, a ballgown, your favorite jersey and as long as you show up and let yourself get comfortable, we can get the most beautiful and real photos of you.
After we captured the slumber party shots, Jill went back into her black robe and lingerie set. This is when her face lit up because she got to play with glitter! My favorite part too. We took detailed shots of her on the floor, and I let her clothing naturally fall around her. She started to allow more skin to show and she could not believe that she was actually ok with it too. This is one of the reasons I do not mind taking extra time with clients. Some people get comfortable right away, others take longer to just let themselves go.
One last thing I added to the session was to create a couple of art piece. Art to me is therapy and the action of writing out “ I heart Me” was incredible to watch Jill do. Then, when she read it aloud, it pulled at my heart. It was a magical moment.
“I’ve never felt more beautiful. I am so happy I did this and urge all of you women to do this for yourself! It’s truly an empowering experience.” – Jilly
Anyone who signs up for a Be My Valentine Session, whether it is with the flowers or the glitter, will be able to create their own art piece to take home. Hang it somewhere you can see it. Let it be a reminder, because, you have to love yourself before you can truly be happy in life. Everyone else around you can show you love, give you love and try to give you every reason why you should also love yourself, but only you can make that decision. I am not saying this session will heal you or get rid of those little voices, but I just want to give you a little lift. Eventually, with enough little lifts, you will get there! Be kind to yourself. You deserve it.
And thank you, Jill for being brave, and allowing me to tell a little of your story. It was an honor to work with you and a pleasure to meet you. You have inspired me so, very much.
If you are thinking of signing up for a session like this or one that is not themed, come join the conversation in my private Facebook group, Inspirational Women & Boudoir – Motion Inspired Photography or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.