Being able to be true to myself and having the freedom to love myself is one of the most important things to me in life. There truly is nothing more beautiful than someone who is able to love their self for who they truly are. We all wear masks from day to day, being different versions of ourselves around different people. Thankfully it's usually temporary and then we can return to being our full selves around our loved ones, but at the end of the day it's a bit ridiculous that we can't simply be ourselves because we're fearful of what others might be thinking. I wish I could erase the fears in everyone's head . The fears of not being good enough. Not being cool enough, smart enough, anything enough. Instead, let's ask are you being you enough?
Portrait photography is all about capturing the essence of a person. The whole person inside, the full picture. The you.
The genuine, nitty-gritty, real life, hot mess you.
There is a reason blogs / books like Human's of New York are so popular. We connect with other people when we get to know them for who they really are, when they are vulnerable. As a photographer that is the most beautiful moment to me - when a person is vulnerable and lets me see who they are on the inside. Weddings are great because for the most part my couples are surrounded by family and friends, relaxing them, and it's a pretty emotional day so they usually end up being pretty vulnerable in front of my camera. They're feeling great, looking great, just so many things make photographing couples in love so much fun, but weddings aren't the only reason for portraits.
While historically people have had portraits taken to document major milestones in their lives, photography is no longer simply a source of record keeping, or documentation. Photography has become an art form of its own and people have their portraits created for many different reasons now. Of course celebrations of milestones (birthdays, graduations, weddings, etc.) are still a great excuse for a portrait session, but many people today are more interested in documenting who they are, in celebrating who they are. I'm sure there are Baby Boomers saying I'm an entitled Millennial spewing crap about loving yourself and handing out trophies, but the science doesn't lie. Mental health and self-confidence are important to our overall health and happiness.
the portrait process
Finding the true you, and loving yourself is one thing. Having a portrait session is another thing. It doesn't cross most people's mind to hire a photographer outside of Senior, family, wedding, or maternity photos. Yes, those are some of the wonderful milestones in many of our lives, but documentation isn't the only reason to hire a photographer. It isn't the 1900's anymore, photography is no longer primarily about of documentation. It's about art, about something deeper than a date on the calendar. Portrait photography is a celebration. A celebration of love, of uniqueness, of personality, a celebration of life!
My favorite portrait sessions are the "everyday" ones. The ones where my clients are celebrating personal accomplishments, the everyday stuff that really makes us who we are. My other favorite sessions are when my client's include personal elements in a typical, milestone photoshoot - like all the personal elements included in wedding days!
Portrait sessions should first and foremost be about you, the beautiful, unique collection of stardust that is you. The milestone, the accomplishment, might be what you say the photoshoot is for, but it's really a celebration of what you've accomplished.
If the key to great portraits involves the you that you are on the inside, how do you drag this "inner-you" out? Loving yourself is easy when it's buying discount chocolate the day after Halloween, or when it's an excuse to do a little retail therapy, but not every day can be the day after Halloween. Everyone has different ways of finding themselves and getting in touch with themselves, ranging from exercise to mindfulness to therapy, and it doesn't matter what works for you. What does matter is that you do find what works for you.
Celebrating your life with a portrait session can be a lot of fun, even if you aren't a huge fan of being in front of the camera. For starters if we're going to do a portrait shoot celebrating you then we need to get to know each other! For most new clients that involves meeting for coffee and chatting on social media, but the point is to get to know each other! I want to get to know who you are right now in life, I want to hear what you love about yourself, and I'd love to hear some of your history - what made you the unique, beautiful individual you are today.
This is the really fun part - planning the shoot together. How are we going to create truly unique, one-of-a-kind portraits of you? Everything from the location to your clothing style will be very important decisions we make as we plan the photoshoot. I really do love this part because it's very creative and very unique to each client. It's more than just planning outfits and props, though, it's figuring out what lighting and specific shots will really help capture who you are. It's visual storytelling. Each photoshoot is its own story because each client has a different why, a different reason and unique perspective they're bringing in front of my camera.
At the end of the day, love yourself. Love the person that your experiences have made you. Maybe you need to go through some personal growth before you can love yourself, or maybe you're one of the courageous souls who has been unapologetically themselves since day one. Either way - nobody else can be you, except for you.