I started assisting in the commercial side of the photography industry. I held the notion that I wanted to be a photographer shooting different ad campaigns and editorials and whatever else might come my way and working as the photographers assistant is the way to start off on that road. I’ve worked at a very high production catalog/fashion/internet studio in Seattle, along with multiple different editorial and ad jobs that I have learned lighting and business from some amazing photographers. I am very grateful of all the amazing things I have learned assisting, but I realized after awhile that I had a growing discomfort with the way that the industry was training me look at people and life.
After years of working different ad campaigns, editorial, catalog and fashion jobs I took a step back and realized that, while I do love the team aspect of working on these jobs, I was always finding myself disliking the constant judgement there is in that side of the industry. We hire models that are beautiful girls who know how to interact with the camera in amazing ways, but instead of focusing on that, we would always notice if the model was a little bloated and not “perfect” and it would “ruin” or “interrupt” the shoot. God forbid some 20 year old girl might have had pasta the night before because her stomach has fraction of a curve to it…
The unfortunate way of the world, is that we have been trained to be that critical because, when selling something, you need the most attractive and beautiful (even if unrealistic) person to sell whatever it is you want to sell. The team isn’t criticizing the model because we are mean people and are perfect ourselves, its just that is what the public expects to see and so we must provide. I don’t envy the life a busy model has…So, I hit a point where I didn’t like always criticizing people (who were a hell of a lot closer to being perfect than I am ) because of one slight flaw or another. I grew tired of constantly judging and knowing that in return I am always being judged in one way or another. That is when I shifted my focus and re-examined where I was taking my career.
I realized, that instead of being in the part of the photography world that is always criticizing nearly perfect people, I wanted to take perfectly IMPERFECT people (like I am!) and giving them a moment to sparkle. Changing the direction of the career I am in has made such an impact on me. That’s yet another reason why I love weddings too…everyone comes out in all their glory to celebrate and love for a day. It doesn’t matter if you are a big, small, tall, short, beautiful or awkward… you are the star for a day and people shine you with never ending love! How could you not love that? And I love the feeling I get after doing a photo session with someone and having them be in “shock” when they see the photos because they love how they look. People so rarely realize how amazingly beautiful and unique they are in their own special way (and, yes; that does include those pesky ten extra pounds).
Our society is so focused on showcasing the beautiful and (way too) skinny and the curve-less and basically telling us that if you are 10 pounds heavier than your “ideal”, you are somehow inadequate. I realized, that I take great joy in working with normal, regular people and making them feel beautiful in their own skin. I love to photograph people with all their flaws and capture a moment in their lives where they can look at their photos with happiness and pride. I find that there is something off in our world that it is so hard to be comfortable in our own skin and take pride in ourselves and our bodies. I know that has a lot to do with what is done over in the ad campaigns and fashion shoots. We all think that we should be that elusive 20 year old model… but 99.9% were never made to be that way… and that is okay. I love photographing imperfect people and showing them how beautiful they truly are with the flaws and everything… After all… I think flaws are what makes personalities strong.
Most people are not used to being in front of a camera or the center of attention. It isn’t a “normal” thing for many. So, I make it all about connecting with my subject and getting them used to me and the camera and to try to forget the “image” they want to project. Once they forget about they think they should be 10 pounds lighter so they suck in their stomach till it feels like its trying to leave through their backside, they really relax and start having a good time, the real person comes out and the great photos show up. Once people put their guards down and start to play… it is amazing what beautiful images can be captured.
So… this post is about finding that love inside yourself and owning it. I struggle with it at times, but try to love myself as I am, and you should too… we can even take some awesome photos to show you just how beautiful you are!