In April 2011, I decided to begin my journey into photography as a work-at-home mom with my 6 month old (Paislee). I photographed families, maternity, babies, weddings, special events - whatever I could get my lens on! I was learning, experimenting, and having fun. I learned very quickly that the moms, the women, the girls hated being in front of the camera.
"You can 'Photoshop' that, right?"
"You can take 20 pounds off when you edit!"
"Ugh, I hate my smile."
They hated seeing themselves in photos. They hated seeing that one thing that they've focused on for years that no one else notices; the extra weight, the not-so-perfect skin, their smile, and the list goes on. They stayed out of the photos and only got shots of the children. They were visibly uncomfortable in front of the camera. They jokingly demeaned themselves during their session. These things became so pervasive among the women I photographed that I was finally fed up with it. I realized that this self-esteem issue was much deeper in the hearts of women the more I photographed them. In mid-2013, I realized I had to do something to help these women feel beautiful. So, I set my sights on photographing women beautifully, teaching them how to take a good photograph (whether with me or at a family dinner), and allowing them the experience of being dressed up for the camera.
I started by putting out a call for girls of all shapes, sizes, and colors on my personal Facebook page. I had so many women contact me wanting to be photographed (at least 30), but afraid to be in front of the camera! This proved to me even more that women desire to feel beautiful. Every woman wants a beautiful photo of herself even if she feels like she isn't beautiful. Any woman who says they don't is simply not telling the truth. Beauty is so deeply entwined in our hearts. Am I lovely? This is a question we long to have answered... I see it in myself, my friends, the women I photograph, and especially in my young daughter. Because of this, I want to empower everyday women to feel beautiful in their own skin through stunning portraits and imagery. Now, I know that beauty is not just what’s on the outside – it is about who you are as a woman. BUT the two are very closely linked. We must acknowledge both the inside and outside. This is how we were created as women to display beauty in these ways. Our perception of our beauty can be distorted by how we have been taught about self-confidence, sexual/physical/emotional abuse, even social media, and so much more.
I love being able to talk with my muses about their stories and what they struggle with prior to a session. I want to be able to photograph the personality and the radiance of women, not only their physical beauty. I want them to feel beautiful in their own skin and not feel they have to look like someone else. For this reason, I do minimal retouching and I do not alter the shape of the face or body. Otherwise, I'm just taking your image of yourself and telling you that aren't beautiful the way you are. I had to "Photoshop" this and that so that you could put your best face forward. That is not what I want! I want to put women in flattering positions for their body-type and help them to feel comfortable in front of the camera. We shouldn't, no CAN'T, wait until we reach that "desirable" weight or feel better about ourselves. What if we never get there? What if we don't live to get there? We must BE in photographs not just for those we love but for ourselves as well! It is important to come to a place of self-acceptance and self-confidence no matter what our weight, our figure, our teeth, our skin, hair, or nails look like. There is so much more to you than that. That is what I want to capture. Please don't skirt these times that will make you feel vulnerable. Choose to embrace the beauty you have in the here and now because that is what will truly open you up.
This is my passion.
"Today was the first day I actually felt beautiful."
"The memory of that day is still one of my favorites."
"Seeing these photos helps me to see that the lies I've believed for so long (about myself) are not true."
This is why I do what I do.
I'd like to leave you with a poem from Maya Angelou:
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman
Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Thanks for reading,
______A SIMPLE INTRODUCTION______
I'm Jess. I like chocolate, pretty things, frames that are hung straight, crazy hair, silly faces, and the color yellow.
I am in love with a handsome man who is loving, talented, and strong.
I am in love with a wild little girl that is funny and beautiful in the best ways.
I am in love with this little one in my belly that is proving to be a fighter so far.
I've lost a lot in this life, but I've gained so much more through LOVE.
I decided to start blogging because I want to share more photos here and what I love about the work I do. I like to share about the muses in my photographs. I am hoping to blog more often, and I hope that this will become a place for Unveiling Beauty. A safe place for women to find strength, courage - to be empowered by their own beauty. To Unveil the Beauty that has been waiting there all along.
This blog is for any girl or woman that wants to learn more about feeling beautiful in her own skin. I really hope to begin including tutorials/tips on beauty and on lifting one another up. This blog is for any girl or woman who has ever felt ugly, less than, tormented, alienated, not enough but too much at the same time for any reason. For all of the girls that struggle to remember that we don't have to fit into the form of what we are told and we do deserve love. Love is not blind.
I'm proud that I am finally finding the courage to really seek out and do what I love; photograph girls and women in a way that empowers them to feel beautiful in their own skin. It's a goal that I've had for over a year now, but I was afraid to jump out there and make it happen. I'm trying to work out a way to provide this service not only for those that have sought it out, but to also volunteer time to shoot with the girls that would never think that they could have their very own shoot. I want to be able to provide an Unveiled Beauty session for girls and women that have been victimized and taken advantage of. I am looking for the right organization to team up with to provide a session for a girl for every session that I book. I am still working on the logistics of how/what this will look like. If you want to be involved in any way or have any ideas, please don't hesitate to contact me.
If you take away anything while discovering this blog, let it be that beauty is so deeply entwined in our (women's) hearts and it was set there to be unveiled. This is in your heart. This is just how you were created. You may not always know how to bring that beauty to the world or if it will be appreciated, but that desire is there. I believe that we all have this very deep fear that we have no beauty within us, but I know it's there and it's just waiting. Don't believe the lies.
Remember Audrey + Keenan's fun, animated photo from their engagement session? (If not, you can see it here.) Well, they are just too much fun not to do another on the wedding day! Audrey + Keenan were joined together on a warm day in May with their family and friends present. The vintage pink and champagne theme was present throughout the style of the whole day, and I just loved it. Even the vows were on a cute little color-coordinated notecard.
A big thank you to Ginger Szoradi for her help coordinating this special day!
This week I was informed that I won the Black and White Weekly Photo Challenge over at Colorvale with my black and white image below! You can see the blog post here.
So, in return I'd like to share a review of some Colorvale's awesome products, Only For The Bold Photoshop Actions.
For those that are beginners, Actions are a series of steps/adjustments saved into an "Action". You apply the Action within Adobe Photoshop with the click of a button. If you are looking for more resources on Photoshop Actions or how they work, check out Colorvale's Guide here.
I really adore the Only For The Bold Actions. They are so wonderful and easy to use! You can apply them with just the click of a button to dramatically change the mood of your images. It's really that easy. Plus, you can easily tweak them within the layers if you like the look, but want more of a "matte" look, less contrast, more depth, etc. Colorvale's Actions are high-quality and simple to use. You won't regret your purchase from them.
Not all Photoshop Actions are created equal! If you are going to purchase Photoshop Actions, please buy quality ones. Read the reviews, ask questions, and try some of the creator's Freebies.
You can download the Only For The Bold Freebies here!
Do you have a photo that you know cries out to be bold and moody? Well, I do, and here are some examples of it below.
This girl. What a BEAUTY. Mikayla was such a joy to photograph. She was up for most anything (including the splits inside of a big cement pipe) and has a spirit that won't give up. When she mentioned in our consult that she likes feathers, I just knew I had to make a feather crown for her session. We captured some of my very favorite images during our time together.
Oh, Mikayla! What a muse you are to have in front of my camera... I can't wait til you are in front of my camera again! Don't ever forget that you are most beautiful on the inside. You are lovely.
You can view all of her images here.
UPDATE/EDIT: Mikayla's session was also featured on the Lemonade and Lenses Blog.
I knew that Jenna's session would be awesome when she said the words "Unicorn Mask" at our consult meeting. Yes, that's right. : )
Words cannot begin to describe the fun I had with Jenna at her session. Not only is she fun but she is drop. dead. gorgeous. She cracks me up with her jump shots.
I am so blessed to have the best job ever and to get to work with awesome people. As always, Hair and Make Up by the Lovely Holly Mabry. Find her here: http://www.arizonahairandmakeupartist.com/
I would like to introduce you to one of the kindest, most talented, and lovely girls ever.
She has this pure, feminine, and vintage quality about her that I wanted to bring out in her images.
She is so beautiful and I love the opportunity to work with friends. It’s so fun! When we got back from the shoot I asked my daughter what she thought of Sarah all dressed up. Her response, “LOVE.” That’s it - Just love.
Speaking of - Sarah is loved by so many and she will be missed when she has gone back to Australia in just under one month. I offered her this session so that I would have a chance to photograph her before she left and I am so pleased with these images.
I hope that you can see the beauty she exudes from her very being.
If you know Sarah, comment with 1 word to describe her and then share the love. : )
As always, gorgeous hair and make up by Holly Mabry. Check her out and book here.
"Sometimes people are beautiful. Not in looks. Not in what they say. Just in what they are."
- Markus Zusak
The day before Audrey + Keenan's engagement session I came across this quote that Sue Bryce posted on her Facebook page. "Imagine giving up all business and just creating art." Feeling inspired, I created a little meme of it on my Instagram Feed (view it here) and decided to put that phrase into action.
I started brainstorming and writing down ideas I had for their engagement session. I know I'm a little bit of a weird person (and not everyone else is) so I still have to create art that my clients will like. I brought along my Instax Mini 7s for some fun. I had this idea to create an animated image from a set of images and I finally did it today! Check it out by clicking on the image (or tapping on a mobile device).