Anna Smart, Author at Smart Photography

All Posts by Anna Smart

Embrace Your Body Project – Caroline

When Caroline first got in touch, she told us "My partner always tells me I look sexy and beautiful, I’d love to see myself through his eyes."

This so perfectly encapsulates exactly what we're trying to do, we couldn't wait to meet her, and show her that different perspective on herself. This is what the Embrace Your Body project is all about!

How to properly personalise a portrait session

In our first conversation, Caroline mentioned that her partner had a motorbike - probably not expecting me to say 'Bring it!'.

This was all quite weather dependant (remember the relentless rain last December?), so we crossed our fingers and hoped. 

The immediate high

Caroline's session went really well. Of course it is nerve-wracking, taking that initial step to come to us, but if you can do it, well, here's what Caroline had to say, in a message to her daughters, afterwards:

" I want to let you know about Saturday, the photo shoot, I didn’t want to say too much before - I was nervous when I got there, although I’d been more nervous at home when I was trying on what I’d ordered to wear lol. The people were lovely and I didn’t feel at all uncomfortable, we had a laugh there was me, the photographer and the lady who did my hair and makeup . I felt really great when I was there. I even did 2 poses completely nude (you don’t actually see anything in the photo though) and I was on such a high and buzzing when it was over..."

The immediate low

Now, we would love it if that buzz lasted - and for most people it does, until they switch their focus to seeing their photos. So, usually a few days after the session itself.
Caroline though, started to think about seeing them straight away.
The rest of her message wasn't quite so upbeat...

"...and just as we were leaving we arranged when to go back and view.Then when we got outside it hit me and I started crying and have done several times since..... I just keep thinking how stupid am I to think I could look as fabulous as those other ladies, what the hell was I thinking and I have to go back and look at these photos on Saturday and I’m old and fat and what on earth was I thinking of"

All of the doubts came flooding back

I would love to be able to say that everyone comes back to see their photos feeling excited. It's not true. Caroline's emotions surrounding the shoot are entirely usual. If you think the hardest part is in coming for the portrait session itself, time and again our clients tell us it's scarier to come back and see the pictures.

We never underestimate the bravery that is involved in viewing your photos, because we know that is the moment you most fear your doubts becoming reality.  

There are often tears

Viewing your images can be a very emotional experience. You are challenging your perception of yourself - that's deep! To see yourself in a different way - to finally understand what others already see - it is absolutely an overload of emotions.

So, how was Caroline feeling after seeing hers?

"I'm amazing. <Starts crying> Robin did such a good job in the shoot and the photos look amazing. And I feel like a million dollars"

Caroline's message to anyone who's feeling apprehensive about coming along to us:

"Just do it. Take somebody along with you. Especially have somebody who knows you're going to do it, and somebody who can come back with you to look at the photos.
You need someone to come back with you, someone who's going to make sure you come back and help
you choose the best photos because it's amazing.
Absolutely fabulous. Thank you."

The Embrace Your Body Project is all about empowering women to love themselves and their bodies, as they are, right now.

It's about embracing our bodies, whatever flaws we may think we have, and accepting ourselves.

It's about showing that nobody is perfect, but that we are all beautiful in our imperfections.

And it's about sharing that experience with other women, to help them on their journey to body confidence.

Radical Inaction

I'm inadvertently taking part in radical inaction

(especially of change or action) relating to or affecting the fundamental nature of something; far-reaching or thorough.
"a radical overhaul of the existing regulatory framework"

lack of action where some is expected or appropriate

You may not think of yourself as radical - I certainly don't - but there are things I don't do that seem to be radical - to the point where I sometimes do them, just to not be making a statement.
I am inadvertently taking part in radical inaction, just by thinking 'I don't see the point in doing that'.

Take shaving your body hair

No, really take it! Or waxing, sugaring (I don't know what that is, but I'll bet it hurts), lasering, whatever.

I used to shave my legs and armpits - of course I did. I didn't grow up as some kind of monster. I just became one.

In the same way I don't really get the sitcom 'Miranda', I don't get removing body hair. I just know that it's very popular and you're a bit odd if you don't like it.

My radical inaction on this is not radical on my part. It's just a 'but I don't understand the point?'
However, nor do I want my inaction (radical or otherwise) to be seized upon as some kind of statement. So sometimes I will shave my legs (literally, as far up as I think they might be seen. 3/4 length trousers = only a third of leg needs to be done).
I am doing this solely to fit in and not be commented on - not because I buy into any real reason for it. Effectively, I am being an (oddly sheared) sheep.

Or take anything to do with looking younger

Again, I just don't get it.
What real effect will wrinkles have on my life? That other people think I'm old? And this is bothersome to me how? Maybe I just am, you know, old. (You're always old to someone!).

radical inaction

Are you taking part in radical inaction?

You may be taking part in radical inaction, as a woman, if you

- don't dye greying hair

- don't have long hair
(there's an article here that suggests it you don't do either of these, you're extremely radical!)

- don't have a skincare regime to stop wrinkles/other signs of ageing

- don't diet/worry about your weight (beyond health reasons)

- don't remove every bit of hair from your body, except for your head (for which you can get a shampoo to try to make sure you keep every hair) - see this article for how radical and feminist this is

- not having children, by choice

(Feel free to add your own thoughts to this list, because there will be many things I have missed out).

You may think you're just being yourself

But when 'being yourself' corresponds with stepping outside of society's norms, you may be taking part in radical inaction, simply by not fitting in.

(Fun fact - on a phone-in show discussing Greta Thunberg, one man triumphantly declared her 'not being interested in make-up' as proof that she's not a 'normal teenage girl'. Now, I don't think that GT necessarily is a normal teenage girl, I think she's extraordinary, but still!).

There is an absurdity to radical inaction

In that I feel it's quite likely that women often aren't intending to be radical, statement making feminists by taking part in it. They're just wanting to quietly go about their lives, not doing some of the stuff that's often taken for granted.

Are you taking part?

Much love,

How Do You Get The Confidence To Have a Boudoir Portrait Session?

If you've ever thought "all of those women who go along for boudoir portraits have so much more confidence than me", and wondered how to get that confidence, the answer is very simple - you don't!

The Big Boudoir Myth

The idea that you have to be feeling confident to come and have a boudoir portrait session is a complete myth.

Most of our clients are feeling at best, under confident and, more likely, absolutely terrified!

They haven't achieved a level of body confidence that the rest of us just have to wish we had. Instead, they've taken a leap of faith.

It's Our Job to Make You Feel Confident

So it stands to reason that we don't expect you to turn up and shout "Hey, I'm here! Shall I take my clothes off now!"

Every part of our process is designed around understanding that you don't feel confident. We understand your fears - how could we not when every client has them?

The Most Common Worries

Here are some of the concerns we hear from our clients:

  • Will they find me too much of a challenge?
  • Can I even go through with this?
  • What if all of my lumps and bumps show?
  • Am I going to look ridiculous, trying to look sexy?
  • What if I don't like my photos?

Your Fears Are Normal

When you're stepping outside of your comfort zone, your brain will tell you anything to keep you in it.  You have to push back sometimes, or you'll be held back from doing things you want to try.

So What Can You Do?

If your brain is see-sawing between wanting a boudoir portrait session, but not having the confidence to come and do one, here are a few things you can do, to tip the balance.

  • Chat with me on the phone. You'll soon realise I know exactly where your're coming from (not least because I've been there myself!)
  • Come and visit the studio. You can pop in for a coffee and a look around, meet the team and maybe even snuggle one of the dogs. Having a clear mental picture of where you're coming to gives you one less thing to worry about.
  • Read some reviews. ALL of these women had the same fears as you - and overcame them. If they can, then so can you!
  • Join our Fall in Love With You Facebook group - dedicated to helping women to boost their body confidence.
  • Speak to someone who's already done it - just ask and I'll put you in touch.

Think You Might Be Ready To Find Out More?

Fill in the form below, and I'll be in touch.

Much love,

self love brings beauty

Self Love Brings Beauty

If there's a message we can get on board with, then surely it's 'Self Love Brings Beauty'?

So when our original 'knicker lady', Vee, showed me these knickers - an awesome collaboration between body positive activist Felicity Hayward and lingerie brand, Playful Promises - I thought, "hmmm, maybe when she comes along for her shoot, we could be photographed in them together".

self love brings beauty knickers

Then I thought "Why stop there?"

If there's an opportunity for body positivity, we have to take it!

So, I put a shout out across our Facebook page and our 'Fall in Love With You' Facebook group, in the hopes I might get a couple more people to come along.
Secretly thinking 'how awesome would it be, to get every size represented, from an 8 to a 26?'

As always, we are nothing without our tribe. We got messages! Our clients, friends of clients and women in the group were happy to take part. (I mean, it's perfectly possible they didn't know exactly what they were taking part in - I may have been a bit vague).

An extra thank you to the women who had never been to us before

It's one thing for a client to step forward - they know us.
I have to say an extra, heartfelt, thank you to the women who had no clue who we are, and agreed to come along anyway (especially the client who I persuaded to stay on after her shoot!).

Of course I was in there myself

A chance to wear knickers saying 'Self Love Brings Beauty'? I'm not missing that - with apologies to my friends and family who may have thought they'd seen enough of me in underwear. Sorry, you were wrong!

And here we all are

self love brings beauty

In the end, we had women sizes 8 to 24 come along. Let's be honest, bums are always, always awesome and these women are no exception.

Please don't underestimate the bravery it takes to get down to your knickers, in a room full of strangers, and have your photo taken!

Thank you, everyone.

Self Love Brings Beauty - it really, really does!

Much Love,

Want More Confidence? Make Decisions

AKA Confident People Don't Dither

If you happen to either be very indecisive, or a total, out and out people-pleaser, chances are you don't make quick decisions. There can be too many options and you want to think them all through, you want everyone to be happy, you want the right decision.

All Decisions Are Not Created Equal

Of course there are some things in life that take deep consideration. I'm not advocating choosing which house to buy on a whim! But every day, there are lots of decisions that really, will have very little overall impact.

  • What to have for dinner
  • What to watch on tv
  • What film to go and see
  • Which top to wear

There may be other people's preferences, but there's no right or wrong answer. So start making these decisions quickly. Assume all of the options have equal merit and just choose.

We Keep Our Minds Busy Sweating the Small Stuff

We know we do. 

If we attach great weight to small decisions, then the weight we attach to big ones is overwhelming. We don't have the headspace left to consider them, when there are just so many things to think about.

If you don't get caught up in pleasing everyone, what's the worst that can happen? You see a terrible film? Someone doesn't have their favourite meal that day? These things don't matter.

Quick Decisions Give the Appearance of Confidence

And not just to other people, but to ourselves too.
They're a very easy way to help you feel more confident. No overthinking, you just cracked on, made a decision, moved on.
You'll appear more confident. And, over time, you will feel more confident, because you are repeatedly trusting yourself.

Much love,

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