Anna Smart, Author at Smart Photography | Page 38 of 40

All Posts by Anna Smart

Who are we comparing ourselves with…and why?

Here's something we all do - compare ourselves with others, and often find ourselves wanting.
BUT, how do we choose who to compare ourselves with? Do we look around our friends and think "hey, pretty broad bunch of people there, all quite normal" - or do we hone in on the super achiever? With model good looks, a mane of hair straight from a shampoo commercial, and kids so perfectly behaved you would be forgiven for thinking that their address is somewhere in Stepford?
Sure, plenty of your friends may be struggling to get through the front door each morning without having some item of clothing covered in baby sick, but they're just a bit too 'like us' for comparison - so let's choose the perfectly groomed example of motherhood, who is somehow holding down a job, family life and volunteering for the homeless in her spare time (she. has. spare. time!).

STOP! This is madness.
First - there are plenty of people around just like you - because you're completely normal. That's not to say super organised wonder mum isn't normal, but really - you don't KNOW her, what's going on inside her head, and who she is comparing herself to (and finding herself wanting - because let me tell you, there will be someone).
Second - what are you hoping to gain from it? Does it really make you feel motivated to lose weight/change career/do more? Or does it actually make you feel more like you've missed the boat on writing that book, or getting that degree, or looking great in that dress you'd love to own.
You don't need to compare yourself to anyone else, you're not in competition with them. You may want to change - but wishing you had a different body shape/job/clothes/car all at the same time - well, what are the chances you can change all of those things in one go? Slim to none? But if you stop looking around, and instead start with what's the most important thing to you - accept the other stuff and concentrate on an aim that is meaningful to you - you have a much better chance of achieving it.
(And if you are super organised wonder mum - please, slow down, you're making the rest of us look bad - have a little heart for the sisterhood 😉 )
Much love

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Inspirational Sue

When Sue got in touch with us about a boudoir portrait session she had a really positive aim:
"Having had a stroke 5 years ago I would like to prove /show disabled people can do this".

Now, I'm well aware that there are all kinds of people who look through our Before and After albums on Facebook thinking "I wish I could do this, but..." - and the 'but' covers a whole range of things from simply lacking the confidence, to a complete disbelief that your images will look like those, through to 'could I even do that?'. So, when we saw what was inspiring Sue, how could we not try to help?

Before her portrait session Sue confirmed she was feeling a mixture of excitement and nerves, but remained confident that it was the right thing to do. She knew that she wanted to boost her self esteem following her stroke "..since then I haven't been able to wear anything sexy, or felt like I couldn't, and I wanted my husband to take off his 'carer's glasses' and see me as the woman he married 8 years ago". The parts of her she was feeling good about? Her eyes and her hair only.

Sue planned what to wear, including a matching underwear set bought for her by her husband, plus a new corset, and included a fabulous pair of thigh high leather boots - which she doesn't get to wear/walk in now, due to her disability.

Robin put Sue at ease in front of the camera, and worked with what she could and couldn't do to achieve the set of images that were right for her - it may have felt more like physical therapy than a portrait session, but then if there's one thing everyone likes to tell us about , it's their new found respect for models after their portrait session! Sue coped with it all amazingly well.

We wanted to help Sue change how she felt about herself, after such a life changing event - so knowing that the experience has made her view herself differently is fantastic! The best bit for Sue? "The whole package - dressing up, make up, everything'.

Want to experience the ultimate confidence boost yourself?
Just fill in the form below and we'll get in touch.

Much love,


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What might a boudoir portrait session mean to you?

We've all got our hang-ups and insecurities - sometimes the things people say 'speak' to me and really resonate. And so it was when Elaine got in touch.
"Growing up I didn't have much confidence, which was made worse by being bullied because of what I looked like. I used to have a large nose which caused people, mainly males, to pass comment and make me feel ugly. I even got told once I looked like a boy! It got so bad I hated shopping, trying on clothes and seeing myself in a mirror was just horrible, I hated anyone seeing me in profile and grew my fringe long to hide my face. I hated what i looked like. Luckily I got the opportunity to have surgery to my nose and this did give me a bit of confidence back. But being called ugly for so many years doesn't go completely away. "

Everything Elaine said hit home for me - I have a big nose. Bullied at school - tick. Lack of confidence - tick. As my school years got left behind and I got into my twenties, I kind of forgot about it - I was much more at ease with who I was, and still am, as long as no one shows me an image of my profile...

So, there was no way Elaine's Facebook entry was going to be passed by.

"My confidence is better now but I've never been good at hair and makeup and just wanted that one chance where I could look amazing and to look how I would like if I had more time, more money and a bit more of a clue about looking girly! So I entered on Facebook and Smart Photography chose me!! "

Elaine was really, really nervous before her session - it is, after all, not your average day of the week. But she absolutely shone in the studio.

"The whole experience was fantastic! From the personable phone call from Anna to say they'd chosen me for a makeover right to the last paw shake from Bailey after picking up my photos.
Initally I was so nervous, a glass of champagne helped with the nerves but Robin puts you at ease and listens to your ideas for your shoot. During the shoot he is so understanding and soon you forget about where you are and just have fun with it!

I couldn't believe the pictures, there was a not too bad looking woman staring back, and it was me!!!! The quality and artistry is lovely and the pictures are exactly what I had in mind. Just wish I could do my make up like it all the time. The pictures genuinely made me want to cry (in a good way!)

Thank you so so much for a wonderful experience and making me look lovely x"


Want to experience the ultimate confidence boost yourself?
Just fill in the form below and we'll get in touch.

Much love,

8 Bra shopping after 40

I've also considered myself fairly lucky, with my breasts. Admittedly, they haven't had to do much, not having had children, but they've always been ok. Maybe a little on the large size, but surely G is the new D anyway?
I can't pretend I've looked after them well - a perfunctory check over when someone posts something more relevant on Facebook than what colour their bra is, to remind me to check for lumps. So, they're not too neglected and I expect them to pretty much stay the same and do their thing (fill clothes mainly).
It's a long time since I've been bra shopping and, having lost a little weight, I decided when you
1. have no bras that fit properly
2. tell your clients, pretty much every day of the week "the most important thing you can bring with you is a well fitting bra"
then it's probably time for a shopping trip.

Since I didn't know what size I was shopping for, first stop - Bravissimo, to be measured.
Now, back in the day this involved a tape measure, I'm sure it did. Not so now. This time round I was asked what size bra I was wearing ('s been a while and the label's kind of too faded to see...) and then just sort of looked at. It didn't seem all that scientific, and I was feeling skeptical (and quite cold, those robes they provide being very thin).
I needn't have worried - clearly they're good at what they do, and off went the assistant to find me a selection to try on. I was looking for (I thought) one black, one nude, one moulded cup, and one 'pretty one'.
The nude bra buying process went fairly smoothly. I discovered I have gone from a G cup to an E cup, and the Melrose bra was found to be perfect. So perfect, I thought that could do for the black one too. Same size - totally different fit (something to do with the dyeing process I am told). Never mind, let's move on to moulded cups.

I had this notion that a moulded cup would be comfy, and thus perfect for dog walking. Now, they quite possibly would be comfy - however, being moulded, they of course have a shape to them, and that shape is in no way the shape of my breast. You know those breast enhancers aka 'chicken fillets' for boosting your bra size? I reckon I would have needed those on top of my chest, not underneath. Lovely and moulded and rounded the cups to the bras may have been - sadly, I am apparently not. I was horrified. I tried another one - same result. "But why?" I asked the lovely assistant. "Well," she explained, "as women get older the fat in your breasts can get drawn downwards, leaving you with a less full cup".
Older! I'm 41! Surely older is something like 40 years away? "Try this one" she said - a moulded bra, but a plunge one (Deco Delight by Freya).  Now this fitted perfectly! The cleavage it gave was amazing. It also felt like the most unsupportive bra, ever - not quite fulfilling the brief of 'perfect for dogwalking'. I was tempted, but I don't want to give anyone a heart attack at 8am in the middle of the field so I sighed, declined and moved onto finding a black bra.

This was more successful. I think I went for 'Clara' in the end, but the Andorra bra, by Panache too, was also lovely.

And so it came to the pretty one. I actually wasn't feeling particularly pretty by this point, I was just feeling saggy. I'd thought I might get something in the sale, but in the manner of sales, there was nothing in my size (apart from in a moulded cup, ha!).  I tried a few, and the best fit came from Bravissimo's own Rosie bra, so I went for that one (and a couple of pairs of the matching knickers, since they weren't thongs).

So, on the one hand, I got what I wanted, and it's fair to say that I definitely needed the new size - I do feel much more supported and comfortable. On the other hand, I wasn't quite prepared to feel like my breasts are actually the wrong shape for bras. Asking around online (which took a bit of thinking about, as I was wondering "is this just me? If I ask people about it will they all say "what? no? that doesn't happen") I found company. The words 'spaniel's ears' may have been mentioned more than once - strangely comforting, as I am not at that stage. Strangely depressing if that's where they're heading (which is essentially South). Also - many recommendations for balconette bras, so if anyone is reading all this and nodding (instead of just looking horrified) then maybe that's a tip for you - I am going to check balconette's out next time I'm shopping (online probably, now I have a size to go for).
All that said, I think the bras fit well, and I definitely feel like I look more supported.
'Rosie' Bra with...

_MG_4139 small‘Rosie’ Bra without…
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Incidentally, a bit of googling has told me that breast sag has a name – Ptosis, and a cause – gravity. Nothing to do with breast feeding, or not, or wearing a bra enough, or not – just the luck of the draw and gravity! Hmph. I would like to think that at some point manufacturers might catch up and start to make bras to fit a range of shapes. In the meantime I will remember that many women are having a much worse time of it, breast-wise, and be grateful for what I have.

Much love,

I believe #eachbodysready

Except for mine.

So, the last week or so has seen this story hit the headlines:
In brief: Protein World placed ads  across the London Underground with the words 'Are You Beach Body Ready?'. The ads feature a model, looking amazing in a bikini. So far, so normal - as we head into summer aren't women always told that it's time to start that Bikini Diet, get in shape, and generally sort ourselves out after what advertisers seem to assume is some kind of winter slump. There's been a massive backlash against the ads, culminating in them being defaced, with #eachbodysready trending on Twitter, a Facebook group being set up, and the ads' wording being routinely altered.

I'm firmly in the each body's ready camp - what does it even mean to ask if a body is beach ready? All it needs is slathering in sun cream, and you are surely good to go? It's easy for me to say that - I'm not going on holiday warm any time soon. I don't have to test my own theory. Definitely, if any friend told me they were worried about wearing a bikini, I would tell them to stop being silly - there IS no size/shape where you shouldn't feel confident to wear whatever you want to.

Realistically though, when I think about it, I wouldn't feel confident myself. In all honesty, faced with a beach holiday, I would break out in a cold sweat at being out, in public, in a bikini. The Protein World picture isn't going to inspire me for sure - I don't want that figure enough to swap wine for protein shakes and eating cake for lifting weights. So, given that I don't actively aspire to a different body shape, certainly not in any way that would make me take any kind of action, I need to accept that the same advice I might give someone else, also applies to me - my body is beach ready, full stop.

Since on any given day I am encouraging lots of other woman to get a very long way from their comfort zones in a boudoir portrait session, it seems only fair that I should be prepared to do the same. So in the absence of a trip to sunnier climes looming, this week we'll be bringing a bit of sunshine to the studio by having swimwear day at work (possibly not for very long, it's chilly this week, last week would definitely have been a better idea). Because my body? It's not going to get any more beach ready.

Update 30/4/15 - even in our workplace, you can't ask your staff to strip down to beachwear at work! Lucky then that, as it happens, Jess
1. loved the idea and wanted to get involved
 2. owns the most fabulous bikini ever!

Much love, 

Anna & Jess


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