Elise, Author at Smart Photography

All Posts by Elise

Embrace Your Body Project – Jodie

When Jodie first got in contact with us, she wrote “I want to empower women, I have tubular breasts and would like to show other women that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes." Which is exactly what we want to achieve too.

How mistaking our number for a friend's caused Jodie's idea of a boudoir portrait session to become a reality

Jodie had been thinking about coming along to do this for a while, she loved the thought of embracing her body and encouraging other women to do the same, but she was still scared to made that idea a reality.

"I saw Anna's post on Facebook back in November, and how she's doing this 'Embrace Your Body' project, and I started reading through the Facebook page and just applied for the session. Actually if it wasn't for the fact I thought Anna calling me was my mate's house phone, I probably wouldn't have answered her call, so I came this close to not doing it. But before my session, I didn't really like my body that much to be honest."

Stepping through the front door is the scariest part

I'd like to say we've never had people book in for a session, drive all the way to the studio, then turn back round and go home, without so much as stepping through the front door - but that would be a lie. Thankfully Jodie didn't let the nerves get the better of her.

"I was quite nervous. I did stand outside and contemplate leaving. I was like “what if I just... leave?” I was so nervous. I arrived quite early, but I was quite relaxed afterwards, and once we actually got into the studio that was it, everyone made me feel really comfortable, so I was quite happy to go ahead and do it."

Fear of the unknown

Often, after your session, you feel amazing, you've done something out of your comfort zone and it went really well, and then the nerves start to creep back in, and you start to panic about going back to see your portraits. As if we would ever show you photos where you don't look amazing (never going to happen). Thankfully, Jodie had put her portrait session to the back of her mind, so the only time she had to think about it was the morning of her viewing.

"I didn't start to feel nervous again until we were getting in the car today. I hadn't really given it a second, this week I've been quite excited and then we got in the car, and I was like “Wait, what am I going to see?” It was more about fear of the unknown, than not wanting to see them."

"I feel a lot better about myself, I've got a bit more confidence to walk around work and be, like “I CAN do this.”"

A few final words from Jodie for anyone considering taking part

"Just do it. Just count to three, take some deep breaths and just do it. It's so worth it, especially at the end,  now you're on such a high. While I was waiting in reception to view my photos, a lady come out and she had the exact same smile I did, when it's ear-to-ear, because you're just really happy."

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.

Embrace Your Body Project – Mandy

When Mandy first got in contact with us, she wrote “I have real hatred for my body.” We knew Mandy needed help, she needed to see how amazing she is.

It all started with a moment of madness

Now, Mandy believes that getting in contact with us was a moment of madness - what we see as madness is how much she hated her body and for how long! Women going decades hating their bodies and how they look is madness, and it needs to start changing.  

"I hated it. I couldn't even bring myself to look at myself in the mirror. It was head only, nothing else."

"Getting in contact was a moment of madness to be honest. I'm not really sure, it was just like “If there is a chance I can feel better about myself, I might as well go for it.” 

From terrified to relaxed in 5 minutes

Nobody ever believes us when we say they'll be completely relaxed after the first few shots. Your session is nowhere near as scary as you think it will be. After those first few shots you realise what a portrait session is actually like, which is typically you, Robin, and your stylist chatting for a few hours and having a laugh whilst you work together to create some amazing photos.

"Terrified, but within 5 minutes Katrina and Robin made me feel so at ease and comfortable and we were laughing, and in between the sets, saying “Do this. Do that etc.” Yeah, it was something I never could have dreamed of. I've never felt so relaxed in my own skin as I did that day. "

"After the session though, I was buzzing. I was absolutely buzzing. I never thought I could feel that feeling. I never thought I could stand there, semi naked in front of someone and not be trying to hide myself."

Some disbelief still lingered

Before her viewing, Mandy's outlook was that if the photos weren't good, at least she hadn't lost anything from it or gotten her hopes up. But a little voice in the back of her mind tempted her to think, if she had her hair and make-up done they must be a little bit better than how she looked everyday, so maybe she would like them? She had no idea just how amazing her photos were going to be.

"Before my viewing I was feeling slightly nervous because I was like “if the photos are no good, then I was right all along.” But you've still got that little bit of hope that the photos are going to be better than what you imagined they were gonna be, because you always imagine you're gonna look fat, you're gonna look ugly, you're gonna see your stretch marks. And you just think “any improvement is an improvement, no matter how slight.” I still had that “I can't believe I did it” feeling, and the “I can't believe how good it felt” feeling but I also had that “Oh, well, you know, I'm never gonna look as good as the other ones. I'm going to look at those photos and think “what the hell have I done?” But they're amazing. "

Shocked is a understatement

"I don't think I have ever felt as confident about the way I look as I do right now. I know now that I can look good. I never, ever dreamed I could look good, not naked.

Anyone can hide behind make-up and clothes, but when you're just there... so exposed... I never, ever dreamed I could actually look good, but I do."

A few final words from Mandy for anyone considering taking part

"Oh, go for it. Even the buzz itself is enough, go for it. It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be completely and utterly selfish. Think of you, do something for you.

It just makes you feel so proud of yourself, that you were actually brave enough to do it and you've actually got something beautiful at the end of it.

If I can do it, anyone can."

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.

Entries are now open to take part, at our new Bampton studio, from October 2020 onwards.

Embrace Your Body Project – Jo

Jo had been struggling to appreciate and love her body after having kids, she's suddenly realised that 20 years had passed of her not even liking her body, something which is scarily common. Women will focus all their attention and energy on their loved ones, jobs, children etc. and not leave any left for themselves. By the time your kids have fled the nest, or other parts of your life have died down, you won't be able to remember the last time you did something for yourself.

The push to get in touch

"I think most women have a really bad idea of what they think they look like, and I'm no different. I had surgery a year ago, I had my gallbladder removed (which left ugly scars which has only left me feeling worse about my body) and I've had three kids, so I look back at photos of when I was in my 20's and I was you know, young, fit and amazing and then obviously now I've got into my 40's, I was a bit like “I don't really like myself very much” I forgot who I was, really. So I actually came to do this portrait session to just see how other people saw me, rather than just looking at myself."

The session

When Jo arrived for her session, as most women are, she was terrified! That soon changed once she relaxed and realised she had nothing to be afraid of.
Whilst we were having a look at images before her session, she failed to connect the fact that the images she was seeing - were what her photos were going to look like. She believed that her portraits would be some lower level of photo than the ones we were showing her. Spoiler alert : she was wrong.

"I was so nervous coming in, as I think probably everyone is. Before the session I saw the really lovely photos and I remember thinking “I'm never gonna look that good” and you know, not really believing in myself and that sort of thing. So I was very, very nervous about it, for sure."

Seeing her photos

When she came back to view her images, Jo had some last minute nerves, the thought of having to look at herself in photos was not something she wanted to do, in the slightest.

"I think I was fine, until about half an hour before I walked in the door, because I knew that obviously the images were gonna be of me and obviously when I'd come in before they were of of other people and I was admiring those and I didn't know how I would feel about actually seeing myself in the photos. But I was very pleased about it because they're amazing!"

"I actually appreciate my body a lot more now, I've now seen it in different angles that I haven't really looked at before. I know that I had my hair and make-up done on the day, but actually the photos are of ME and I should start believing in myself that I am pretty and actually quite hot."

A few final words of inspiration from Jo

"Just do it. Even if you're really nervous and you think that it's not a good idea, come and do it, enjoy the experience, and start believing in yourself because everyone's amazing."

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.

We are now taking submissions to be a part of the Embrace Your Body project from October onwards!

Embrace Your Body Project – Lydia

When Lydia first got in contact with us she had gone through an amazing mental health & weight loss journey,  and was ready to see the difference for herself and put herself out there. She wrote “I have spent the last 6 months losing weight and now I am over 2 stone lighter. I am feeling so much happier in myself and so much more body confident! I would love to do a shoot to really embrace my new body!"

Lydia's road to recovery

Lydia had a tough few years and definitely needed a pick-me-up to not only help her in loving herself, but also to reward her for all the hard work she'd put in.

"So I was diagnosed with depression in 2016 and part of  my 'road to recovery' was a self-esteem course, so I completed the course and I'm in a much, much, much better place now, and then I started slimming world. I lost two and a half stone and I saw the advert on Facebook and I thought that, actually, this is probably quite a good time for me to do it. To prove to myself that I can put myself in a place where I feel scared to do it, and worried about what I'm going to look, like but actually be able to do it and prove how far I've come and reward myself."

"I also thought that it's probably not very likely that I'd actually do it, so I might as well sign up and then it doesn't matter either way because it probably won't happen, nothing will come of it anyway so I might as well sign up."

She certainly got a surprise when Anna called her a few days later to chat about booking her in.

"Before my session I didn't feel good about my body, better than I have done in the past but still not very happy and still more focused on what needed changing rather than what has changed. Sometimes in clothes I'd feel OK, didn't often feel very good in just underwear. I'd be very like “oh this is clingy here or this is a lump and bump and stuff like that.”

We very often find that people who have been through weight loss journeys don't always end up loving their body as much as they thought. People believe that reaching a weight loss goal will solve all their issues that they have with their body, and are often left disappointed when they don't see the difference, still pick out things they deep 'imperfect', or in extreme weight loss cases they're left with things like excess skin.

Changing how you view yourself and improving your mental state and self-love is a huge part of learning to love your body after weight loss. It doesn't matter if you've lost 2 stone or 10 stone, if you don't change how your see yourself and how you talk to yourself, your body confidence will never change. 

The day of her session arrived

Having a boudoir portrait session with us is a lot like gradually walking into the ocean, as opposed to being thrown into the deep end of a pool. We ease you into it with small steps so you never feel like you're 'in over your head'or like you can't back out. 

"Before the session I was really, really, really anxious. The whole day, then especially when I was leaving the house to come to the studio, I was really, really anxious about how it was going to go and how I was going to feel. But then during it, I sort of became more confident as the session went on, and it was really nice and Katrina was really lovely, saying “Yeah, you look great! You look great!” So I was like “Oh! OK, maybe I do.” It was really nice having my hair and make-up done as well, it was really calming before the session started. At first, I was really nervous but I got more relaxed as I got into it. I enjoyed it, I really enjoyed it, it was fun."

No matter how much we try, nobody will ever believe us when we say "you're going to be looking at roughly 25 images of yourself that you adore." Which is exactly what Lydia did and... well you can just read what she had to say about her images.

The expectation

"I did feel nervous about coming back to see them, not as bad, but I was still quite nervous. I was like, “well,  hopefully I'll like 1 or 2, as I'm here, there's bound to be one that's nice.” But yeah, I was still quite nervous about seeing them. I thought I'd see lots where I didn't like bits and be like “oh there's a lump there, that doesn't look very good.” So I thought whilst there might be some that look good, there's probably some that don't look good as well."

The reality

"They're amazing! I look incredible! That sounds so big-headed, I never normally say things like that, but I did it and I look amazing. I look really sexy and really glamorous."

A few final words from Lydia for anyone considering taking part

"Just do it because you've not really got anything to lose. Even if you don't like any photos, you just don't buy them. You don't come off any worse.

I think it's a way of seeing yourself in a different perspective because, at end of the day, the camera doesn't lie. The photos are what you look like, even if it's only in good lighting and only at good angles, that's still what you look like at some points. So yeah, do it because it feels amazing."

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.

Embrace Your Body Project – Sioux

Sioux had managed to pull herself out of an all time low and knew she not only needed, but deserved, some kind of pick-me-up to help her on her way and on this new chapter of her life. When she got in contact with us she said "I sank into a deep depression last year. I've managed to yank myself up to be able to move to a new town, this would be a huge boost to show I'm worth more than I thought and a reminder of just how far I've come."

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.

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