Elise, Author at Smart Photography

All Posts by Elise

Embrace Your Body Project – Laura

When Laura first got in contact with us she said "I am a plus size, short, tattooed, short haired woman, and I don't generally see many people who look like me confident in their own skin. I'd like to help prove you can love your body even if it doesn't conform to commercial standards." It was clear Laura saw the problem with not loving your body, and wanted push back against the ridiculous beauty standards we're expect to conform to (with most of them being entirely out of our control) but she​ still needed a little help to see just how beautiful she is.

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 – Maxine

When Maxine first got in contact with us she said "I'm coming up to 58, I just got engaged and would love to feel amazing and sexy for my man." We always say, there is no age limit on boudoir (aside from being over 18), and it is never too late to learn to love your body, and to feel sexy & beautiful.

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 – Laura

The whole pressure on women for their bodies to 'bounce back' to 'normal' after childbirth is absurd. You just created life, your body has gone through an intense 9 months, and getting back to the body you had before can't be your first priority. Not to mention that, no matter how hard you try, your body will have changed. There will with be stretch marks that weren't there before, c-section scars, saggy bits, and lumps & bumps. That is normal & natural, and that body still deserves your love. If anything it deserves it even more now.

Laura knows this all too well, because 9 months before coming in, she brought not one, but two babies into the world, and has had a disconnect with her body since then. Thankfully she realised she needed to see how beautiful she is right now, not be longing for the body she had before.

 "After giving birth to my twin boys almost 9 months ago, I no longer recognise myself in the mirror. Going from a size 14, to 18 with a C Section scar and overhang, I no longer feel confident or attractive. I hide myself away in baggy clothes and don't feel attractive, I think I need something to remind me how beautiful I am."

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 – Amber

After Amber's viewing, we sent her an email with a few questions about her time with us and how the experience has affected her body confidence along the way, what we got back was far more than we expected but we are incredibly grateful that Amber was happy to share so much with us. For now, we'll leave it to Amber to tell you all about her journey.


"It has been a pleasure to take part in the “embrace your body project" and be given the chance to inspire other women to embrace their bodies... Here is my story..."

How were you feeling about your body, before your portrait session?

"Working as a personal trainer and fitness class instructor, I see so many people come through the doors, my clients wanting assets like those we see on social media models. I had been contemplating a boudoir session for a long time, I just never got round to it. I started speaking to Anna since early December and was made aware of the project during this time. Before taking part in this amazing project, I tried far too hard to reach unattainable standards to match those I thought were expected in the fitness industry. As a Mum of two young children, my body has changed throughout the years, specifically in my tummy area, and as soon as I qualified as a personal trainer I began studying pre and post natal fitness instructing, which I am now also qualified in. I wanted to help myself as well as others with their fitness after having babies. I wanted to find out how my body transformations affected my training.

My problem area is a diastasis recti (belly gap) since pregnancy, which will never completely close and does restrict me with certain exercises – ab crunches and planks being two of them! Being in the fitness industry I felt these restrictions could hinder me. I was under the impression you have to look a certain way to be a personal trainer. How could I do this if I cannot train a whole large muscle group? No amount of training will correct the diastasis recti completely, I needed some other way of helping myself come to terms with this..."

How did you feel about the session, on the day itself?

"I'm never usually a morning person. I certainly never usually wake up before my partner and both kids, but on the morning of my session I had so many emotions running through my head, I was up very early – anxiety, am I going to perform? Being photographed is a huge deal, you have one chance to get it right!

I didn't really know what to expect. On the drive to the studio I was contemplating EVERYTHING. "Should I really be doing this? Have I chosen the correct hair and make up ideas? Can I even do the poses I loved and saved to my Pinterest board?"! And there was totally the opposite end of the spectrum – heaps of excitement because I was trying something new. Only my partner knew about the experience and he kept telling me it would be fun... I think I wanted an element of surprise for everyone else too when I told them where I had been! I took far too many outfits, I was massively indecisive that morning but I'm glad I had so many options! "How was I going to perform?" Was the question, there was only one way to find out... I just had to be brave in the meantime!

Hair and make-up was up first – and Kristina did a beautiful job of getting my make-up just right. It was different to what I was used to and Kristina made sure the look worked for me! Then the session began... It didn't take long for me to relax, Robin did amazingly to make me feel comfortable in the studio. He was brilliant at directing me into poses and advising me which outfits would go best with which pose. I felt on top of the world after my session! It was so much fun, I didn't want it to end! And I would take any future opportunity to do it again, knowing in hindsight how much fun it was! I loved that Robin allowed me to bring a little bit of my personality into the photos too. I am obsessed with Disney so I brought a cute Tinkerbell denim jacket and of course my collection of Disney tattoos along for the ride!"

How were you feeling about coming back to see your photos?

"The week between that of the session and the viewing was a roller-coaster of a ride... One minute I was excited the next I was reminiscing on times I might not have done it right... "Did I pull funny faces, or smile like I was meant to? I sure hope I didn't have a wardrobe malfunction! And what if the diastasis recti showed massively?" I wanted it in the photo though - it's a part my story after all!

On the day of the viewing I had the longest 8 hour Sunday shift at work beforehand... The whole day dragged! I was apprehensive and excited, just the same as I was on the day of my session. When I got to the studio, Anna greeted me and took me straight through to the viewing area – with my eyes closed of course, and what a surprise I had on entrance, seeing all 25 of MY photos on the wall... I was speechless. I don't think I said anything for at least 30 seconds, I was just so overwhelmed by my photos. Each one I took in. I always look for flaws in my appearance, but this time I was stumped – I couldn't find any! Lots of things went through my mind, "how do I look like this? Why don't I look like this, to me?" My partner came to the viewing too and very quickly reiterated that he tries to tell me this often, but I just couldn't see it. I needed a totally new perspective and what better way to do this than with a portrait session in your underwear! I have never even seen all 17 of my tattoos on show before now! And to top this off... I loved the photos so much I BOUGHT EVERY SINGLE PHOTO!"

How are you feeling about yourself, now that you've seen your photos?

"Until seeing my boudoir photos, I couldn't remember the time I last saw a photo of myself that really wowed me. None of these photos would have been possible without Robin's directions, experience and sense of comfort, the stylists wonderful eye for make-up and Anna's words that got me there in the first place, and everyone else involved in the running of Smart Photography. I will always be hugely grateful to you all for this. 

My muscles will never fully lock back together, no matter how hard I work, but this didn't even show in the photos! It isn't bad at all! It hasn't been easy taking on board restrictions. But do you know what? Nothing is worth more than the body that created 2 beautiful human beings. My reminder of my story so far.

I've learned my limits, and the limits of others I can now help along the way. I have followed my own advice... I will never have a perfectly defined six pack, but who cares anyway? I've earned better stripes... Stripes that symbolise life... Stripes that show my journey into motherhood... Without these stripes I would not be reminded every day of my worth, the miracle of life, who I am, the wonderful work my body has done and the blessings I have been given... After all, Mummy is a title just above queen... And this will forever be my biggest achievement!"

Is there anything you'd like to say to anyone who's feeling apprehensive about having a session of their own?

"I have learned many valuable lessons during this process, but the biggest lesson and advice I would share is always remember – everyone is different. We change, we grow as people, and these changes are necessary to our journey through life. The important thing is, we must not give in to society and compare ourselves to anyone! Learn to embrace these changes, use them to tell a story not as a comparison to others... You are your own inspiration, you are unique and you have your own story to tell... And every story is different...

This wonderful “Embrace Your Body" project and the lovely people I have encountered during the process have empowered me to think with this positivity. Happiness really does come from within, with self-love.

If you are considering a session for yourself, definitely do not hesitate to take the opportunity! Book it! I promise you will not regret it! By seeing yourself in a totally different perspective, you can help see things differently, just like I did! If I am willing to buy every single photo, you will too! 

My new motto... Always aim to be “the best version of you...” Not the supermodel on Instagram. Not the person down the road. YOU! And this is a message I will transfer to all my clients too...

Life is a roller-coaster... falling in love with yourself is all part of the ride..." 

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 – 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.

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