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 – 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.

Embrace Your Body Project – Ana

Unlike most of our clients, Ana had already started her journey to body confidence long before she got in contact with us. She has been working hard to love her body after years of struggling with dieting and having a huge disconnect with her body, and through that process also wrote her own book about it titled "Stretched". 

After learning to love herself, she decided helping others to do the same was her calling. Now she is a body confidence inspiring queen who's been working hard promoting self-love and empowerment to as many people as she can. If you wanted to see what she's all about and get some inspiration from her amazing outlook on life, you can head to her Instagram page.

Where did it all start?

"So I've been on a whole journey with my body, as I think everyone has, but I think a lot of people don't realise where they are in that journey. So this year I wrote my book “Stretched” which is kind of when it all came out about how it really felt and how, really, the obsession to diet and change my body to look like the picture-perfect image that we all see on Instagram, that we aspire to be like, that kind of all... I came to realise how that actually affected my mental health. Things that I was ashamed of, that I'd done during that period of desperation to lose weight, weren't actually my fault. They were things that I did because I wasn't mentally fit & well to be thinking about things like that, especially after having a baby.

After I'd lost weight, you know, that's when you think that you'll be happy because you've lost the weight, I actually lost double what I intended to, and then I wasn't happy. I still found something to obsess over, my stomach that had been stretched from having twins, the skin was so loose that I was just mortified & disgusted by my reflection.

Everyone would look at me and say “Oh, wow, you've lost so much weight! You must feel amazing” and I just felt like an impostor on the inside. I just felt ugly and everyone thought I was this confident, beautiful person but I was thinking on the I inside “Well if they saw you without any clothes on...” and that actually prevented me from being in a relationship for a number of years. At that point I was single after splitting up with my three older ones dad and it stopped me being intimate with anyone. I would go on first dates and I would kind of push people away because I didn't want to get close to anyone.

I wouldn't buy jeans because if I couldn't fit into a 10 or a 12 I didn't think I was worthy or beautiful to wear a size 14 or whatever I was, the size I actually was, which I wouldn't even try on. I'd stick to the 'rules' of only wearing what flatters you because you can't wear colour, you can't wear patterns on your bottom because you don't want to draw attention to your 'problem area' and all that. It was all so damaging.”

What caused 'the switch'?

"Everyone asked me all the time “what was the switch?” And I don't really know. I just think it was a number of things. I started to realise... I started to read books that were from a different perspective. So I remember reading a book and it was like “It's wrong to have restrictions on food, it's bad for your mental health” And I remember thinking “Pfft, no It's not. It's alright to have a little restriction.” And I look back now and I realise how much in denial I was. They were talking about how living a healthy lifestyle is just another word for a diet and it's disordered eating and I was like “That's a no, no, no. That's not me!” And then I was realising how much I was actually... like when I did eventually find my partner and we got together, I would only ever eat sweet potatoes, not normal potatoes and he was like “Why? Why don't you eat normal potatoes?” “Oh because they're bad carbs.” Giving all this food this bad name and having this disordered eating with food and complicated relationship.

It was kind of like, a little bit like working on little bits, and little bits, and little bits, and then through my third pregnancy with my fourth child, he was born in 2018, and afterwards obviously you have all the changes of your body and everything. I'd gone through that before and I'd hated it, after I had my first child I was only 20, I did not have a clue what was gonna happen. I kept thinking "Why do I still look pregnant? Why do I still have all these stretch marks? Not even just on my tummy, on my boobs, on my arms, on my calves. I got cellulite in places I didn't know you could get it." Literally, all these changes and then after I'd had Spencer, I just remember one day I was just driving in a car and I was like “Do you know what? If I stay this shape and size for the rest of my life, what's the big deal? Like, genuinely, there's so much more to life than worrying about having a few stretch marks, and you know... being like a size 16.”

Negative past expeirences

"When I was 18, I had a photo shoot, I was talking to Robin about this during the shoot and it wasn't necessarily my body back then but I hated how the make-up artist had done my face and I hadn't been brave enough to actually say “Oh no, could you add this, could you add that?” And I just felt like I looked like a drug dealer. So literally, for my 18th birthday present, I hated it. I literally felt so self-conscious.

And, do you know what? When you look back in your brain and you think about the images, I probably didn't even look that bad. I probably didn't look as bad as I was feeling.  

So I came here, obviously, with a different purpose to show how bodies are more naturally and not hide the 'problem areas' that people might think they have, just to show them that their body is beautiful, just as they are and it is a normality. What you see on your media screens is a minority of people. Coming here was a really great experience."

Even body confidence gurus get nervous

"I did feel nervous... not necessarily about getting in my underwear because I've done a few things this year where I've had to do that, but losing control. I think of not taking the pictures myself and trusting other people to do it.

I was worried I wouldn't like how I looked. I think, for me, it's not necessarily about my body it's more about my face. I think I'm still a bit self-conscious about what faces I'm pulling what angle and stuff. 

How does Ana feel about herself now?

"Amazing. I'm glad I trusted and I let go and didn't have control over it. Although I did make Robin take a few shots that maybe he wouldn't of, they look amazing. I look sexy!" 

Ana's message to anyone who's feeling apprehensive about coming along to us:
"I'd say you're not the only one. I think probably all women who think about it probably spend longer thinking about it than they do other things. But just take a breath and remember how short life is and what have you got to lose? Go for it and just trust, and just let go, and just go with it. "

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 – Ciara

Before having her shoot, Ciara let us know she wanted to see the change in her body since her weight loss. "I've recently lost 7.5 stone & I haven't liked the way my body looked before or after the weight loss & I would like the confidence boost of doing something like this."

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 – Anonymous

Obviously anyone who comes to us for a session is asked if they are happy for us to share their images, that fact doesn't change if you are coming is as part of our 'Embrace Your Body' project. When X got in contact with us, they said "I want to embrace the way I look for myself, my confidence, and my fiance." And that was our mission.

How did you feel about your body before your session?

"Not the best, I've struggled with weight issues and self-confidence issues for years now, always finding it difficult to like the way I looked in anything I wore and whatever I did. I didn't want to get undressed in front of anybody for years and I still still have those moments, but yeah my confidence levels were through the floor basically before this."

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

"I was nervous going into it, I didn't know what I was getting myself into, well, I knew exactly what I was getting myself into, but I didn't know if I was ready for it, but other than that the session was okay. Going into it was great because it was welcoming, everyone here was really welcoming, it was nice. It was warm too, it was really cold outside so it was nice to be in a warm studio when I thought it was going to be really cold."

Did you start to feel nervous about coming back to see your photos, after the session? 

"After the session I felt really good about it, but it was yesterday that I started going “On my god. What am I gonna? Do I wanna go? Do I wanna cancel it?” But I was like “No, I'm not gonna cancel it.” And my partner was like “Well, I'm coming anyway, so I can't go there without you. You're driving me.” I was like “okay, okay, fine I'll go”. We got round the corner from the building about half an hour ago, I was just like “ummm” then my partner looked at me and was like “You're nervous, aren't you?” And I was like “Yeah!” And he went “What it's fine.” I would say "I'm gonna have to do it now we're here.”"

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

"Slightly more confident. I wouldn't say I'm 100% there, yet. After seeing the photos I was sort of, a little bit gob smacked that I can look like that. But I really do, I love the images. I love them more than I thought I was going to. I thought I was just gonna be embarrassed the whole time, seeing my body out for everyone to see (everyone being the three people that were in this room). But yes, I feel more confident about them now than I did before I'd seen them."

Is there anything else you could say to someone who's feeling apprehensive coming along for their own session?

"Do it anyway. Don't worry about the stuff that I did, I was completely self-conscious when I stepped into this building, but as soon as soon as I took my clothes off I was fine, because I was made to feel comfortable. I wasn't made to feel like I was being pushed around. I wasn't being forced to do anything and it was my choice at the end of the day whether I was here or not. So I didn't particularly know what I was getting myself into, but it was worth it in the end. Definitely."

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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