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.