I was the definition of a tomboy growing up - rough and tumble with a backwards hat, glasses that were taped in the middle due to being too rough on the basketball court, cuts and scrapes and skipping the pink toy aisle at the store, haha - all the classics. This attitude and independence didn't translate well into high school, and on top of that I was also was evolving out of my scrawny boy build and into a curvy yet fit frame. Once I started gaining weight in college I struggled to identify with myself, and over time I let it emotionally cripple me.
After years of warped self-perspective, I decided it was time figure out a way to clear the fog. "Ha, you're crazy" was a common retort to compliments or "it's just smoke and mirrors" to generous photo comments and let us not forget the famous, "oh but when I lose this weight, I'm going to do this that and this" as a response to so many plans and goals, as if it was going to be some mode of self motivation - but just turned into a broken record annoyance. I've tried every trick there was to try and combat this self deprecation but nothing was working, so for my 30th birthday I called in my reinforcements, Gia & Kelliana, two wonderful humans with awe inspiring confidence and skill.
Going into the shoot, my nervousness outweighed my excitement, but that was short-lived as I wanted to prove to myself (and them, as they are well aware of my neurosis) that I could do this. A professional photo shoot was completely foreign to me, but I was given this amazing opportunity and needed to take full advantage of it - to see what was really beyond this defensive exterior.
The shoot was an absolute blast! Kelianna did an incredible job of making me feel comfortable and of not allowing myself to be lost within the makeup - to make sure that it was still me, but by also glaming me up just enough, she made me feel gorgeous. She had a perfect plan for me and I trusted her completely. Gia, what can I say...she is a true artist. It went so far beyond just taking the photographs or figuring out the proper lighting. Her knowledge of space, lines and body language along with her energy and raw ability to draw out the personality and expression that the photograph needs to be alive was incredible to watch. She truly loves what she does and it shows through every encouraging and/or instructional moment.
When I saw a sneak peak of the first photo, I was blown away! It was a perfect mix of my harsh as well as vulnerable qualities...it was me. I couldn't believe how much of 'me' she was able to pull to the surface. I'm known for being hard on myself and my own worst critic, but I truly couldn't find anything to say about the image other than "beautiful". My friends & family are so used to seeing me ruin pictures of myself with a snarky smirk or an over the top cheese ball smile, that they were almost as shocked as I was. It's been overwhelming.
Relinquishing control and giving into the process proved to be the main challenge but also the most necessary piece of the experience. I would find myself laughing as I held myself in an awkward pose, thinking how silly this was - but then Gia would show me the back of the camera and say "see! look how incredible that translates". If you ever get the chance to work this with amazing team, you will walk away with so much more than a few photographs. This has been a huge turning point for me and the best gift I could have ever been given.