I still look back at starting this journey more than 5 years ago and remember how afraid I was to start. What if I failed? Fell flat on my face? I had a hard time even saying I had started a business. I kinda felt like a fraud. That's a distant memory now. 2015 was a better year than I could have imagined. And rather than talk about it, I picked some of the many highlights from the year to share. Thank you to all who made it such an amazing year. From the cities and beaches of NJ and PA and all the way to Chicago. I'm beyond grateful.
When you get a look at this beautiful woman, you will be shocked to find out that she does not like herself in pictures. Never has. Until now. This is why I love this job so much and why head shots have become one of the most fulfilling aspects for me. When people tell me that they never like photos of themselves, I get excited because I know we will make something beautiful. And with Jamie, like so many in the past, I knew it immediately. I look through my lens and I see the beauty that they do not. It’s not their fault. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t like herself. It’s just that we’re all our own worst critics. But I looked at the back of my camera during our shoot and told her she was going to be very happy because I saw so much beauty there. Patting myself on the back is not the main reason why I wanted to share Jamie’s session (although I do enjoy that too). From one entrepreneur to another, I am really excited for her. Jamie is a registered dietician with her own growing Arbonne business. Arbonne sells skin care, cosmetics and a nutrition line for overall health and wellness. Not surprising that, as a dietician, Jamie specializes on the nutrition side of the Arbonne business. For awhile, she was working with Arbonne as a supplement to her full time dietician position. In the more recent past, she was able to leave the full time job and dedicate herself completely to the growing business and her two young children. She’s happy and energized. It’s a beautiful thing to see and it translates in her photos.
And finally, Jamie and I went to high school together. We had not seen each other for the better part of 15 years and I was really happy to see her again and honored she trusted me to do something that made her very uncomfortable. In addition, her father was arguably my favorite teacher in high school. His English class was a haven for me. In addition, he was supportive and encouraging to me during a challenging teenage time. So Mr. Brady, congratulations on raising a beautiful, smart, talented woman. And I thank you so much for having strongly supported another.
I’m not sure I know where to begin with my thoughts about yoga and its impact on my life and my career. The personal and professional are so deeply intertwined that my thoughts on the subject are vast. I didn’t set out to take it where it has gone and I most certainly didn’t see it coming. But I will never question yoga coming into my life at the time it did, which was just as I was starting this business. And I know I, and it, wouldn’t be the same without it. The business and I would still be ok. But not likely as good as we are right now. And my loved ones are happy that I’ve found something that has given me clearer vision and more inner peace. Put the yoga, the business and my support system altogether and my confidence in my abilities has begun to soar. When I started getting asked to do yoga photography, I was nervous. In the way I get nervous every time I do something for the first time. But there was zero reason to be. I know and understand yoga, its movements, beauty and strength. And most importantly, the wonderful yogis who hire me know I understand them. And they’re open to me. Vulnerable, in a way that has really taken me by surprise. But what results from vulnerability with me is truth in the photos. And truth in photos is beauty. Perfection, really. These amazing people have relied on my vision and creativity in the way I rely on their ability to execute on that vision. These shoots have been such a collaboration and I fill with pride when I look at them. And it’s even cooler to see them on websites, in brochures and teacher training books and in print.
As I told a client who sent me a beautiful email about how my work is interwoven throughout every aspect of her studio, photographing yoga, and the people who live it, has given me more joy than I thought I could have with my camera. Pinch me.
If you’ve read anything from me or seen any posts, you know how much I love to do head shots. May sound boring but I truly do love it. I like understanding the person, who they are and what their work or life is all about. Only then do we create a head shot that speaks to them and their audience. One of the first questions I get asked when someone wants to price out head shots with me is does the price include retouching. It most certainly does. Not only because I genuinely enjoy it (I get all zen-like), but I think everyone’s shot deserves a little loving. Not to dramatically change the way they look or create something completely unattainable, but because even the most subtle of touches can change the way the person feels about their photo. In addition, they are paying good money to have a final piece that looks crisp, sharp and professional. I have been asked to a do a lot of things to peoples' photos. From looking thinner and younger to adding hair highlights and removing unwanted jewelry. Some things are simple, others next to impossible. And I will say as such, when necessary. The end product says as much about my style as it does the person. I have definite opinions about natural looking versus overdone. And to demonstrate that, I turned to the safest person. Myself. About a year ago, I was working on a lighting set-up for an upcoming shoot, and because I don’t have an assistant at the ready, I was my own model. By the way, it’s definitely an experiment every photographer should try out. I learned a lot.
I figured it might be interesting to see varying levels of photo retouching on a person’s face. And this also gives you a little insight into where I stand on the subject.
The below photo is straight out of the camera. Zero retouching.
In this next shot, I simply evened out the skin tones, smoothed out a few lines and removed any unwanted blemishes on the face. This is what I believe to be a very natural retouching. The "bags" under my eyes remain, albeit lightened up a bit. Not all wrinkles have been removed. I believe I still look like me.
Now, in the next photo, I have removed all signs of age. No lines, no bags, not one blemish. I'm not gonna lie, I'm kinda in love with it. Who wouldn't be a little in love with a flawless faced photo of themselves? However, it's not realistic. It's not me, in all my 38 year old, mother of two, glory. And therefore, you would never see me use it anywhere else.
And finally, just for sh*ts and giggles, I gave myself purple eyes and pink lips. Enjoy!
One of the reasons why I feel what’s In My Rearview is so important and eternally relevant is that in my previous career, I met and made connections with so many wonderful people. One of those people became the VP of Marketing Communications for the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. More than 4 years ago, he asked me to do head shots for them. And I’ve been steadily working for them in many capacities ever since. In addition, he reached out to two designers we both worked with who eventually went on to marry one another and start their own brand development and design firm. Untuck Design. Every year, Untuck develops and designs the United Way’s Case for Support. It is the organization’s foundational piece for its annual fundraising materials and is designed to provide an understanding of the United Way’s impact in the community. Four years ago, Untuck asked me to do the photography for the Case for Support. And it’s been four awesome years working together. I spend about a month traveling around the Greater Philadelphia area to meet and photograph some of the region’s top executives and supporters of, and donors to, the United Way. I’ve met some amazing, inspirational and clearly impactful people. I only hope I’m lucky enough to keep doing this work year after year. Thank you United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, Chris Murray and Untuck Design. I don’t think we could have predicted this when we worked together so many years ago but it is genuinely wonderful. And yet another example of why putting effort into great relationships, year after year, can take you places you never thought you’d go. (Hint: You’ll see that theme run through many posts here).