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How I felt about my own before and after

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How I felt about my own before and after

One of my gifts, as a photographer and a human is that I am able to see everything beautiful in you and everything that you maybe, aren’t super happy about, too. So, how did I feel about my own before and after?

When I first entered photography professionally, I was immediately drawn to modern portraiture. As a college student (a hundred or so years ago), I loved the edgy, black and white aesthetic. it was the 90’s. Everything was edgy, then, haha! As my photography grew and I was able to hone my skills, contemporary glamour was easily where my heart burst with joy. There is something so simple, yet so magnificent about stripping away everything you don’t like or hate about yourself and lighting everything that is beautiful. Defining that in a magazine style portrait that just, well, it sings.

Recently, I’ve been on a bit of a rampage in purchasing new pieces for our studio wardrobe. Beautiful satin and lace dresses for anyone to wear during their photo shoot here in Asheville. Elegant pieces to go that extra mile in ensuring you feel beautiful for your photo shoot. You might come in thinking, “Oh I just need new head shots” or “I’m more of a casual girl” but, having that extra piece of drop dead gorgeous never hurts anyone.

So, what better time than to test the waters myself? So, I donned one of the new pieces and called a photographer friend over, hung my black velvet backdrop and put on a face and stepped in front of her lens.

“What are you doing, Cat? Why on earth do you NEED a portrait? You just had a full on beauty session a year and a half ago with another photographer. Do you really need another one? Do you even really DESERVE another one? God, this looks horrible on you. Your makeup looks awful and you haven’t touched up your hair color and you could use to lose more than just a few pounds. You’re almost 40. There’s no way these will be even remotely resemble the you, you remember…”

Pause.

“OK deep breaths, Cat.”

All the voices, I acknowledged their existence. Always in the voice of the 12-year-old me. She was constantly berated so, I can’t really blame her for being scared. It’s her job to protect me from suffering that kind of attack…oh wait…

Be careful how you speak to yourself. You are listening after all.

I took my “Before” picture in my kitchen, after a single cup of coffee in front of a window. No makeup, I don’t think I’d even brushed my hair. A real “before”, to say the least. Yup, that’s me in the morning. How did I feel about the before? Seeing the truth sometimes can be jolting. I got to see all of my flaws in the cold light of day, and then I was going to put it out there for all the interwebs to see. Haha! The dark circles under my eyes, the scowl lines in between my eyebrows from spending 20+ years in the Florida sun, my growing chin (what’s THAT about anyway, jeez) and the list goes on. The point is, that is my face. That is what I look like. In a normal day, I might throw on a little moisturizer and some eye makeup. I might even go so far as lipstick if I’m feelin sassy. I’m a pretty good lookin gal, curves and all. A little face can go a long way.

In editing the footage we shot that day, we were very careful to only go as far as we would for any client. I am very meticulous about retouching. As much as I wanted to wave my magic photo shop wand to get rid of everything I see, it was very important that I remain my beautiful self and, not some idealized version of myself. My portraiture is based on highlighting everything beautiful about my client and if I went the “extra mile” on my own portraits, it would have defeated the purpose.

Having the strength to step in front of a camera can be challenging. You’re faced with all of your flaws and “I’m not good enough”, right then. You ARE good enough. everything about you is perfect. You are valued.

Having the strength to step in front of a camera can be challenging. You’re faced with all of your flaws and “I’m not good enough”, right then. You ARE good enough. everything about you is perfect. You are valued.

So, what do I see staring back at me?

  • a woman who loves her work
  • the courage to let all of the voices have their say, and then move forward to embrace this moment
  • a woman with doubts and fears, just like everyone else
  • a woman who is loved
  • a woman who has worked tirelessly to build her business
  • a beautiful portrait, now part of my legacy

I put this image out on social media yesterday. Clicking the “post” button definitely took a minute…or two but, here’s the thing, if I can’t share my very own before and after, how on earth could I ever expect you to come into my studio, let alone experience your very own transformation with us?

Our service, our process is not one of turn and burn, wham bam thank you ma’am. I want you to be able to envision yourself having your portraits made with us. I want for you to see that my purpose here is not to just photo shop everything away, it’s to showcase everything wonderful about you, right now. It’s to help you see past all of the little things you hate seeing in the mirror: all of the shoulda, woulda, coulda, all of the when I lose 15 pounds, all of the when I get to the salon or the gym, all of the maybe one days, all of the “I’m not good enough”. You ARE good enough. You DO deserve beautiful portraits. Your family and loved ones deserve beautiful portraits OF YOU.

They are your keepsakes. They are your heirlooms.

In the words of Sue Bryce, “You are beautiful. I want to capture you for All time.”

I would love to photograph you.

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28 Days with Sue Bryce {Personal Journey}

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28 Days with Sue Bryce {Personal Journey}

If you have been following me or Studio 828 Photography, you know that I’ve been 110% immersed in a continuing education program called, 28 Days with Sue Bryce. For other photographers out there that are considering a contemporary portrait specialty in their studio, I cannot recommend this enough. To all of the models that I have worked with over the past 29 weeks, I am incredibly humbled by each of you. I am so thankful to have been able to give you imagery that you love and that you were there for me to help me come closer to mastering my craft. And Sue, you have given so much to the photographic community and to me personally within this virtual mentor-ship through the Facebook groups and via CreativeLive…I cannot thank you enough. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Is it a cakewalk? Not even a little bit. Is 28 Days expensive? Only if you don’t do the work. Can I just subscribe to her site instead? Sure you can but it won’t be the same. The beauty of the subscription service on Sue’s site is that when paired with 28 Days, you simply get THAT much better both as an artist and in business. SueBryce.com is the protein shake, 28 Days is the workout.

There are a few courses to finish that cover logistics and philosophy (the shooting is complete) but, I couldn’t help to share some of the beautiful imagery I’ve been able to create this year because of 28 Days with Sue Bryce on CreativeLive. I’ve met some amazing people and pushed my own boundaries to really make the best of my skills and talent to provide a better service and quality in product. I’m looking forward to creating the business of my dreams and the ball is already rolling.

One of the amazingly great side effects of working through this program is creating bonds “on the inside” from others doing the work, the same as you. I’ve connected with several wonderful and talented women (and a handful of men) on this journey and yesterday had the opportunity to go to Columbia to meet another student face to face, have a delicious lunch (because, duh!) and trade mini shoots in her natural light studio in Lexington SC. It was so great to connect outside of the interwebs, truly. She and her husband are a fantastic team and they work out of their home (I might be a little jealous there haha) to create some beautiful work for their clients. Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Lauren Gregory of Lauren Gregory Photography.

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XoXo,

Cat

My personal journey in completing 28 days with Sue Bryce on Creative Live.

My personal journey in completing 28 days with Sue Bryce on Creative Live.

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