ABOVE: I had this portrait taken shortly after I begun photographing women. I had my own pamper session with an incredible hair & makeup artist in Seattle, Nikoma. Amazing experience!
The more I photograph women, the more I realize why I feel so connected to what I do. Today I wanted to share my personal story with you.
Growing up I remember my family struggling financially. Having two brothers meant to grow up playing “boy’s games” most of the time, such as climbing trees, exploring woods and forests, catching frogs and other creatures, playing with empty shot gun cartridges we’d gather at local fairs, and wearing my older brother’s clothes on occasion, as we couldn’t afford new ones. My little brother and I looked so alike that often times our neighbors would mistake me for him. I had short hair most of my life. I tried to grow it out over the years, but even then my hair never passed shoulder-length.
I secretly dreamt of being beautiful & girly, but from very early stage of my life I was convinced I wasn't. I remember having my picture taken when I was in kindergarten. I was 4 years old and I wore my brother's clothes that day; his green pants and navy blue sweater (see the picture at the bottom). All children were given a toy to hold for the picture, and I recall how badly I wanted to hold a doll, yet one of my teachers tucked a big toy truck into my arms and sent me off to have a picture taken. I couldn't understand why and I remember how sad it made me feel... And even though there are other school pictures where I'm dressed in skirts or dresses, this one image has been so vivid in my memory until this day. I made my life decision back then that I'm not beautiful or feminine.
Even though I wanted to wear nice skirts and dresses, and feel beautiful, I was a very picky child. I remember my parents making me wear my navy blue knee-length skirt to church on Sundays. The skirt was old-fashioned and I truly hated it, but couldn’t oppose. Living in a small town meant I had to look presentable to public to avoid bad reputation. And what was “presentable” to older generation was completely hideous to young people. So each time I wore it I wanted to hide with embarrassment. Often times I would go to church on a Saturday evening, only to avoid wearing the skirt on a Sunday, or first thing Sunday morning to avoid being seen by my friends, who usually attended mid-day mass service. I didn’t want them to see me dressed in an old-fashioned way. I made another decision... that skirts make me look ugly, old and unattractive, so I stopped wearing them as soon as I could make my own decisions.
I grew up with a very low self-esteem, believing that sexy and beautiful are shameful, that I should always be humble, and never, ever show others my true self. My mother taught me to be respectful of others, avoid arguments (sometimes even if it meant not fighting for my own rights), be polite and tactful. Sexy and beautiful were definitely subjects to avoid in our family. She meant well and wanted to protect me… but having already been extremely introverted, I turned all these daily reminders into deep insecurities, which I carried through most of my life. And even though our family situation changed as we got older, and I became more feminine and independent, my believe system has already been planted & seemed very real.
So when I discovered women’s portraiture I felt incredibly connected to helping women feel beautiful and confident in photographs, because it was something I lacked most of my life.
Another reason I feel so connected to portraits is my father… he passed away 7 years ago, and I wish I had a good photograph of him that I could print and hang on the wall. I’ve had my camera for many years, but never thought of taking pictures of the people I love. I was just a hobbyist back then, fascinated with photography, but without purpose.
If you know me, you know how much I love printed portraits on the walls of my house… there is nothing better than catching a glimpse of a beautiful portrait of someone I love each time I walk by it.
When was the last time you had your portrait taken? Exist in photographs now, before it's too late...
ABOVE: picture day at Kindergarten
I still remember how I felt that day, and how badly I wanted to hold a doll for this group picture; yet one of my teachers tucked this truck into my arms without even asking if I like it, and sent me off to have a picture taken... I didn't oppose; I was taught not to...