Please tell me you remember back in the 90s when the Glamour Shots phenomenon hit the local malls. You could pop in and get your hair and makeup done and get a Cosmopolitan cover inspired photo shoot. Sort of like the teen version of today’s Sweet and Sassy Spa for girls. My distaste for that place is another post for another day. Yes the glamour shot idea was corny and cheesy but I think they were on to something.
The only time as a grown woman, and I am not including prom, that you take the time to look your most beautiful is usually your wedding day. Touted as “your day”, you get to be a princess of sorts. The dress, the hair, the makeup and of course the most time-consuming part of the day, is the photos. Why? Well of course we all want to remember our special day but let’s face it we are hoping to catch ourselves at our most beautiful. I know in reality this is not when most of us feel our most beautiful, I was still rather young and uncomfortable in my big white dress and a head of hair stabbed with 673 bobby pins and enough hair spray for a small country. I feel much more beautiful when I am on the beach playing with my kids wearing no makeup, my toes in the sand and the sun on my face, but trust me, pictures of me on the beach on few and far between.
Feeling beautiful and looking beautiful don’t always come together for us as women. All the makeup and couture can’t fix what doesn’t feel good on the inside while sometimes we may feel pretty good about who we are on the inside but cringe when faced with a mirror. I’ve worked with every size and shape of women and I can’t remember any of them saying they were happy with having their picture taken and viewing the results. This is why most women start to disappear to behind the camera at a certain age. Content to take photos of others it is easier for women to be behind the lens than in front of it. If you look through most of your friends photos in frames at their homes or on Facebook they are usually absent from the gallery of shots. No one wants to look at themselves because they don’t like what they see. It’s sad.
It’s easy to make fun of the younger generation that is busy constantly taking selfies and perfecting their photo ready pose but maybe they are on to something in terms of confidence. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder so why can’t we just look at ourselves and say “Damn girl you look good”!
The other week I had the opportunity to have my photo taken but the über talented Jie Lan of In The Eye photography. The session appealed to me because it was part of Jie’s Human’s of Kennett Square segment on her blog. She initially mentioned doing an environmental shot and I figured she wanted me posing in a field near a tree. I am up for anything but she explained that she meant my own environment, sort of like photographing an animal in its natural habitat. In my case my natural habitat is my closet/office, aka my happy place.
Since this shoot was meant to reflect me in my work space I wore my typical uniform of jeans and top. Jie came over and immediately spied a green gown hanging in my closet. I love the dress but have only had only wore it once 2 years ago to a black tie function. She asked if we could take some shots of me in the dress. While I felt silly at first I quickly became comfortable. That dress is one of my favorite things in my closet because it is amazingly comfortable and makes me feel super glamorous. Under Jie’s calm demeanor and careful directing she staged the shot and helped me to use poses she knew would photograph well. It was relaxing and enjoyable. An hour later it was all over and I was back into sweats cleaning the bathrooms, my Cinderella moment gone but not forgotten.
A couple of days later I saw the photos and was in denial they were of me. I loved the way I looked. I know how conceited that sounds but how often do you get a chance to really like the way you look in a photo? I liked these photos better than the ones on my wedding day. I think they showed a beauty that can only be earned with age and experience. Every gray hair, every wrinkle, every scar tells a story about how I got to this point in my life. And I wouldn’t change any of it.
I met with Jie last week as a follow-up to our shoot. I explained to her how I cannot stop thinking about women typically do not have photos taken of themselves. They spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on photographs of their loved ones, especially their children, but never shy away from having any pictures of themselves. Life is a journey and we should take the time to capture what we look like during the ride. Take the time to appreciate the beauty in yourself. Think about the times you have flipped through photographs of your mother or grandmother when they were younger. You always find them to be beautiful. You don’t judge their hairstyle or their size. You stare in the photo wondering about who they were at that time in their lives, fascinated by seeing them in their youth. Time goes by so fast we should preserve the different points in our lives so that our great granddaughters can view a picture of us and think “Wow! Look how pretty grandma was”! We always are going to think we looked better when we were younger but we are only getting older, so start taking some pics now.
Treat yourself to a grown up glamour shot in a setting you feel the most beautiful. Maybe it is working in your garden in an oversize sun hat, the dirt on your fingers and the sun on your face. Maybe it is a styled shot of you cooking in your kitchen, working your magic whipping up one of your favorite meals. What makes you happy makes you feel beautiful. When you feel beautiful it shows.
*Insider Tip – Connect with your photographer.
Finding the right photographer to photograph you in your element is sort of like an episode of The Bachelorette, minus the hot tub scenes. It’s natural to feel tense when a camera lens is focused on you, but a photo session with with Jie feels very chill because she herself is calm and relaxed. I need that in order to be able to let go a little bit in front of the camera. You need to make sure you “have a connection” with the photographer and that their personality and style fits with yours. Some photographers are high energy and play upbeat music, others have a quiet style. There are a lot of talented photographers out there so take the time to meet your match. Meet with the photographer first and make sure you are comfortable. They need to understand who you are in order to capture it on film. If they don’t know you they won’t be able to produce a photo that tells your story.
Special thank you to Jie for having “the eye” for detail to get everything just right.