Posts tagged confidence
Different Shades of Beauty | Winston Salem Portrait Photographer | Jasper & Fern

My youtube channel makes some interesting suggestions sometimes. Most of the time it suggests diy projects, photography, Ellen, sharks and acrylic pours. It also occasionally suggests uplifting content. Most recently, one of the "What Would You Do" videos, headlined "Teen Wanting to Look Whiter," popped up. Heart strings tugged and interest in this social experiment drew me in.

In the video, two young black girls are discussing skin bleaching. The girls are actors attempting to instigate reactions from the surrounding people. Unfamiliar with these practices and unfamiliar with cultural standards, I really wasn't sure which direction these reactions would go.

The more responses that were shared, the larger the lump in my throat grew. This one gentleman compassionately responded how I wish anyone would respond to any person dealing with an insecurity or pressure like this.

"You don't think you're fine just the way you are?" After explaining his own experience with his aunts' skin bleaching and cautioning them about safety, he shared a beautiful perspective.

"See, there's different shades of beauty."

That sums it up right there. Beauty isn't just one thing or one type of person. Beauty is more than can be put on a box or a magazine cover and sold.

As a photographer, I see this struggle for self value and confidence in many of my clients. As a woman, as a human, I see these same struggles in myself. While my struggles were different than what the video is about, I wish I'd met someone with this compassion who could have shared with me what this man shared with these girls. No one should feel like they are “less than.”

This video, this story, goes to show how much we can impact each other - how much we influence each other's understanding of value and of beauty. Be kind with your words and actions, Friends.

As you go forward today, friend, know that you are perfect just the way you were created and, above all, know that you are loved.

(You can watch his whole interaction starting at 3:06 if you want. He does go on to share some other meaningful and compassionate insight.)

Social experiment focused on the standards of beauty when it comes to skin color | Skin bleaching | self value | beauty standards | self confidence | self hate | body issues | identity | young girls believing they’re worthless

Um, no thank you.
" 'Um, no thank you. I done and I’m going to go home now. Thank you for your time' I said. I remember hearing the shake and irritation in my voice. " | Self Care Tips | Self Value | Confidence | Inspiring Quotes for Women | Set Healthy Boundaries | quotes on nature | Encouraging quotes | Winston Salem Photographer | Jasper & Fern

A few years ago I decided to do something that would help me grow as a photographer. I wanted to thoroughly understand what someone might be going through in front of my camera. That way, I could balance helping them feel comfortable and confident while also being “in my zone.” The best way to do that, I determined, was to be in front of the as many different photographers as I could be. It was there in my vulnerability I learned not only how to be a better photographer but about the importance of healthy boundaries.

When I first began my project, I started out with photographers I knew - keeping in my comfort zone. Then, as I grew in my confidence, I started venturing out and working with photographers I didn’t know. It was here in the realm of the unknown photographers that I met a man we’ll call Blake.

Blake was a quiet man with a gentle demeanor who happened to have a love for the horror genre. When we first talked about working together (because I ALWAYS recommend meeting with someone and talking ideas over before you officially decide to work together) I was specific about the fact that I had a few dresses I wanted to wear and was open to some more creative ideas as well but did not want to do any or much horror-esque photographs. We came to a set plan and scheduled the session.

The day of the session, I met him on location, rotated through a few outfits and then we looked through the RAW images. Once we’d selected our favorites, he asked if I wanted to do some more “horror-esque” photographs with fake blood and wearing some torn up clothing he had. I commented that it wasn’t really my cup of tea, like we discussed, but would be okay if we could brainstorm an idea we could both get behind. Ultimately, we found an idea that he was still excited about and I was feeling okay about doing. (Do you see my wavering boundaries?? Eeek - I should have acknowledged those flags going off in my brain)

As we photographed the last segment of our session - the horror-esque portion - Blake began to try and push my boundaries with the horror aspect. While I’d previously stated I didn’t want blood or anything too dark, he started to ask again if I was sure and then make slight passive aggressive remarks like “this would look MUCH better if we could do blood” and “too bad you don’t want to have more fun.” (Throw up more of those flags!!!) I began to grow uneasy and uncomfortable. I kept politely declining his asks and, finally, after he made the comment about not wanting to have more fun, I finally put my foot all the way down.

”Um, no thank you. I'm done and I’m going to go home now. Thank you for your time” I said. I remember hearing the shake and irritation in my voice. I’m not a confrontational person but I felt disregarded and like I was being manipulated. I was done being pushed to do something I was uncomfortable with and I needed to course correct and honor my original boundaries.

This experience sticks out in my mind because it happened at the stage of my life where I started to be more assertive on my own behalf. I remember how uncomfortable it was to be asked to do things I didn’t want, how small I started to feel when he disregarded my simple boundaries and how icky I felt after the whole situation. I walked away with stress bearing on my chest and guilt riding on my brain.

This experience helped me learn that I need to be assertive with my boundaries up front. I need to be kind but firm in what I say and I need to walk away more swiftly from situations where I’m not being respected - even if it’s as simple of a situation as my time with Blake. If I would have set my boundary more firmly upfront, it would have been more difficult for him to try and push me and manipulate me. I also wouldn’t have walked away feeling gross that I had been disrespected because I would have had confidence in knowing I did my part.

To this day, I still see those images on occasion and I wish I’d set my foot down earlier. Hind-sight is always 20/20 and, while the images aren’t trashy, they still pick at my brain a little. They just remind me of a time I was uncomfortable because I valued keeping someone else happy over truly sticking to who I was. In the grand scheme of it all, I’m thankful for the reminders that pop up and show me how much I’ve grown, encourage me to keep growing and reinforce how important it is to care for myself and respect myself always.

Celebrating Julie : Overcoming Camera Anxiety and Shoulder Surgery
Anxiety does not photograph well, ugh
— Julie concluded with frustration.

Being the librarian for an online international college, it was important to Julie that she have headshots that showed her fun-loving spirit, quirkiness and approachability.

"What I'm needing is not so much a Glamour Shots experience as a professional headshot with assistance," Julie's email read with a bit of stress. She went on to explain that her employer had recently provided headshots for her but she needed assistance "minimizing [her] double chin and reminding [her] to smize." Additionally, Julie wasn't happy because she felt anxious and uncomfortable as the portraits took place in a lobby full of people. "Anxiety does not photograph well, ugh" she concluded with resounding frustration. 

Julie's recent shoulder surgery had also become an added obstacle. "I'm needing some assistance with hair and makeup partly because I rarely wear makeup anymore, but also because I recently had rotator cuff surgery and cannot reach my eyes with my right hand at the moment. I can't even put my hair in a ponytail by myself." 

Even though she was frustrated with the situation, there was a strength behind Julie's words. Admirably, her previous unflattering photographs had not deflated her confidence and, when we finally met in person, she left me smizing myself. 

We provided Julie with hair and makeup services for her headshot session and matched four different outfits, ranging from relaxed and business casual to traditional business attire. After 20 minutes in front of the camera, Julie had a great selection to choose from. Check out the video of her session below to see the two favorites she chose!