Celebrating the Ladies of Lancome

The door was ajar and a chorus of laughter greeted me even before I knocked on at my clients’ suite at the Proximity Hotel in Greensboro, North Carolina. Upon my knock, Lauren, the team liaison, ushered me into the bustling room. Hairspray clouds burst in the air as lipstick colors were mixed and cut across mirrored pallets. Against the wall, a team of stylists was hurriedly at work on the hair and makeup of several women.

"All these powerful, type-A women in one room working together like a well oiled machine. It was hard to not observe and admire.   We briefly chatted about their team headshots and team portrait..."  Beauty Team Portraits | Corporate Team Portraits | Boss Babe | Strong Women | Stylists attire | What to wear as a high end stylist | How to wear all black | All black outfits | Proximity Hotel Greensboro North Carolina | Winston Salem Photographer | Jasper & Fern

As frenetic as the room was, if you stepped back to take it in, a symphony of beige, browns, blacks and dusty reds blurred together to create a cohesive, grounded color palette. It was a minor detail but somehow displayed just how well all 13 of these women formed together. This was the eastern division of Lancome. All these powerful, type-A women in one room working together like a well oiled machine. It was hard to not observe and admire.

The group of us briefly chatted. I’d been brought in to photograph their team headshots and team portrait. As I’d only had contact with the team liaison thus far, it was important to me that I gather as much about each person and how they interacted with each other as quickly as possible as well as dictate what could be expected from their time with me.

I worked with each woman one-on-one, focusing on their individual personalities. Then, we also did team portraits, feeding off of each others interactions. There was hair flipping and top-model smizing going on by the end, finishing out the session with just as much laughter as there was to start the day.

"All these powerful, type-A women in one room working together like a well oiled machine. It was hard to not observe and admire.   We briefly chatted about their team headshots and team portrait..."  Beauty Team Portraits | Corporate Team Portraits | Boss Babe | Strong Women | Stylists attire | What to wear as a high end stylist | How to wear all black | All black outfits | Proximity Hotel Greensboro North Carolina | Winston Salem Photographer | Jasper & Fern
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I can’t not mention these ladies below either! We had some extra time in our session. So, I made a point to photograph the style team who made the ladies above look awesome!

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Celebrating Sophia

The air was thick with anticipation. I kept sweeping the studio floorboards to keep my mind and body focused. The soft rhythmic rustling of the stiff straw strands of my broom against the floor’s grooves has always soothed my thoughts. I’d never met my client or her daughter - the one being photographed - in person before. We’d talked over the phone and through emails but we’d be meeting face to face for the first time. It’s always exciting to meet someone new for the first time. A streak of light flashed across the floor where I was sweeping. I looked up, out through the sheer curtains to see a car pulling up.

April entered first, Sophia slightly behind her. Their soft presence was lined with their own anticipation. As we sat to talk, Sophia’s meekness became apparent. She was quieter than a mouse - not even figuratively. In fact, I barely heard her speak two sentences the whole time I spent together. Her intent, listening eyes were left to tell her story. April was great about asking Sophia questions, relaying information and reassuring her. I considered the best ways to bring a level of comfort to Sophia’s nerves.

We walked through her leotards and decided on the best one to start with first. Sophia chose a simple black leotard to wear and went to change. April suggested she stay out of sight while Sophia danced and I agreed that if she wanted, she could make herself comfortable in our salon. Then Sophia came out, ready to start.

Within seconds, Sophia’s reserved, meek disposition melted away and the bold, strong girl she is revealed herself. The moment she began to dance, she was a thriving, lively spirit. She threw herself into every dip and twirl with grace and strength. It was mesmerizing. A few times I just took in the movement of her dance to truly appreciate the heart with which she danced and watch to capture it the next round we did. Her strength, boldness and confidence shown in every move. It was beautiful to see such riveting contrast in one human - spectacular in all forms.

By the end of her session, Sophia returned to her meek demeanor, though the confidence she’d connected with could be clearly seen. She stood shoulders squared, intently watching. As they left, not an inkling of anxiety was left, nor a need to be soothed. I did, however, return to sweeping the floor - because great sessions always create messes!

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Celebrating Robyn

A familiar face came back to our studio recently. For those of you who may not know who Robyn is, she came to us last year for a Glamour Experience. (Click Here to see her experience) This time, she needed two new headshots.

She had two separate needs - a casual look and a professional look. Her most important consideration was to appear trustworthy in her portraits. Below are the final two portraits she selected.

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A Naked Soul

I don’t believe in doing Before & After photographs. When I first started doing glamour and beauty photography, I did them - and absolutely loved them. In fact, Before & After portraits are a staple amongst the glamour photography community. The more sessions I did though, the more I listened to how the women reacted to themselves “done up,” and therefore the more I didn’t want to do Before & After photographs.

There’s this dialogue that comes out when we put makeup on and have our hair done. It’s even as innocent as “I wish I looked like this all the time!” It doesn’t always come across with the weighted, “now I feel beautiful.” I’ve been through this transition multiple times in my life. I get caught up in the shimmer of “perfection” and start to admire the ideal. At the foundation of who I am though, the touched up, slimmed down, wrinkle-removed “ideal” is not what I see real beauty to be.

Real beauty is raw. It’s an open-armed accepting of flaws and quirks. It’s a love for the stories behind the wrinkles, grey and stretch marks. It’s an embrace of everything that someone is at their core - a naked soul. Beauty is someone who can look at themselves when they have the flu and see the weight of their value, not the sluggish color of their skin and puffy eyes. Beauty is someone who can look at themselves after first stepping out of the shower with raccoon eyes, loving what they see in themselves. Beauty is not in perfection alone, it’s in accepting yourself perfectly.

That’s why I decided to shift my focus (yet again) two years ago. I stopped doing Before & After photographs. I stopped dismissing and accepting women’s requests to take ten pounds off and remove twenty years. I stopped trying to make skin “imperfection”less and, instead, focused on lighting women in the most flattering light for their skin, only editing out the parts that aren’t always there (temporary blemishes) and only lightly finessing how they look. Most importantly, I started informing women who requested to be drastically altered from their beauty that I will do my best to bring out their beauty and that means I’ll be leaving them mostly as they are.

Since shifting back to this foundation of true beauty, I’ve seen the most incredible transformations of all - women who actually see themselves, who can see that same person in the mirror day after day and begin seeing that they are beautiful just as they are. I watch them unfurl, I share in community with them as they become vulnerable, I embrace them as they let theirselves be seen. If there’s any magic in the world, it’s to be found in the transformative beauty of the naked soul.

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