THE PHOTO SHOOT THAT BUILDS CONFIDENCE FOR TEENS
Faeries, come take me out of this dull world,
For I would ride with you upon the wind,
Run on the top of the disheveled tide,
And dance upon the mountains like a flame.
~William Butler Yeats, "The Land of Hearts"
In the Southern and Midwestern states, high school junior and senior portrait photography is a very, very big deal. Students compete to book the best photographers, and create inspired sessions with them. Here in the Northeast, that tradition is not common. However, I find that mothers who participate in my studio experience often want the feelings of positivity and empowerment that my photo shoots offer to extend to their daughters. It is not uncommon for Moms to call me shortly after their sessions to also book their daughters.
A few months ago, my boudoir-client-turned-dear-friend Stephanie hired me to take her teenage daughter Aislin's portraits. Stephanie had raved about her own boudoir experience with me, and wanted her daughter to experience a similar (albeit age appropriate) confidence boost through a guided session.
Aislin is a natural beauty, an outstanding student, an accomplished flautist, and a champion swimmer. All in all, this is the Renaissance child that every parent hopes for. Her beauty cannot go unnoticed. Model managers quickly began swarming, asking for headshots.
Our goal for Aislin's session was to let her be "1000% HER". That meant, no makeup, no fuss, no frills -- just her fairy-like, edgy natural every day self. That raw beauty shines through her photographs,
My client Stephanie was so gracious to share a Mother's Perspective in this guest blog post. ENJOY. xo, Cate
We all have heard that Fairies straddle the two worlds—the sleeping and the waking, the “real” and the “fantasy”. Well, any mother of a teenage girl knows that teen girls do the same. They are not little kids. But they are not quite women yet. It is a difficult place to be.
As a mother (once a teen girl –although that is difficult for my daughter to imagine) I remember vividly experiencing life as a teen—and now I see my daughter experiencing the same. AND; if the teen years weren’t filled with enough doubt and feelings of inadequacies; we now have SOCIAL MEDIA. We have THOUSANDS of images telling girls that they need to be sexy, hot, gorgeous, skinny, talented, smart, the list goes on and on.
While I grew up comparing myself to my friends and the models I saw in magazines, my daughter can INSTANTLY compare herself to ANYONE and at anytime. Many times the images she sees are filtered and photo shopped.
Like any other mother/daughter duo, it really does not matter how much I tell her she is beautiful, smart, interesting. Think about it, how many times have your friends told YOU that you were beautiful. When you do not feel it, you do not feel it. Don’t get me wrong, people tell my daughter all the time she is beautiful. She is a model represented by an agency, has done fit model and print as well as runway but, SHE needed to tell herself she was ENOUGH. Like any other girl she needed to come to the realization that she is, in fact, enough –pretty enough, smart enough, talented enough, strong enough.
But how does a kid believe in her own power? Teens are at an age where they are indeed just figuring out who they are. Sometimes that changes from week to week. How does a girl look in the mirror and truly see her own beauty, grace—worth. Especially, now with Social Media where much of what they see is staged, filtered, and fiddled with.
Recently, she expressed that she needed some new headshots done and she wanted them to be HER. To show people who she was. I turned to Cate at Life as Fine Art. My daughter, Aislin, had met Cate a bunch of times before and Cate’s ease with her put this (somewhat overprotective) mother at great ease.
Aislin is a tomboy and an athlete – but a girly one. So one crisp day, Cate and Ais (with me quietly in the background) grabbed a camera and did a headshot photo shoot. Given that teen girls DO straddle the worlds between child and adult; they decided NOT to glam her up. Nope. No make-up. Nada. They wanted to let her true beauty and unique vibe shine through. And shine through it did!
When I saw the pictures, of course I thought they were great (Mother here!). What made my heart soar was that my hyper self-critical kid saw something in them that other people see in her. I noticed that she actually posted one on her Instagram page (a true sign of her pride). She started to accept compliments from people not just brushing them off with a “yeah right” (come on, you know how girls do that).
Some time has passed now since the shoot and I have noticed a few things. Ais is telling me she is proud of the things she is doing, and how she looks. She is working hard to achieve the things she wants—in school, sports as well as physically. What make me happiest –and because I am a mother- weepiest- is that her goals have shifted from being SO influenced by others.
She is going after the life SHE wants, whether or not her friends, Snapchat or strangers, approve. She is defining HERSELF. I am not saying that a photoshoot alone transformed her completely. What I AM saying is that it made her really LOOK at herself. It allowed her to see and LIKE her own unique beauty. It helped to pave the way for her to create her own world. As a parent I would much rather have her create her own world. I am reminded of this quote by my favorite author...
Had I not created my whole world, I would certainly have died in other people’s.