Who Is Your Business About?

My business is for my clients. Seems like a wildly obvious declaration doesn’t it? Well I am not convinced it is. I don’t think that owning a business equals truly serving your clients. I believe we can get so caught up in getting the next client that we aren’t paying attention to the incredible ones we already have. In the stress and busyness of business we can forgot why we began our careers, wanting to offer something beautiful and valuable that only we can provide.

Kate is a neuroscientist and Owner/CEO of Body Mind Balance

Every step of what I offer in my photography business is about what I am giving to my clients.  It begins with the first phone call, finding out exactly what they want in their business, author,  office-lifestyle or family portrait, to coaching them during the shoot to reveal their very best self, to helping them select and utilize their new photographs to up level and represent their business.

My goal is to always create a space where my clients feel taken care of, heard and seen. I want  every single one of them to walk away with one of the most fulfilling & fun experiences  they can have knowing they have invested their hard eared money well and that the results will be impactful. 

I have a friend who owns a restaurant in San Francisco, @PazziaResaurantadnpizzaria,  and I swear to you every person who walks in that place is greeted like a dear friend with a huge smile and or a hug. While I know they go for the incredible food I also know they go, as I do, because how Massimo the owner makes them feel. This is a variety of connection and customer focus that is so endearing and valuable! I also see this gratitude and love for clients in amazing Canadian photographer @NatCaronPhoto and it’s one of the reasons I adore her and her gorgeous work. She is always boasting about her clients, not the photography and it’s genuine not simply a gimmick. 

Marie-Christin Is a Global Digital Transformation Program Management professional

So in this hurried time of posting, rushing and hustling to get the next gig check in with  this question, “Who is my business is about?”.  I guarantee if you make it more about who you are serving, what you receive back will be rewarding and substantial.

Tourist as Subject

During my last trip to Italy, which I am in full remembrance of since it was exactly a year ago, I quickly tired of photographing the sites in the same way it has most likely been photographed millions of times. Don’t get me wrong I loved creating photos of the beauty of Florence & Rome.  I couldn’t pass up creating photographs of things like the Duomo & the Arno, they are magical and historic and beautiful. Yet, on one of my last days in Italy I entered into the Pantheon and as I stepped gingerly into the sea of people from all over the world I realized there was something more to see and capture. I waned to create something different, something we don’t usually focus on when we are traveling. For me this was the tourists who like myself were seeing these majestic pieces of history for the first time.

After I made my way around the inside of this stunning space creating detailed impressions of what I saw as interesting and beautiful I turned my lens to my fellow explorers.  It brought an immediate smile to my face to witness how people reacted to and within this incredible place. I was enthralled watching each indivudual reaction that emerged over the many faces  in front of my lens as well as how complete strangers maneuvered and danced around one another. They were sweet, endearing, and at times delightfully child like in their vulnerability. It was not lost on me that I had some of these same reactions.

This was our common humanity coming to the surface. My desire to see others for the beautiful authentic humans we are was satiated in my exploration. I found so many interesting elements not only in the main subject but also in what was happening around them. I continued documenting these moments as I traveled the next two days around Roma.

I look forward to more opportunities to continue this new photographic journey. I hope these bring a little smile or recognition of sameness we all share and I look forward to more opportunities to continue this new photographic journey. I hope these bring a little smile or recognition of sameness we all share.

Why You Believe You Are NOT Photogenic

It’s amazing that almost all my clients believe they are not photogenic, within the first 5 minutes of talking almost all of them share this with me.  I ask every client how they feel being photographed knowing that 99% of the time this is their answer. It is such a wide spread belief and getting THAT out on the table is the beginning of creating beautiful photographs. Here’s why they and maybe even you believe you aren’t photogenic.

They are camera owners, not photographers. 

Everyone and their mother has a camera now, everyone! It’s fantastic in terms of expressing our creativity and sharing our lives, but not so great when it comes to us ending up in photos we don’t like of ourselves.  It is so important to keep in mind these aren’t professional taking your photo. Most amateurs likely don’t understand lighting, posing, or facial structures and how all of this plays into creating a flattering photograph of someone. They haven’t spent 30 plus years studying this artistic craft, looking at faces and usndersatnindg lighting. It’s not their fault, they don’t need to know this as a CEO, Chef, Consultant or whatever career THEY kick ass at.

Margaret is an engineer. Give someone a safe space to play and this is who shows up. She is relaxed and open.

It’s a wide angle lens! 

The lens in a camera phone is created to capture as much of a scene as possible. Great right? Yes, for landscapes and big groups but not for portraits. You know what that wide angle lens does? It makes you WIDER…yup, its right in the name. It distorts entire faces and specific features, it makes bodies look bigger than they are and unless you can get that sucker about 5-10 ft from your beautiful face it’s going to be unflattering.  See for yourself in the below images.  The lenses here start at 24mm which is a wide angel lens like the ones we are talking about in camera phones. They go all the way up to a 200mm which is what I shoot with when creating portraits. You can see the effect each lens has on the woman’s face and how much more out of proportion her face looks with the 24mm in comparison to the 200mm. 

I hear you, you’ve had professional photos and you STILL don’t like them. So, here is the the biggest reason I believe we think we are un-photogenic.

YOU DON”T FEEL SAFE.

After 30 years in this career witnessing the challenges people have of being photographed I can share with certainty that how we feel about how we look is why so many of us feel un-photogenic, AKA less than beautiful or handsome. It’s all about self love and feeling safe. It actually has so little to do with what you look like. How do I know?  I see it everyday in almost every shoot. It’s hard being seen. It’s hard letting someone look at us. We believe they will see all of these things we think are flaws. It’s understandable really, this information of we are not enough comes at us from all angles via messages growing up, the media, and social media. We hold all these beliefs and thoughts and then we stand in front of these visual microscopes and are fed back our worst fears about who we are and what we look like.

I understand, I hated every photo taken of myself except for when my younger sister was behind the camera. I realized it was because I felt safe with her. I knew she loved me for me and because of that the inner dialogue shut off and I showed up as the best version of myself.  I simply stopped thinking about the negative beliefs I had accumulated over the years because I new the person looking at me only saw someone she loved.  When we feel safe, when we don’t have to worry about being judged, when we are in the moment of love or laughing with friends, OR don’t know a photo is being  taken that is when we love our photos. Our guard and self protection is in resting mode and we show up fully as ourselves and that is always beautiful.

I have built a career creating a safe space for every single client who walks through my doors. I grew up not feeling seen and it was incredibly painful. I believed I wasn’t worth it, interesting enough, too sensitive. Really it can be any message we received or created.  Bottom line I didn’t believe I was worth being loved, so now I let everyone they are worth being seen for exactly who they are. I share as much of my myself with each one of my incredible clients as I can.  I am vulnerable, loving, goofy and engaging. I genuinely care about each and every person who steps in front of my camera. My deepest intention is that you walk away with a portrait in which YOU can see the best version of yourself. Not a model! This point I want to make very clear, I am not interested in creating some false standard we all need to reach. The most beautiful version of you is the real you! The best version of you! The only way this happens is when we know it is safe to drop our guards and protections we think are keeping us safe but which only keeping us separate.

 

Coach and Advisor at One Women Effect Cheri SHINES joy in this photo! We laughed our butts off this entire session! 

 

Executive Coach Mary M. found her flow as we moved through her shoot to capture this ease filled authentic Business Portrait. Imagine your clients seeing the absolute best version of you! You will be killing it! 

 

 

Find out for yourself how photogenic you truly are! BOOK TODAY 🙂

 

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Collateral Beauty

In the movie Collateral Beauty Helen Miron, “Brigette” tells Naomie Harris, “Madeline” in the face of loosing her 6 yr old daughter to cancer to, “Watch out for the Collateral Beauty”, a seemingly thoughtless comment when a mother is about to loose their child, I was reminded of how I knew this experience in the face of deep pain, this idea of collateral beauty.

When my mom passed almost 4 years ago friends asked about my experience that the first year. I shared that it was equally devastatingly heart wrenching and stunningly beautiful all at once. I think its fare to assume we all know why this would be the former experience but what exactly was the latter? The latter it would turn out was the collateral beauty of it all.

As I began to deal with the anguishing pain of loosing my mom without any warning I was acutely aware I needed to dig into our combined bag of not so pretty dynamics. I sifted through what belonged to each of us, what was true, what was a story and all the emotions around it. It was an amazing, expansive time in my life.  I retold all the stories I held onto for 45 yrs. All the hurts and pains I carried from my dynamic with my mom and along the way I found myself.

I became vulnerable and open in a way that stripped any facade from my being, it was exhausting and unmatched in the rewards and gifts it gave me. As I went into the deep hurt of my past experiences and stories with my mom I allowed myself to think, feel and declare whatever came up.  Even if some part of me knew it was MY story based in fear I allowed myself to go deep into it. It didn’t have to be based in someone else’s truth or experience, it was my truth and that was where the answers would be.  Allowing myself to feel say whatever I believed to be real around my experience with my mother ultimately allowed me to reach the core of it.  At the core was the unearthed parts, what I refer to as the muck of it all, those parts we may or may not know about but when they are revealed we can choose to them put to rest and let go. Through this process I also saw falsehoods that I created out of protection. Again digging into why I was protecting myself and how that showed up ultimately allowed its release.

Along this almost 4 year journey I have come to a place of understanding for myself, compassion for myself and a deep compassion for my mom and her experience. I’ve cried it out so many times and each time I release the stuck pain of the experiences we had together and move closer to the love.

There is still some hurt and pain and overtime I know if I am brave enough to dive into it there is the gateway to expansion and love. This is my collateral beauty of loosing my mother, seeing me and loving myself for where we I am and who I am.

As I move through the transition of a romantic relationship into whatever it will be next  I am again aware of the collateral beauty. Through the grieving of it, of this relationship not being what I thought it might I also get to see into myself via the pain. How? I let myself tell the story in my head and I get a chance to debunk it. I get a chance, if I stick with the hurt and let it out to see the underlying thread, where it originated from and let it free.

In honor of moms everywhere I am sharing some of my favorites of these amazing humans with their children including this first one of Lieselotte Anke and her beautiful mother who passed shortly after our photoshoot. During our shoot the beauty and depth of their love was so apparent. As in every shoot I look for this depth and create from there.

 

 

 

 

Who Tells Your Story?

I grew up watching infomercials in the 90’s of Sally Struthers “Save the Children Campaign”.  The visual was of small malnourished children with flies on their faces, surrounded by garbage. I didn’t think much beyond the story I was given about those children or of Africa. I believed what I saw.  I walked away beleiveing Africa was a scary place where people where dying. The sad part of this, I was not alone.

I never thought to ask, “Is this true?” or “What else DON’T I know about these children. The answer, EVERYTHING.

As I grew up I began to think more critically and listened to the scholars, intellectuals and people around me. I realized we were all fed one story and it was damaging not only to the children Sally asked us to save but to anyone who believed there was only one story to be told. It’s not that it was untrue, but was it complete?

Like anyone of you reading this you know one photo of you, one Facebook post cannot tell the entire story of who you are. If its a photo of you at your most vulnerable then there is a very real chance people can walk away with a narrative about you that does not honor you as whole and boxes you into that one difficult challenging moment. That doesn’t seem fair does it?

For the people of Africa in particular this one story has been on a loop for decades. A loop creating the story that all of Africa is starving, dying and in struggle.

My goal in creating portraits for my VOICES project which I started during a long time dream trip to kenya was to let the subject take control of the narrative. We each know who we are beyond our circumstances and it is so much greater than most people can tell from a photograph. The women  I photographed represent life from, the slums of Kibera to the beaches of Mombasa. Small business owners, caretakers and scholars. Rather than go to a continent and country I have never been and impose a visual story upon it & it’s people with my camera, I chose to leave the story telling in the hands of the women I met.

I asked women from all over Kenya to choose 3 words to describe themselves. I asked, “How would you like to be seen?” This is a question I ask all my clients before a photoshoot because the one truth I know is, the beauty of WHO you are is WHAT I see.

These women shared how they see themselves at the core, how someone who loves them might describe them.  The results are the following images.

Voices Kenya

Pamela(far right), a small business owner and Kiva zip loan provider seen here with her friends and business owners Jane (left), and Benta (middle) from Kibera, Kenya.

Girls on Fire Leaders

Girls on Fire Leaders: Deborah Odenyi, Head Mistress at SHOFCO School for Girls. Mama Rose, life and love giver at Kibera Safe House for Girls. Rubie Ruth, leader at Ubuntu Brand Nonprofit.

Women from Tuele Orphanage in Ambaseli, Kibera, Kenya, and Mombasa, Kenya.

Women from Tuele Orphanage in Ambaseli, Kibera, Kenya, and Mombasa, Kenya.