It's been just over a month since I publicly announced my latest endeavour into intimate photography. Below are my top conclusions & lessons I've learnt throughout the process of building a little business around photographing (semi-)nude women.
1. Every Woman Struggles with Her Image
The women I've had the privilege of sharing space with have had figures ranging from 'quarantine-bod' (self-named, not my words!) to professional athlete. Without fail, each and every one of them have had body-image difficulties. Although this doesn't strike me as completely shocking, it is still a bit of a surprise and rather saddening. What's even sadder is that some women forget that they're all in this together. I've heard countless friends around me say things like "well, her body is societally acceptable", forgetting the fact that the struggle is real for every single person.
2. Every Woman is Stronger than She Believes
Keeping point 1 in mind, every woman that's had me photograph her has had to overcome her personal anxieties and struggles around her body to even allow me into her sacred space. For those that haven't experienced this yet, this may seem beyond daunting - impossible, even. Again, don't forget that these women have gone through that exact same mental process and somehow broke through that barrier. You can do it, too! I've found myself repeating a few adjectives in my instagram captions - "strong" & "brave" being the most common ones. Am I a lazy writer or complimenter? Or is every single woman simply strong and brave, deep down? I choose the latter.
3. Every Woman is Photogenic - not due to Make-Up
Sure, make-up helps to pop the eyes & accentuate cheek-bones (especially when done by my mega-talented make up artist Beate from @chic_muah). But cosmetics cannot help you convey your story through those eyes. It can't give you that energy that makes a photo truly pop. That's all you, and after capturing women for a few weeks I can safely say that every woman has the soul to stun a camera.
4. Confidence is Everything
In the "freeform intimate photography guide", you'll come across a tip about confidence being important for your shoot - it really is! But this confidence doesn't have to be something discovered before your shoot. Many clients have walked in with slight hesitancy & unsureness, but as the shoots developed they grew more and more confident. Often, the first few photos are write-offs and serve more as a warm-up period. As the client becomes used to the fact that she really is doing this and that she really does look amazing, confidence rises and so does wow factor of every image. It's an incredible transformation to observe!
5. Wow - This Stuff Works
This may sound a bit cheesy, but I honestly can't believe some of the feedback I've received from these courageous women. Words on my professionalism etc don't interest me much (I'm grateful for them, but at the end of the day we need to feel sure within ourselves and external validation will only go so far). So it's more the words about how freeform has helped clients with their own stuff that have my jaw dropping.
"My shoot with freeform encouraged me to appreciate my flaws (and flaunt them) and was a beautiful expression of my femininity."
"My photos mean far more to me than a pretty image to post on Instagram, they celebrate my truest form - perfectly imperfect.”
"I loved doing the shoot, I think it's given me so much more than just stunning photos. I'm finding it difficult to express in words everything I've gained from the experience. I love that I got to embody my sexy side without feeling embarrassed or awkward."
"The whole process was undeniably world-class! I was treated like a princess which has boosted my self-love journey."
These are just some of the magical words that I've received from these beautiful women and they've been good for me to hear, because I know that freeform is doing what I want it to do: redefine the perception you have of your body so that you can free your form.
A Final Word
There's nothing worse than someone generalising a group of people, especially as one as large as, well, the entire female population. Of course, not every woman has body-image issues, for example. I'm also still finding my feet with the language around these subjects. But I do believe that strength & courage are accessible to anyone. Sometimes we just need to get uncomfortable to find it.