Updated: Dec 10, 2019
You know, I have nothing against shooting with men. They're great and funny and awkward! And I'm awkward.. so that's fun! That being said, I absolutely love shooting with women. I think that this passion started because of my own experiences and insecurities over the years. I think if I had to boil it down to three goals when I shoot with women, it would be to provide safety, confidence, and empowerment.
Now, I recently added these words to my home page. And I feel like others may read them and not resonate with them like I do, but those words mean the world to me. Strap in, because this shit might get a little personal. I invite you to join me for a little insight into why shooting with women is so valuable to me.
Don't worry, I'll start off gently. Let's start with confidence. I'll be honest, I've always been kinda weird. I've never been the cool kid. I was a choir nerd, a video game geek, a crazy horse girl, and just out of the box in general. I found passion in a lot of hobbies that weren't considered cool until well after I got out of high school. On top of that, I was generally insecure and had issues with depression, self-esteem, and self-harm. I know what you're thinking: this sounds like a lack of confidence, yikes! Where the heck does confidence come into play?
Well, my senior year of high school, I started modeling. And the more I modeled, the more confident I felt. I began to see something in myself that I hadn't seen before. I began to feel beautiful and strong. I began to feel worthy. I began to realize that there was a fire in me that I never knew was there. BOOM! You found it. Confidence! And the more I felt that belief in myself, the more I craved it, and the more I wanted to give it to others, too. So that's my first reason I love shooting with women: I love being able to give women the confidence that being in front of the camera gave to me.
We can dance if we want to... We can leave your friends behind... because your friends don't dance and if they don't dance - sorry. Got the Safety Dance stuck in my head. Happens to the best of us. Anyways! Back to business, because in all actuality, safety is a serious issue. Back in my modeling days, a couple of years in, I ended up in a situation with a male photographer where I didn't feel safe to say in the least. I was alone with a man that I didn't feel safe with, out in the woods with no cell service. I made up an excuse to cut the shoot short, and as we were headed back, the photographer got lost on a back road and it ended up taking 7 hours to get home (still no cell service). Now, nothing bad happened in this situation other than me feeling very uncomfortable with some of the comments the photographer made. But I realize how bad the situation could have been, and I know that for many girls, these types of situations on shoots do end terribly. Though this is the most memorable of the incidences I experienced while modeling, it wasn't the first, and it sure as hell wasn't the last.
This is something I never want any woman to feel. You should be able to pose in your regular clothing, a gown, a swimsuit, lingerie, or even nude and FEEL SAFE! I don't care if a girl is 14, 24, 54, 84. She should NEVER be made to feel unsafe. Especially not on a photo shoot. Photoshoots are already inherently personal and vulnerable. The last thing you need when you are putting yourself out there is to feel weirded out by a creepy old dude. There are plenty of amazing male photographers that I have met over the years. Many I would easily recommend to anyone's daughter (seriously, if you want their names, I will happily give them to you). There are wonderful men who can showcase a woman's beauty without making her feel objectified or uncomfortable. And I am in no way saying these kind of men are rare. I just want to offer an environment where safety isn't even a question. I want to create a space where women never have to wonder if they will feel safe. Once the matter of security is off the table, you have an opportunity to relax and create something amazing together, carefree.
Now, I'm probably going to be a little shorter on this topic than I'd like to be. It's a word that really hits home, and I get a little choked up thinking about what this word means to me personally. This word definitely ties back into confidence, but it is so much more than that.
When I say empowerment, I really want to emphasize power. I love helping women find their voice. In our society, it is so hard to feel empowered. There are constantly social media trolls tearing you down, rumors behind your back. Everyone feels fat-shamed or skinny-shamed or not worthy. I cannot tell you how many counts of sexual assault, rape, domestic violence, and much more I have heard over the years, not specifically on shoots but in people's day-to-day lives, myself included. When women endure trauma of any sort, it weighs on us. And it builds and builds. The more it builds, the smaller we feel. It makes our voices feel diminished. So when I say empowered, I mean it. In the words of Katy Perry, you're going to hear me ROAR! I want women to be heard. I want them to feel understood. I want to give women a voice - a chance to express themselves, and outlet to feel heard, and an opportunity to feel powerful. Inner light should never be dimmed. I want to help that fire rage. I know these are issues that everyone, men and women, deals with. But there is something about helping women battle these problems, fears, and insecurities, that brings me an unimaginable amount of joy. There is nothing more rewarding than having a girl tell me how proud of herself my images make her feel.