January of 2018, as I have come to see, was the start of an awakening for me. I feel we have spent our entire lives watching from the sidelines as we are constantly told how we should look. Just stop for a second and look at what you are wearing, how your hair looks, what shoes you have on, and the jewelry you’re wearing. Do YOU like it? Or were you marketed to for so many years, and “everyone else has it” that you just fell in line? Before I even go any further, know that there is nothing wrong with fashion, or any material thing...even makeup...if you like it. You need to know who you are before you start adding things to ‘better’ yourself. As a photographer, and especially working with women so much over the years, I see insecurities taking a grip on us to the point that we don’t even know who we are anymore. We seem to hide behind the latest trends and try to camouflage ourselves out of fear of rejection. Or maybe we try so hard to be seen that we rob ourselves of our whole purpose of being in this world. I don’t know for sure. What I do know is that I was two days away from a photography conference, and it hit me that maybe there was a way to help people SEE themselves again. So, I started with myself. Was that a crazy idea? Maybe it was. But I figured, if I wasn’t able to do a photo shoot without any makeup and SHARE the images with other women, how could I ever expect anyone else to do so? It was around 2am and I was tired, but I had a mission. The images on this page came from that shoot. Do I see “flaws”? You bet. But what came out of that shoot was me breaking free of this “box” I’d somehow found myself in. I was reminded of what made me want to be a photographer in the first place and it had never been about a corporate paycheck. I wanted my work to have a purpose.
Over the next few months, I photographed a dozen women, and walked them through the SEEN process. I knew I had found my foundation as well as my passion for moving forward with my photography business. It was around this time that I realized I had outgrown my studio space. I’d been working so hard as a photographer since 2004 (although it would take me until 2008 to actually call myself one) and I’d finally found my purpose. However, it seemed the more I looked to find a bigger, more suitable space that I desperately needed, the more I just kept running into dead ends and grew increasingly frustrated. I had begun to lose hope and was on the verge of giving up. Then something wonderful happened. I was introduced to a wonderful woman who owns a dance studio. She had the space available for me to use as my studio space, and now that I have the space needed, I know that taking that leap of faith to start the Seen Project is exactly what connected me to this next step.
HOW SEEN SHOOTS ARE DIFFERENT
With SEEN shoots, all I ask is that you don’t wear any makeup. You are welcome to style your hair however you’d like, and you can wear whatever suits you, from a tank top and jeans, to a ball gown. As you can imagine, these shoots tend to become very personal and deeply meaningful. These shoots are priced differently than my other shoots because I understand it is such a vulnerable thing to be photographed without makeup. But it has been such a powerful thing to watch as women experience the photo shoot, then come back for their proof prints and album. Something in them just shifts and they are able to see their beauty for themselves. It’s a project I plan to continue for years to come.