Contemporary Portraits: The New Glamour Shots

For some time, I’ve been studying a relatively new genre of photography referred to as contemporary portraiture. If you don’t know exactly what that means, allow me to explain. First off, it's not really new, just reinvented! Remember the big glamour shots everyone had done in the nineties? Basically, contemporary portraits are an updated, less tacky version of that.

The concept is about giving women a day in the life of a model and with great reason. Women, especially mothers & women over 30 yrs old, tend to neglect themselves & take pictures of others all while avoiding being in front of the camera themselves. They tend to want to lose a few pounds before being photographed, or feel too tired or too old, etc. This experience is to make them realize their value, beauty, & feel absolutely glamorous. I believe they they need to be celebrated & pampered; this involves make-up & hair, and stylized clothes, just like a model on set. Once things get rolling & the mood is set, this woman can see that she is a real life super star.

Everyone knows this woman that I'm describing. It’s your mom, sister, cousin, daughter, bestie, or even you. Women too often don’t feel worthy of having their pictures taken. When they do book a professional photographer, it’s almost always for images of their kids or family shots. 

But 10 yrs down the road, as this woman, what do you have when reflecting on those images from that time? You realize you are not in them & you wished you had been. You now hate that you hated your past appearance & wished you had embraced it more. As you get older, your kids have almost no pictures of their mom to hang in their home or to stick in their albums. When you're 40 yrs old, you wished you looked like you did at 30, and when you're 80, you might wish for what you had at 65. Once you have passed through this life, someone sticks up a portrait of you that’s 50+ yrs old because that’s the last dang time you had a professional portrait taken. You didn’t want any from beyond your youth because you felt unworthy, unattractive, etc.

It is time for that mindset to be over. You really need to celebrate who you are right now because this is time you do not get back. Your kids, grandchildren, friends, & other family members adore you & I promise they do not see what you do; that reflection you avoid in your mirror is not what pops into their minds when they think of you. They don't see your fat rolls, dimples and wrinkles. They see your beauty, your laughter, light, & love.

Recently, I had the pleasure of doing my first full contemporary portrait session. It was for a friend of mine that I highly admire. Amanda is smart, beautiful, and completely selfless. She has never taken the time to celebrate herself & she is so deserving of it. We have had a couple of little sessions in the past, but it never made her aware of her value, which made me aware I needed to do more. 

I have heard her talk negatively about her body, like every woman, & know she doesn’t take many pictures of herself, like most of us. Everything is about her two babies. She is an amazing mom, but she definitely needed to see herself for what she is, & which is so much more than just a divorced mom.

So we talked about this shoot for a couple of months. We talked about a mood, theme, picked out clothes together, discussed all the details, & finally set up a date. 
I put up the backdrop & props, got out the fans for her hair & to keep her cool. She even got treated to the silver ice bucket & tongs, nice glasses, waters, sodas, & a silver platter of chocolates and cherries atop a decent tablecloth. I had plenty of seating for her & any company she may bring. There was a make-up & hair station and a lot of breaks. She came over & we did her full make-up, lifted and curled her hair, & commenced to her big photo shoot.

I spent 1.5 wks editing her pictures & could not wait to share them when I was finished. They were so pretty. I could see her really smiling & embracing herself. Finally loving herself as much as everyone else does. And I could do this for the rest of my life. Give that self fulfillment to people. It’s not really me giving anyone a new look, it’s opening a door for someone to walk in & see themselves for the first time in years. It’s cleaning the mirror for an honest reflection, free of the filth that’s dirtied it for so long. Tears of happiness, that’s what I want to connect every woman to.

This was really an emotionally charged blog, as it was a pretty powerful session. I do hope you all give yourselves this same opportunity, even if it’s not with me. Go to a local photographer & book a session for yourself or you & your mom, or a group of your best friends, or for someone that needs it. Take a day to reconnect with yourself, realize your worth, & create some amazing heirlooms to pass down to your great, great grandchildren. I promise you won’t regret it.

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