Be present in photos
In 2013, I lost my mother at the age of 73. Her health was always an issue as she suffered from complications from diabetes diagnosed in her 30's. But the loss hit sudden and hard all the same. Losing your mother is a profound experience to say the very least. In going through the process of grieving and sorting through her belongings, I came across newspaper ads she clipped out in her 40's for glamour "makeover" photo shoots. I was saddened and shocked all at the same time. I had just started to explore this type of portraiture on my own, but from another point of inspiration.
My commercial work for advertising and design clients, often provided opportunities to photograph models for catalogs and ad campaigns. Occasionally models would arrive at the studio and were barely recognizable from the casting photos provided by the talent agency. Then the teams of stylist would work their talents with hair and makeup, I would set lighting and staging, and viola, suddenly the talent was transformed for their photo session. So, I thought, why not bring these assets to bare for everyday people? I also had vast experience using "real people", not professional models, for clients and projects where we needed to use the real staff or the budget couldn't support paid talent.
I recall coming home for a visit from my first job after college, and finding my mother had indeed gone to a glamour shot kind of photo studio and had the cheesiest portraits done with feather boas and the hazy filters and tacky makeup. I was incredulous. It contradicted my aesthetic and made my mother unrecognizable to the woman I knew. What was lost on me at the time, however, was what the experience meant to my mother. She endured our kidding, as the photos were cheesy and not dignified. But you could see she was proud of them in a way and valued being treated like a star for the day.
Fast forward to the planning for her memorial, and there I was looking for images of her to display, and found the common situation where mom is missing from the photos or was tucked away in a group shot. Nowhere was she present, front and center, looking her best in the images. Except for the portraits where she wanted to be beautiful, to feel like a queen. I also realized at that moment I had missed my own opportunity to provide my own mother her chance to shine in my studio. A heavy regret for a professional photographer.
Since then, I have had the opportunity to create meaningful portraits for people that will live on for generations in their families. In my commercial work, campaigns have a lifespan, catalogs get recycled and websites are updated. Portraiture is work that endures and has legacy. I also have been able to give people the gift of confidence and strength that comes from seeing themselves looking their very best. I see many of my clients using their portraits on social media and the supportive comments are so gratifying to see. Whatever the use, my hope is that you get your chance to be seen in beautiful contemporary portraits.