“She called me dumpy, and said that it might be best if I were to go to another photographer for my boudoir session.”
I know, it seems outrageous; my new client was incensed, being told by a studio sales rep that she was dumpy and another photographer would be a better direction.
It was at one of the many trade shows we attend, where you will also find numerous other photographers. Sarah had been impressed with the wonderfully glowing faces and bodies of the young women in their display. Pre-wedding, she suspected from the images, wearing the sleek lingerie bought for their wedding night adventure.
Like the women who buy the outfit the supermodels are pictured in, she imagined the photographer would recreate her as one of the displayed women. It was an exciting rush in the moment.
Then she was called “dumpy”. And not just in so many words, but literally in those words, from the bright, smiling, engaging face of the photographer’s sales girl, presumably believing she was being honest and helpful.
Sarah told all this to Emily, our empathic studio representative, who was equally horrified. “They are wrong, you are beautiful! Let me show you how Mark will capture your beauty,” Emily assured. Then Emily was off, asking questions, showing samples, regaling Sarah with her own experience, showing her bits of her body that had all the character of a woman with two young girls. That was followed by sharing her own images, to show how we had brought out her beauty.
Now my point to this post is not that the other studio was evil, but that beauty is too often defined from a conditioned viewpoint presented by the media that targets youth. I think that too often people – women – compare themselves to a standard that does not exist for the people who see their beauty.
I don’t believe that those who love us are seeing us through rose-colored glasses, though. I think their love instinctively sees the unique beauty that makes us… us, and therefore desirable to them.
Everyone has bits about them they are not thrilled with. So photography is a bit like selecting your outfit for a hot date. You don’t pick the outfit you garden in or take the trash out in. You pick the outfit and accessories that do two things.
The first is one that shows off your assets – your best features. Second, you consider how to diminish your concern areas, perhaps flowing dark fabric or something that distracts the viewer.
We do the same in our photography, all good photographers do.
Now, if you want, we can do dumpy. Several actresses have requested that for their portfolios. But mostly we bring out your beauty. I guess it might be said, we are the other photographer.
(p.s. That’s not Sarah, that’s Melissa.)