bag beauty contest, it is a real thing


I am not paraphrasing, “I am too ugly to be photographed”, is what she said. Then she paused on the phone before saying, “and that’s with my clothes on! Nude!…. oh my god no!”  Emily could almost hear a small sob over the phone.

What’s unsettling is she is not the first woman nervously sharing what is in their minds. She is not even the first this year.

We have more women telling us they don’t take good pictures or they are just not photogenic.

My belief is their conscious brain believes this, yet somewhere deep inside is either the hope or a buried awareness they are not too ugly. In fact they are not ugly at all! This part of them knows the people who love them think they look amazing. This buried awareness knows they don’t, can’t, look like  Photoshopped super models This intuitive awareness knows they are loved because they look like themselves, not a plastic version of a marketing machine.

The reason I believe this is . . . they called us.

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It may have taken a few years for their subconscious to overcome their fear, but it did. Some times it has taken years. A recent, wonderful client had our card on her fridge for 8 years. When she saw her images for the first time, she cried, which happens a lot. The emotional triumph of her images was tinged with regret. Realizing how amazing she looked, how much joy she could express, she wished she had done it 8 years earlier.

Later though is much better than never. But sooner is always better.

I learned a long time ago, that although I have the tools and skill to transform a client into an idea that marketing companies present as the ideal, it should not be done. It is actually an evil thing to do.

Doing so will erode a women’s self image, her confidence. It will turn them into a lovely looking mannequin that totally hides their unique beauty, their unique vibrancy.

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Now I also don’t photograph them to look like a dumpy version of themselves. It is with polish; their best foot forward. With light, posing plus camera angles, we bring forward their best features while diminishing their concerns.

It’s like when you on a hot date. You choose the best dress, the shoes, hairstyle, accessories; even the perfume that that pulls together your best version. You don’t pick the just out of bed sweats,  Saturday morning TV version of you.

The “I am too ugly to be photographed” stance needs more than good lighting with camera angles to transform. I need to move them out of the doubt that perpetrates this self-image. It’s a bit like the caterpillar emerging from the cocoon. They need to reveal to the camera who they really are.

This is who people who love them see as beautiful.

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That I have been told is my real talent; the camera skills anyone can learn. Of course it’s not just me, it’s my team along with a process that achieves that goal. With each client we coax them out of their shell then introduce them to their real selves. It is very exciting for us to do.

A client once showed me the formula that Pixar uses to create their fantastically successful story lines. The story opens with the hero-to-be in their comfortable but not necessarily happy, reality. A place they know, have grown into. The story develops as they navigate through an often scary, but full of self-discovery transition, the peak of the plot. In the end, they have a new evolved reality that they are happier in. This journey, she told me, was exactly what had happened to her.

It’s such an important journey we guarantee  not only the outcome, but that each woman will be thrilled with the experience.

The truth, the reality, is that no one is too ugly to be photographed. Even the youtube video of most ugly creature on the planet reveals an animal adorable in their own way.

To hold an image that proves that to you, that makes that little part of you that always knew it, very, very happy.

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Posted by: Mark Laurie

World-renown photoartist Mark Laurie of Inner Spirit Photography specializes in Female Portraiture: nudes, boudoir, prenatal & fine art. His empowering images of women reveal their heart & soul.