I have worked for my entire adult life in the field of womens health. First as an obstetrical nurse delivering babies, then as a lactation consultant, and now as a feminine photographer. And through all of this I have realized that 99.99% of success in anything is what goes on in a persons head.
So much of this internal dialog is scripted by other peoples input into the wiring of our brain. I have seen women who are absolutely classically beautiful who see nothing but flaws in themselves. And I have been inspired by women that through the challenges they have faced have learned to see the exquisite beauty in their earthly form. My best example of this came when I was a young nurse working with a woman who was admitted to hospital because she was pregnant with IVF Triplets and was getting to term. Her stomach was the size of an inflated beachball and was riddled with stretch marks made more obvious by her beautiful mocha skin. She was 40 years old and had not been able to have children but was happily laying in that bed tracing the spider web of stretchmarks on her amazing belly. One of the young corpsmen (this was in my Navy days) came in and asked her if she was worried about the stretch marks... She looked at her and laughed and said "Honey, they are the most beautiful lines in the world because they are decorations from my babies." This woman with no makeup, serious bed hair, bloated belly and ankles in that moment was the most beautiful and inspiring woman I had ever seen in my entire life. She radiated a very quiet confidence in the miracle of her body. The angel inside of her was dancing on the surface and was plain for all to see who took the time to look. I think I hugged her...Yes I am pretty sure I did or if I didn't I did in my spirit.
That beauty... that I saw in her that day, is the beauty I look for in all of the women I photograph. I watch it hiding quite deep many times and as we start the session I tease it and pull it and dance with it until that amazing confidence and inspiration is just humming right there on the surface for all to see. It is a dance I do with my beautiful clients.
About a month ago I had a moment of doubt as you do. I started to worry about the choices I had made going into photography full time. I had spent my adult life training to be a healer, and becoming quite good at it. Then over the course of a couple of years I slowly pulled myself out of that world and answered the call of the artists in my soul who had been silenced for too long. I reached a point where I was doing very little classical nursing work and 99% art. I started to look at it and think that I was being a bit selfish. I mean I was given this gift of healing and helping and now what was I doing but creating art that pleased me. It seemed so self involved and I wondered if I had made the right decision. My life before that had been all about service and this was the first time I wasn't working for the government or an NGO and now I had the gall to be in business for myself....This was the little girl who wanted to run away and join Mother Theresa when she was little.
This was still all swimming around in my head...How do I align my service, healing, midwifery/doula part of my soul with my art? Then I rocked up to my Museum Hotel Shoot. 6 women, 6 deliveries of confidence and pride. Just like the births I used to attend, not one was similar. Each woman brought in her own layers of fear, and concern and trepidation to the shoot and my gift was to help deliver her inner beauty to the surface so that the world could see it shining. Some came in and it took champagne, girl talk, and play to wrestle that confidence out. Others showed up crowning and ready to go from the start. The tipping point for me was watching the women's faces when they saw their images and having one break down in tears of joy and relief when she saw how absolutely stunning she was. I asked her why she was crying and she said it was because she didn't in her heart believe I could make her look as beautiful as the women on my website. I told her she was nuts, and she was a stunner and she absolutely was! I realized that I had not forsaken midwifery spirit at all....I had just finally found a way to fuse it with my art. Sometimes we just need to spend a bit of time in the dark scary places of our confidence to really appreciate the brilliant "ah HA" moments. So that is me now, I am a midwife of inner beauty...I like the ring of that.