Discussion about Curves
I guess ultimately one thing that I find really, really significant is, in my lifetime I have put on a lot of weight and I have always struggled with being photographed. Now that problem is for, just about anybody who is not super lean, so, I get girls that come in, my best friend looks like Claudia Schiffer and if she puts on 3 kilos it's the end of the world. But it's her reality, not mine, so I deal with her reality, I get that. And I have seen women all the time, come in to be photographed, and for me, curves is the hardest thing to photograph. Wouldn't you agree? As a photographer? Yeah, okay, so you got a curvy bride, really hard to photograph, right? So there are other things that come up, as clients that are hard to photograph, but being curvy is definitely one of them. Being curvy and being photographed is one of the most horrible things you could actually experience. And so what we were laughing about was when Tamara dobbed on these two to come in for a photoshoot, it was bec...
ause they were going to their 20 year high school reunion. And what's the first thing you think when you're going back to see everyone after 20 years? (mumbling and laughing)
You just immediately start looking at yourself, and you're like, oh my gosh, I've put on this much weight, and people aren't going to recognize me, and it was just awful. It was the worst feeling.
And so you weren't gonna go?
I wasn't gonna go, absolutely was not gonna go.
But you did right?
I did at literally the last second.
Literally, it was the last second. She walked out the door, and we said goodbye, cause we were going together, and she left my house, didn't tell us she was coming, went to get a new outfit, record shopping here, and met us there. And when our friend told us that she was there, we told her she was lying.
We saw us, and both of us, Tamara and I, our chins dropped, and we just, we probably looked ridiculous, but we couldn't believe it, because she had, for weeks had been telling us, absolutely it's not happening.
So what significantly changed my brain and my marketing was including body types and ages in my marketing, because what does it tell you, when Susan Rodrick sat here the other day and said I stand in line at the supermarket and I look at magazines, and I think I don't look like that, that tells me a magazine, fine, is promoting a certain body image, but how many photographers are promoting the wrong body image in their work? So you talked about communicating your brand and what that means to people? Make sure that you are communicating exactly who you want to communicate to. Do all of you have children?
Yeah, so all of you are mums, okay. Now if you walk around with this idea that you're too fat to be photographed, or not good enough to be photographed, you don't exist in portraits for your children. I'm sorry, but one day your children are gonna be adults, and they're gonna go where are you? Where were you for this part of my life? Or God forbid, you're not there, and you don't have mum. Now that's an easy sell for me, cause isn't that a hard pull?
Oh yeah, absolutely.
Now, all I ever get from women is, when I lose 10 pounds, when I lose 30 pounds, when I lose 40 pounds, and I got it the other day. This woman wrote to me and she said, when I reach my goal weight. And I said why wait for your goal weight? And I wrote goal wait, as in W-A-I-T, because you are perfect now, you're just curvy. You lose weight, and you're four inches smaller, your children don't love you more, husband doesn't love you more, you know, it's nothing, it is absolutely nothing and yet it is so significant, you wouldn't have even gone to your high school reunion because of it.
So we were just discussing that, cause I was in the same position. I went to a reunion and I thought oh no I'm old and fat. It was my first thought, self talk, hammer hammer hammer, and I did everything I could, I did a spray tan, I did the three day starvation diet, cause that was all I could cope with, (laughing) cause really, three days, two days and I probably ate chocolate, but I didn't count it. And I double-spanxed, you know, so I got spanx and then I got double spanx, so I could barely breathe in the car, it's kind of like (heavy panting), and I was so worried, and I walk into my high school, to this reunion, and there is a guy that I dated when I was in my early twenties, and he was so gorgeous back then, so he was walking towards me, and he recognized me and gave me the up and down, and I recognized him, and he was in way worse of a place than I was, and we both laughed about that because I was so worried about what I looked like, and I didn't think that everybody else was aging with me, and everybody else was being a mom and a dad and just, some people just, are just different. Everyone's different, and some people have no hair, and some people have different body shapes, and I realized that as soon as you started talking to anybody it didn't matter anyway. You are exactly the same person, and you kinda caught up with them and started to see them as they were 20 years ago, did you think that?
It's true, absolutely.
Yeah and the worst thing somebody could possibly have said about you was oh isn't Angie fat now? And if that's the worst thing somebody could say about you, then who cares? I promote as much curvy shooting in my business as I can, and ever since I started putting curves on my blog, they got pinned on Pinterest, and I started to get calls from all around the world. And all I can say is you must be beautiful now, you must not wait for anything. It's just inches, it's just a number, it makes no difference. If you can communicate that through your brand by getting mothers who have just had babies to be photographed, how many women bring in their children and say don't photograph me? It's not good enough. They are asking not to be photographed cause they don't believe you can take a nice photo of them. You must exist in photographs for your children and your family, and you must be beautiful and enjoy it.
I think it's important for photographers to remember that plus sized women just want to feel welcome and as valued as somebody that comes in that's a size zero because I think that with all of the media so focused on being real lean and very tiny, that if you're plus sized.
We don't say that word here by the way, we say curvy.
Curvy, if you're curvy, then, it's important that we feel like we're just as valuable as someone who's small, and I think as a business, if a photographer can really come across that they want you just as much as they want someone that's going to be good for fashion photography, or anything else that it'd be very good for someone's business.
Well all I'm saying too is with that, is my before and afters for curvy girls gets me more work than size eight.
Absolutely, because looking at the pictures of Tamara and Cassie, when you just took straight on and that's how most of our pictures are, so we don't want to be in front of the camera, because that's what they look like, and we're like oh why did you post that on Facebook? Please don't do that.
Yeah and so now you know too, as soon as you see a camera, I look at the camera person now and I go, and I shut them up. I go, you're gonna go above my eyeline, and they're holding the iPhone and then they go like this and they lift it up, and it makes me laugh because I kind of think, lift it up, and then I lift it up, and then I put my weight on my back foot and then I bring my chin forward, I'm ready.
And after I shoot anybody curvy that, they always say to me, I see a camera now, and I'm on it, but it's all body types, it's not just specific weight class. You know what really, I can't say it because I'm not allowed to swear. You know what really bugs me, is that we make it a thing. I don't wanna go look, I photograph beautiful skinny girls and look I do plus sized women as well. It's like why is it a thing? It's people are all shapes and sizes. You walk down the street, you are faced with people of all shapes sizes demographics race religion creed, you see a million different people a million different ways, and everybody's different, and everybody deserves to have a beautiful portrait, so I don't even know why it should be a thing, but all I know is somehow in my brand I've managed to communicate that I'm open to making everybody look gorgeous, and I don't say it, I don't say look I photograph curves as well, I just show it, and people seem to get it. So shoot more curves, get more curves in, get more sales into your portrait studio. Does anybody wanna add anything to that?
I just think it's, back in the fifties, curvy women were the standard. I mean I grew up idolizing Marilyn Monroe, but I didn't think of her as curvy or anything, I just thought of beauty. You three women are beautiful, the photos are beautiful but I didn't think of, oh these are curvy women, I just thought of the beauty, and so if you approach it that way, that's the way I look at it, as making, taking beautiful photographs.
You know the truth is it's how most people look at it, in fact the only person who thinks about it is you, and I always used to say to this girl that came to my karate class, she had a particularly large bum, and she would always say I stand in the back row because of my big bum. She said it to everybody. And I hate walking out of the room, everybody's gonna look at my bum, she'd say it out loud. And I sat her down one day and I said, what honestly makes you think that your bum is so important that everyone stares at it when you walk away, and I said and the weird thing is you keep telling everybody to look at your bum, now clearly you've got a problem with your bum, but I never noticed your bum until you told everybody to look at it, so the second you start becoming paranoid about anything on your body, you draw attention to it, which only highlights it.
You know that's something that I think when you're heavier you tend to wanna hide it and disguise it, and a friend of mine sat me down one day and said wearing these baggy shirts is not helping you, you need to wear something that's fitted, and show your shape, and be proud of what you have. And I've had three kids. This body is not going back to my heyday of 22, 23. It's just...
But nobody has the body they had at 22.
No no, and that's it.
Except for Demi Moore, and she doesn't count. (laughing)
Instead of embracing, or instead of letting society tell us, or anybody else tell us that we're this or we're that, cause we are all different, we're all different sizes, we just need to love what we have, love who we are, embrace what was given to us...
Accept what was given to us.
This is what you are now.
Yes and you know what? You can change that, I get it. For the people out there that go, whatever you put in your mouth, sure sure. You can change it, but right now, if you can't accept where you are right now, then you're not living right now. Because I hear a lot of people refer to the body they had when they were 20, 20 years ago, and then I hear a lot of people refer to what they're gonna have when they have that body again, which they never do, and all I hear is a whole lot of 20 years ago and a whole lot of in two years' time, and neither of that belongs to right now and neither of that has anything to do with who you are as a person, so.
You can't live in the past.
I just wanted to show everybody who's watching and learning, that I can just keep showing people how to photograph curves, I can keep showing people how to do it properly, but until people understand how powerful it is to the women who are being photographed, because the truth is, is to see a beautiful photograph of yourself, where you don't cringe, feel sick, or don't wanna tag it on your Facebook, is such a gift that when you see it, you run it everywhere, and it's like, that is me, that is who I am, that is what makes me feel good, and if you can communicate that, then you're done.
That's it. And you're done. Wow, what a day Sue. What a day, how are you feeling?
I'm great, yeah. I do this every day. I have this conversation with everybody. Now I'm just having it live. That's the weird thing, I would sit down with these girls and have a conversation with them, and then I would go and drink margaritas with them.
I know that story. (laughing) I've been there.
Oh yeah, she's been to happy hour. Because that's it, I like the idea that that is part of my brand, and I wanna have that conversation with people, so I wanna have it as often as I can, and even if you don't wanna have the conversation with people you can still offer them the beautiful photographs that make them have that conversation themselves.