Sep 22, 2010

Photographers Challenge

by Mandi Nuttall-Nuttall Photography

Photographers??  Are you ready for a unique challenge that will test your abilities?  Here is a challenge just for you! 

"As a 27 year old mother of 2, my life was just about perfect. My husband loved me, my kids were crazy yet adorable, I felt completely balanced spiritually, and I absolutely loved my job as a photographer. But there was one thing that just wasn't right. I didn't love me. Almost every day I would look in the mirror and pick out something wrong and complain about it. My daughter was only 6 months old and I'm just not one of those moms whose body seems to suck right back together like a slinky a few weeks after giving birth. I didn't recognize the woman I was looking at anymore. My body had changed. I had stretch marks. My hair was falling out. It seemed like I was hoping to walk past the mirror and see my 18 year old athletic body surprise me somehow.  I didn't think I needed an intervention, until the intervention found me. Oh I'm so glad it did.

A local photographer and I had an idea to shoot some head shots of each other to use on our websites and give to our husbands. At first, I brushed it off and didn't really get too excited about the idea. Me? Getting in front of the camera? However, the more I prepared and planned for the session, the more I got into it. I went shopping, made hair and make-up appointments, and tried on my clothes at least ten times. I was getting so excited! My husband was cheering me on, and was so supportive. The day of our shoot was one of the best days I had for myself in such a long time. After I had spent hours getting ready, I took a deep breath and looked in the mirror. I felt beautiful. The shoot was amazing and we got some incredible photos of each other. When I looked at the final photos of myself, something changed. I loved them. I actually loved a photo of me! The same post-partum mother really looked beautiful.

[Photo's of Mandi taken by Camilla Binks]

This experience lit a bonfire inside me. I wanted everyone to feel the way I did and still do. After this experience, I literally threw away my insecurities. I realized that I can get all dolled up, or stay in my sweats for days and still be me - A beautiful woman. It felt so wonderful to spend real, quality time on myself. Even though I had more makeup and hairspray on my head than I have ever had before, I could honestly say the way I look on the outside doesn't define who I am. I am me, and I will always be beautiful no matter what. I really needed this reminder, and every time I look at my photos, I'm flooded with these emotions all over again. My husband quickly had me order a print of his favorite photo and was so excited to put it on his desk at work. My complaining literally stopped and I really was so happy to be me. I also began to take care of myself better. I'm eating better, exercising and gaining even more self confidence than I have ever had before.

I had such a strong desire to share this feeling with my clients and also implement my transformation into my business. Personally, I felt absolutely qualified to help adults raise their self esteem. After receiving my degree in health education, I worked for 3 years as a high school health teacher, and sometimes it seemed that I spent more time counseling my students than really teaching curriculum. I knew that if I could raise the self esteem and self image in teenage kids, I could definitely help adults. In addition to my own experiences and education, I sought the counsel of psychologists, body image therapists, marriage and family counselors, and doctors to help me compile the best possible homework for the clients.

After insane amounts of time of planning, studying, designing and marketing, I introduced to my clients what I have come to call my Beauty Campaign.  Anyone can and should have a beautiful photo of themselves.

A beauty session is so much more than just a photo shoot, it is a journey to rediscover your true beauty. I put my clients through various exercises prior, during, and after their session. Clients are able to confidently say why they are beautiful! The response and feedback I have received is overwhelming. I have seen people change. I have seen an insecure person walk away a with a new found confidence. It is so rewarding to witness such a genuine and beautiful change. I truly want everyone to experience this change.

After this experience, I felt so inspired to introduce this new and fresh idea into the photography world. I realized there was not a photographic purpose calling to the largest market available - anyone over the age of 18. What sort of session is designed for regular people with zero modeling experience of all ages? Parents pay for professional portraits of their newborns, children, and seniors to document their lives...but what about Mom and Dad? Many photographers are rocking Boudoir sessions, and I even thought about getting some done myself, but then what? I would never want anyone but my husband to see them. They would be locked in a safe for no one to see. I wanted my husband to be able to proudly display photos of his wife anywhere. I knew that deep down, everyone wants tasteful photos to give to their spouses to display at work, or a stunning profile picture, or a beautiful photo for their funeral. However, it would take an incredibly confident individual to walk into a studio and ask a photographer to take beautiful photos of them just because. I knew this idea could sell like candy to clients, and spread like wildfire.

I honestly hope everyone can have this experience, but obviously I can't do this alone. Only a few weeks after I announced my beauty campaign, I had photographers across the country asking if they could use the idea in their studios. It was exciting knowing that more photographers could also change the lives of those around them. However, with the same amount of excitement, came even more anxiety. I was worried if photographers started offering beauty sessions, that they would miss the whole point that makes me so passionate about this campaign. There is so much more to these sessions than the hour and a half in front of the camera.

To help ease my anxiety, I have begun to create a workshop and business and marketing kit on DVD sharing all my ideas, documents, techniques, marketing, and vision of the beauty campaign. It is still in the works, and my goal is to have these kits ready to be shipped to photographers everywhere by the end of the year. In the meantime, I would love to give you the #1 most important bit of information for photographers that I will share in my workshop DVDs.

I love the quote, "You never truly know someone until you walk a mile in his shoes." A critical part of the beauty campaign is understanding what your clients are going through. The best way to understand, is to experience it for yourself. That's right. I just challenged you to get in front of the camera. You would think photographers could feel comfortable a few feet away from their cameras. I know it is terrifying to stare through that lens, knowing that black box is capturing all your imperfections. This is what your clients face daily. So give your pointer finger a day off from clicking that shutter and take a day for you. Pamper yourself. Go shopping or golfing. Actually take time to do your hair, and snag a good photographer friend to shoot you. I know I just gave you a simple checklist, but I also know how difficult this checklist can be. Just remember...You are Beautiful. You are beautiful for who you are, what you do, and what you can do. And when you are done, you will have a photo to prove it."

More information regarding Mandi's Beauty Campaign can be found here.


**If you decide to take on this challenge, we invite you to share your masterpieces with us!  Yes, even if you're a male photographer!  We'd also love to hear from you in our comments section- Just to see how many of us are willing to put ourselves out there. 

We will be posting the images that you take of each other in the November issue!  Please share this challenge with your other photographer friends and lets have some fun!!  

Please send your favorite image to, and are due any time before October 31st.  Please label your picture so we know who you are!  And as always, list the name of your photographer! 


Cherie said...

The funny thing is that a week or 2 ago, I had the same idea! I was thinking I should announce on facebook a girls night out or something saying I'll take shots like this for friends. Let them get all dressed and done up. Then I saw the photos Camilla Binks took and now this post and I'm even more excited! :)

Elder Larkin said...

Wonderful Cherie! Can't wait for you to share with us!

Robert Benson said...

Cool idea. Some good pics there too! =D