Dear Jenna - For Love, Worth and Strength

Dear Jenna,

I won't lie, I have taken at least 10 attempts to write your blog post and everything always felt short of what I wanted to say about our studio session in West Chester in January.  So rather than writing my normal style blog post that is written to my viewers, today, this one is written just for you.   I am sharing it with the world because what I have to say I think will resonate with so many women, for so many reasons and because I know your friends would agree with me too.

While I wouldn't qualify our shoot as boudoir, I would say that it is the very definition of why my brand is built around love, worth and strength.  Photography so often gets divided into categories...families, engagements, newborns, children, weddings, seniors, headshots, ect.  And while I understand the need to categorize what I do, I love when shoots are less about the type of photos I am shooting and more about creating an environment to feel.  If a client can walk away from a session feeling more beautiful, more in love, more worthy, more strong than they did when they walked into the session, to me I have been successful.  The images captured at sessions like that are already above everything else because beyond having stunning images, my clients have an emotional reaction to the sessions and their images too.  

I'll be honest.  I fall short of this all of the time.  Timelines get wonky, light isn't right, outfits clash, I'm not feeling as creative, locations don't pan out.  But you Jenna, in just 45 minutes for a last minute session because I had an opening, reminded me why I fell in love with photography in the first place.  I got to remind you that you are beautiful, that you despite how life feels right now, you are loved and that even in the hardest of times, you radiate light.  

Being a plus sized, out of shape, slightly awkward, bubbly photographer is definitely intimidating sometimes.  Most of my clients are thinner than I am, I think are prettier than I am and are seriously kicking ass at going after their dreams.  What's interesting though, is as gorgeous and amazing as I might think you look Jenna, you were still nervous and shy and self conscious.  We might look totally different, but you have some of the same struggles I have and that was incredibly eye opening for me.  So often I let myself think that these beautiful people I am privileged to photograph couldn't possibly know what it's like to be nervous or not like the way they look.  And perhaps that's why sessions that could have been amazing only turned out great.  Because I forgot how to relate to the nerves and self consciousness.  I forgot that life tells us, especially as women, time and time again that we aren't enough.  

You, sweet friend, reminded me that my job as a photographer isn't to make you stronger or to love yourself or see that you are worthy of more than you had.  Its my job to capture you, as you are, with your flaws, perfections and all the natural, perfect beauty you have and show you what I see.  It's my job to tell you that I have things I struggle with too, that you aren't alone in your struggles and self consciousness.  It's my job is to make you laugh, to remind you to hold your chin high, to be vulnerable with you.  While the world might tell us that photos should be perfectly posed and airbrushed and edited, I hope these photos of you, raw, perfect and stunningly beautiful reming you that you are worthy, just as you are, without changing a single thing.  And while it may be your friends like Jordan and I that are the ones who see that now, know that some day, some perfectly awkward, kind, authentic, trustworthy, stunningly beautiful woman will see that in you too.  

Happiest of birthday sweet friend.  I can't wait to shoot you again soon!

Amanda Swiger