The Worthy

Gina - Birthday Self Love Boudoir Session

With Valentines Day tomorrow, we are sharing some of our favorites from our Boudoir Marathon last month!  And up next is the gorgeous Gina!  Gina gifted herself this boudoir session for her birthday and we were so excited to meet her!  Gina is good friends with one of our favorite clients Annalise and we always love when our clients share how much they love us with their friends!  She got a little help from The Velvet Lily (one of my go-to recommendations for the best lingerie!) and Sara from Elegance Artistry but mostly, Gina just brought her gorgeous self and vibrant personality to this boudoir session.  She happily agreed to allow us to share these with all of you and we were thrilled!  

Gina, I know it was a little intimidating to show up for your session, but girl you killed this session!  You are stunning, inside and out and I am so proud of you for taking the time to do this for YOU!  I wish more of us would take the time to pamper ourselves now and then and to realize that boudoir isn't just for having sexy pictures to gift the one you love.  It can also be for refinding all the things that make you sexy, gorgeous and worthy of feeling pretty, not just for an afternoon, but every day too.  We can't wait for the next time you're in front of our camera!  

Confessions of Love, Worth and Comparison

Confession?  I really really really struggle to see that I am doing good.  Most days, I find myself staring wistfully at another photographers work, wondering when mine will look like that.  And its rough.  Because comparison is the thief of joy and without the joy, I so easily loose sight of how lucky I am to be a photographer.  

I was putting together an inspiration board of two weddings I did recently to send over to a client this morning, when I found myself overwhelmed with the sense of not being good enough.  I have amazing clients who have the most gorgeous wedding days and the sweetest love stories, but then I think of all the other photographers out there and I loose sight of who I am.  I think that I am not special.  I wonder if my work measures up in the eyes of others.  I worry that people laugh behind my back, saying to each other "she is actually quite terrible at being a photographer."  And what's sad is I know that there are those that have said those things, so I feel justified in comparing who I am and my body of work to someone else who isn't even like me.  The doubt and fear settle in and I'll have to take a few days to find myself again.  

You know what I realized this morning though?  When I compare myself to others, I feel worthless.  When I compare myself to who I use to be, I see my worth.  By taking a moment and looking back at a wedding from last year that I was proud of and loved shooting, I can see the growth in where I have come from.  That wedding wasn't bad!  In fact it was one of my best of 2015!  But here we are, half way through 2016 and my work has gotten significantly better. My style has changed a little and I am more confident on a wedding day than I ever was.  Comparing myself to the Amanda of October of 2015, makes me feel like a boss.  So why do I even bother comparing myself to the thousands of other photographers out there when that never ends with the same feeling.  

Maybe to some it seems odd for a business owner to share her struggles, maybe it seems weird to admit that my work changes.  But I hold on to the idea that out there in the land of the internet are those that need to be reminded that honesty is refreshing and that your worth is found in who you are and where you are going, not in who someone else is or what they do.  If that's you, especially if you are a creative, I encourage you to dig out something you use to be proud of and compare it to where you are now.  See the changes, feel the joy of becoming better.  And be daring enough to be honest with your journey! 

And because I figured I ought to show you what brought this whole post about, the first collage is a wedding from 2015 that I loved and the second two are weddings from the last month or so.  :)  

Confessions of Love and Worth and Wearing a Bikini

I have a confession to make.  And it might sound silly, but go with me for a moment.  

In my entire life, I never wore a bikini bathing suit.  The closest I got was a tankini in high school but even then, you'd most often find me in a one piece.  And usually there would be a cover up over top of it.  And some of that came from being raised in a conservative family, one where modesty was taught.  But even as an adult, one who has pushed back on a lot of the things I was taught, this one seemed to hold.  I shouldn't wear a bikini, and that was that.  

I bought the only bikini I've ever owned back in March for a photoshoot I did with The STRONG Philly.  The whole session can be viewed here but in short, I needed something to wear that people would be able to write words on me, calling to light the mean things I heard my whole life.  It was an emotional experience, being that bare in front of people I knew, people I barely knew and knowing that these images would be online.  I cried, A LOT, worried what people would think of me, if they would judge how I looked, forgetting to see the message behind the images.  But this message of no more bullying was one I felt so strongly about.  The day of the shoot, I was all nerves, but as I peeled off the layers of clothes, there was this strange sense of calm.  There I was, about as vulnerable as one can be in public, and it was terrifying.  But more than the terror. it was freeing.  

We got home though, and I buried that bathing suit away.  I was so proud of the shoot, but I figured if there was a time where I would need a swim suit, I'd go out and buy a modest one-piece, one that hid my belly better, one that covered as much of me as possible.  Because despite the freedom I felt for that shoot, I believed that it was a once in a life kind of moment.  That beyond then, this body, my body, should be hidden away.  

My whole life I have struggled with that - hiding - never knowing how much of me was wanted in any given context.  In high school I was this tiny 105lbs version of myself, that believed that my worth was found in how much I was involved in youth group, how many friends I had and where I would go beyond high school.  When I was younger, I believed my worth was found in light of the fact that I was adopted, figuring that if I could know who my birth parents were, maybe who I was would make sense.  In college, I was taught that my worth was found in God but being as I went to a Biblical University, I was also told over and over that the person I knew I was, a lesbian, was something that I should hide and run from.  I was also retaught the message that my body was for my one day husband and that if I wanted a good marriage, I should cover it up now, never understand it, as it wasn't mine in the first place.  

And then I got bigger.  After spending my whole life as someone who was small, but told all these messages, my world came crashing down when I looked in the mirror and saw I was another person bigger.  Clothes became what I hid inside, trying to draw attention away from my appearance.  Summer was the worst...when you are wondering how to understand your own worth and appearance, it's hard to not have a lot of it wrapped up in a little piece of brightly colored spandex.  I was depressed.  Anxious.  Scared that I was going to be alone for forever.  

And then I came out.  I remember sitting on my parents sunporch, Jordan (my at the time fiance) by my side telling my parents I was marrying her.  And while I remember very little of that conversation, 6 words have haunted me since.  "You use to be so pretty."  My mom said those words, reaching out and tucking a hair behind my ear.  I don't know what she meant by it, but I know what my heart heard.  

"You use to be attractive."  -  "You use to be so smart."  -  "You use to be worthy."  -  "You use to be apart of this family."  -  "You use to make me happy."  -  "You use to have value."  -  "You use to be worthy of love, worthy of my love."  

I bought my wedding dress out of my understanding of those 6 words.  I made decisions on how to handle decisions out of what I thought those words meant.  I wore the clothes I did for a year a half out of those words.  I heard what my wonderful wife said through the lenses of those words and I still to this day take compliments from strangers or friends out of those words...believing they are trying to find something nice to say to a person who is so unworthy of anything.  I use to have worth.  But now I didn't.  And this all came crashing together on Saturday when Jordan and I found ourselves headed to the pool.  

I put on that bathing suit.  The two piece, bikini top, high waisted bathing suit and quickly slipped my cover up over my head.  I'd be ok, I'd just keep that dress on and no one would see. Deep breaths, hiding would totally work.  We got to the pool, about 20 people were around and before Jordan had taken off her shoes,  this rush of emotions hit me.  I couldn't do it anymore.  I couldn't hide.  I couldn't listen to all the negative voices inside my heart.  I couldn't let these two pieces of spandex tell me how to live my life.  So off went the dress.  And with it the load I had been carrying for so long.  I spent two days in and out of that bathing suit, trying to wrap my head around the freedom I felt.  And while I am sporting some serious sunburn (#reallywhitegirlproblems), I came home realizing I had to share this as well.  

I am size 18.  I have bigger boobs and an ass.  My belly isn't flat and my thighs always rub together when I walk.  I have stretch marks and scars and pale skin and mascara smudges constantly under my eyes.  But this is me.  And I am worthy and loved and pretty.  My worth isn't found in a "good Christian husband" or in saying the right things or knowing my birth mom or making things right with my family or getting skinny again.  And neither is yours.  You don't have to hide, cover up, run away, disguise, fit in, or anything else to be worthy, loved, strong.  You are those things because your human.  You are beautiful and wanted and needed and have a place in this world.  And if you find yourself feeling stuck, believing the lie that you shouldn't wear a bikini or insert your personal you shouldn't/don't deserve _________ here, its a lie.  Its scary, but this is the hope I clung to, the hope you should cling to....that a life lived beyond fear, beyond hiding, is one where we can know and be known.  

This Monday, find that thing you are afraid of.  Sit with it for awhile.  Know why its such a big deal and what it would mean or feel like to try and conquer it.  And then, even if it takes you a while, go do it.  Be daring and bold and brave.  And then shout from the roof tops that you did that thing you didn't think you could.  Let people know you and in turn learn to know others as well.  Share your stories, confess those deep hidden lies you've told yourself for so long.  I'll be right here cheering you on, myself trying to find more fears conquer.  And writing more confession of love and worth as I do. 

In freedom, hope and sunshine,


Our Giveaway Winner Is...

All week I have read tons of comments, emails, messages and so forth trying to decide who should be the winner of our Launch Day Giveaway!  So many amazing people wrote us telling why they wanted to win a free session with us and let me tell you, ya'll made me cry!  We have so many loyal fans, sweet past clients and friends who support us and Swiger Photography wouldn't be the same without!  And it seems that you all love the new look as much as we do!  Our clients images stand out, the client lounge is a hit and so many of you are asking when you will see your images on the blog!  And the answer is soon!  

But without further ado...let me introduce our giveaway winner and tell you why I am SO excited to photograph this awesome lady!  

Gracie Harringotn, girl you are our WINNER!  Your email moved me to tears!  From the moment I met you bubbly as can be at iCandy, I knew you were someone that I wanted to get to know.  Then once I started following you on social media, I realized that much like me, there is a lot more than meets the eye with you.  

"This is the reason I am entering this contest: I would love to have photos taken to show my friends and family over social media what a fighter looks like. I hope to give hope to those currently struggling with mental health disorders, by showing them that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I believe that your giveaway could be a way to do this."

You are right, there is so much hope to be given to those struggling with mental health disorders and if I can be even a small part of the journey, I want to.  When I started the section of Swiger Photography called The Worthy, it was for women like you that I did.  People who need a chance to see the worth inside themselves and to share that with those around them.  You dear, have found that worth and you deserve beautiful images of that sweet smile and adorable laugh and so let's get that session scheduled ok?  And a HUGE thank you to all of you who entered and made this launch successful!  

Launch Day Giveaway!

Love.  Worth.  Strength.  These are things that I know I spent a good portion of my life trying to find.  And I know I am not the only one.  For so many people, chasing those three things becomes what defines who we are.  Who loves me?  Am I worth that person's time? Am I strong enough? Why do I feel unworthy? How can I love better? Where do I find my strength?  Will they love me forever?

Photos are more than images.  They capture who someone is.  Who someone was.  Who someone can be.  And the images I fall in love with time and time again are the ones where bodies relax because they are in the arms of the one they love, where a woman feels beautiful and worthy and she laughs without hesitation because hey, this is actually fun.  Where someone is told that they are strong and needed and they breathe deep, believing those words for maybe even the first time.  Because that is my purpose.  I was made to capture love, to show worth and photograph strong women.  But I didn't know till I was first loved, finally able to see my worth and believed that I was strong.  

This is the new Swiger Photography.  Simplified, bright, clean, and here to showcase the Loved, the Worthy and the Strong.  Its full of beautiful images, blog posts and sessions, advice and a client lounge.  You can even book your session online now!  And I am so proud of the way it looks!  And because no kick off is complete without a give away....

We are giving a way a FREE SESSION!!!!!  Want to win?  

Here are the rules!  

  • You must like Swiger Photography on Facebook!
  • Follow us on instagram (@swigerphotography)
  • Share the giveaway on facebook and tag us! (@Swiger Photography)
  • Comment below with why you'd like to win!  It's that easy!

For bonus entries...

  • Follow The STRONG on instagram
  • Follow The STRONG on Facebook
  • Comment on any other blog post (on entry per comment!)

That's it!  We are SO excited to see who wins this giveaway and to be launching the new look for Swiger Photography!  Winner will be announced next Friday!  

Stephanie - The Worthy Headshot Shoot at Ridley State Park

Ohhhhh ya'll this is a good one.  I have known of Stephanie for a long time.  Its hard to be out in the LGBTQ scene in Philly and not have run into this pretty lady but I hadn't ever had the chance to hang out and talk to her before!  And let me tell you, this sex educator is so down to earth!  Not to mention stunningly beautiful.  

She started a little nervous but by the time I showed her a few frames, the nerves calmed and the magic began!  I think for some of us, as comfortable in our own skin as we are, its nerve wracking to have your photo taken.  But we are all worthy of having beautiful headshots and a great experience getting them and judging by the comments on facebook, it seems she loves the results!  

Stephanie, Jordan and I loved having the chance to photograph you and get to know you better!  You seriously killed your session and I can't wait to follow along with all the places you will be using your headshots!  And seriously, you're gorgeous girl!