BEYOND THE LENS is a nonprofit organization that focuses on natural, organic photography of women and girls and allows them the safe space to be the truest version of themselves.
Selfies. Filters. Instagram. Tik Tok. Snapchat.
They are an American obsession.
Are they doing more harm than good?
How are women and girls affected by this craze?
“Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe she’s used 3 different apps.”
On social media, we capture images of ourselves and then edit them so that we are barely still existent. we create a person who doesn’t actually exist and post it as if it is a reality.
We create the person we want to see instead of the person we actually are. There begins the cycle of pretending and hiding.
There is no quick solution but we can start with letting women and girls be themselves and stop posing them like some Pinterest board photo to look like everyone else.
When we combine intentional dialogue, no time limit, the beauty of nature, and a confident, relational photographer with an artistic eye- things begin to happen during a session.
I take natural, outdoor photos.
I want to capture each person’s truest self.
Each photo I take is part of an individual session- one on one.
Photography is about seeing the person on the other side of the lens. Truly seeing her. And then taking her on a journey of self-reflection, vulnerability and FUN!
This could be one session or five years of sessions but no matter how many moments we have, change takes place.
The turning point in a photo shoot is when the shoulders relax and the eyes come alive.
That is when the beauty emerges.
My goal is to provide a safe place where girls and women feel they can let their guard down and be in the moment. No judgement. No experience required. Not fitting into anyone’s box. Just being who they were created to be.
Here are some recent quotes from girls and women I have photographed as part of this project:
During the photo shoot(s), I felt…..
“like something was lifted.”
“it was easy to feel accepted- to take off my mask and tell everyone.”
“the experience was meaningful and I could be vulnerable.”
“I did not have to lie.”
“I was in a safe space.”
On November 11, 2017 I took my first photo of Ella. It was a casual afternoon hanging out with a friend and her daughters at the park. We decided to play dress up and snap some shots.
I only knew Ella as an 11 year old who was quirky, smart and loved to read. She felt awkward and left out at school.
In front of the camera she was different.
I had no idea the inspiration it would become. Over the next 5 years I continued to take photos of her- she was always up for a fun vintage dress or bell bottoms and the classic red lipstick.
I watched Ella grow up. I saw her struggle and succeed. The relationship grew as I engaged in her life through photography.
At 16 now, she remembers a lot of our conversations about being unique and not comparing ourselves to others.
She also remembers our long talk in the rain during a shoot once about her playing the game Arknights. Sometimes it is just time to listen.
There was never a doubt in Ella’s mind that I believed in her or that I was trustworthy. We still meet for photo shoots and I learn about 16 year old Ella, who is smart and witty and a source of joy to those around her.
And from there I began to photograph other girls and women and saw the opportunity it gave me to walk beside them and make a difference.
Not trying to change them.
Just being present while they take this journey of self-discovery.