The deeper meaning behind a photo shoot | Client Experience


My own narrative has evolved quite a bit since starting this line of work over a decade ago. The further I got down into the rabbit hole that is women’s empowerment photography, the more I recognized the importance of celebrating yourself, as a woman, through a proper photo shoot experience. It has changed the way I run my business, it has changed the way I talk about my work, it has changed the way I talk to my clients.  NOW, I can’t even fathom doing this for any other purpose than to celebrate yourself and to love yourself and to feel liberated and strong and powerful.

In this client’s case, what originally was meant to be a wedding present became not only a gift for herself, but documented herself at a pivotal point in her life as she received a medical diagnoses days after her photo reveal that flipped her world upside down.  Read her experience below. 

“I have followed Kara on Instagram for years, and always thought "I'm going to do that one day," but every time her sign-up opened, I chickened out. I wasn't in the shape I wanted to be in, felt too uncomfortable in front of the camera, didn't have the right reason for a boudoir shoot, felt like I could use the money on something else. There was always a reason to tell myself no.

“And then one day, I finally said yes. And it was one of the best decisions I've made in a long time.” 

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“I initially told myself that my session with Kara would be a great wedding gift for my fiancee – something he would never expect to receive from his overly body conscious girlfriend. But as I got closer to shoot day, I realized that it was as much for me as it was for my fiancee.

I've never quite been comfortable with my body – and even with a year to prepare, I still wasn't in what I considered to be "boudoir-ready shape" by the time of my shoot – but after years looking at the beautiful images Kara created, I figured that even just one good image would make the shoot worthwhile. My experience with Kara was so much more than I could have ever imagined. Kara was a total joy to work with. She completely changed the way I felt about my body, and brought out a confidence that I always lacked. I thought that taking pictures in lingerie (and less!) with a relative stranger would make me freeze up, but Kara's friendly demeanor put me at ease from the moment I walked in, and I felt like we were old friends despite only meeting her that morning.”


“Even just taking the photos before I even saw them...I left feeling powerful. I finally saw myself as the sexy, confident woman that my fiancee always saw. Seeing the final images just amplified those feelings. I honestly felt like I could conquer anything, which couldn't have come at a better time for me personally.”

“ The week after my photo reveal, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My entire world flipped upside down. I went from being embarrassed by my body to gaining an unknown confidence in it to wishing that I spent a little more timing loving it. ”

“ Kara did something for me that I wasn't able to do for myself, and now, as I'm about to embark on a very difficult life experience, I'm so grateful that I have these beautiful images to look back on – and to serve as a reminder of the hidden self she helped bring out in me: a confident, self-loving bad-ass boss babe. Working with Kara is a definite investment, but one that I would make a million times over, and I look forward to booking many more experiences with her in the future.”

 

She. Is. Incredible. I honestly couldn’t even begin to count the number of clients I’ve worked with that were affected by breast cancer, and how inspiring they each are to me....and how grateful I am on their behalf, to have documented this exact place in life they’re in.  In the way that my self portrait project serves as my own personal visual diary of my current stage of life, these images will forever be there to serve the woman in them and remind them of that stage in their life. 

THANK YOU, G, so much, for sharing with me and with the KMS family. I have every faith that you will kick this cancer’s ass in all the ways, and I will be seeing you again for your celebratory “I KICKED CANCER’S ASS!!!” Photo shoot that I’ve done for so, so, so many other insanely courageous women. YOU ARE AMAZING. 

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The Photo Reveal

Our photo shoot experiences are amazing and fun as we create and break down barriers, and I watch as women work on their confidence right in front of me. But the photo reveals....the reveals are where it’s at. That’s where alllll of my job satisfaction lies and I will always selfishly want to be present when women see their images for the first time and experience their jaws hitting the floor and their eyes tearing up as they gawk in disbelief that they could look so fierce and powerful and confident and Goddess-y.

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Some women are completely silent, even after their slideshow plays...they just sit there, stunned, with their hand over their mouth. Some women are SCREAMING “OHHHH. MYYYY. GODDDDDD” as each image flashes on the screen. Some women are sobbing messes. Some women spill their guts about why they needed this so badly at this stage in their lives.  Some women play it cool and casual as they order their full collection but then send me a lengthy e-mail as soon as they get home about what it all meant to them.  Regardless of how differently they may process it, they all move me tremendously and marry me to my work.

  

When they ultimately say “Obviously I can’t choose. I want them all.”, I know that I’ve done my job. Women are notoriously hard on themselves, especially when it comes to their appearance....which is why I maintain that, while obviously all of my experiences will have them looking their best, my primary goal isn’t to make them look smoother or slimmer or more voluptuous than in real life....it’s to make them look strong and capable and cool and CONFIDENT. Because what’s inside matters more, and THAT is the vibe that I want my work to have. Not one of being for someone else’s enjoyment, not one of being overly retouched to the point where it could literally be ANYONE in those photos....but CONFIDENCE.

I am on a mission, one woman at a time, to build CONFIDENCE in all of the women that I come in contact with, because I know the power of confidence as well as I know how crippling insecurity is. And the world NEEDS MORE CONFIDENT WOMEN. Your appearance is the least interesting thing about you, I promise. Let’s work on the inside. Together.

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Kara Marie Studios | Photography for the Modern Woman

EVOLUTION OF A BRAND

After my 10 years in business, 6 years with the boudoir studio, and upon acquiring my second studio space last year (Kara Marie Portraits), my shoot style continued along it’s path of evolution toward impactful and minimalist. My boudoir work blurred the lines into fashion portrait photography, and my portraits blurred the lines into boudoir….

I was beginning to notice that my sources of inspiration were becoming visually apparent in my work. 70’s fashion film photography. Music. The aesthetic of the rock and roll lifestyle…the “cool girl” look. OH MY GOD. Do I have…a….style?! This is huge! A pivotal point in any artist’s art is when they actually FIND their style.

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When I realized this, the ideas were swirling, my creativity was reignited, I checked myself. I spent time in the desert alone really analyzing what it was I wanted with my brand, my career, myself. I dedicated an ENTIRE BestSelf journal to studying my own work for crying out loud. It’s amazing how easy it is to not really know anything about yourself when you don't actively invest time in getting to make your own acquaintance.

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It was apparent in that reflection that continuing to operate two separate website, brands, blogs, and Instagram handles made less and less sense. It occurred to me (and was validated to me by others in the industry I respect), that shedding the WORD Boudoir was the right move for this particular brand. It was the right move for me personally.

Destroy the idea that you have to be constantly working or grinding in order to be successful. embrace the concept that rest, recovery, and reflection are essential parts of the progress towards a successful and ultimately happy life.

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I’m a no-fuss kind-of woman. I wear an all black capsule wardrobe. My makeup “kit” fits in the palm of my hand. I like things clean, minimalist, distraction free, black-and white. Through the years I’ve learned that my photography and my business style should follow the same mantra of minimalism.

If my personal style and my photography style are authentic and minimalist….why wouldn’t my brand be?

HENCE, the umbrella company that I’ve been operating under, Kara Marie Studios, is now the forward-facing name. My name is Kara Marie, I own multiple studios, and I am the modern woman’s photographer. With or without clothes. (But probably mostly without ;) )

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When the next step makes you uncomfortable, you know it’s necessary for your growth. I’m in the midst of it now. And that makes me REAL excited…because every time I feel that discomfort, it thwarts me to the next level of fulfillment and that is a beautiful thing. It’s been a while.

BLURRING THE LINES

It’s so hard to define a style of photography with a cookie cutter…especially the longer a photographer has been in the art. I chose boudoir because of the concept of RAW NATURAL BEAUTY. What is more natural than nudity? BOUDOIR is one of those words that has as many interpretations as there are photographers who shoot it. Because of that, the word itself is confusing and often (mis)defining what it is that *I* do.

Beyond that, when examining my shoot style (and as recently pointed out to me by a photography mentor who oozes with authentic, often hard-to-hear but oh-so-needed-advice), I shoot like a fashion photographer, ironically…given the lack of clothing featured in my images. The word BOUDOIR just didn’t seem to fit for my style. The word itself became a pigeon-hole for me.

I’m not changing what I’m shooting, or how I’m shooting it. Just learning. Improving. Evolving. And un-pigeon-hole-ing. Ya dig?

I’m a photographer to the modern woman.

THE MODERN WOMAN

The modern woman wants to see her authentic self. She wants exist in exquisite photographs and have imagery to properly represent her legacy for the rest of time. She wants see her confidence and doesn’t feel that has to mean a full makeover transformation and elaborate wardrobe.

She wants to look cool…like, album cover cool.

She doesn’t compete with other women. She knows she is destined for great things and likely already doing them. She’s a lover AND a fighter.

The modern woman wants to be photographed by me for HERSELF. She may have a partner….but the experience isn’t for them. Though ultimately, it will certainly have a ripple effect.

Whether she’s seeking this experience because she wants to find herself herself or because she already knows exactly who she is and that she is someone worth celebrating….the modern woman is the exact type of woman who seeks me out and invests in herself through my work.

THANK YOU to each and every one of you for your continued support, for growing with me, for allowing me to photograph you, for trusting me with such a personal experience. This work is for me, yes…..it HAS to be for it to be any good. But this work is also for you. All of you. Because it isn’t just about cool photos, it’s about the person who is represented in them. It’s about their story. YOUR story.

I cannot wait to have you in front of my lens.