I didnt edit this blog I wrote it late last night on my ipad. I read it once but it doesnt need editing or correcting it came from my heart.
In my late twenties and into my Thirties I had a bad patch. I put on 110 pounds or 50 kilos. I do not exist in photos during this period around 8 years. In fact my brothers wedding and a family portrait was all I could find from this period.
Through out this time I was a Glamour/Beauty Photographer that specialises in making Woman look fabulous. I was in love with my craft and the gift I gave Woman. I learned a lot about my self during these years. How to make women feel beautiful, how to make women feel comfortable and mostly how to make women feel safe. I was undeniably active in building my career during this time I share the love of a great family and the joy of friendships that I’ve had for life times that span continents and withstand absence. So I am loved and felt loved no matter what my body was portraying. But I wasn’t loving my self. About 35 years old I lost about 40 pounds/20 kilos at this time and just settled in an in between and there I stayed for another 5 years.
Hiding in Black trying hard not to be seen wanting desperately to be seen
I have photographed thousands of women in 24 years and had thousands of conversations about body image and loving your self. What I didn’t get/understand was self acceptance. But rather a deep painful wound that I buried deep that was a belief set in stone that I was broken and simply NOT GOOD ENOUGH. I played this story out for many years as ‘my victim story’ I’m not going to lie it helped immensely with my career being bigger, I was raw and vulnerable in my own fight for self love and women could identify with my struggle and my journey regardless of their age or size. I could make any woman feel good about what she had and where she was at but . . . What I wasn’t doing though was the WORK. I was speaking it, teaching it and preaching it but I was not living it.
I have watched the barrier that women of all ages and sizes put up between me and the camera. Everything they hate about themselves all their fears and vulnerabilities comes to the surface and there it is palpable and raw the fog I have to fight through and clear before you allow me to see your true beauty (the light inside you) and take a portrait of you to show you back to yourself. Since being on the creativeLIVE stage the comments and emails have been consistent where are your photos Sue? When the suggestion first came to do a shoot live on creativeLIVE I thought it was a great idea within an hour every fear fog and drama came instantly to the surface and there I was in all my dramatic, pathetic neurotic glory. How could I possibly trust someone enough to do for me what I have done for so many for so many years.
I am not a brilliant photographer my skills lays in the control I have, the years of experience of making ordinary bodies longer and slimmer the assertiveness in which I can take away your fear long enough to let me take control of you and the space which I can hold for long enough for you to relinquish that fear in order for me to bring out the incredible light that’s inside every human being.
It may sound nebulous and even superficial but that fog, that barrier you throw up is so real and there I was wrapped in it could I let mine down long enough to be seen. Why did I choose Lara Jade to photograph me? Lara is 24 and looks like the models she photographs she is a fashion photographer that photographs young tall slim professional models. What does she know about curvy 42 year olds that carry these stupid fears. The answer is simple she sees beauty and I trust her. That is enough.
I thought like everyone else that I would drop another 10 pounds before my shoot but of course I ended up eating everything in sight for three weeks to cover the level of anxiety I felt (as if another 10 pounds would magically give me confidence ha ) I wished I had better clothes dreamed of being younger and berated my self for not having done this years ago. On the day I resisted every part of it threw up my breakfast cried a bit in private and generally behaved badly.
About a year ago after filming Jill’s documentary in Paris I really started to do the work, self care self love and the most important self acceptance and gratitude. Weight has been leaving me but not because I am holding to a number but because I no longer care what I weigh. There is no identity in my weight ‘Problem’ anymore just my acceptance of who I am and how I live. How could I meet this girl being ravaged by cancer having her body cut away and not HONOUR the body I have the perfectly healthy body I have and cannot give to her. How can I “quote – Change the conversation we are having about our bodies if I do not change mine” So it was with LOVE not resistance that I set out to change mine. I tell photographers all the time to sell your shoots do one yourself, market what you do with your own images and experience and honour your craft by experiencing it and paying for it.
Jill in Paris baring her soul
‘The Light that Shines’ will forever change my world
The reveal was filmed live on the show ‘Create incredible experimental Portraits’ with Sue Bryce and Lara Jade you can watch the shoot too. I was overwhelmed with tears not because of what I saw but because of the incredible vulnerability I felt and complete sadness I had in my body that I have wasted to many years rejecting what I am and that I never felt good enough to do this earlier. I deserved more from myself and will remember this experience for the rest of my days. I will teach this over and over again so that many others can be free of their own barriers and I will value the gift I have been given of knowing this lesson and the opportunity I have to share it.
This year I will launch an international campaign to ‘Exist in Photographs’ for your family, to see yourself and to accept all you are. All ages all weights and all barriers aside. I have always believed I do not photograph the outside I photograph the inside of people. I don’t know why we are made this way but we are and it’s just a perception, a perception we can change at any time.
“You can’t wait until you are perfect … Because you are never perfect or maybe just maybe you are”
My reveal wall is still up at home I think it will stay here for a while.
You’ve got it all wrong. You didn’t come here to master unconditional love. That is where you came from and where you’ll return. You came here to learn personal love. Universal love. Messy love. Sweaty love. Crazy love. Broken love. Whole love. Infused with divinity. Lived through the grace of stumbling. Demonstrated through the beauty of… messing up. Often. You didn’t come here to be perfect. You already are. You came here to be gorgeously human. Flawed and fabulous. And then to rise again into remembering. But unconditional love? Stop telling that story. Love, in truth, doesn’t need ANY other adjectives. It doesn’t require modifiers. It doesn’t require the condition of perfection. It only asks that you show up. And do your best. That you stay present and feel fully. That you shine and fly and laugh and cry and hurt and heal and fall and get back up and play and work and live and die as YOU. It’s enough. It’s Plenty.”
- Courtney A. Walsh.