Three different lifestyles.
Three different perspectives.
One place of self-acceptance.
As moms, and women, life can be hard. We nitpick ourselves. We focus on the things we want to change. We compare ourselves to others.
We don’t love ourselves enough.
We overlook our positive points. We focus on the untoned areas. We look in the mirror and notice the things we want to change, rather than beautiful attributes we possess right in front of us.
We don’t love ourselves enough.
That’s why this photo shoot with Stephanie Williams Portraits, and makeup and hair by Kimberly Hall, was so important. It was the opportunity to work with trained professionals who have a passion for helping women bring out their best self. To see themselves in their best light. To take time to focus on what makes each of us special, unique, and truly beautiful.
Here are our stories….
Motherhood changed me … in some good ways and not so good ways.
It’s taught me to be more loving, to care for someone in a way I never thought I could, and filled a part of me I didn’t know was lacking. But in caring for this little person so much, I’ve left little time care for me … and that’s not a good thing.
My son is six, and it took me years to realize caring for his needs didn’t mean I had to let go of mine. But this realization happened after missing one too many times at the gym, dedicating less time getting my hair done, and accumulating way too many pairs of yoga pants. My once coifed self, known for her three-inch heals and expansive work wardrobe, had morphed into the quintessential posterchild for #momlife.
I spent a lot of time hiding out – wanting to do this or that – but waiting until I was “ready” and back to my pre-mom bod. And then one day I woke up and realized I may never be that person again. I may not ever fit back into those old jeans. I might not bounce back and wear those heals again.
And that’s OK. In fact, it’s better than OK.
I have a body that is strong and was able to grow a life inside of me. I have a husband whose love has never wavered over the years, a thriving child who thinks I hung the moon, family who would help me out at a moments notice. I’ve done amazing things … and the only person not OK with me, was me.
If I could change my attitude and see myself the way others did, to let go of my insecurities and embrace who I was right now, my life would be so much more fulfilling. And that’s just what I did. And you know what? It was liberating.
As women, and especially mothers, we spend our time behind the camera photographing our family’s life. Or if you’re like I was, you’re hiding behind the camera until you lose those x number of pounds, get your hair cut, are wearing makeup, have on the right outfit … you fill in the blanks. But in doing so, we are missing out on life’s moments … right here, right now.
Your child will not look back twenty years from now at your photo and think “wow, I wish mom would have sat this one out because she still had 15 pounds to lose” or “she should have colored those grays before she had those photos taken.” What your child will be thankful for is having the photos of the beautiful, loving, confident woman you are … and what a great example to set for our children.
Around this same time, I saw these amazingly beautiful photos by Stephanie Williams Portraits. She had photographed a friend of mine, also a mom. What struck me was how powerful, stunning and confident this friend looked. And it was a photo of just her. No kids. No messy bun. Just her focused on being her best self. I learned that Stephanie has a mission of empowering women to love the skin they are in and take time for themselves. It was just what I needed.
We started the day out with makeover by Kimberly Hall, who is absolutely amazing. I’ve gotten stuck in a makeup rut over the past few years, and it was so much fun to have a professional come in, take a look at my skin and typical makeup routine, and select colors and products I had never tried before that totally WORKED.
I’m the type of person who usually wears a full face of makeup (or I get the whole “You look tired/sad/like you’ve been crying” question), and she was able to understand my preferences and create a look that complimented what I was used to but so much better!
I tried out fake eyelashes for the first time and they are totally my jam! Who knew? Plus a super smoky eyeliner and lighter lipstick color … I was loving the way she took my features an enhanced them to showcase my best self.
Ever look at people on TV and think, “Wow, I wish I could have waves like that?!” Kimberly Hall was able to curl my hair and make it look like I’d stepped right off the silver screen! Now I understand why those folks look so good … they have a team of people helping them out! It was so nice to sit back and relax, knowing she was at her best work!
The Photo Shoot
I have to admit, it’s a little intimidating at first. You walk toward the photo area and you have no idea what you’re doing, how to pose, or even how to smile. But Stephanie is sooo, soooo good at what she does! She positions you in ways the camera will best flatter your body. She adjusts your clothes so the photos will capture your curves just right. She coaxes you with scenarios and far away places to think about so that she captures just the right expression on your face. She is there to help bring out your best self, and she makes you feel so comfortable and beautiful! It’s truly like America’s Next Top Model with fans blowing and a photographer snapping with the final product turning out AMAZING!
The Extra Special Touches and Takeaways
One of the best parts of the day, besides getting made up and taking fantastic photos, is that it truly felt like you were hanging out with old friends, laughing and having the best time. Stephanie and Kimberly made you feel so comfortable and at ease. And when we arrived, she had La Croix and yummy snacks – it truly felt like a special day of pampering and focusing on your best self. And what I love more than anything is Stephanie’s positive message and goal of helping every woman celebrate her beauty and self … right now where you are at. Take the time. Today. You’re worth it!
I’m 48 (and a half) and feel like a frump right now. I’m tired. My skin looks tired. My body is achy. My body is bigger than I’d like it to be. And my body is also tired. Everything is just tired. There are new challenges with our girls, and those are tiring me out, too, because I don’t know if we’re handling them the right way.
I don’t mean to sound as if I’m feeling sorry for myself, because I’m not – I’m healthy, I’m stronger than I’ve ever been, and I’m incredibly blessed to be living my life. I think (like most women and probably all moms) I just have a complicated relationship with my body. So maybe I’m simply nitpicking, I don’t know, but I’ve just been feeling a little bit shlubby lately.
So when I was asked if I wanted to take part in a photo shoot (complete with hair and makeup!), I was surprisingly excited.
It was surprising because glamour isn’t usually my thing. Of course, I have a certain amount of vanity, but I run around a lot of the time without any makeup or effort (probably more often than I should?). I do like to dress up and put on a full face of makeup to look my best, but I am well aware that I don’t look like I used to – and there’s a sad little part of me that wonders Eh, should I even bother? Also, I DO NOT like to have my picture taken. At. All. So to put those two things together is not really my jam. But it sounded like it might be kind of fun and maybe just the thing I needed to get me out of this funk I’m in.
And holy cow – it was fun!
Kimberly Hall, our makeup artist, was awesome. She provided great conversation, evened out my splotchy skin, gave my cheekbones more definition than they’ve had in 11 years, and applied false eyelashes that were so long I was afraid they’d reach out and tickle people in front of me. I felt fairly unnatural, definitely embellished, and like a little girl playing in my mom’s makeup.
And then we got to the picture portion of the day. Oh my gosh. Stephanie (of Stephanie Williams Portraits) is the best. She’s so lovely and made me feel like I was bringing it, even though it was just about the most awkward thing I’ve ever done. There’s definitely something about taking direction like the real models do – it’s simultaneously glamorous and very contrived. The poses are the strangest things ever, never as natural as they look. But when a professional photographer gives you a compliment about your eyes or your smile, it resonates. At least it did with me. And it was a little bit thrilling.
So what were my takeaways from the day?
Even the most beautiful people we see in the magazines don’t start out that way – it’s completely manufactured and there’s a lot of work that goes into that ‘natural’ looking photo.
It’s OK to really make an effort – even go the extra mile with eyelashes that are so long they could reach out and eat the food off your plate. Even if you don’t look like you used to, celebrate the you you’ve become.
Glamming it up can give you some long-lost swagger. It’s fun to remember that you don’t always have to be the mom/enforcer/chauffer/teacher/chef/maid – it’s perfectly fine (and fun!) just to be the woman.
Did I like being contorted? Not really.
Is glamming it up (with the eyelashes!) really my scene? Not so much. But –
The idea behind it – taking time for me, treating myself, reminding me that it’s OK to make myself feel special, loving the middle-aged, tired, sometimes cranky woman, wife, and mom I’ve worked hard to become?
I LOVE that.
Will I call Stephanie again when I need a reminder to treat myself? YES. Definitely.
People always say that moms shouldn’t always be behind the camera. This is such a true statement. Most of the time, I’m still taking the picture with my kids in selfies, but at least I’m in it with them. However, moms should also have the experience of being the main subject of the photo!
This photoshoot was an amazing experience. As a mom, a lot of my look is “messy bun and getting stuff done.” I also wear minimal makeup (foundation, blush, lipstick) even when I go to work. So, it was nice to have my hair and makeup done by the talented Kimberly Hall and photographed to make to feel beautiful.
I loved the whole shoot and the end result. Stephanie was so nice and friendly and she’s a mom too, so she understands. We talked and laughed while she gave me tips on how to look the best while being photographed. She even tossed out some America’s Next Top Model prompts so I got to practice using my “smize.” Stephanie is incredible at what she does (which I already knew from stalking her Instagram page before the shoot!)
I love how she made me look professional as I needed a new headshot, sexy (which I didn’t even think I could pull off) in a red dress and lovely just posed. Even today, when I’m in a picture with friends, I’m taking her posing advice mentally. And yes, while I would love to be fifteen pounds lighter, these pictures prove that I’m beautiful and fierce now.
Every mom should feel that way.
Don’t wait until fill in the blank. Love yourself now. Love the journey. One day you will look back and wish you still looked like you do today. Moms should definitely treat themselves and have a photoshoot done ASAP!
Behind the Scenes
You’ve seen the beauty and glam, and you know it takes hardworking folks to get us there. Check out all the fun and prep work we had behind the scenes to make this happen. Here at Columbia SC Moms Blog, we are truly blessed to work with some amazing local women – both online and off!
Try it for Yourself … You Won’t Regret it!
We can’t say enough great things about Stephanie Williams Portraits and Kimberly Hall. These women are amazing, and we love their mission in life. We encourage you to take time for yourself, focus on YOU, and if you want to capture those special moments in life – right here, right now, loving the skin you’re in – then these ladies are for you!