A couple of months ago, in late September, I got on a plane to London from Newark airport in New York. My final destination was not London, but Nice, France. I am kind of a procrastinator and didn't get to pick my seat prior to the day of my trip, so I ended up squished in the middle of two strangers on my first flight. A few minutes in I made friends with the woman on my right, so at least if I fell asleep and leaned on her seat, she wouldn't punch me. She actually kept me company for half the flight (before I fell asleep) and we learned our final destination was the same! We also talked about her job as a social worker and my job photographing women half naked. She was of course intrigued so I pulled out my phone and showed her a few photos on my website.

When we figured out she only lived a state over, (CT to NYC) she decided she needed to come do a session! We exchanged laughs and numbers, and I promised to let her know when I would be in the city next.

A couple days later, I decided that I should probably get a shoot in while staying on the French Riviera...because...why wouldn't I. It ends up we were staying within a ten minute walk of each other! I texted her to which she replied, "hey tomorrow is my last day here if you want to grab coffee". "That sounds great but do you think you would want to parade around the beach half naked at 7am instead?" HAHA. And so she did.

I encountered Danielle by chance, and I'm convinced the universe sent her to me.

I had the dumb luck to meet Danielle out in the world, and as soon as I saw her website, I knew I wanted to have the experience she offers. Less than a year ago, I was bed-ridden, struck down by a terrible illness. My body had become foreign to me, and even though my friends and family still saw me as beautiful, I didn't recognize myself. When Danielle found me, I was still recovering, and had a hundred reasons to dislike my appearance. That simply wasn't how she saw me. The person she saw was a shining, sexy woman, full of life and personality. It's as if by miracle in front of the camera that person became real to me too. Modeling was a thrilling experience. The lens of her camera is an extension of how she sees us: whole, sensual, important, sexy, and deeply feminine in the bodies we live in NOW. Exactly as they are.

I cried, and laughed during my photo reveal. My tears were of relief, and awe. Finally. I could see myself as flawless. Of course I saw imperfections in my body, we can't un-see them, but they didn't look like flaws. They looked like pieces of the truth. In the photos where I smile, I see my sweetness, in the ones where I smolder, I see my sensuality, in the ones where my eyes are closed, I see bliss, and when they're open, I see power, pride, and bravery. Before the shoot, I did wonder if I could get out of my body shaming instincts. If I would be thinking about my heavy places, the bumps, and bruises. To my surprise, all that fell away when I was in front of the camera. I was too alive to care about my thighs or triceps. I realized I wasn't a mix of good and bad pieces...I was one, whole, damn sexy woman, and for those two hours, I knew it was true.

Updated: Oct 26, 2018

Sometimes I forget what an impact these sessions have. I am constantly told, "I am sooo nervous" but I never really know the extent of someone's anxiety or nerves until after the session. Beauty standards and just everyday expectations are enough to drown women with fear, anxiety, and self doubt. When you add pressures of getting pregnant, raising children, maintaining a house and relationship - forget it. It's exhausting to just think about, and overwhelming to accomplish. Yet, we all deal with a multitude of these things in some way, shape, or form every singe day.

When I booked this session at the beginning of the summer I thought that I’d spend the whole summer working out and eating healthy in preparation. I found out I was pregnant briefly after booking and spent most of the summer eating eggos and laying on my couch trying not to throw up. Less than two weeks before my session I found out that I lost my baby. I didn’t want to reschedule, but was dreading spending time naked in a body that had not only been unprepared, but that had recently betrayed me. I hadn't left my house, could barely do anything.

"It's been hard to get out of bed every day but you made me feel like I was the most beautiful person in the world from the moment I met you."

From the moment I walked into Danielle's house she made me feel beautiful. I almost tried to reschedule our session after my bad news but I'm so glad that I didn't. I never thought that I'd be able to do so many of the things I did. I took off my bra, got entirely naked, and I allowed my belly to be exposed in a way I normally don't allow. Danielle saw me in a way that I not only have NEVER seen myself, but that I was incapable of seeing at the time. In a time of my life that I was in intense pain, she helped me to see myself through someone else’s eyes, she helped me to see my beauty. Thank you for seeing me as a work of art, because I've never seen myself that way.

"I was afraid that I wasn't beautiful enough for a session like this."

My biggest fear in booking this session was looking fat in the pictures. I was waiting to do this at a time that i was in my best shape physically. If I had ever been able to see my own beauty then I would have known that I was ready the whole time. Danielle was ready to be not only a cheerleader but an artist as well. I felt comfortable and beautiful. I will go back to that feeling every time I look at my album and pieces hanging on my wall.

Why I chose right now to love myself and accept my body.

Danielle told me years ago to do a boudoir shoot, but I always said, “maybe when I lose weight,” or “when I’m a little tanner.” She never pushed or criticized me, but reminded me in her exact words, “You’re perfect exactly the way you are.”

Being told you’re beautiful and feeling beautiful are two very different things. It is true that we are our own worst critics, and sometimes it takes someone else to see the natural beauty that we exude. I am not sure why we choose to remember all of the criticisms we get but refuse to acknowledge that there’s truth in the positive as well.

woman in lingerie
"Understand, it was not because I was suddenly perfect or flawless"

When the opportunity presented itself this time I jumped at the chance. I have full confidence in Danielle’s vision and creativity and trust her judgment, so I never second-guessed the decision. Understand that it was not because I was suddenly perfect or flawless, but because I was ready to see myself the way others do. I wanted to see myself through an artist’s eyes and not the pictures I pick and choose (and over-filter) for social media.

Danielle’s photos radiate with the energy of the woman in them. She captured me in ways that I hadn’t imagined. I felt nervous and excited that morning, during the shoot I was unsure of myself – but pushed through because I had so much encouragement from Danielle. We laughed and had an amazing time.

When I saw the photos, I felt everything: surprised (“Is this my real face?”), relieved, emboldened, and so confident. Mostly I felt BEAUTIFUL!

We are so busy trying to be perfect in every area of life – loving at home, professional at work, perfect at school – there is no end to what we do for others. We give and give until we have nothing left for ourselves. Sometimes we forget how important self-love and self-care is. The value of stopping to rejoice in our accomplishments is vital. The day of my shoot, I chose to love and embrace my entire journey of life, and to celebrate myself my perfectly imperfect self.

Leave this beautiful soul some love! Cheers to you Ms. C, the journey is never easy but totally worth it. xx