When I look at people, I always notice their beauty first – this is a gift I’ve been given to look through the eyes of love. Capturing not only for the client, but for others to see what I see. That inspires me. My journey to become an acclaimed photographer has been relatively short. However, my life has been a preparation towards this goal. Most clients come into my studio with a preconceived idea of what they saw in the mirror that morning. With fresh eyes I look at them and know the paths that have brought them to this place are unique to them. Some challenges have been overcome, some have created character and courage. And some of the journey is still being taken. I step into the complex person that they are and see the simplicity in the strength and beauty they hold.
My story has also been a journey, sometimes the struggle toward self value and definition of what I really can do. Almost seven years ago I took a leap of extreme courage and decided to fulfill my dreams and destiny. I left the corporate world of numbers and balance sheets and picked up my camera professionally. I opened a photography studio in Puyallup (near Tacoma) Washington, and I have never looked back. In fulfilling my subject’s hopes I have also fulfilled my own. The gift I give to you is returned by the gift you give to me. I have been fortunate enough to work alongside some of the top photographers in the world. After completing my schooling at the New York Institute of Photography, I became a serial student. With the easy access of the internet I had top instructors at my fingertips. Through serendipity and a lot of hard work I have had the opportunity to be mentored by some photography titans. People that in my world have established “celebrity” status. I’ve met them, been starstruck, hugged them, cried tears of joy and eventually friendships have blossomed and doors have opened for me that I never knew existed.
I learned of an opportunity to submit some of my original work to the Portrait Masters awards and accreditation. With a tummy full of butterflies, I entered and hoped to not fall in the bottom of the entries. The work that is submitted by photographers all over the world is seriously mind blowing. The competition is incredible! With around 12,000 entries in each round from around the world – it’s intimidating! The entries render me speechless, and the talent is palpable. I was shook when I received awards on the first 3 images I ever entered. So the next round I went for more. After just three rounds I have earned enough award points to receive my accreditation through the Portrait Masters. I can now proudly say that I am an Associate Portrait Master – this feather in my cap is a big one. A journey I thought would take years, took 18 months, winning 53 awards and only 10 entries total didn’t make the cut, but they were close! I am forever grateful to my muses, clients and every person who has been alongside me for this journey. I know I earned this and did it all on my own, but it has taken a village and for them I will always have gratitude. The photos you see in this blog post are some of my highest scoring images and each one has a story and holds a piece of my journey.
Let me introduce you to a few of my incredible subjects
None of these images are of professional models, but people who think of themselves as ordinary when they walk through the door of my studio. People with insecurities, perceived flaws, some body shaming and going through hills and valleys in their lives.
Meet Nacquata – now I know you doubt that she’s not a model, but she is a real estate agent. Actually after our sessions she is exploring modeling! She is realizing she is more than she thought she was. Her beauty is regal, striking and breathtaking. She carries herself with joy, has a 1000 watt smile and is the most humble “hot girl” you’ll ever meet. The glow that naturally comes through in person was effortless to capture. She understands her truth, and stands firmly within it.
When you look at this man, you’ll think there is zero possibility he is insecure. Meet JD, he is my massage therapist (lucky me, right?). Who would know that he thinks of himself as just a guy who gives others the gift of health and pain relief. His quiet, but warm demeanor makes him approachable, authentic and vulnerable. He questioned why I wanted to photograph him for this project. Like seriously? Have you seen yourself? He came into the studio with full trust and allowed me to sculpt him like potters clay into the vision of what I saw in him.
This precious girl is my daughter-in-law, the beautiful mother of my grandson, and one of my dearest friends. Her exotic beauty, so obvious to us, escapes her. I am always in awe of the accomplished, intelligent, sassy and nurturing woman she is. I swear bluebirds dress her in the morning. She is a diamond of many facets. The counterbalance to her sassy humor is given to her angelic temperament. In photographing her, I was reminded of an angel painted by Raphael. To quote John Legend’s song All of Me, I love her curves and all her edges, all her perfect imperfections.
See yourself through my eyes
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