Wow, Right?! Meet Susan! She is a very unique, striking, kind of beauty! The thing is she does NOT see it! Susan is the exact purpose of The Everyday Beautiful Project. She was so nervous about being featured she even tried to back out a few times! I wouldn't allow it though, because I knew that if she were forced to see her beauty the way I could see it...her perception of herself could change! Even if just a little, this is my purpose.
Susan grew up with a great childhood with a very supportive family. However, from a very young age she struggled with anxiety and depression. Not really knowing why, she just always felt she had a very hard time making friends and opening herself up. She still does in her mind. I was pretty surprised actually by the fact that she is so severely lacking in self confidence! When I first met Susan I actually thought she seemed almost intimidating because she seems to have it all together. Isn't it funny how we just never really know the emotions others feel inside!
In school, Susan was made fun of a lot for being tall and having glasses. As she got old enough to date she never felt pretty or desirable. Susan says, "I did however marry an amazing man who thinks I am beautiful. I just wish I felt it. Brad was my first boyfriend. He is the only man who has told me that I’m beautiful or sexy or that he loves me. It’s hard to look past all the crap thrown on you for 20 years and believe what one man says though. When I’m next to him I feel complete, and wanted. But the moment he leaves my side I feel so alone again."
After having her third child, Susan started experiencing worsening depression and chronic pain. The doctor had her on so many medicine's she was sleeping a lot more than anyone should. She couldn't even drive more than a half an hour without needing to pull over and move around to wake herself up. Susan continues, "Then the headaches were on top of all that. I would have headaches for weeks at a time without letting up. Some days just painful, others with migraines and in bed for days. I heard about a NUUCA Chiropractor in Salt Lake that could maybe help me get relief from the headaches. He started my journey to less pain. He diagnosed me with Fibromyalgia. With his adjustments and help from some supplements and a new prescription I became a new person. I went from a daily pain scale of an 8 or 9 on a scale of 10 to a 2 or 3. Over the years it has gotten better. I have days where I almost feel normal now and not in pain and then have flare ups that remind me that it’s still there. I still could sleep 12 hours a day and be tired. The fatigue is still hard, but I can now drive long distances without getting out every half hour."
Part of the Fibromyalgia can be a decreased amount of strength, for Susan it is in her hands. "That was really hard on me. I love horses. Always have. Even owned a couple for a few years. Unfortunately I like horses with spunk and now I can no longer trust myself to have the strength to hold on if I needed to. A quick turn, or jump, or if the horse gets spooked, and off I would go. My life long passion of having a ranch full of horses has been given up. I will forever remember the feeling of galloping across an open field, feeling free and at peace, like everything in life is perfect. No pain, no loneliness, no sadness, no feeling ugly. Just the wind in my face and the strength of the horse running beneath me. That is my joy."
So there it was! My inspiration for this shoot! I try my best to have a piece of the participant in every feature of this project at the same time taking the participant out of their comfort zone to really show them how limitless they are in the beauty the illuminate. I like to take people outside of themselves to show them what it looks like from the outside view. Anyways, I knew I wanted to do something with a horse as soon as I had chosen Susan as a participant. Above is my first thought for shoot. The country flair with a flowing skirt.
But then my sister came over one day with this red dress!! HELLO SUSAN!! It was like screaming at me! HAHA! So I stared at it for a few days. Then I did Susan's makeup for a Profile Picture Makeover Party...and after looking at her more closely with her amazing bone structure I knew A Derby theme was the way to go! She was a bit apprehensive! I knew it was way out of her comfort! But she trusted me and I am THRILLED with the result!
What I have learned from Susan is that we need to smile at each other more and give compliments more freely! Someone this gorgeous should hear it from more than her husband everyday! Seriously think about how many times you look at someone and think, "WOW! She has pretty eyes! (or whatever)" And NEVER say it to the person! Think about how great your whole day goes when someone finally goes out on limb and gives you a compliment! WHY not make it a point to give one person a compliment every time we go out! Think of the difference just that can make in others lives.
So I have been thinking also about how I am asking the participants to share and get out of their comfort zones... So I decided I will make it a point to take one photo of each session and try to push my photography in a way I have never done. To learn something new and even if it is not perfect to share it. Here is that shot. I wanted it to look like she was laying in fog :-) I know It is not perfect but I worked really hard on this one and am pretty proud of the look.
Don't be afraid to show Susan some love! Like it on Facebook, share it as well! Give her some love in the comments! Thanks for stopping by!