"Taking control of who I Truly Am"

I asked her to write a little something so I could feature her "Just Me" session along with her boudoir session. I was blown away by this thoughtful, powerful response. She says everything I want to convey through my photography experience. I want all my clients to feel comfortable to challenge themselves in the safe space I create. Take the time to read her words, and let them sink in. Is this something you also want to experience? You have to be OPEN to it. You have to jump in and trust. Do it, even if you're scared. It's so easy to make excuses!

She simply radiates, amiright?

When I first saw Amy’s Me Project, I felt like I should do it, but I was afraid. My gut instinct was to say yes and lean into vulnerability. So I signed up… honestly with the intention of maybe not following through. But with every email, I started to feel more attached to the idea and wanted to challenge myself to step out of the box I had grown so comfortable in. Before the Me Project, I sat down to write very strategic answers about myself and what I discovered while I wrote those answers was that I find being me, my true self, to be scary. That sentence feels so odd to type. Why is being me scary? It shouldn’t be, right? Let me explain to you why. I’m the biggest control freak you’ll ever meet. My image, what I share with people, how I walk through my day, even life. Ask my boyfriend, it’s a challenge to get me to let go of my control. But I’ve found that when I do let go of my control, I take control of who I truly am. Maybe that makes sense, or maybe it doesn’t but Amy’s Me project gave me an opportunity to let go of my false sense of control and gain control and power in who I truly am. So despite every initial reaction, I took the opportunity and became the 50th woman to be photographed.

Walking into my reveal session for my just me photos, I felt nervous. I, again, was trying to control every aspect of it. “How could I display how much I love the photos? What if I didn’t really like them? What if my natural stomach wasn’t organically sexy like everyone else I had seen in the project?” Sound ridiculous? I know, but that’s me. When I saw the photos, I didn’t have to pretend to like them, I genuinely loved them. There was no control in those photos for me. Amy took control of everything and I just got to be me. That was truly the most vulnerable experience I could have had. It felt so empowering to not be fixated on control and just see myself for who I am. Taking the photos was fun, but I was still in my head… seeing the photos was freeing and I got a chance to embrace the moment rather than fixate on controlling it. That was a shift in perspectives for me, and one I desperately needed.

When Amy reached out about transcriptions for her project, I jumped at the chance because, truth is, I’m incredibly nosey and wanted to see what the experience was like for other women. Those hours I spent transcribing audio were so humbling. No experience was entirely like the other. They were all unique: the women, the experiences, what they got out of it. There were underlying themes that were similar, but these women all went into the experience with something different and walked out with something else. After transcribing the audio, Amy offered me a photoshoot for my time. She said I could architect it to whatever I wanted. Headshots would have been nice, I could have used them for my LinkedIn… but I wanted to continue to challenge myself further. So I did a boudoir photoshoot. 

The weeks prior to the photoshoot were crazy. My boyfriend and I were housesitting, about to take a trip ourselves, and had an overly full calendar. It was not the perfect timing for me to get everything done that I wanted to do for the shoot. So I let go. Amy had already seen me at my most vulnerable, so it felt OK for me to release of the control and allow it to be what it was. I didn’t have time to shop for any new sexy lingerie. But to be honest, I don’t have any. I wear t-shirts and underwear to bed. My hair is usually in a messy bun and that’s who my boyfriend fell in love with, so anything else would have been what I thought I needed for a boudoir photoshoot. I showed up with tank tops, t-shirts, and a few different pairs of underwear. Sounds like I packed an overnight bag, not outfit options for a boudoir photoshoot. The photos could not have turned out better. I got my hair and makeup done before [by Anne Timms], which I loved, but comparing my Just Me photos to my boudoir photos, I feel sexy and beautiful in both… because I was myself in both. Amy made me step out of my comfort zone for the Just Me shoot, but for the boudoir shoot, I chose to step outside and challenge myself beyond what I thought I should do. I did what I want. I showed up as who I was and the photos reflect that. 

Without the experience of the Just Me project, I would not have shown up to Amy’s studio with minimal clothing options that challenged the status quo of boudoir. I knew she wouldn’t judge me. I knew she would embrace the most natural and authentic version of myself because that’s who she is as a photographer. I could not love both sets of photos more. Despite their different themes, they are very similar… why:? Because it’s just me. That’s who I plan on being in all photos. Letting go of my control still is a challenge, but one I actively choose to fight. When I let go of control, I find myself. The version I love, and that’s powerful. 

My boudoir photo is my boyfriend’s background on his phone, so even though I did it for myself, I think he likes them too :)

Amy Paine