September 11, 2019

Womanhood : A Celebration

FILED IN: lifestyle, Womanhood

The Origination

It was mid February of 2019 when I first spoke this idea out loud. I had been thinking about it for a couple months, but wasn’t sure if it was a good enough idea yet. All it took was for Sara to say “Oh my gosh I LOVE it” and I decided in that moment- I was going to make this thing happen. **Shout out to Sara for encouraging me & giving me the validation I clearly needed to move forward with a half-baked idea (done is better than perfect, can I get an amen?!). On March 1st- Sara was half naked (& sometimes more than half naked) 😉 in her home office helping me shoot some promo images to bring Womanhood into fruition. We put it out into the world not knowing what kind of response we would get. And we were so sooo happy with the reaction. 

The Intention

Our intention with Womanhood is to celebrate all women in all seasons of life. It’s as simple as that. We want to encourage each woman to feel strong, confident & beautiful in their own skin. It’s meant to be a time to embrace each freckle, stretch mark, dimple & scar on our bodies. We want to create an environment that each lady feels 100% comfortable in, while empowering her to step outside of her comfort zone at the same time (cause we all know that’s where the real magic happens!). We want to love up on every woman & help them feel free in their own bodies because we are truly works of art, ladies! **finger snaps** One of our biggest goals was for each woman to walk out of the studio feeling more confident & empowered than they were when they walked in. The experience of the shoot is JUST as important to us as the images, if not more (but I promise you- I put lots of precious time into creating images that each woman will loooveee!)!

The Inaugural Womanhood

The veryyy first Womanhood took place on the last day of Women’s History Month (March 31). And it was such a *magical* day (truly truly truly!). We celebrated 8 beautiful, strong women (& 1 lil babe… womanhood turned motherhood!). We had women show up in so many different seasons of life: about to get married, a couple months postpartum, recently married, struggling with body confidence, going through a bad breakup, just wanting to celebrate their body, the list goes on. And each shoot was beautiful in its own way. My absolute favorite part of the day was seeing the women walk into the studio feeling a little nervous and be absolutely slaaaaying it by the end of the shoot. The confidence was flowing, friends! And it was a beautiful thing to witness.

Words from the Women

Nothing pushes us to do something more than a genuine review, amiright? And I truly think it’s super important that you hear from the actual women who were in front of the camera (not just behind it!). I asked them a few questions about their individual experience of Womanhood & I’m going to sprinkle in some of their answers throughout this post. The ladies’ answers gave me a whole lot of happy goosebumps & a few even brought lil tears to my eyes (maybe it’s my period, maybe these women just know how to make me feel all the feels). 😉 Self-love & self-acceptance is a powerful thing!

**Also note that each image within this blog was “ok-ed” by the client. If they don’t want their images shared- I always respect their choice noooo questions asked.  And for the sake of their privacy, I will not be using any of their names throughout the post.

Question: Why did you want to participate in Womanhood?

Answer 1: For as long as I can remember, I’ve been all about girl power – surrounding myself with and trying to be someone who encourages girls, teens and women to believe they’re beautiful, special, powerful and enough. However, I’ve also always been a little self conscious of my own body and image (who hasn’t, right?) When I saw that Nicole and Sara were putting on a shoot to showcase just how beautiful, unique and powerful the female body and light can be, I couldn’t resist. I wanted to see myself in the same light I always strive to see other women in and have a little something to remind myself on those days I was feeling a little less than, that truly EVERY woman is beautiful!

Answer 2: I had just gone through a painful breakup and wanted a confidence boost. I also was on a place of trying new things and saying yes to things I was interested in doing but would normally say no to.

Answer 3: The vibe of the shoot was exactly what I was looking for & ultimately, I wanted to do something for ME. I wanted to invest in myself knowing that I deserved the beauty of the experience. It was something out of my comfort zone yet very my style, with alll the natural lighting, women empowerment, a little bit of skin, and a ton of positive energy!

Answer 4: I wanted to do something for myself that was out of the ordinary. I think it’s important to develop yourself and invest in yourself in different ways all throughout your life. We go to work and develop our girlboss muscles, we go to the gym to work out our real muscles, etc. but it’s not often we really intentionally key in to expressing our womanhood and sensuality. I wanted to do something fun and feel confident in that in a way that was really tasteful, artistic, and real. I feel like it’s so easy to get so caught up in the practicality of day to day of life, and I wanted to shake it up for a day. Boosting  your confidence is one of the best types of self care!

Answer 5: I just had my son Griffin 4 months prior and never really took maternity photos so I took this as my opportunity to celebrate myself, my body, my son, and how beautiful life is now after this life changing event. Motherhood should be documented! 

Hands down, my favorite part of the Womanhood experience was the feeling I had leaving the studio the day of the shoot. I hadn’t even seen the photos yet, but honestly, just that feeling was worth the $$ spent on this experience.

Question: What were you nervous about before the shoot?

Answer 1: I worried I would look silly, or uncomfortable, and of course was worried how my body – which has changed in lots of ways over the years – would look when revealed more than I typically do!

Answer 2: Oh gosh. Almost everything!? Did I have the right “look” going in? Were the clothes going to look silly? Was the lack of clothes going to look sillier..? Would I be super awkward? Would I be able to find the studio!? (Fun fact: I didn’t actually find it, but Nicole came to my rescue! Crisis averted!) Anything these women who are thinking about and worrying about, I think I probably did too… but SO SO worth it to go for it anyways because everything I worried about melted away once I got there (and had a quick mimosa and some killer dance music, thanks to Sara!)

Answer 3: I was a little nervous to be photographed . Nicole and Sara made the experience so fun and welcoming, my nerves went away as soon as walked through the door.

Answer 4: Self insecurities. How will I look in photographs? Will photographs capture how I truly feel in this time–happy, joy filled, beautiful, raw, soft, loving, tired, vulnerable. And hot damn the photographs did just that. I have never felt more seen and truly understood than in these photos. I mean nursing my babe is one of the most intimate things that I feel I will go through as a mother, and having photos of those moments will always be some of my most treasured photos. 

“Each woman deserves to make themselves a priority. It’s not selfish to love yourself, to take care of yourself, or make your happiness a priority. It’s a necessity.”

Question: What was your favorite part of Womanhood?

Answer 1: Being carefree and just having a great time! I know that’s when my true smile shows through 🙂

Answer 2: You both made me feel  as comfortable in my own skin as you could in a short period of time. And I felt beautiful.

Answer 3: EVERYTHING. The outfits, the setting, the women who were investing in themselves knowing they were powerful, brilliant, and brave. The unique creativity of the shoot combining the idea of naturally sexuality with modern lines and beautiful furniture was simply breathtaking.

Answer 4: Both Nicole and Sara helped make it SO FUN, and after a short time, I was comfortable in doing something I don’t EVERRRR do! It really helped embrace what being a “WOMAN” is all about.

Answer 5: Hands down, my favorite part of the Womanhood experience was the feeling I had leaving the studio the day of the shoot. I hadn’t even seen the photos yet, but honestly, just that feeling was worth the $$ spent on this experience. I left feeling more beautiful, sexy, powerful and confident than I remember feeling in a long time… maybe ever. Nicole and Sara (and my friend Carly, who I brought along as my own personal hype woman) truly created a space where I could feel safe and secure  – to do the poses that were out of my usual comfort zone, to wear the outfits I brought as a “stretch outfit”, to feel truly comfortable in my own skin. That feeling does’t come along every day for me (and maybe you!) so it truly made this experience magical.

Answer 6: My favorite part was working with Nicole and Sara. It honestly felt like we had been best girlfriends for forever, and you two were so fun and gave me so much confidence. I would do it in a heartbeat again for just the experience. I felt the photoshoot itself was more valuable to me than the output of the photos.

Answer 7: Having fun in front of the camera, all judgments aside, freely being myself, having a space to celebrate myself exactly where I was at was very important to me. Especially during that stage of my postpartum healing journey. And being able to include my son was my most favorite part!!

Question: Why would you recommend that other ladies give this gift to themselves (if you would recommend it)?

Answer 1: It’s empowering. Doing it for yourself. So often we put on a face just for others, just for the result. The whole process was just for me.

Answer 2: Each woman deserves to make themselves a priority. It’s not selfish to love yourself, to take care of yourself, or make your happiness a priority. It’s a necessity. And when you invest in yourself, your purpose, your healing, your body, your experiences, your creativity, and your future, that positive energy will give you life.

Answer 3: There’s no need to “wait until my body looks different”, or “maybe in a couple years”….don’t wait! If desired, do something like this again in 5-10 years, you won’t regret it 🙂 I think it’s so important that as women we learn to embrace ourselves the way we are at each phase of life, and that beauty comes in so many forms and personalities. Each of us is so unique and beautiful in our own way, and if we could see that more often, it can only lead to good things and awesome feelings.

Answer 4: I absolutely recommend it! For all the reasons listed above – the magic, the happy feelings, not to mention the BEAUTIFUL pictures that you’ll receive from Nicole at the end of the whole experience. I’d tell anyone who asked (or who didn’t) that this experience is worth every penny for every woman who is looking to feel powerful, encouraged, beautiful, strong, etc. etc. Do it! Because who doesn’t need a little magic in their world these days?

There’s no need to ‘wait until my body looks different’, or ‘maybe in a couple years’….don’t wait!

I have never felt more seen and truly understood than in these photos.

Okaaaaay! I’m going to go pour myself a glass of wine & cry happy tears. If you want in on this magic- our next Womanhood experience is going to be October 6, 2019! It will be held at Style Society in Minneapolis. If you’re looking to secure a spot- pretty please shoot an email to hellonicoleashley@gmail.com & I will get you hooked up, sister! **Limited spots available.

If you’ve made it this far- THANK YOU. Womanhood means so much to me & I want to share it with as many women as possible, so if you’re so inclined- please share this with the women in your life. Who knows, maybe this is just what they need right now. 🙂

Thanks sweets! Hope to see you soon! Doing this for the camera…. 😉

xoxoxooxox

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I am a Minneapolis, Minnesota wedding & lifestyle photographer, kindness spreader and storyteller for laid-back, free-spirited souls who are looking for an adventure— no matter how big or small. Browse my site to learn more. I can’t wait to meet you!

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