Today's blog features the experiences of a recent 40 Over 40 client, as written by her. Shared with permission, of course, along with a few photos from her session. I hope you enjoy this unique chance to view the session experience through the client's eyes, and what she felt after seeing her photos. She said to me "I just felt like I needed to write this," and it brought tears to my eyes...I feel like it puts into words what many women are feeling. As I have said many times before, these sessions often end up being about so much more than the photos.
My Journey - by Amy
"50…Who would have thought this would happen overnight? A sobering milestone when left alone to think, but a glorious achievement when my mind starts to count the blessings before me. Half of my grandmother's age, who will be 101 this year. I see her as such an amazing human who has a beauty that is so pure and radiant, yet life is written all over it. I continually talk about her beauty and ask her what the secret to the fountain of youth is, only to be puzzled with each answer she gives, as it is nothing special. She just laughs when I say “Really…you seriously use dial soap on your face???” Then I look in the mirror at my fine lines, that I really do not like, the silver that pops out of place in my hair, and the eyes staring back at me, that sometimes are so tired 8 pm sounds like a great bedtime. How does life move so fast and do I really want to embrace the aging process with grace and acceptance or do I turn to all the new treatments that can take years off my looks and keep me that way well into my 70s and maybe 80s? Who am I in this skin? Kids are gone, grand-babies laughter fills our home and I am lucky enough to have a husband that adores me and isn’t afraid to tell me - but is that enough? Or do I need to seek and find that strong woman that is still full of beauty and life? Do I hear the words that my grandfather use to say “Beauty is as beauty does and the true beauty is in a smile, it's in confidence and quiet strength”? Do I find that soul that wants to leave more with those I love than just what I looked like on the outside? A journey I have actively been seeking as I have three daughters that I watch struggle in their own way with being a woman in a society that does not honor or cherish being a mama and a wife, in a society that floods the internet with fake, and a society that is driven to make you feel that you will never be enough.
I have been on this journey for the last 5 years as I navigate the next phase of my life. This is where my boudoir photos came in. A gift I was giving to my husband turned into a journey for my soul. I found the answers I was seeking by looking at the eyes Tracy captured looking back at the camera. I am beautiful. I am sexy. With mama stretch marks, wrinkles, in the best shape I can be in, and also in the times where my weight and keeping fit has been put on the back burner. I found a drive to want to know this woman looking back at me more and I love how Tracy finds the fun, young at heart woman, the sexy flirtatious woman, and the "I’m comfortable in my own skin" woman. I choose to hang these three different types of pictures in my room because it reminds me I am each of these women! I am made up of many components and each of them is so beautiful and empowering to me.
I have had three sessions and each of them has been so very different. This last time proved to be very difficult and life had me very consumed in my brain. I was exhausted and emotionally numb, not at all wanting to be in front of a camera. In fact, I wasn’t sure how any of them would look, because I felt like my eyes had no life. Not only was my day with Tracy therapeutic and so very needed, but when I saw the results….I cried. Not because they were anything more spectacular than the last, although they were every bit as amazing, but even from the ashes, Tracy found beauty. In fact, it was the first time my husband saw one of them and said “this photo is so pretty”. Not a word he would typically use. Sexy or hot yes, but not the simple word "pretty." Even at 50 those words, spoken with love and gentleness made the little girl, who just wants to be pretty, jump for joy. Seeing the photos gave life back to me and allowed me to look at both sessions and embrace each phase in life, relaxing in the fact that the next one will be different as well. I can’t thank Tracy enough for having the skills and talent to find those eyes. To be patient and never rushing the process but helping me walk through it. Of course, we always throw in a little fun something and she is always game to try my crazy ideas and we laugh. We embrace the moment and we embrace ME and for that, I regain strength and confidence in who I am and who I want to be. I am sure many more sessions will be in my future but for now…this is my space and I AM GOING TO EMBRACE IT WITH THE GRACE AND CONFIDENCE THAT I CAN MAKE IT THROUGH AND I AM ENOUGH!"
How many of you remember roller skating as a kid? All the weekends spent at the roller rink with your friends…listening to all of our favorite songs. Walking past the skate center’s retail shop, where you could buy new wheels in nearly any color, skate covers, or maybe glow-in-the-dark accessories for your skates. I remember it all so well, but hadn’t thought of it for years, that is, until my sister-in-law contacted me about wanting to do a session when she came out to Vegas, documenting her love of roller skating.
This is where the fun begins…thinking about how to show her passion for skating, to celebrate her fun personality, her zest for life. She’s a few years younger than I am, but like me, grew up skating at the roller rink, often with her brothers and sisters (one of those brothers is my husband – we used to skate in high school together). Right away I started thinking about a retro theme…something brightly colored and 80’s inspired. She had ideas of her own as well, like visiting a local cactus garden and finding a way to incorporate the desert landscape of the Vegas area into the photos. We went over to Crystal Palace to capture where she likes to go skate when she’s in town, and the wonderful, welcoming friends she’s made through the bi-weekly “Adult Skate” that happens there. To say we had a good time would be a huge understatement…she was willing to try any out-of-the-box idea I came up with, and we laughed pretty much the entire time! I couldn’t resist hauling out the tulle skirt, especially when the forecast called for wind that day, and I think it turned out great…why be just like everyone else, when you can be a little different, unique?
She told me that she had always loved skating, but…you know how it goes, you have a family, work…life just gets in the way. So after her kids were all grown up, she told her husband that she wanted to start skating again, to do something she had always loved but hadn’t had time for in years. Celebrating her, and her passion for skating, was an honor, and I couldn’t be more grateful to her for her trust in me. Can you believe that this beauty has EIGHT grandchildren? I know I can’t, but her energy, her enthusiasm for nearly everything she does is contagious, and is inspiring. She sent me photos of some items she wanted to incorporate, and the minute I saw her “Grandma” shirt (the navy one on the sofa), I knew we needed to do something a little out of the ordinary. I think we succeeded, don’t you?
What is something you’ve always wanted to do, and what’s stopping you? We have ONE Life, friends. One life to do all the things we want to do…it’s precious, and time waits for no one. Get out there and do your thing, and make sure someone documents you living your best life.
Thanks for reading, and please reach out to me when you’re ready to celebrate you…I promise it’ll be worth it! ~ Tracy
Las Vegas Boudoir Studio – 50 and Fabulous
In our Las Vegas area boudoir studio, we see clients of all ages…in fact, many of them are over 40! I think there is a misconception that “boudoir is for the young women among us”, but I couldn’t disagree more! I see women in their 20s, 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s. We all struggle with the same things, loving ourselves and our bodies, despite the “flaws” we think we see in the mirror. Trust me…this experience will change how you see yourself. Boudoir sessions (or portrait sessions in general) can help you see the beauty that you have right there inside of you, just waiting to be let out. Ms. C and I chatted several times before she was ready to book her session – something she had been wanting to do for awhile, but was understandably a bit nervous about. It started out being an anniversary gift for her husband, but ended up being a gift for her as well! Here is what she had to say about her boudoir session with Tracy Meisch Photography:
"I went into the session with hopes of getting a handful of nice shots to gift my husband. At 50 years old I was anxious about the session and self-conscious about my appearance so I didn’t anticipate many pictures. I’m not often comfortable looking at pictures of myself, which I think many women can relate to. When I arrived for my session, Tracy and I had a nice chat and it wasn’t hard to become more and more at ease with her and the process. I started the session tense and nervous which eased moment after moment. Tracy is kind and so pleasant to work with, she worked wonders on my confidence level. On the way home I felt like I’d had a fun day and made a new friend in the process! When I arrived for my viewing appointment. I was almost as nervous/anxious as I was when I had my session! As soon as I saw the images I felt relief because there were more than a handful of images that I loved. As a woman we are so critical of ourselves, some more and some less. While looking at the images, my flaws were not what I focused on. Tracy is very creative while also knowing just how to guide us to pose in the most flattering way. I’m proud that I decided to do this after several months of overthinking it. My husband was ecstatic with the album and wants to order a couple prints but is having a terrible time choosing favorites!! I have already recommended Tracy to a couple friends and will continue to do so. Like most other boudoir clients I did this as a gift for my husband but it turned out to be a wonderful gift to myself as well. Honestly, I’m thinking I may do it again at 55!"
And she was so excited about the entire boudoir experience that she came back and left me another review (happy clients make my day!):
“Boudoir photography is such a personal experience, understandably you’ll do lots of thinking, research, considering. That’s what I did, I overthink everything and I’m extremely frugal. When I came across Tracy Meisch I found the full package. Her portfolio is fabulous and she offers a great package. I love that a beautiful album is included and there are many options to have printed if you’d like more. From the time of my session to the present I’ve already seen so many more lovely ideas she’s adding to her repertoire. Tracy is wonderful to work with, you’ll love the experience even before you view your images. I felt beautiful when I left my session and so proud of myself when I saw my images. In my opinion, as soon as you come across Tracy’s website or social media in your search you’ve found the right photographer, no need to look further! Enjoy!!!”
For as long as I can remember, I have been captivated by the loft style…old buildings with exposed brick walls, renovated for studios or living spaces. That being said, I’m also very fond of more space and the modern conveniences that a newer building has. I’ve been thinking for a while about how I could create something with the same feel in our modern space (without spending a bazillion dollars), and finally decided to go for it. After pitching the idea to my ever-supportive husband (who always seems to get roped into my projects) I set out for Lowe’s to gather my supplies.
The next step was taking down the metal prints that hang on that wall, and measuring for the horizontal stripes that would make the rows of bricks. I decided on 4 inches between rows of blue tape, and I’m pretty proud of my idea to tape the level to the yardstick so I could be sure that my pencil marks (which would turn into rows of tape) were straight and level.
Once all of the horizontal rows were taped, we measured 8 inches long for the length of the bricks, and added vertical pieces of tape. This taping process was fairly time-consuming, but is so important for the finished look.
The next step was adding the pre-mixed joint compound, to give the “bricks” varying textures and a more realistic look. It’s supposed to be messy and not uniform, so if you decide to try this, don’t worry about any particular pattern.
I let that dry overnight, and then started in on the painting. I used inexpensive 2 inch paintbrushes, and mixed the colors as I went along. I tried to vary the placement of a certain color, and then would add a little of another hue to create a slightly different variation. Once all of the bricks were painted, I went over it with a stipple brush and some of the paint mixtures from the tray to try to blend the bricks and give them some depth.
At this point we were excited to take down the miles and miles of blue tape (again, my husband was immensely helpful with this) and see how it looked. It really was coming together! In typical Tracy fashion, I just had to tinker a little more, so I went back over both the brick edges and the “grout lines” with a stipple brush and a tiny amount of cream + white paint, to give it more of an antiqued or distressed look.
Then it was time to once again hang the wall art…I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out! Now I have a little of that “loft style” right here, and I can’t wait to use it in a session.
Here is my supplies list, for anyone who might want to try it:
This project was quite a bit of work (it took me about 3 days), but I’m not one to let that stop me, and seeing the finished product definitely makes it worth it!
Let’s talk about Social Media in today’s world. We’ve all heard that we shouldn’t compare our lives to other people’s “highlight reel”, because, let’s be honest, that’s often what it is. I struggle with this a little, and here’s why. With so much negativity all around us, readily available, I don’t want to feed that. I sometimes find it difficult to not “soak up” some of that negativity, so I try to bring some light and positivity to the world. But then I worry that it looks like my life, particularly our new life in the desert, is all sunshine and rainbows and is perfect. It’s not. I burn dinner, knock over my coffee, throw my favorite “lay flat to dry” shirt in the dryer by mistake. We all have bad days, bad months in our lives, and in an effort to help anyone who might be going through a tough stretch, I’m going to get real with you today and talk about how I fell down the rabbit hole…and how I managed – with a lot of love and help – to find my way back out, and how it changed me, for the better.
In order to tell you about this, I need to go back a little, 4-5 years. Most of you know that I’m married to my high school sweetheart (we’ll celebrate 30 years this month) and have 3 now-grown kids. But at this point we still had one in high school and home with us. Two were out on their own, I was photographing seniors and families as time allowed (because junior and senior years are busy, for both the student and the parents), and we were looking forward to the “empty-nester” life we had heard about…the flexibility to up and go whenever we wanted without a school schedule to worry about. I don’t remember what exactly started my downward spiral (although I have a few suspicions, looking back), but I remember being inspired and energized after having a photo shoot done as a surprise for my hubby, and wanting to try my hand at boudoir + beauty sessions. How I felt after seeing my photos, coupled with his reaction, was like nothing I had ever experienced, and I wanted to have that same impact on other women’s lives! The more I dabbled in this new area, the more excited I became…until someone in the industry started telling me things like “you will never succeed in this business, you’re too nice”, “you don’t have what it takes, the toughness, to make it”, “nobody will believe your ‘why’…it sounds like a sales pitch”. Yikes.
I have always been a “pleaser”, a helper. I don’t like to disappoint people, or myself either, for that matter. Except that sometimes you lose sight of what you want, and are caught up in a cycle of doing what’s expected, being who others want – need - you to be, instead of being true to yourself. Adding this …feedback, I guess you could call it…to the fact that our girl was soon graduating, and leaving for college was too much. If you’ve had a senior in high school, you know that the emotions are all already there…all the lasts, all the things you have done for so many years, that you know will never be again. I would cry at the drop of a hat, over anything and everything…I was just so sad. One question kept coming up in my thoughts…after so many years of being Mom, who was I now? All that goes into life with kids, all their activities, homework, friends, making Halloween costumes, birthday parties…it had been my life, and I loved it. But I didn’t have time to deal with that right now – surely I would figure it out, right? I had announcements to order, a graduation party to plan…I kept going, doing what I needed to do, putting on a brave face. The worst of it settled in after she was off to college in the fall…it was just so quiet, and I was just so very sad.
Photographers spend a lot of time in front of a computer – editing, marketing, blogging, planning, working on our websites, emailing clients. Alone mostly. And there is plenty of time for the negative self-talk to really get going… I clearly wasn’t cut out to be the photographer I thought I was or could be…I DIDN’T HAVE WHAT IT TAKES. Those words just kept playing in my head, and I believed them. Some days my husband would come home after a long day at work, and I was still in the same clothes I had been in when he left that morning. No shower, no makeup, no plans for dinner…and he could see that it had been a rough day. Let’s talk about that guilt for a second…I was embarrassed, ashamed of myself for "allowing" this to happen. What did I have to be sad about? We had a great life, great kids, a warm house, food in the fridge and pantry…and our marriage was strong. I felt like something must be wrong with me…how come I couldn’t handle something that we knew was coming? Very few knew I was struggling, and to what level…I remember vividly one particular moment, sitting at the top of the stairs, tears streaming down my face. During this stretch I had gained 20 lbs, so nothing in my closet fit me (which is yet another assault on the self-esteem) and I was wearing yoga pants and an old sweatshirt. My husband came and sat next to me, and said “Honey, what’s wrong? Tell me what you need…I’ll do whatever it takes to help you feel better.” And I said “I don’t know what to tell you.” His reply was “You’re lost. I can see it. We’ll figure it out.”
I listened to Brene Brown talk about shame and guilt, and forgiving yourself. I read her books “the Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are”, “Daring Greatly”, and “Rising Strong”, about deciding whose opinions mattered in your life. I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Big Magic” and how not to let fear control you. I was afraid of failing, I was afraid to leave my comfort zone, even though I was not in a good place…because what if I really didn’t have what it takes? I listened to Sue Bryce talk about getting out of your own way before you can succeed…I decided I needed to try. I turned to what I knew best, what I had loved in the past - my camera and creating. I started looking through magazines and Pinterest, to see what caught my eye. My creativity slowly returned, and I started to come up with new ideas, new visions for sessions. With the help of my closest photographer friends, I lined up a few sessions with fellow photographers to try out my new ideas. We disassembled the dining room table and set up that space (as well as the guest bedroom) as shooting spaces…my sweet husband was willing to eat dinner on a tv tray for a year and a half so I had a place to shoot…because as he put it “I could see that you needed it, you needed this.”
And he was right – I did. With every session, my confidence grew. Each time a woman saw her photos (often with tears in her eyes) and said, “I can’t believe that’s me…I look so beautiful! I was so nervous, and I’m so proud of myself for being brave” - I knew I had made a difference, and suddenly I knew that this was my way back out of the rabbit hole.
I initially never intended to share my experience publicly, but over the course of the past year, I have realized – and heard from – many women who are feeling just as I had…I had a crisis of confidence, and completely lost myself for a while. It was truly the most challenging and confusing time of my life to this point, and if sharing it will help someone else, I’m all for it. If you identify with this, even a little, or find yourself in the rabbit hole, just know you are not alone…and you can find your way back out again. I created a vision board last year for the first time – my 2018 word was “HEALTHY”. 2018 was a year of new experiences for us, a big move to a new city, trying to live our best life. I’m not quite back to where I was yet physically, but I am so much healthier and stronger – both mentally and physically. I no longer will live my life according to the expectations of everyone else…we all have one life to live, one chance to experience all that we can.
So to those who have wondered why I do what I do, why I decided to specialize in photographing women, now you know. I DO understand all the insecurities, the doubts, the fear, because I have been there. In helping other women, I helped myself, too. And to those who let me rant, cry, “borrow” your belief in me until I was strong enough to believe in myself, I thank you, from the bottom of my heart…you know who you are. And to my husband, who I’m sure thought his wife was losing her mind…I am so very grateful to you for hanging in there with me, being patient while I tried to find my footing and balance, holding me while I cried, brainstorming when I needed ideas…and really for just being you, always and forever, my person and my favorite.
Thanks for reading, friends. Here’s to a beautiful 2019.