– In Memorium
About a year ago, I knew I was at a coming of age stage in my life as a young woman. I knew I wanted have the feeling of stepping into my own beauty and self worth, within and without. To mark this rite of passage within myself, I felt called to an experience of being photographed in the nude. As I researched various photographers who offered boudoir shoots, I found myself feeling completely panicked at the mere thought of being in nothing but my delicates (or less) in front of complete strangers. Fortunately for me, a close friend who knew Katherine highly recommended I contact her about the type of experience I truly wanted to create for myself.
I first met Katherine over the phone, and within minutes of our conversation, I knew I wanted her to be at the helm of photo shoot experience. Katherine held such a solid space of love, care, sensitivity, and respect through her presence in our first encounter, and it won my implicit trust in her immediately.
She very quickly grew to become a friend, mentor, and ultimately, my midwife into womanhood. I had shared with her my desire to go through the Raw Naked Beauty program twice, with a six month period in between. My intention was to create a before and after experience for myself, and I knew that the photographs would be a tangible barometer for my own growth, physically, at the very least.
Well, the experiences and the photos didn’t disappoint. In fact, they far exceeded anything I could have possibly imagined. Katherine worked very closely with Sarah, her photographer who also happens to be one of her trusted friends, and between the compassionate way they both held space for me to be photographed, I felt at ease and open- not just in my own skin, but with them as well. It was a remarkable experience, considering I had never before done a photo shoot.
By the time I left both of my Raw Naked Beauty days, I could feel the depth of such a sweet intimacy within myself, the beauty and power in every cell and crevice of my body, and more importantly, within my own heart. The photos were the furthest thought from my mind, and when I did receive them, they took my breath away.
Thank you Katherine and Sarah for all of your love, care, and kindness as you ushered me into my own beauty and femininity. Your love and support for me helped open me up to my own love and support for myself.
In the past, I would have felt too self-conscious to be a subject in a photo shoot.
And if I did find myself in such a situation, I’m sure that throughout the experience, I would have wondered if I was doing it right. Was I posing correctly, did I look stupid, was I being captured at flattering angles? Would I hate the way that I looked and feel embarrassed if other people saw my photos?
The only reason I agreed to participate is because of Katherine. I trusted her and I felt captivated by her vision and her passion for the project. With that as the backdrop, I wanted to challenge myself to a new experience and open myself up to unknown possibilities.
The truth is that my thoughts and doubts did creep in periodically. But I was able to dismiss them. I overrode them by allowing myself to trust Katherine and Sarah, the photographer. I also allowed it to be okay if I ended up hating the resulting photos. And with that, I decided not to worry and to just be in the moment, relax, go inside and feel what I was feeling.
At eight and half months pregnant, I had brief moments of judging myself for being lazy, for just laying there and not trying to move or pose in any particular way. This was Raw Naked Beauty, and yet I didn’t feel like trying to be anything in particular, trying to be sexy or sensual, or even look beautiful or like something that I had seen in magazines. Instead, I let it be okay to honor the reality of how my pregnant body was feeling, and it was clear to me that stillness was what my body called for. During those moments, my body didn’t really feel like my own, but more like my baby’s home. My instinct was to focus inwardly on my breath and my baby, and so I allowed my breath to be my movement.
Whether it was my internal experience, the genius behind the way Katherine so lovingly set the mood and the experience, or the talent of the amazing photographer, I was amazed by the results. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I wasn’t the least bit embarrassed by any of the photos, even the ones that revealed my perceived “flaws.” The photos looked great, and in fact, the best way to describe them would be to say that they captured my internal experience to a tee! I felt that I could even be comfortable sharing them with others. Thanks to Katherine, Sarah, and the other amazing women with whom I shared the day for an incredible experience!
~ Ali ~ Santa Monica