When I first thought of doing a shoot like this it all seemed fun and easy! However, as the days wore on and I was committing to a dedicated workout schedule, together with the fact that I would disrobe in front of a photographer holding a camera, it began seeming less and less “easy”!
Part of my idea and hope was to surprise my husband with the finished product. I thought I could work out more than I ever have in my life, get my hair done at a salon (I’d been cutting and colouring my own hair for a number of years), and get the spray tan that Bryan suggested was necessary to ensure the absence of any tan lines (note that the spray tan ended up being something I’ll recommend to all my clients as it is amazing what a little colour can do to your self perceived sexy-factor!)….all without my partner asking what in the world was going on! Yep, I was determined but also living a slightly delusional existence! The truth is that, while I love the idea of surprises, I don't like lying and so, 2 months before the scheduled shoot, my husband received an early anniversary card telling him what his gift would be. Truth be told, even though I felt sad that my intricate surprise plan was falling apart, it was the best thing that could have happened! My husband showed complete support and enthusiasm for the project, he encouraged my workout schedule, let me serve only lean meats, and, most importantly, continually reinforced that he thought I was beautiful and he couldn’t wait to see the results of my adventure! It was one of the revelations that this experience allowed…that what we might see in the mirror is not necessarily what our loved ones see.
I am a mom of two wonderful kids who are aged 4 and 5…no surprise that my body isn’t exactly what it was when I was 20! That said, the motivation this shoot provided was immense and I don’t think I’ve ever been in better shape – yes, my stomach was flatter 20 years ago, but I couldn’t have done the workouts I do now back then! Plus, it’s worth acknowledging that to outright dislike how my body has changed, to a degree, would dismiss why it changed – and I would never trade the joy of being a mom for tighter abs!
|Photo by B. F. Peterson|
For each of us this process is bound to be somewhat different. We all have different styles and tastes, we all have a different sense of what is “beautiful”. What, I believe, we share is a desire to see the final photographs and think – I love these! For me, part of this process was a pretty regimented diet (which included the odd ice cream and chocolate, and a daily glass or two of red wine or vanilla vodka!), a determined workout schedule, a couple hair appointments, a spray tan, getting “sugared”, a mani-pedi, and a phenomenal makeup artist! What wasn’t accounted for in the calendar was how great I felt working out regularly, how fun it was to buy jeans the size I used to buy when I was 20, finding a negligee at Victoria’s Secret that I would have NEVER bought before, and the energy I had from eating well. It turned out that the journey toward the shoot was actually a profound lesson in living well. I will be forever grateful to Bryan because, in that moment in Edmonton one year prior, when he spoke casually of his upcoming shoot, my life changed for the better.
It is here that I would like to say that I owe a debt of gratitude to some exceptional people: to my girlfriends who provided much love, friendship, support, and laughter (there were references to spurs that still, even when all alone, make me laugh out loud!); to Jesse, at Angles Dalhousie, a hairdresser who actually LISTENS to what you want and then delivers!; to Laurie, at GottaGetSugar’d, who is a fun, sincere and talented ‘sugarer’!; to Hazel, at Spa Ritual, who reminds me of everything important in life when I am with her; and to Jaclyn, who is as skilled as a makeup artist as she is an endearing soul. And then there is Bryan. Bryan, who always answered my emails promptly and thoughtfully (a girl has questions when planning something like this!), who downloaded my favourite Blue Rodeo album so that I could feel a little more ‘at home’ in his studio, who made me feel beautiful, who had me laughing throughout our shoot with his wit, charm and one-of-a-kind personality, who answered my photography and lighting questions during our shoot so that I could learn at the same time, and who is now someone I consider a friend (being in the buff for hours on end with someone takes your relationship to a whole new level!). I would be remiss to not say that these people, together with my family, have made this experience even more fun and exciting than I could have imagined possible. Thank you to this special group, you each make me smile.
So, there I was feeling like I had done everything I could to show up for the shoot…I’d lived well, never feeling too denied of guilty pleasures. I’d worked out, with the occasional miss, 6 days a week for 8 months. Yep, whatever the shoot would hold I was satisfied with what I’d done to prepare myself for it. That Tuesday morning, as my taxi made it’s way from the Chicago Loop toward the studio, I found myself contemplating what the experience would offer me in professional wisdom and understanding.
Please come back next time for Chapter 2 – The Professional Journey.
Life is good!