I had the amazing opportunity to work with the insanely talented Bridal Hair and Make-Up Artist Danna Breaux of Best Day Ever Bridal in Charleston, SC for this Curvy Bridal Beach Styled Shoot to help get a message out to the Wedding Photography, and Portrait Photography as well, Industries that Styled Shoots can include ALL women with a little bit of awareness, knowledge, and education.
Dear Brides to Be, I hope you enjoy these GORGEOUS Curvy Women ROCKING Bridal Gowns in a Styled Shoot. YOU are BEAUTIFUL! YOU are Worthy! YOU ARE LOVED! Just as you are…and you’re worthy of beautiful portraits that capture that beauty in the gown you’ve dreamt about since you were a little girl making toilet paper veils rocking mom’s pearls and heels!
You just need to find a Photographer who showcases Curvy Women in their Portfolio, and shows that they know how to appropriately and flatteringly capture the magnificently different shapes and sizes of all women.
Dear Fellow Wedding (and Portrait) Photographers: We HAVE to do better. We CAN do better. We’re missing the mark, and under-serving an immensely large amount of the population by perpetuating the narrow-minded Media and Hollywood biases that exist around size for Women.
Hear me out…and hang in for a few FREE Curvy Posing tips below❤️
You see the number one complaint I’ve heard among my Brides over the last several years of specializing in Curvy Posing and teaching it is this: They don’t see themselves represented in any of *our* Industry’s Marketing. Not in the popular Wedding Blogs, not in the Bridal Magazines, not even in most Photographer’s own websites or Social Media Profiles.
When I, as a Curvy Woman myself, have to scroll through MONTHS of posts to even see ONE Bride who’d be considered Curvy, though usually she’s only usually an 8 or mayyybe a 10 in real life (given that the Fashion Industry considers an 8 as “Plus Size” for a model), it further drives home my mission…and screams even louder that there’s a problem here.
We’re not doing our jobs to capture the beauty of EVERY human being, as uniquely beautiful as they are in this moment, for their future generations to “know” them long after we’re all gone. That is why we have been gifted and entrusted to bestow this art form of Photography into the world… not for the here and now, but for the ever after.
Nor are we justly showcasing them as not even 10% of this nearly 70% of the population are seen in our various industries marketing.
If nearly 70% of American Women alone are now size 16-18 and larger (<<<—check out the brilliant Video by Fashion Giant Tim Gunn as he blasts the Fashion Industry for their oversight of "80 MILLION Women") I have to ask myself why is it that my own peers, in my own industry, don't market and showcase the stunning beauty that is the "Curvy" or "Plus-Size" Woman (though seriously using the term 'Plus Size' is a gross slight as we don't call men of a waist or chest measurement over a size Large a "Plus Size" Man, but that's a topic for another day.)
I'll never forget watching a giant in our industry, an older Curvy Woman herself actually (someone I used to look up to) stand on a stage at WPPI (Wedding & Portrait Photographers International held in Las Vegas in early Spring) in 2016 talking about posing larger frames, but yet the images in her presentation had not ONE single subject that would've been over a size 4…and that "largest" subject was pregnant. NOT ONE!
That alone made me question everything she was teaching…but then I heard her vendor talk at a booth a few hours later. As she talked about her very own before and after Glamour images, as STUNNING as this Curvy, older "wrinkled", as she called herself, woman looked, and she said "I'd never use this image in my own website! Clients want to see beautiful people, and that woman on the right in the after image is not beautiful."
I was standing close, and my face must've shown what I was suddenly screaming in my head…"WHAT DA HELLLL?! You did NOT just say that!?!?! TEACHING Curvy Posing, but telling us we shouldn't put them on our websites? Shouldn't put OURSELVES on our websites?!" because she looked right at me, startled, paused, but then looked away and kept right on talking to the group that was gathered around. I left. She'd lost ALL credibility, and all of my respect.
Sue Bryce, the magnificent Curvy Posing Evangelist herself, even pulled a Curvy Woman from the crowd during her Canon Expo Stage Presentation later that same day to demonstrate real-time Curvy Posing AND LENS selections for "Curvy Bodies", but we had another world renowned "Educator" teaching us Curvy Posing tips but then telling us not to put them on our websites?!?!
Sadly if you look around long enough you’ll see too many buy the lie she’s selling…”Curvy Bodies don’t sell” which couldn’t be further from the truth for Brides and Portraits. We WANT to see ourselves represented, to KNOW someone has the skills and knowledge of how to capture different bodies of all marvelous shapes and sizes.
Yes, I know many photographers photograph clients of every shape and size, however the problems are largely that 1) we listen to idiotic babble by “Industry Leaders”, like the one mentioned above, that they’re somehow not worthy of being showcased and marketed to, and 2) We, as a collective mass, don’t do the job well…we don’t do the differing shapes and sizes justice, that place their already fragile and bruised self-esteem into our hands, when we capture them inappropriately without enough research and training.
A Photographer, or bunch in mass, saying how a client *should feel* about themselves without producing an image that makes them *actually feel* as we think they should isn’t serving them well…it is merely justifying our failure to do our job fully by shifting the blame to their body, their lack of self-confidence, lack of self-esteem, etc…
How do I know all of this so intimately? Because for 31 of my 35 years on this Earth I HATED having my Portrait made.
Why? Because every.single.one. made me look larger than who I saw in my own mirror. Many times MUCH larger.
It took THIRTY TWO YEARS for a peer, several years into my own Photography Business mind you, for a peer to do what I’d been doing all along, but I just didn’t know it had a name…”Curvy Posing”.
When she showed me an image just on the back of the camera that made me tear up something just LIT.UP. inside me.Captured by the marvelous Makenzie Barefield Hollar
Why? Because for the FIRST time, in my life, a Professional Photographer had just taken an image that honestly made me FEEL like the beautiful woman I SAW everyday.
She knew the angles, she knew the lighting to look for and use, the way to work my clothing, the way to play with posing, light, and angles for magic on this bodacious body…and she was SHORTER than me!
ONE Image, ONE single portrait, was all it took to undo a lifetime of believing the lies other ilcaptured portraits had sold me on…
*The lightbulb flicked on* MY BODY WAS NOT THE PROBLEM!!! I WASN’T “TOO FAT TO PHOTOGRAPH”!
My new mission for my Photography Career was clear…educate my peers, and stop the self-esteem assault our industry so often inflicts on women particularly who don’t fit the Fashion and Hollywood narrow/thin mold.
*We* as an industry capture images of these average clients that make them appear larger than they are in real life, much larger than the person they see in their very own mirrors each day.
Put them in a Wedding Dress (the WORST color for visually widening a body…then add fluff and layers), and it’s exponentially magnified.
Why? Because as an industry at large either we don’t know that there’s different posing, angles, lighting, and even LENSES, that work for smaller frames but will MAGNIFY larger framed bodies, orrrrrr we just don’t care.
Then, once they receive their images we’re “baffled” that they “HATE their images”; so we go Online, to our “safe groups” of peers, for validation and to gripe, complain, and moan about how they “complained about how fat *I* made them look”.
Then ensues the unfortunate barrage of also misinformed peers patting them on the back, and body shaming the Bride or client.
Pointed barbs start flooding in, attacking her choice of HER DREAM DRESS, and tossing comments about “if she was worried about how she’d look in pictures maybe she should’ve hit the gym” or “laid off the fried chicken”. Even comments telling *her*, the Brides, (though the client hopefully would never see these awful comments these posts always garner) that they should “Just be glad her husband sees her as beautiful”.
Ummmm….WHAT?!?!?! This is NOT O.K. loves!!
Nevermind how SHE wanted to feel, how she FELT WHEN SHE BOUGHT THE DRESS…BEAUTIFUL…only to have an uneducated (or uncaring) Photographer RUIN her wedding memories, and then present her images to the Photography Community at large to ridicule her instead of what should’ve been done better by her photographer to begin with.
I always get immense heat when I step in to start critiquing the peer’s work for how the client could’ve/SHOULD’VE been photographed better, and standing up for the Bride. Buuuut if they can gladly let their client’s body get criticised as they take their undue accolades then they should be able to take the criticism on what they could’ve easily done to avoid *most* of the client’s harsh feelings toward their images.
I wish I was joking. If it weren’t against all of the membership rules I’d share screenshots, alas I can’t, but I know you’ve seen it….it happens in every.single.group…and it always gets ugly.
Ugly, like this case from a Photographer who bashed her clients, altered their bodies without permission (because she failed to do basic Curvy Posing that would’ve rendered her unauthorized, and drastic Photoshop work unnecessary), and then BERATED them online.
Hear me now, loud and clear: IT IS NOT THE BRIDE’S (or Groom’s as they care too) Body nor Dress that is the problem!
Sure, during ceremonies and dances we can’t control the angle at which they stand (though IF you can get to the rehearsal like I try to, and can talk the couple into a more flattering “shoulders angled toward each other” pose verses the awful and popular full on “belly to belly” ceremony pose it greatly helps), but it’s the posed portraits or situations that WE put them in to create those candid/ “real” moments that couple’s tend to blowup and frame for their homes. THOSE are images we CAN control, and capture flatteringly.
I do know also though that even as perfectly as we may do our job, no matter the size, some clients DO just have extreme body image issues we simply cannot help, those however are the rare exception…NOT the norm.
I’m always amazed at how “easy” my Curvy Coaching Clients say it was to tweak a pose, or adjust their position to completely change a portrait for a client. I “see” differently, and you can, and should, learn to too. I’m including a few quick pointers with the Styled Shoot Images below to help you get started!
It DOES take specialized training and extra thought, sometimes even an extra piece of equipment via a ladder or step-stool (Side Note: ladders are GRRRREAT for Group Portraits anyway so you NEED one for ALL weddings…not just Curvy Bride Weddings!), and it’s worth bringing it along.
When you see a woman though, who’s always hated having her portrait made, actually CRY because of how “beautiful” she looks…a woman who previously said she’d “break the camera” or “is not photogenic at all”…finally SEE the gorgeous soul that she is in a portrait, who finally calls HERSELF “BEAUTIFUL”, I tell you that it changes you. As it should, because this is what we are gifted to do.
Here’s the real deal, why you don’t get to be a keyboard warrior praising lack luster work while simultaneously fat shaming a client:
We don’t get to know how long they’ve been struggling to lose weight. We don’t get to know how much they’ve already lost, and here they are wanting images DURING the process.
We don’t get to know if they suffered a tragic loss that spiraled them to here, as people cope with grief and hardships in different ways. We don’t get to know if she battles P.C.O.S., and has tried literally everything aside from weight loss surgery that her insurance has denied repeatedly as it’s “elective”.
Bottom line: We don’t get to know the story of the people in front of our lenses, we only get to capture them as best as we can, as beautifully as they are, for their legacy.
OUR thoughts as to what THEY should think they look like, even when we think they’re beautiful as they are, have no bearing on what THEY think of themselves when they see an image that we could’ve done them more justice in. Remember that the next time you want to shame or judge someone about their weight.
On a Professional Level let’s stop taking this art form that can change lives so lightly, and wrap our heads around the fact that EVERY.SINGLE.BODY, be it male or female, is a soul.
A soul that is beautiful and many times has been beaten down, bruised by a world, even us, that is perpetuating the notion that only certain sizes and body types are not only capable but are actually the only one’s worthy of having their portrait made and shown off. A message *we* as an industry have the power and number to CHANGE.
Portraits have power. When you take that power and use it meagerly, not to your full capacity, to where it further pummels what little self-confidence this VULNERABLE fellow human being had, who trusted you to fully know your craft they’re paying you for, you have failed. We have failed.
These stunning women below wouldn’t appear in most of our well known industry publications, or even any of our “Styled Shoots” at workshops and conferences, all because they’re all a size 12 to 20 in Bridal Gowns.
It was just as easy to walk into Bridals By Jodi in Charleston, SC, and request a myriad of Curvy Bridal Gowns in sizes 12 to 22 for this styled shoot as it would be for the “Need a Bride or Model who can fit a size 2 or 4 Bridal Gown” styled sessions we see constantly plaguing our feeds.
Only one of these women below have actually modeled before. These are real women, real AVERAGE women, captured using Curvy Posing basics, and they.are.STUNNING.
It’s really not that hard, I promise you, and I can show you too how easy it can be to turn a portrait hating, scarred and scared, woman into a woman who can’t believe what she’s seeing before her very eyes. If you’d like to learn in one of my One On One Curvy Coaching Sessions contact me, and let’s change your Client’s Experience, and help you start serving the underserved.
Yes, I am fantastically passionate about this, and you should be fired up too.
70% friends. We’re ignoring and putting down almost (it’s actually 68% so rounded up to 70%) more than 2/3rds of the American Female Population alone when we exclude them from our portfolios, styled sessions, publications, marketing, etc…
That’s unacceptable in this day and age, and we can do better! We MUST do better! Join me, won’t you?
Share this post, and let’s change the game, change some lives, through our art in the process!
Sign up HERE for the “Curvy Posing Tips” Email!
Now, as promised…check out these stunners, and a few Curvy Posing Basic Tips❤️
Curvy Posing Tip: Notice how much smaller her arm looks angled away from the camera as opposed to flat to it. Arms flat to the side are already smashed/spread out, adding them flat to the camera, and/or with a widening lens length, only makes them appear wider than they really are. (Bonus FYI: The Sigma ART 35mm is my FAVORITE for Curvy Portraits!)
Curvy Posing Tip: Work the arms and hands! Sounds easy enough, but bringing the hands in more on the waist really work to counteract the widening effect that white/light colors add on.
Curvy Posing Tip: Slight bends at the waist can do wonders, especially mixed with a slight “toward camera torso tilt”.
Curvy Posing Tip: “Space at the waist is never a waste of space!” – Braska Compare the arm bend here with the flat arm in the below right. The arm is wider, as appears the body as well.
Loved these fantastic creations from Meadowbrooke Bespoke that can be belts OR hair pieces!
Curvy Posing Tip: Pinging off the above images and posing notes see the difference in how a shift in my position/angle to the right drastically thinned and defined the mid section with the same pose on the left.
Curvy Posing Tip: POP that hip sisters! Mix it with the “Torso Tilt toward the camera”, and really sssshape those currrves 😉
Curvy Posing Tip: Mix em’ up! Add in your own angled position to the subject + Space at the waist + arm movement + dress grab + watch for the thinnest angle via seeing which foot being forward presents the most flattering/thinner angle. Typically the foot/leg closest to the camera being back with the furthest leg from camera being forward stretched in stride lends to a thinner framing shot than vice versa, sometimes depnding on your angle and the lighting it can vary, but typically this combo will work best in movement
Curvy Posing Tip: Again, work the arms, and pop the hip. In this case the hip pop is away from the tree as the dress is flowing toward the tree’s direction, and you want to give just a bit more shape to the waist and hips under all those layers.
Curvy Posing Tip: IF the client is worried about (or presents with) a double chin then this angle and combo of bottom of camera slightly above eye-level + “Chin Forward & Forehead tilted toward camera” + torso tilt toward the camera + dropped shoulder = can work wonders for no or severely minimized D.C.
This Cathedral Length Veil from Meadowbrooke Bespoke was brilliant, and photographed spledidly in the beach air.
Curvy Posing Tip: Along with never shooting the arm flat to the camera adding in some veil play will also work beautifully.
Curvy Posing Tip: Pinging off the above images (in case there is no veil) take notice of how an even greater angle away in the shoulder closest to camera + space at the waist + arm/hand movement (tracing the dress) visually thins by defining the mid-section.
Curvy Posing Tip: Also in case there’s no veil, and even if there is, see how a “Booty Pop” to the back + arm/hand movement (tracing the dress with camera closest arm on thigh) + a slight side tilt in the Torso tilt toward the camera takes the waist on down visually. Right is good, left is better!
These Beachy Bridal Hair Styles from Best Day Ever Bridal held up splendidly in the strong ocean breezes for several hours of humidity and wind!
Curvy Posing Tip: Exploit (or even MAKE) shadows and highlights along with other tips from above to stunningly shape any body!
These women were PHENOMENAL! Completely knocked it out of the park on every level, and yet our industry doesn’t showcase them or women like them, like US, nearly enough; so join me and let’s make the changes we need to our industry!