I put a challenge out to get some women in my studio who are NOT 20 something, who are NOT sized 6, or 8, or even size 10, to let me show them THEIR Beautiful. I was surprised that I did not receive much response to it as I thought I would. But, I guess I should not have been. Once you hit 45 there is a large shift in marketing to this demographic, we have become the forgotten generation. I know, because I am part of this demographic. I am not an old crone, I am not a young chick either. I am smart and funny, I am completely over the drama of youth, but I am still fun-loving and youthful and exuberant and excited about life.
Look at your average advertising campaign, seriously who are they advertising for? Children (well advertising to get children to bug parents to buy for them), Family First Mums, who have always put family before their own needs, Men (why do men just become men, from boys to men, until they hit a certain age and then they are old men), But women…if you are not under 30 (possibly 40) or over 65; you do not exist. Makeup, Face creams; which are either to keep your youthful complexion or to prevent your old face from sagging completely. Why is it one or the other? We are not quite the little old biddy in the walking frame needing incontinence pads.
My friends are either independent business women (with no children), or empty nesters, or at least with grown-up children. Our demographic has a stable income, more disposable income, we research purchases more than any other demographic, we do not need someone to help us decide what colour boots, lipstick or car to purchase. We will, however, tell our network of friends all about our purchase and if you give us a crap product or crap service we can make your life a living hell. Alternatively, if you give us a great product or great service, we will tell everyone in our network, if we get a moderate service and moderate product, it’s like Meh!
This demographic is great at networking, whether it is careerwise or socially. We are over all the drama and like to spend our time with like-minded people, we love to share experiences and have fun. We are often completely comfortable with ourselves, love a sense of adventure and the freedom to enjoy it, that we never experienced in youth. We value our friends for who they are, not where they work, how much they make, how pretty, skinny, fat or ugly they are. It’s kind of funny, in a way I don’t think I even ‘see’ that anymore, don’t get me wrong. I see my friends, I am just not comparing them to anyone, or myself. I guess I sense in a way their aura, their substance if that makes sense.
But I digress…
And then I looked at my own advertising, my own website…I was guilty too. I could make excuses and say that’s who my clients are (which is true), my clients and even my models are real women (I am not saying they aren’t), but most are 30 or under, and most are size 14 and under. I have no one over 45 on my website. I was saying that I wanted real women, but what I wanted was actually women in my demographic. What I wanted to say was I am 50 and I am f**king fantastic, baby!
I wanted and still do, to get more women in my age bracket, and prove a boudoir session does not have to be in g-string and push up bra. A contemporary glamour session, will not make you look 20 and a size 8, but beautiful and confident and sexy. With the right light and the right posing a few small crows feet and an ample bosom can be a badge of honour, not the most outstanding thing about you.
Once I made a shift in my own thinking and started asking a few brave souls to trust me, I started to see a slight shift, small at first, but I hope it will be a snowball. I am no longer a shoot and burn photographer who takes a few crappy photos and just gives you a USB or a disk, for $100 – I did that, and I felt bad and unfulfilled and broke. I would rather only do a few sessions a week and offer real service, real value. I want to sit down with my client and have a chat over a coffee after. Hear their life story, share a laugh or two. My conceptual photo sessions are full of life and light, creativity and laughter, THAT is what I want to offer my clients.
I would love to help women make life-changing affirmations about themselves. See themselves as we see them; as beautiful, intelligent, charismatic, sexy, honest. Selfies and Happy snaps cannot do that for you, I know, I have gotten dressed up and done my hair and my makeup and thought in the mirror I actually looked quite nice or at least presentable, and then I have seen crappy photos of myself and was horrified. Sure give anyone a camera and they can be a photographer! I have also been on the other side, many years ago, I had a portrait session done, the photos which I was presented with looked NOTHING like me, I was photoshopped OUT of the image. I don’t know WHO that woman was, but it looked nothing like me, I left and I never bought anything. Women want a nice photo that still looks like them; just no double chins, giant butts or chicken wing arms!Oh and no big saggy bags under the eyes.
I am the photographer for this demographic because I AM this demographic. I get it! I have had children, a career. I lived through the 80s and 90s. I understand the voices and concerns of these women. I understand the jokes, the ‘in our day’ (without sounding like our Grandmothers!), HELL…this still is our day.
Why is the everything either too young or too old for us; makeup, clothes…oh my god, don’t get me started on the clothes. We are told either everything is too young for us and we should dress our age, or everything is too old and makes us feel frumpy. Who gets to tell us what we can and can’t wear? Hey I know I am no size 12 (or even a size 20 for that matter) but why can’t I wear shorts and a tank top? Why do so many of the ‘fat’ girl clothes look like gunny sacks? I still have a shape (round is a shape isn’t it?), I still have curves (possibly too many), but I am still a woman, my Hubby still loves me, he tells me he loves me just the way I am. My friends see me and love me just the way I am. So why do we get so self-conscious in front of a camera, because we have seen too many BAD PHOTOS!
Even complete strangers probably don’t judge me, it’s the story I tell myself…I know it is. I see someone looking at me and maybe they are actually trying to figure out if it’s a blueberry or blackberry stain on my top, but in my head, they are saying “Oh my god, look what that stupid fat bitch is wearing, how dare she go out in public looking like that”. How do I know? Because of what is in my own head, I see someone out and about and I think wow, I love her hair colour, or shoes (or whatever) and wonder if I could attempt the same. Or I love her top, skirt, necklace or whatever. Do I tell her, no of course not, because then she would probably think I am a raving lunatic, but she is probably seeing me stare at her and her monologue is “OMG, she thinks my new haircut is hideous and what was I thinking I am too old, fat, skinny, young, pale, dark, green…..[insert whatever here] to pull it off. What was I thinking, I should go and shave my head, right now” Seriously insert whatever you like; haircut, new shoes, handbag. The point I am making is things are never what the voice in our heads tell us it is.
What if we could get out of our own way and stop the voice in our heads? I know I am ranting, sorry, but it is true. All of it. So I had a brave soul come into the studio, Vicki, she is 49 and has children and grandchildren and is smart and fun, and kickass. We had so much fun in the studio, I will post some more pics soon, but just to chat and laugh and spend a few hours after her makeup session with Micaela, was wonderful. We finished off with more talking over a coffee, she is about to become a grandmother again shortly, Vicki is also a photographer and shoots mostly Rock-a-billy pinup style.
Thank you Vicki, for a wonderful day, I hope you enjoy your portraits.