True empowerment comes from within.
Maddi demonstrates this truth in every minute of her days. She came to the studio desiring to celebrate living life for the first time on her terms.
Fighting back the voices inside her head, telling her that she wasn’t enough, Maddi entered the Show Your Spark Studio a ball of nerves. That initial nervous energy transformed into excitement, confidence, and pure joy.
The light inside Maddi shines through her portraits. Boldly declaring that she is enough, each photo celebrates her courage, authenticity, and vulnerability. She took empowerment photography to a new level.
Please continue reading to hear more about her experience in our studio in her own words.
I kept myself hidden
“Who are you?” is a very deep question, so here’s the summary since we don’t have all day.
I’m Madison Smith, Maddi if you like; a 30 something year old and (at the time of my shoot) just starting my transition. I am proud of how I have been able to not only survive the challenges that the universe has put in my way but learn from them and move forward — more able and ready for the next challenge. When I feel down and out, I remember what my grandfather told me once when I was a teenager, “You know, you have a way about you. No matter what happens, you always come out smelling like a rose.” I didn’t quite understand what he meant back then but I’ve got a pretty good idea now. I put in the work, I get the rewards.
I decided to take a chance on myself.
I’ve grown up in a very traditional, gender normative environment: I am an Eagle Scout, a former ASE Certified auto mechanic and currently a periscope repair technician for a defense contractor. I also had an engagement end abruptly just weeks before the wedding. To say that I kept myself hidden would be an understatement.
As it turns out, having my engagement end was probably one of the best things that could have happened to me. I decided to take a chance on myself and find out what I want and need out of my life. For the first time, I put myself first in my own life.
I put myself first in my own life.
I was excited for all of it! I’ve always wanted to try modeling but never believed in myself enough to do it. I was also excited to have such a powerful and beautiful experience to celebrate the beginning of living my life on my terms. Also, who wouldn’t want such amazing photos of themselves?
Looking in the mirror after hair and make-up finally tipped the scale
Nervous is an understatement. I was so self-conscious of every little part of my body. The gremlins in my head were trying to have a field day with me. All of the standard negative lines came up: I’m not thin enough, I’m not feminine enough, my nose is too big, shoulders are too broad, you know the rest of them. Walking into the studio I was a ball of nerves, but Lindsay and Michelle immediately made me feel comfortable and ready to have the time of my life. By the time Michelle finished with hair and make-up I was feeling better, but still really nervous. Looking in the mirror after she finished finally tipped the scale. Michelle’s not only skilled, she cares and that was so obvious in her work!
I cried during the premiere… it was indescribable.
My favorite moment was right when Lindsay started taking photos, thinking: this was happening, this was real, and I was here. In that moment, I felt myself relaxing and gaining confidence. I felt my smile get bigger, my body stand taller.
I cried during the premiere, seeing myself on the screen in a way that I had only dreamed of — but never thought possible — was indescribable.
I’ve learned that the gremlins in my head can be silenced.
I’ve learned that the gremlins in my head can be silenced. I can put myself out there, risk others judging me for it and feel awesome while doing it! I learned and felt that I am enough!
I learned and felt that I am enough.
I love the photos in my old flannel shirt! That shirt has been with me since high school through dates, breakups, parties, everything! Being able to incorporate it into the photos added something a little special. I think my absolute favorite is the black and white one lying on the floor. I’m still amazed that I took a topless photo!
Thank you, Maddi, for courageously and openly telling your story with us to share here on the blog. It’s a privilege to play a part in helping you see yourself as the powerful, beautiful person you are!