At Show Your Spark, we love connecting with past clients and learning about how their Spark Session (our version of boudoir photography) impacted their lives.
Recently Lindsay, owner and photographer of Show Your Spark, spoke with Spark Alumni Shannon, a client from nine months ago. They reminisced about Shannon’s session, discussed why she chose a boudoir photography session to celebrate milestones in her life (her 30th birthday), and what having her portraits has meant every day since then.
We often speak about the power of a Spark Session to mark life milestones and provide encouragement for the future. But is that really what our clients experience?
Yes! Give this interview a read for a first-hand account of both.
I’m so excited to speak with you today about your Spark Session. I can’t believe that 9 months ago now! You contacted us to schedule a birthday photography session. I remember you booked it a year in advance. Could you walk us through a little bit about what caused you to reach out originally for your session?
One of my friends added me to your Facebook group. So, I was seeing things from the studio popping up in my feed. When we first talked, I was 28 years old and my birthday was 18 months away.
For me, 30 is a big deal. I grew up with a chronic illness, so it was really difficult to envision myself at this age. So I knew that this birthday deserved to be celebrated. I really wanted to just do something like this for my 30th birthday to mark how far I’ve made it this far in my life and to celebrate the milestone. So, yeah, I booked really far in advance, before I was even 29, for my 30th birthday.
I love that. I love that it was part of your vision to celebrate how far you’ve come that you made it this far. Thank you for being willing to talk with us about what brought you here and about what your experience was like.
I think that is such an amazing perspective to be able to say, “I want to celebrate who I’m going to be at this point. I’m planning ahead.” It was not a spur-of-the-moment thing. Of course, we welcome spur-of-the-moment decisions, but for you, this was something that you knew would be really special and you chose to make it a priority for your future self to have that experience.
Yeah, it was really special.
I love that. What was going through your mind as the session got closer? Do you remember if you were nervous or if you were just excited?
I think because I planned it so far in advance, it was weird. It felt super far off in the distance, so I wasn’t nervous about it at all. Then as we got closer to the date, I thought “Oh yeah, this is something I’m going to go do.” There ended up being a lot happening in my life at that point. So I don’t really think I had the time or the space to get really nervous and anxious about it, which ended up being such a blessing. I know if I had gotten in my head, I totally would have been second-guessing and asking myself “Do I really have time for this?” My life is crazy right now.”
So you kind of kept a promise to yourself by showing up and going through with it.
When you think about the day itself and what you were hoping to see in your photographs, what stood out to you when you saw your photographs as the most meaningful to you or where you were able to think “Okay, goal achieved.”?
I tried to keep an open mind and go in with no expectations. That way no matter the results, I would be pleased.
I knew that I wanted to look and feel beautiful, so immediately when I saw the hair and makeup from Michelle, I felt great. She did such a good job! Something that surprised me a lot as I look back now, was that I had been most excited for the light and airy kind of scenes in the front studio. But I really loved everything that we did in those darker rooms. I think that a lot of the lighting really highlighted my body in a really nice way.
Part of growing up with illness was that I had a lot of surgery as a child, so I have a lot of scars on my legs. There are a couple of portraits where you lit me in a way that my scars were totally on display and being celebrated. That was really important to me because getting to this age was such an accomplishment for me. It was really just celebrating my strength and getting this far.
I remember the photo that you’re talking about, and when you saw it, you’re like, I can see my scar so clearly, and I love it. We have clients who come in with a variety of feelings around that, and I always want to honor people’s experiences and where they are. But I encourage people to see their scars in a new way and celebrate that.
If you are willing to share, what was the shift for you about displaying your scars? Or have you always been really proud of the journey that you’ve been on?
So I think living with illness and living with a lot of scars on my body is simultaneously the strongest and softest part of me. I think that they’re incredibly beautiful. They tell my story. They show what I’ve been through, but I’m also a little self-conscious and insecure if people that I don’t know try to touch my legs or if they stare at them. So it’s kind of like a little seesaw. As I was turning 30, I was able to sit back and think about all I’ve survived. Those images that displayed my scars, made me so happy. I think the key for me was that I was in a headspace of being reflective and secure in who I was. I remember thinking “This is me. This shows what I’ve been through. This is my story.”
The expression on your face in that portrait is peaceful and proud. I have chills thinking about that photograph, which evokes strength and pride in who you are. The feeling is so deserved. It’s wonderful that you were able to bask in those feelings.
There were so many moments from your session, Shannon, where I could see you were really present with yourself and doing what you came here to do. It was an honor to watch you reach your goals through this experience.
I actually have a little surprise for you. We just released a magazine and we included one of the photos you graciously gave us permission to share! This portrait is from our Galaxy Cinemascape. I love how your glasses are highlighted. For me, this one is one of my absolute favorites from your session. Can you tell me why you chose the Cinemascape for one of your bonus scenes?
I loved how the images looked. With that backdrop, I thought it was so different and it’s so cool.
I have a career in photography so I know a lot about photo history and it kind of reminds me of the camera obscura and the work of Abelardo Morell.. He would poke a hole in his curtains and the whole city of New York would just envelop the entire thing. That artistic style appealed to me– and who doesn’t love the galaxy? I saw this quote “The universe is in your body. The stars are in your soul.” I thought this portrait represented that quote. I think that it speaks a lot to how strong I am and how strong women are in general because a lot of us hold the universe in our bodies.
That’s beautiful. These two conversations about your scars being both your source of strength and the softest part of you combined with the idea of the universe being in your body make me think of the quote by Leonard Cohen, “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” I saw that sentiment in your session, just as the pinpricks of light are coming out in this portrait, I saw the light within you emanating outward throughout your session, not just in the galaxy scene but in so many of your photographs. The entire session you were smiling beautifully and looking so radiant!
Inspiring the Future
Your session was nine months ago. What do your photographs mean to you now that you have them in your life for that long? Knowing that they were made for you to keep for many years, what impact did they have on you already?
I definitely think it was a huge confidence boost. Being able to look back at those photos, really does make me feel really good, sexy, and beautiful. The timing to receive my artwork was perfect, because almost a month after my session, I had an emergency appendectomy. So my body changed a lot after that.
Being able to look back on these pictures from before the procedure was really helpful to my healing. They reminded me that my scars are the most beautiful part about me. Having a scar above the waist was uncharted territory for me. I was having a little body image crisis. Though it sounds a little counterintuitive, looking back at my photos helped because it reminded me that I’m still the same person regardless of what my body looks like. I’m glad that we documented me in that moment kind of before this big thing happened to me. So it’s a confidence boost. It’s a healer. It means so much to me, honestly.
I’m so glad to hear that. I remember contacting you to let you know that your artwork had just come in and you told me you were in the hospital. So, we made sure your finished artwork was at your home waiting for you when you left the hospital.
I almost feel like there was a plan there– that idea of “the universe being in your body” was looking out for you. As if the you from 18 months ago, set yourself up to have this reminder of your strength, of your beauty, of your confidence when you need it the most. I just got chills. I’m glad that you were able to see yourself in that way throughout your recovery.
I feel like we all change so much and yet, we all stay the same. It’s so nice to be able to have these little vignettes of who you were in that moment, knowing that that person is in you, but is slightly different. It’s such a beautiful cyclical experience.
Shannon, I can’t thank you enough for sharing not only your voice but your story and permission to share your photos.
Let Us Help You Celebrate and Inspire!
We are all uniquely different, and yet, we all hold these two things in common: milestones to celebrate and the need for encouragement in our hard times.
A Spark Session provides the opportunity to experience both!
What was initially planned to mark an important milestone turned into a powerful reminder and gift to her future self. This was Shannon’s experience at the Show Your Spark photography studio.
This experience could be yours as well. Inquire today to learn more about how a Spark Experience could help you celebrate your milestones and provide you with future encouragement!
Here’s what to expect when you contact us!
- Schedule a free consultation call to have all your questions answered and start planning your Spark Experience.
- Select a Spark Session date that fits your schedule.
- Rock the session like the bright light you are, and create beautiful, tangible artwork to inspire you for the rest of your life.