A Message to Moms…From a Daughter

Moms (dads too, but especially moms), please rethink how you talk to your daughters.
My photographer friends and I hear so many cringe-worthy comments said to daughters without a second thought. I’m sure they’re not meant to be hurtful, but they are whether you and your daughters recognize it or not.
If you feel the need to comment on her body, how about instead of “that makes your thighs look big” you say instead “Wow, your legs look so strong!”
Or instead of “suck in your stomach” you say “Stand up nice and tall and show the world what a strong, confident young lady you are.”
If she likes a picture of herself that you don’t love, avoid saying “You really like that? Hmm. It doesn’t even look like you. But ok.” Either 1) don’t say anything at all…if she likes any picture of herself, that’s a win 2) say “I love how you like yourself in so many different images that show different aspects of your personality!”
Avoid comments like “Your ears really stick out in that picture”. If you have to say anything, how about “I really love how you resemble your grandmother in that picture. She was such a strong and loving woman with a fantastic sense of humor.”
This one is a personal pet peeve of mine because it hits close to home… please don’t say things like “You’re so pale. You really should have tanned before your photo shoot.” Even if you encourage fake tans over real ones, you’re still telling her that the skin she lives in isn’t good enough…that it needs to change. And for God’s sake, don’t encourage her to get a real tan and risk cancer just to conform to society’s outdated standards of beauty.
Buck the system.
Say “screw you” to modern beauty standards.
Be a rebel by loving yourself, your daughters (and sons) EXACTLY the way they are.
Teach your children to think for themselves (more importantly BE themselves) and not to simply follow along with society’s standards of beauty and behavior.
It’s hard enough for girls and women of all ages to love and accept ourselves when the world judges us so harshly for not being perfect (no one is).

Your words to your daughter (and to yourself) should lift her up, not tell her she has to change what she looks like to fit into society’s standards.

(continue reading below this photo of my maternal grandmother and my aunts)

This soapbox message has been brought to you by…
The pale, awkward girl who was always told she’d be pretty… if she had a tan.
The same girl that is told regularly she looks much younger than her 36 years (thank you, sunscreen).
By the girl who hears and sees moms and daughters talking down to each other, to themselves, and generally not loving themselves.
It’s brought to you by a woman who still needs to read the words she’s typing just as much as those of you who are reading them.

The Woman’s Portrait Experience in Southwest Missouri

Hi! I’m Jessica and this is my confession…

 I absolutely loathe having my picture taken. There, I said it.

Also, I’m not naturally photogenic. And I don’t say that to fish for compliments. Anyone who has ever photographed me would agree if they were honest. ha!

I overthink things.
Where do I put my hands?
And I blink… Almost Every. Damn. Time.


You take enough pictures (think machine gun speed), you’ll eventually (hopefully) get a good one or two. In the photography industry, we call that “spraying and praying”. 🙂

(See what I mean?  What am I doing with my face?!)  ^^^

Anyway, perhaps some of you knew these things about me, perhaps others didn’t. But I feel it’s important to admit because if you’re like me and you avoid being in front of the camera at all costs, I want you to know that I understand! I get it. I really do.


As women, as mothers, as daughters, as people who are loved by friends and family, I feel that it’s important to step out of our comfort zone and step in front of the camera every once in a while.


Reason #1: Do it for yourself.

I know what you might be thinking… “I don’t want pictures of myself!” But sometimes it’s not about the end result (the portraits) as much as it is the process.

Almost every woman I’ve photographed has the same story… they were talked into the photo shoot by their friends and family. They thought about canceling. They were so nervous. They wondered “What do I do with my hands? I don’t know how to pose! What if I look stupid? I’m going to feel SO stupid! Is this selfish of me? Does it make me seem conceited? I shouldn’t spend money on myself when I could spend it on my kids.”

Do any of those sound familiar? 🙂

I bet they do. But here’s the thing. We are our own worst critic. No one is going to be more critical of us than we are of ourselves. However, if you go through this experience, you’re going to gain so much self-confidence. Not only did you do something that was out of your comfort zone, but you’re going to have fun! You’re going to LOVE the way you look (in the mirror and in portraits). And perhaps more importantly, you’re going to love the way you feel.

But if that isn’t reason enough, let me present…

Reason #2: Do it for those that love you.

A quick personal story…

When I was 5 years old, my family experience a house fire that claimed my mom’s life. It was a total loss, so almost everything we owned was completely destroyed. One exception was our family pictures. Most are burned on the edges and still smell like a house fire even 31 years later, but those precious memories were saved!


Unfortunately, my mom was always the one behind the camera capturing memories of everyone else. I have very few photographs of her, sadly.

Your children and grandchildren want/will want photographs OF YOU…not just of them. So please… make sure you’re in photographs. Whether those are snapshots, family portraits, portraits of yourself, etc.

Just be photographed.

Don’t wait…

“Until I lose those last 15 pounds”

“Until I get a tan this summer”

“Until my hair grows out”

“Until I pay off some more debt”

“Until I find the perfect outfit”

Do it now. Because sometimes “until….” never comes.

Be photographed for yourself. Be photographed for those who love you. It doesn’t matter the reason. It doesn’t matter if you choose to hire us or someone else.

Just do it already.

Walking the Walk

A few short months ago, I decided that if I’m going to launch this new branch of women’s portraiture, I better walk the walk and not just talk the talk. How can I tell women they need to be photographed when I refuse to be photographed myself? (I’ll talk about the Woman’s Portrait Experience in a few paragraphs).



_G2A1184jebw-bSo, friend and professional photographer, Lydia Schuster of Studio Seven, was enlisted with the dreaded job of photographing another photographer. Ever hear how doctors make the worst patients? The same thing can be said for photographers. We make the worst subjects sometimes.

I was soooooo anxious before the shoot. I’m not even joking when I tell you that I purchased a bottle of vodka before the shoot because I thought that was the only way I’d get through it. Unfortunately, we left the studio and had already walked a few minutes to our destination before I remembered that I never even made myself a drink. #fail

Like the true professional Lydia is, she helped me relax, smile a genuine smile, and dare I say it…even have a little bit of fun!

The images above are a few that were created that day. You guys are the first to see these except for one that I had as my Instagram profile picture for about 5.2 seconds. 🙂

This is NOT a one-size-fits-all portrait experience!

The “Woman’s Portrait Experience” isn’t just one type of photo shoot. It can be anything you dream! Do you want classic, elegant portraits of yourself? Would you like to be photographed in a casual, fun way? Need some professional headshots for work and/or social media? Wish you could redo your senior pictures? Want to be a little more daring…a sexy dress or lingerie perhaps?

With this portrait experience, YOU call the shots!

Think you’re not “pretty enough”, “photogenic enough”, “thin enough”, “young enough” or any of the other lies we ladies tell ourselves (and believe)? Then this is DEFINITELY an experience for you! Because I want to show you just how wrong you are. 🙂

To help you look and feel your best we offer:

A fully-guided photo shoot with professional pose coaching
Professional hair and makeup services (highly recommended)
Free phone, email, video chat, or in-person consultation to plan your shoot
Supplemental wardrobe pieces (optional and we highly recommend also bringing your own clothing and accessories as well)
Editorial-style retouching (you will look your absolute best while still looking like yourself)
No-pressure, in-studio reveal session where you will view all our products, pick out your favorite images and place your order.

The style options are virtually endless!

Below are just a few samples of the various styles of images we can create for you. You are not limited to these samples! In your complimentary consultation, we’ll discuss how you want your portraits to look and what you want your experience to be like.

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Ok, I’m in! How much is this going to cost me?

Not all good things in life are free… but all good things are worth the investment. 🙂

We understand that everyone’s wants and needs will vary. Whether you’d like your portrait experience to be quick and simple or a day of luxury and pampering, we’ve got you covered! We strive to create options that suit everyone’s budget and desired experience.

For as little as $250, you could have beautiful portraits to gift yourself, your significant other, or your family.

CLICK HERE to get more information on our Woman’s Portrait Experience. I can’t wait to meet you and show you just how beautiful you are. 🙂