Madame Butterfly, how did we get here?

It’s been a pretty busy and exceptionally exciting time lately! So busy that fine art projects have been temporarily set aside to make way for the practicality of making a living, raising a 3 year old, and starting a new photography business with a wonderful friend, talented person, and business partner! Mizella Alparaque and I have been feverishly working away on something that is turning into, what we think is, an exciting business.

We are venturing into the world of stylized portraits. We love doing creative projects together and we both are in very similar spots in our lives right now. Seemed right!

How do we approach this? For me, it was a bit of a door that flew open. I have to admit, a lot of the freelance work I have been doing, for the beautiful and driven Laura-Lee Gerwing, at the end of last year and early into this year has been leading me this way too. Funnily enough, when I first decided I was going to make a go of this photography thing once and for all, I would never have dreamed I would want to do this type of photography.

What is it? Well, part of it has to do with exploring parts of ourselves in ways that have always made me feel a bit like I was subscribing to something that I was not into: something that I thought was a bit frivolous and at times pushing us backward, or, even suspending us, instead of propelling us forward .

It wasn’t until I started doing more of, what I like to call, “sexy lady sessions” at my freelance gig, that made me realize what I was contributing to was more about someone having the courage to love themselves enough to choose to have these photographs taken of them. They were in fact, in a state of action and indeed taking a very conscious step forward in their lives to do something many of them would never thought they would have done before. It was, and still is, eye opening for me to hear when women said to me that they are doing it for themselves and not for anyone else.

I have had the  privilege of photographing women ranging in age from 22 – 52 years old. Many of whom had various motivating factors for making the booking in the first place (they wanted to celebrate the beginning of a new healthy lifestyle, becoming new mothers, upcoming weddings, valentine’s day, anniversaries, etc…). All were happy to admit that they were really doing it for themselves.

I have to admit, this blew my wee little closed mind when I first heard this. It slapped me in the face, actually. I used to cringe at the fact that people would want these kinds of photographs taken of themselves. Why? What the heck? Why do you want to reduce yourselves like that? I never would have thought I would be doing it and loving it too! I very specifically remember saying to a friend, “no, no, no, I don’t want to do boudoir sessions. Totally not my thing. It promotes ideals that I think are backwards and it contributes to and exacerbates unrealistic expectations of body image. No, not for me.

These sessions introduced me to some pretty amazing women of all ages, backgrounds, shapes and sizes. To top it off, they were clearly not who I may have once blindly and ignorantly dismissed as maybe small minded, too self-involved, and vain.

I have shot people who work in law, food and beverage, health care, construction, insurance, science, real estate, education, tech, and customer service. I have shot mothers, a grandmother, brides, wives, electricians, students (ranging from liberal arts to pre-med), athletes, dancers, and artists. All different. All of them had a story. All of them had something to celebrate: themselves! What a concept! Mind blown and heart humbled. I loved them for loving themselves enough to do this. I continue to learn so much from them about love and life. I see how beautiful they are and see where it comes from.

A part of who they are comes from their stories. Everyone has a story. It’s written on their bodies. It’s told through their actions. It’s shared through their experiences.

So, from this, I wanted to start my own thing where I am asked to find a way to tell peoples’ (all people – men and women) stories in a different way (and not necessarily in lingerie). Okay, the story is being told in a beautiful, dreamy, maybe metaphorical, and definitely hyperbolized way; but that’s what I like to do (incidentally, Mizella does too) so, I might as well embrace that. We get to take part, collaborate, and orchestrate this part of the celebration! That’s pretty fun.

That about sums up how I got to where I am today. Forever a student learning about some important stuff from others. Forever amazed at what this life has to offer in its little, more quiet ways despite whatever else is going on in the loud and unforgiving world we know today. Hmm, on a side note, so much to be grateful for.

Now, story time. You don’t need to know the details; but, know that this is indeed a chrysalis story.

Here are some selects from our first session. A perfectly symbolic first session in so many ways for all involved: Madame Butterfly.

Fable Creative Company

Fable Creative Company

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Fable Creative Company

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Fable Creative Company

Fable Creative Company

Fable Creative Company

All Images – ©2015 Anita Lee – All Rights Reserved

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