The Revelation Project Part IV: Bethany Harvey Stewart

To know her is to adore her. Bethany Harvey Stewart is one of the most unassuming women I have ever met.  I have known Bethany for a few years now and our friendship has deepened over time with the advent of children, Facebook, and now, photography.  I really enjoyed photographing Bethany for so many reasons….most of all because I witnessed that *moment* when she finally just “let go” and gave herself permission to show up in the photographs….and once she did she literally shone like a prism.  She makes me remember that we are in fact spiritual beings- our body is our vessel, and our eyes the windows to our soul.

1) What did you think about the approach of the upcoming photo shoot ( before you got there) and what were the results you were expecting?

When Robyn and Monica first asked me, my first reaction was that it would be fun.  But, after I thought about it some more I was terrified.  I was very nervous, not so much about taking the photos, but about other people seeing them.  I was worried that people might think I was a narcissist for having pictures taken of myself, when in reality my self esteem was at a very low point.  An interesting thing happened on the drive over, though.  I really felt exhilarated by the idea of doing something that scared me.  That hadn’t happened in a while!  As far as what I was expecting,   I know that you both are wonderful photographers, but you can only do so much with a subject!  I have never enjoyed posed photos of myself….aside from my wedding photos and pictures of my pregnant belly. So, I was not confident…in me, not in you!

2) How did you feel during the shoot and was there anything in particular that made you feel more or less relaxed or open to the process? Can you tell me if there was a point in which you finally “surrendered” to the shoot and do you remember when, and what made it happen?

I loved that the pictures were being taken at your home and on regular furniture, not with traditional photography props and and backdrops. That put me at ease somewhat.  You and Robyn have such a good time together, and you both kept me laughing.  I don’t know if I ever really “let go” completely, but you were both good at distracting me and eliciting natural smiles and expressions.

3) Can you describe in three words the way you felt before we shot.

Exhilarated, terrified, unworthy

4) 3 words for after

Exhilarated, optimistic, empowered

5) Three words for when you saw the results

Thrilled, surprised, flattered

6) After you left but before you saw the results – did you have any thoughts about the experience?  What were some of the things you thought about on the drive home?

I was laughing all night about some of the antics you two went through to get me loosened up!  I was really nervous about having the pictures posted on facebook for the world to see.

7) When you saw the results can you tell me your first impression?

I wasn’t sure I was really looking at me!

Can you talk about the feedback you received from those who saw your photographs?

I got so many wonderful comments from friends and family (mostly women).  I think most of them understood the motivation behind the photo shoot. So many of us stop thinking of ourselves as beautiful individuals once we take that leap to motherhood.   Many women told me how brave they thought I was.

9) Did you feel beautiful during the shoot? why? why not?

Ummm, I was still feeling pretty unworthy during the shoot.  When you showed me a couple of the shots on your camera mid way through, I felt a little more confident.

10) Did you feel empowered? why?  Why not?

That feeling didn’t really hit me until after the shoot.  I was so proud that I went through with it. It was so outside of my comfort zone…and I hadn’t been there in quite some time. That felt amazing.

11) Since the shoot happened almost two weeks ago now can you talk about the lasting impact of the experience?  Has it altered the way you view yourself or your surroundings?

Since participating in the revelation project, the truth that has come to light for me is that sometime during the last five years, since I quit my job to be with my two children full time, I ceased to really see myself as an individual.  I always put my needs last, even denied that I might have needs outside of caring for my family.  Now many might say that that is what being a parent is all about.  Being a parent requires always considering the needs of one’s children.  I don’t argue with that.   The question I have come to ask myself is, isn’t there a way to fulfill my own needs without sacrificing the needs of those I love? Wouldn’t taking care of myself and truly being happy and fulfilled,  wouldn’t that in fact be the best gift to (and example to set for) my girls?   Seeing those pictures of me (not of me and my kids, or even of me and my husband but of JUST ME) woke something up inside of me that had been buried far too long.  I am excited to get to know myself again and I insist on making my own happiness a priority.  The reality is, if I am not truly happy, I am not really capable of offering by best self to others either.  We all deserve more.

12) Do you think this was an important/valuable experience for yourself? why?

Yes!  I knew that I had been feeling low, but I didn’t quite realize how badly I had been perceiving myself until looking in hindsight after this experience.  It was an amazing feeling looking at a beautiful, confident woman and realizing I AM HER.  WHOA. Who knew?

13) Do you think it’s relevant for other women?  why?

Yes!  I have been encouraging everyone to try this.  It’s hard to explain, but it’s like stepping outside of yourself and gaining a new and better perspective – on YOU.  I am thinking more than I have in a long time about who I am as an individual and what I need to be happy and fulfilled.  I want to make that woman in the photos proud!

14) How would you use the photos moving forward? Professionally? Personally? as gifts?

Any of the above.  I am so happy to have them for my girls, too.

15) If you could sum up the experience what would you say?

I would say that this experience is an incredible gift you can give to yourself.

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The Revelation Project: FAQ

The Revelation Project FAQ

1) What is the Revelation Project?

  • A Professional Photo Session: created by two professional photogs who have also been participants in the project
  • A Discovery Process: Intended to give participants a new vision of themselves
  • A Community: Intended to create a community of women who share an interest in self growth and discovery
  • A Conversation: that explores concepts and constructs self esteem, beauty, self expression, insight, happiness, and  identity that can be explored through interviews, blog posts, and photographs

2) How do I participate?

Just let us know you are interested in being a part of it and that you are open to the process and the discovery.

3) How much does it cost to participate?

Our requested minimum donation is $250.00

We also have “Package” options if you would like to use the shots for publicity or professional purposes so just ask

(PS: This barely covers the costs of the project but please know that we are always open to generous contributions that can also help cover those who can not afford to pay anything at all. We’ll leave your contribution decision up to you entirely with absolutely no judgement. We also find that it’s important that we mention that the project is very different than booking an actual photo session for professional head shots, publicity, or portraits and that a “typical” photo session of this caliber would run from $600- $1200)


4) What can i expect from being a part of the project?

What we are finding is that almost anything can happen.  At the very least, a positive “shift” seems to occur in the lives of those who participate and an “opening” is created that was not available before for women to rediscover or re-claim parts of themselves; their identity, dreams, beauty, confidence & self esteem.

5) How long is the session?

The session ranges from 2-3 hours. We help with wardrobe, make-up and hair and the goal is to capture your unique essence:  in other words it’s not a glamour shoot (but we aim high and you’ll usually look pretty darn amazing).

6) What is expected of me as a participant?

We ask that you be willing to share your photographs with your own social network as well as allow us to publish to our own.  We take this step so that the people in your life can be a part of your process in some small way (we find that it makes a difference). In addition we ask that you be willing to answer our interview questions so that they can be published in our blog posts, and we hold the rights to your photographs for future publicity purposes.

7) What are some of the benefits to doing this project?

  • Great photos of yourself (you will be able to keep your favorites, have access to your edited photo’s for digital use,  and can order prints if you care to).
  • It’s fun and inspiring!
  • It can be somewhat magical : many things are happening in the lives of women who have participated.

We simply ask that you drop us a line every now and again so that we can understand and document the impact that The Revelation Project brings to your life.

 

Worth mentioning:

We usually shoot on Friday’s during the hours of 9am – 3pm.

We shoot in natural light.

We usually just try to meet your mood and the “tone” of the shoot is light hearted & fun.

We shoot using a variety of artwork and furnishings but don’t make a big deal of the “props” and just try to let the shoot happen organically.

We make every attempt possible to have a child free environment for the duration of the shoot.  This is YOUR time and we try to keep it sacred. With that said- every so often we have a stray who usually ends up being entertained with a movie.

Please email  at rodgers107@cox.net for more information or to book your session.


The Revelation Project & Narcissism

So far I have co- photographed nine amazing women for the Revelation Project and each one has taught me something different, and in doing so I’ve discovered a family of sisters I never knew I had.

I’ve learned of  a common inheritance that dwells inside each one of us that has to do with constructs of self worth, identity, freedom and beauty that has shocked and intrigued me on many levels.

Here are some of my findings so far:

1) No matter how confident and beautiful she APPEARS to be there is a piece of her that clings to the belief that she is not worthy of attention, adoration, or admiration on almost any level (FASCINATING)!

2) By coincidence, each woman who has been photographed to date has shared the bond of motherhood and each and everyone of them has somehow lost an aspect of themselves along the way whether it be notions of self esteem, self worth, confidence, balance, inspiration, body, or *spirit* (more on that later).

3) Most of the women who view their photographs after the session report the following and lead me to explore the following questions:

  • They see a woman in the photographs that they have not seen in a very long time (What was missing?)
  • They experience a mix of amazement and awe; amazement that they actually view a beautiful empowered woman in the photo, and awe that they had not realized just how far removed from their former self they had become.
  • They experience a sense of empowerment, inspiration, and/or connectedness to the woman in the photograph (almost as if to embrace or re-claim her… had we shut her down? turned her out? denied her? ).
  • They experience the “fear” of mis-interpretation and that the photos might be viewed as “narcissistic” by their family, or peers.
  • They report that their women friends have regarded them “brave” and “courageous” to have participated in the project.
  • Report finding a piece of themselves they did not know had been lost along the way ( What happens to us?)
  • Identify a “transformation” of self  (meaning: the perception and perspective they have of themselves is “altered” and “shifted” in such a way that was not available BEFORE the session).

I loved that in the wiki definition of Narcissism they have replaced the term in Spain to mean “healthy self-love” and that there can actually be a healthy interpretation of falling in love with the image reflected back at you.  There is something to be said after all about loving oneself…  If we can not love ourselves as we are- exactly ( all that we ARE, and all that we ARE NOT) how can we truly love and accept anyone else? As always- I so welcome your comments, questions, or cries of outrage!  xoxoxo

The Revelation Project Part II: Cyra Morgan

It was last summer that my girlfriend Juli asked me to consider photographing a girlfriend of hers who was having a hard time getting a portrait of herself that she felt really captured the essence of who she was.  It was not until this past month however, that I reached out to ask that both of them be photographed as part of the Revelation Project.

Cyra Morgan is an incredibly talented singer songwriter, and the moment I heard her voice and her lyrics, I experienced this deep sense of awe and wonder at her beauty and talent (inside and out).  With an incredibly petite frame and eyes that can melt cast iron I got my first taste (similar to a vampire ) of a song she wrote and performed having been inspired by the book from the  Twilight series.  I was positively captivated.

One Friday morning last month , Juli and Cyra arrived to have their photo session, and the chemistry and mood altered and changed with conversation and encouragement. The space was charged with something indescribable and once again the results of the shoot and the experience were astonishing.

The following is an excerpt from my interview with Cyra and the photographs we were able to capture that morning.

For those of you who read this- I’d like to go down on the record for my prediction that this woman WILL be famous.  She is still largely undiscovered, so if you know someone in the Industry… please feel free to forward her music, and by all means fan her on Facebook.

PS: We’ve still got Robyn’s watermark on the photos to protect them from piracy but we are working on our own logo for the Revelation project and will unveil it soon! (So excited!)

The Revelation Project Interview Questions:

MR:  What did you think about the approach of the upcoming photo shoot ( before you got there) and what were the results you were expecting?

CM: I constantly struggle with photos…. in fact I am so photographically challenged, snapshots of myself usually make me cry.  So I avoid the camera. I’m not an easy person to photograph, as friends have tried, and I desperately needed some head shots and publicity photos so I felt that it had to be done. Honestly I didn’t know what to expect. I’d seen incredible work from Robyn and Monica so I was hopeful.  The results were not at all what I was expecting…. I was astounded. I thought that I would get some usable shots, but they are incredible…. when looking at the proofs I was actually in tears. They  captured “me”, they captured so many facets of my being…. no one has ever been able to do that for me before.

MR: How did you feel during the shoot and was there anything in particular that made you feel more or less relaxed or open to the process?

CM: I felt nervous because of my photo anxiety. It took me a little while to warm up but the inspiring, creative energy in the room and the rapport between Monica and Robyn eventually led me to a place of letting go and trusting….. where I could truly be myself in front of the camera. Jumping on the bed put me in a relaxed place, sort of joggled all of the junk out of me. Time also, the longer the session… the more comfortable I became.

MR: Can you describe in three words the way you felt before we shot?

CM: Nervous, Apprehensive, Excited

MR:  Three words for immediately after the shoot?

CM: Relaxed, Apprehensive, Hopeful

MR:  Three words for when you saw the results?

CM: Astounded, Floored, Beautiful

MR:  After you left but before you saw the results – did you have any thoughts about the experience?  What were some of the things you thought about on the drive home?

CM: I loved the experience…. had so much fun. Felt like a kid again. Was thinking about how I’d like to do that more often…. a magical connection was made, not only with Monica, Robyn and myself, but also between the person that I am and the person that I’ve always wanted to be….. that I am ever grateful for.

MR: When you saw the results can you tell me your first  impression?

CM: Woahhh….. couldn’t believe that those were pictures of me! Then came the tears…..

MR: Can you talk about the feedback you received from those who saw your photographs?

CM: I have been getting amazing feedback….. many have commented on the fact that my essence was captured in the photos….

MR: Did you feel beautiful during the shoot? why? why not?

CM: Not for a while…. because I was afraid of the camera. Afraid of making crazy expressions…. Toward the end, yes.  I was really into their suggestions and creative input.

MR: Did you feel empowered? why?  Why not?

CM: Incredibly empowered. Looking at the photos made me feel like me again. Like the me inside who had sort of gotten lost for a while. I’m now using the pics for a single cover and for my music which is incredibly important to me….  I now have what I need to to take the steps toward realizing my dreams.

(The photo that was made into a single cover)  Here’s the Link to hear this one

MR: Since the shoot happened almost two weeks ago now can you talk about the lasting impact of the experience?  Has it altered the way you view yourself or your surroundings?

CM: It’s very difficult to put into words….. after spending years in my every day role and of how others perceive me, after many emotional ups and downs and doubting whether or not my dreams were ever actually reachable for me, or if I was just kidding myself…. I saw those pics and was in tears…. I was like “Hey I remember you….. this is who you are, and she’s ready to come out now…..” It was such a gift. I definitely got a head shot and publicity shots that are an incredible representation of my music which comes from deep within my soul… I don’t know how they did it.

MR: Do you think this was an important/valuable experience for yourself? why?

CM: More valuable than I could ever express…. It feels like some wall within me cracked wide open and all of this light flooded in. It gave me freedom to be myself.

MR:  Do you think it’s relevant for other women?  why?

CM: More than relevant, I think it is necessary. We are all such beautiful creatures and absolutely need to see ourselves as such.  I think that too often, we just can’t see it in ourselves….. we get caught up in the outer role that we play….. Robyn and Monica have a gift for finding that incredible beauty and drawing it out.

MR: How would you use the photos moving forward? Professionally? Personally? as gifts?

CM: I’m definitely using the photos professionally….. hence the single cover. Personally, I look at them when I need some encouragement….. when fall into the pattern of doubting myself.

MR: If you could sum up the experience what would you say?

CM: For me, it was an awakening….. a transformation.