women Archives | Margo Millure Photography
Get Focused on and Exposed: Reintroducing the “You are A Work of Art” Project

Get Focused on and Exposed: Reintroducing the “You are A Work of Art” Project

Our studio motto at Margo Millure Photography is, “You are already beautiful. You are already enough. You are a work of art.” Something about now being well into the second half of 2020, the year of a global pandemic and overall really challenging year, I’ve decided it’s time for me to come clean. The reason I started the You are A Work of Art project way back at the end of 2019 was to celebrate the strength, beauty and wisdom of women through photography and their stories.  But as in all of what drives me to do what I do, including relaunching it this week, there’s a bit more to it than that.  Here are just a few images from the project thus far:   I’ve always said that for almost all women, being photographed is an act of bravery. To use a couple of photography metaphors (that are used so often they aren’t really metaphors), to be photographed, we have to allow ourselves to be focused on. We have to risk exposure.

I see you there

richmond virginia portrait photographer Margo millure

This is me, photographed by a photographer I greatly admire and trust, getting exposed and focused on 😉

Over the years, I myself, have cleverly tried to outsmart the steely truths of the camera lens. I have stayed stubbornly behind it, where my profession has kept me safe. I’ve left rooms because of it. I’ve fake smiled and hidden behind people for it. We always think we are alone in our pathos. Yet rarely is that true.  

We are each beautifully unique and uniquely beautiful (but we also have “stuff” in common)

People who come to me to be photographed are a diverse lot. Each person truly has their own  beauty; the result of age, shape, and experiences; of their different opinions on everything from the politics to nail polish. Yet to various degrees and in different ways, each has been shaped by ever evolving, media driven, ideals of how we as women are “supposed” to be.  So while the You are A Work of Art Project may be about telling individual stories through photography, it is also about debunking some of that and instead seeing what we have in common. In this time of extreme division, I want to pull everything back to an important truth: that we, as women, are far more alike than we can imagine. Crazy?  Perhaps! The thing is, I know that what I do for women through the entire experience of photographing them is more than simply giving the idea of “real beauty” lip service. 

Once and for all, just say “no”

The You are A Work of Art project is a logical extension of what I do.  Putting the spotlight (yep  – another photography metaphor) on a group of beautiful, unique and brave women is my small way of changing societal and cultural ideas about what real beauty is. It’s my way, one step at a time, to help us internally get better at saying “no” to all the daily dose of bunk we’ve been fed over the years about how we’re supposed to look and be… … a path to risk being seen by the photographer as the beauty we already are.

Risk seeing the things in oneself that aren’t what’s been deemed Vogue cover ready in any given decade. Who are these women, anyway? (not a real question)

If anything the past four months have taught me that there is no time like the present 😉 . And that includes getting past our closest held and most persistent bugaboos.  I am looking forward to photographing this group of women – to helping them get just a little more over themselves, to the other side of whatever might be stopping them from moving to the next beautiful thing that life has in store for them. Together, let’s do this! We’ll have a blast and maybe, it will even change the way you see yourself. The price is $199 to secure a spot in #YouAreAWorkOfArt project, and includes day-of hair and makeup styling, the session, and personalized reveal where I will gift you a copy of your favorite image. ($645 value). I’m regrouping and have lots more planned, details of which are a work in progress! (BTW, we’re that too.) To learn more and apply: You are A Work of Art Project To learn about the Signature Session  
Why we resist being photographed. Why we shouldn’t.

Why we resist being photographed. Why we shouldn’t.

Do any of these sound familiar?

“I’m not photogenic”
“I need to lose weight”
“Of course I want photographs of my children, but why would I want them of me?”
“I’m too old”

If you’ve got an excuse, believe me, I’ve heard it. And whenever I hear the words come out of a new client’s mouth, it actually makes me kind of sad.

exist in photos at all stages of your life

Why sad? Because as women we are our noisiest critic. We say things in our heads that we wouldn’t say to our worst enemy. We don’t treat ourselves well. We put our needs behind those of everyone else in our lives, sometimes to a fault.

But the truth is:

You are beautiful now. You deserve to have incredible portraits of yourself. You deserve to exist in photos. You deserve my personal branding and portrait experience!

Stepping up and existing in photographs shows your loved ones what it looks like to love yourself. It is a priceless gift. Plus they will cherish the portraits of you for years to come.

elegant mother daughter photo shoot in front of fireplace.

Here’s what I say to clients when I hear any of the above reasons they resist booking a shoot:

“I’m not photogenic” ~ I don’t believe in the concept of “being photogenic.” It is my job to connect with you and guide you during your photo shoot. Doing so will make you feel more beautiful, confident, and relaxed. When you feel this way, you inner light shines, allowing me to capture those moments when your inner and outer beauty converge. Then when all is said and done, your portraits may even change the way you see yourself.

“I need to lose weight” ~ The feeling of needing to reach the ‘perfect weight’ will hinder you only as long as you allow it. The truth is posing and lighting are everything. Do I believe that the camera can add 10 pounds? Yes, but I also know that the camera can take off 10 pounds (and yes, that’s before any Photoshop.) I will take photographs that will help you see yourself at your best and the way your loved ones see you.

mother daughter photoshoot on a favorite sofa.

“Of course I want photographs of my children, but why would I want them of me?”~ Having a portrait of your mother or grandmother, is something that every child will sooner or later understand the value of. Don’t make it difficult for them to find them!

But I totally understand wanting photographs of the family too. This is why I always encourage clients to give themselves the experience of the Signature Session. Then towards the end of the shoot, we’ll bring in the kids, dad, and maybe even a whole extended family for a few amazing portraits. I’ll capture the kind of shots worthy of being hung on the wall and treasured for generations.

“I’m too old” ~ Just because women over thirty aren’t well represented in the media, doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be well represented in their own lives. No matter what your age, having beautiful portraits taken is a way to love, accept and honor the amazing person you are today.

Remember: “You are already beautiful. You are already enough. You are a work of art.”

Now give me a call and let’s get you in front of the camera. I promise you will not regret it!

You may also enjoy reading Wisdom from a few of my favorite women who didn’t put off being photographed

Photographing Mother

Photographing Mother

 

I convinced my own mother (then 78) to let me take her portrait a couple of years ago. It took a little convincing. Her first reaction was “why?”

Of all the reasons women resist having their photograph taken, I think the main reason is this: We’re waiting for permission.

We make it hard to get past our inner critic, or our “judgmental inner attorney.”

My grandmother on a trip to Arizona, probably around 1928.

The judgmental inner attorney has lots of “shoulds” and “should nots”

I once had an elderly woman say to me say, “The only time a lady should have her photo appear in the paper is when she is married, and when she dies.”

If we give into this kind of  sentiment, it only reinforces the negative societal stereotypes on aging. It turns out our very own “judgmental inner attorneys” are usually harder on us than any outside influence. (quotes from inspiring women here, if you need it!)

Remember that the people who love you the most in this world will someday be beyond grateful to have photographs of you, at any and all your ages.

Sure Mother’s Day is a bit of an odd Hallmark thing. But if you’re lucky enough to be or have a mother still with us, you can do yourselves an important favor: Do a special photoshoot and don’t wait until it’s too late!

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. – John Lennon

 

Photoshoot with my own mom

We pulled out something fancy from the back of her closet. It didn’t quite zip up all the way, but it didn’t matter. I did her make-up and hair. It was a beautiful thing, taking care of her in this way and her letting me.

I sat her near a window in her dining room where the light was amazing. I love having the element of her architectural wallpaper as a backdrop. She’s an architectural historian, so it adds to it, I think.

I will never forget the special memory of doing this together. We both especially love having wall portrait of the photograph hanging in prominent places in our homes.

When she’s gone, I’ll still have both the memory and the portrait. When I’m gone, my daughters will.

This is why I know deep in my heart that a mother/daughter or mother-and-whoever, or mother by-herself shoot can be the most special Mother’s Day gift ever.


Testimonials

“Margo was able to capture the wonderful relationship that I have always had with my mom. My mom hates having her picture taken but Margo was able to put her worries at ease and she ended up having a wonderful day.”- Rita

“Thank you, Margo, for a lovely morning and for making what was a very intimidating process for me end up being an experience that was relaxed, fun and so special. Much love for you!”  – Connie

“Not only do we have the most amazing photos to cherish for generations, but we have the sweet memories of spending the day feeling pretty, laughing, talking and realizing how lucky we are to have each other. ” – Keri

Confession from a mom in hiding

Confession from a mom in hiding

 

Until I became a portrait photographer, I felt like the above photograph about having my own photograph taken. I’d hide at least part of me behind something. This photo isn’t even of me. I’m comfortably in my favorite place, fully hidden behind the camera.

The idea of the whole me being out there mostly has always seemed like too much. Granted photographers often feel this way more than others. But I quickly learned , whether to a degree or to an extreme, most women feel this way – for good reason.

No those reasons aren’t because we are fat, ugly or old. Please know that these things are lies that we’ve been taught to be the primary touchstones of how we feel about ourselves. This is true even if we think we’ve felt them our whole lives. We tell ourselves these things when we fall anything short of what we personally, someone else, or society calls “perfect.”

We all too willingly call ourselves these awful things, that we wouldn’t dream of saying  to even our worst enemy.

We don’t treat ourselves well at all.

Sure we might take one for the team and be photographed for the family Christmas card. Maybe our jobs require us to have a professional headshot taken. Our weddings are a whole other story I’ll write about someday.

We don’t want to see what we think we really look like. Not being photographed,  lets us avoid looking too closely, albeit from our distorted point of view.

This is where I call BALONEY.

Rather this is where the old phrase, “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder,” comes into play.

Unless you are a model or on television, most photographers in the world whose work we see in magazines don’t care  about what you look like. The commercial and editorial worlds seek out those matching current traditional beauty norms to photograph. The irony is they spend hours, seeking out angles, constructing flattering lighting schemes and poses, and yes – Photoshopping —  for those women who least “need” it.

On the other hand, us “regular” women are most often found in photographs in our roles of “mother” “spouse” or “employee.”

We are left in charge of our own curation.

So we suck in our stomachs, hold our breath, and say a prayer.

But there are other photographers around who care a great deal about what you look like. Who will give you the time and attention you deserve and need to have flattering photographs taken of you.

 

Hey there, beautiful.

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Quotes by women who didn’t put off being photographed

Quotes by women who didn’t put off being photographed

It’s true – women in the public eye have to be photographed every now and then.  Aren’t we glad they were?

Enjoy these quotes from and images of just a few of my own favorite female inspirations. I hope they will give a push to even the most reluctant among us to get out there and be photographed! (Learn more about my portrait and personal branding photography sessions.)

Some of these women were photographed often, while with others, I sense they felt it was more of a necessary evil (hello writers, Mary Oliver and Madeleine L’Engle.) 

Marianne Williamson, spiritual teacher, author and lecturer (Born: July 8, 1952)

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? 

This powerful quote has inspired me on many occasions. I’m extremely grateful to Marianne Williamson for saying it! When I meet people whom I want to photograph who are reluctant for whatever reason, this is the quote I most want to share with them.

We are all worthy of being gorgeous, talented, and fabulous! (And I know you already are.)


Audrey Hepburn (May 4, 1929 – January 20, 1993

The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.

Audrey Hepburn was not just another fashion icon and pretty actress, but a beautiful soul. She made few movies in the last decades of her life, and died at age 63.  She dedicated much of her time to her work for UNICEF particularly in Africa. I wish she was around to see how obsessed so many women are with her these days!

 


Mary Oliver, poet (Born: September 10, 1935)

I want to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.

I once heard someone say, “Everyone needs a little Mary Oliver on their bedside table.” And I couldn’t agree more. This also is probably my favorite photograph of the bunch. I wasn’t familiar with what Oliver looked like and was glad to find this stunning portrait, taken by Mariana Cook, the last protégée of Ansel Adams.


Madeleine L’Engle (November 29, 1918 – September 6, 2007)

The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been.

To me this is the quintessential quote about embracing getting older. It takes societal defaults on aging – all black balloons and “Ugh, I’m turning thirty-nine again” or  “I was afraid I’d burn the house down with all those birthday candles,” and perfectly turns it on its head.


Carol Burnett  (Born: April 26, 1933) 

Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me.

Carol Burnett is the funny lady who inspired all who followed. She was funny before women were funny. She was a sharp businesswoman before women were businesswomen. Her variety show which aired from 1967 – 1978, and again for several episodes in 1991, would have never happened if she hadn’t had the guts to take control of her own life.


Maya Angelou ( April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014)

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.

Angelou lived life to the fullest. Her life was marked by always trying something new, being courageous, and speaking up. Most of her works as a poet and writer are at least semi-autobiographical, but if you want a quick rundown on some lessons we can learn from her, read this. And isn’t this photo of her fabulous?


Oprah Winfrey (Born: January 29, 1954)

The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.

I was so excited to see that Oprah’s profile photo on Twitter was this stunning photograph below. It’s hard to say anything about Oprah without sounding trite, so I’ll just leave it at her quote and image and by saying, I love love love her glasses.

 


Eleanor Roosevelt (October 11, 1884 – November 7, 1962)

With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.

Roosevelt was longest serving First Lady in history, having held the post from 1933 to 1945.  Today she is best remembered as having filled in for her husband, President Franklin Roosevelt, on many occasions after he suffered from paralysis. At the time she was best known at her outspokenness, particularly on racial issues. She wrote a weekly newspaper column, hosted a radio show, and held regular press conferences.

Eleanor Roosevelt cph.3b16000


Margot Fonteyn  (May 18, 1919 – February 21, 1991)

Jumping for joy’ is a very basic human reaction, and a child skipping down the street is simply an untrained dancer.

Margot Fonteyn was an English ballerina who spent her entire career with the Royal Ballet. As a person named Margo and a dancer for many years, I have always been in awe of her. She wrote an autobiography that reveals not just her exciting life, but her imagination and remarkable unpretentiousness.

 


Meryl Streep (Born: June 22, 1949)

Don’t waste so much time thinking about how much you weigh. There is no more mind-numbing, boring, idiotic, self-destructive diversion from the fun of living.

As I was finishing up this post I remembered it was Oscar weekend, so I wanted to include something from Meryl Streep. She’s a straight talker, yet always polished and like a good mother, always has just the right thing to say. Also, The Post is her 21st Oscar nomination! She continues to break her own record!

Based on the fact that almost everyone says they want to wait until they lose weight to have their photograph taken, this quote from Streep was a no-brainer!

Now! Who are the women in your life who you think should be photographed?

Hopefully these women have inspired you to understand that that woman may just be you!