If you'd met me in 2004 and asked me what my purpose was as a photographer, I probably would have told you that it was to create beautiful, memorable images, but one day in early 2005 I discovered that there is a much larger purpose to my work, even if I didn’t fully recognize it at the time.
Sarah had hired me to conduct a boudoir photo session. "Boudoir" is a form of photography in which the client expresses her sensual essence on camera, and obviously requires a great deal of courage and vulnerability on the part of the client.
The night before our session, Sarah sent me an email that would change the course of my work and my life.
SUBJECT: I need to ask you something...
I am a breast cancer survivor, and I've had a double-mastectomy.
I don't feel like a woman anymore.
Do you still want to do this?
A few years prior to this, my own mother had a double mastectomy and died of breast cancer, and I must admit that at first I was unsure of how to respond. I realized that saying “no” would have confirmed for Sarah that she was no longer a woman.
Think about that for a moment.
I also knew that this was not true. Was my mother any less of a woman in her last months on earth?
I responded and said “Yes, I will see you tomorrow.”
Now, from the moment I sent my response until the moment I arrived at the hotel to work with Sarah the next day, I was admittedly freaking out. I wanted a great outcome for her, but I wasn't sure how I was going to make that happen, and I felt a lot riding on the session.
Having gone through my metaphorical "bag of tricks" and finding nothing that would ensure success, I surrendered to the process and walked into the hotel room.
Sarah was unsure, at best...terrified but willing to try. I acted like it was just another photo session.
It was not just another photo session. It was magic.
It was magic because, as I began taking her photos, I realized that I was looking through a powerful new lens.
I was seeing through a lens of non-judgment and deep compassion.
This is the Lens of Love.
This is the lens through which I revealed Sarah to her Self, and when she saw herself, she saw herself as a sexy, beautiful, whole woman.
After we parted ways, I sat in my car with my camera in my hands and I marveled at what had just occurred, though it took me years to wrap my head around it fully. The product was not simply beautiful photography, it was transformation, healing, and wholeness…for both of us.
Over the course of the next decade, I found that there was often some element of healing and transformation with my portrait subjects, whether it was boudoir photography or business photography or anything in between. Women of all ages, shapes, and sizes were rediscovering their innate beauty and femininity, and it was healing wounds that they might not have even been aware of having.
Since that moment in 2005, I have worked with hundreds of women, and all of them are survivors of something; divorce, domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, cancer, and even war.
These amazing women have made one thing is abundantly clear to me...
"There is no amount of devastation in this world that can suppress inherent beauty."Don Hajicek