Kelly was one of the winners of the 2019 Women’s Day Giveaway! That’s an annual giveaway I do to honor the women in our lives who are constantly giving of themselves to others and really could use an opportunity to be pampered and focus on themselves – and to be celebrated for a day. That giveaway relies on a bevy of amazing nominations from all of my followers and Kelly was nominated by her husband Matt. You can read his nomination at the end / bottom of this blog post.
Meeting Kelly was so wonderful and despite her considerable nerves, we had an incredibly fun time in the studio. She absolutely was a bright star in front of the camera and I am completely in love with the set of images we walked away with.
I have two little blurbs here – one from Kelly and one from her husband Matt:
“My wife has a problem, and one she (I’m sure) shares with many other mothers. The difference is that those other mothers are not my wife. She is the foundation of this beautiful life that we’ve created, she has given us 2 amazing children, she has made us a home. And still she seems to find fault in herself, or see the ways in which she has fallen short. She doesn’t take a step back and actually look at what she holds together every day.
For International Women’s Day, we are asked to reflect on not only the triumphs of womanhood, but also the iniquities. Growing up as a woman, and in the Midwest on top of that, Kel was subject to implied and tacit lessons in not drawing attention to herself, not seeking validation. Rather, to hide herself behind a self-deprecating sense of humor and sense of gritty determination that, while both are things that have always attracted me to her, sell parts of her short.
I want my wife to feel happy, to feel secure, to feel fulfilled, to feel successful. But I also want my wife to feel beautiful. To feel desirable. To feel confident. I think I do my best, but that pesky Midwestern grit (and the constant loving burden of 2 children) sometimes tends to disabuse my wife of the notion that she’s allowed to feel sexy.
Enter Jennifer Brindley.
Glossing over the entire process of picking the wardrobe and shooting (because I wasn’t there to see it), I want to skip directly to the moment that I will never forget- watching my wife’s face as she saw herself as she deserves to see herself. I can’t speak for her thoughts, but I know what I saw.
I saw the woman I’ve walked through this world with for nearly 20 years experience herself in a new way. I saw a new kind of confidence flow out of an already confident woman. Jennifer was able to capture a part of Kel that Kel wasn’t quite sure was there, and now the knowledge that it is can’t be forgotten.
I am very grateful to Jennifer, as well as to Kel, for what they did together, and will treasure the results with my wife forever.”
And from Kelly:
“I’ve been a SAHM for almost ten years. It’s hard to remember that I used to be a person besides “Mom” somedays.
I’ve loved Jennifer’s work for awhile now and often showed her posts to my husband, telling him how I would LOVE to be photographed by her “someday”. I would then blow it off – mentioning that I had no idea why I would even need photos like that of myself. When I found out that Matt had nominated me for the session I was so touched. I cried, thanking him for the wonderful things he said. I never thought, in a million years, that I would win. It felt like his nominating me was winning already.
I’ve spent a lot of my life either avoiding pictures or criticizing the daylights out of myself in the ones where I was captured. I’ve been trying to be on a journey of self-acceptance as I age though and have wanted to change my attitude towards myself. Not only for me, but so that I can set the right example for my two daughters. However, most of the time this just meant my resigning to the fact that I might just not ever be happy with my selfies or pictures. I think I thought acceptance was shrugging my shoulders and saying “oh well, I guess that’s me”.
So while I knew that Jennifer produces AMAZING work, I had some immediate (and ongoing!) nerves. I felt that there was no way I could look like the other women I’d seen in her posts…I’m no model, I don’t know how to pose or (gasp) look sexy. I knew this experience would be something different though. I wanted SO badly to really lean in…to embrace this gift and trust the process.
The closer it got to the day of my session, the more nervous I was about…everything. I got there super early and then just sat in my car. When I finally walked into the studio, it felt a bit like showing up for a test that I hadn’t studied for in the slightest. Throughout hair and makeup, I nervously chatted. But by the time I slipped into my first dress, I was starting to feel something…different. Jennifer skillfully, and casually, cued my poses. With fun music playing in the background and lots of laughter between the two of us, I felt myself really relaxing and, even, feeling good. Holy cow, I was in front of a camera…and felt good!! I don’t know when, exactly, I started having fun but I truly did. And for pretty much all of the session, which was something I did not see coming at all.
When it came time for the Reveal, again, Jennifer had everything expertly taken care of and organized. Any nerves that I had disappeared upon seeing the first photograph. I sat, holding my husband’s hand, and stared…speechless. Every single image was amazing.
Looking at these photos isn’t just seeing a part of myself that I forgot…it’s seeing a part of myself that I didn’t know was there. I knew I wanted to step into turning 40 this year shedding some old thoughts and habits regarding myself.
I wanted to be able to say “Ok, it’s time…let’s try this self love thing” and this photo session and these images were the absolute best way to do that.
One more quick thing – my husband is great about telling me that I’m beautiful. I am not great at accepting, or believing, that compliment though. His words are normally meant with a wave of the hand and a roll of the eyes. After leaving the studio, my husband pulled out his favorite photograph from the series, said that I looked stunning, and told me he was so happy that I was finally seeing myself…the way that he always sees me.
It’s time to start believing.”
Matt’s original nomination for the giveaway:
“My beautiful wife Kelly Smith deserves a photo shoot more than anyone I can possibly imagine. She is the tireless, limitless force that holds our entire household together, and she doesn’t get anywhere near the gratitude OR down time that she has a right to. She’s the strongest woman I know. Between diapers, dishes, tantrums and meltdowns, I can’t think of anything she deserves more than to be pampered and made to feel as beautiful as she is, and then to have that captured forever.”