There are few things in life that make you feel as awesome as realising and accepting that we are beautiful just the way we are, inside and out.
For 11 real women, aged 40+, an amazing journey began a couple of months ago when they agreed to have some beautiful images taken of themselves for a boudoir calendar to raise money for Derby Breast Cancer Unit. A fantastic collaboration between Debbie Leafe from Mindfit Coaching, Susan Booth from ALIVE fitness and Amanda McConnell Photography.
I met with the ladies before the big day arrived to find out how they were feeling about their own photo shoot, what lingerie they would be wearing, donated by Charnos and what style they wanted to have their hair and make up.
All the ladies had their own reasons for wanting to take part in this fantastic project… some of them have been shared below…
“My number 1 reason for doing this is to give something back to Derby breast unit for the care I have had and continue to receive from them”
“My reason for doing this primarily is that with a strong family history of breast cancer I am annually monitored under the Breast Screening Programme by the Familial Cancer Service. The peace of mind this gives me is second to none and therefore any support I can give, I will”
“My agreeing to do something like this calendar is a token of gratitude for all the breast teams both here in Derby & Nottingham city hospital for helping me not once but twice beat this & it’s because of them that I’m here to do that! This charity deserves all the support it can get “it saves life’s , it saved mine!”
“My main reason for joining in is a close friend has been affected with this terrible disease and hasn’t quite finished her long journey yet. I know how brave women have to be and I thought I could be a little bit brave and step out of my comfort zone to help raise money for Derby Breast Cancer Unit”
“My friend has been affected by this horrible disease and I watched her go through the different stages, if I could do one thing in my life to help raise money for these brave ladies and Derby Breast Cancer as you just don’t know what’s around the corner”
“I have close friends who have survived breast cancer, and also know some people who have lost their battle…I have a strong desire to give to others in whatever way I can and although this has been a tough personal journey I truly believe that the cause makes the destination so worthwhile”
“I agreed because this is a fantastic unit that helps so many brave ladies. I’ve been referred twice for mammograms and I’ve been one of the lucky ones but sitting there waiting you realise others aren’t so lucky. If stepping out of my comfort zone for a short while helps raise money then I’m in. I think breast cancer is something that frightens all women. I also wanted to promote the fact that woman over 40 are beautiful and much more comfortable in their skins whatever shape or size”
“As a life coach, I work with so many women who have poor body image and I suggested we do the calendar to help women to see that they are all beautiful despite size, shape or the effects of cancer. I wanted women to celebrate their uniqueness whist raising much needed funds”
The 21st and 22nd October 2015 were two days I will never forget in my profession as a Boudoir Photographer, they were just A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!
All the ladies came together to have their hair and make-up done by Emma Buck at one of Derbyshire’s most prestigious venues, Ringwood Hall Hotel [www.ringwoodhallhotel.com] where they shared lots of fun and laughter (and Prosecco), friendship and offered support to each other before their photo shoot with myself. It would have been lovely to have shared all the banter, laughs and moments with them beforehand but then I would never have had the experience I had with them all from behind the camera, which I will treasure for many years to come, but it was great to see the lovely snapshots and memories of their time together.
I had the best time photographing these beautiful, inspiring women who made me laugh, cry (happy tears) and pushed me out of my comfort zone as I only normally shoot one boudoir client in a day! Understandably, they all felt very nervous and anxious before their photo shoot all that changed after their experience in front of my camera as some of them shared their thoughts with me afterwards.
Here are some of their thoughts about their experience along with some beautiful photographs that you will see in the ALIVE Calendar for Breast Cancer Care…
“It was fantastic, Amanda is brilliant at getting the best out of you and making you feel comfortable and good about yourself. Sharing it with the other girls and being pampered with the make up and hair reminded me that I’m still attractive and sexy even in my 50’s. It was such a positive and empowering experience – all women should do it xx”
“I was incredibly nervous , self conscious at the start but by the end of the shoot I almost forgotten I was just in my underwear…. It was a very gentle and moving experience with times of pure emotion … Amanda is caring, understanding and true professional, she plans well and listened to my concerns and works hard to put me at my ease at all times. Thank you x”
“An amazing life changing experience, Amanda made me feel fantastic and I walked out of the shoot a more confident person which I thought would never happen at the age of 43! Its completely changed my opinion on how a now view myself, such a positive feeling. Amanda has a special gift which makes you feel at ease especially when you’re the only one in lingerie :0) Thank you so much xx”
“What a truly fantastic experience. I was worried that at 48 and as a single mum with 2 children I wouldn’t be able to pose and be ‘sexy’. How wrong I was, Amanda has such a knack of making you feel relaxed, she is so encouraging and funny I couldn’t believe the images Amanda showed me as we went along were me, what a boost! The whole experience is brilliant. I came away feeling like a ‘real woman’ and was and still am on such a high. I did this for the charity and as a confidence boost for me- my goodness it certainly works! Can’t wait to see final images. Thank you xxxx”
“Where to start and without sounding corny? I thoroughly enjoyed my boudoir shoot earlier this week. The menopause, weight gain, hysterectomy and aging has left me with more body image issues than enough. I knew I wanted to have these photos done, it was for a fantastic cause (Breast Cancer Awareness) but I also, selfishly, wanted to do it for myself – push myself so far out of my comfort zone, alongside other women, so that I could “hopefully” make a much longed for discovery that I am not too ugly, too fat, too short, too shy – I really could go on and on and on. Amanda was amazing, she knew exactly what to say and do so that I would get the most out of the shoot and enjoy it which I did in bucket loads. I saw some of the photos through her lens and OMG was that really me? I even posed naked!!!! I’m a year off my 60th birthday but, and here’s the corny sounding bit – she made me feel 20 years younger PLUS, she brought out a side of me I didn’t know I had – I actually WANTED to pose naked. It was fun and definitely something every woman should do. I’m still buzzing”
“A very big thank you to you Amanda. You were amazing. I felt so relaxed and had a lovely day”
“Well what a truly amazing feeling, I didn’t think I could feel that comfortable in my underwear! Amanda is truly talented in her chosen profession. As a mum & grandma I am now looking forward to celebrating entering into my 50th year next month , after I saw a few of the shots I didn’t recognise myself.
Thank you again Amanda xxx”
“This was one of the most enjoyable and amazing experiences of my life. I feel like I’ve been in a personal journey of self discovery. Amanda’s boudoir photo shoots are much more than just a photo session. She puts you totally at ease, helps you to relax into the shoot, and truly makes the most of your best features. It is difficult for us ladies to bare our bodies AND our souls to ourselves let alone the outside world but I feel proud to have been a part of this truly amazing experience which is so much more than just a photo shoot” Well, I think it’s fair to say, I have had a life changing experience, not only during the shoot, but today. Loved sharing the love of your photos girls, the joy they are giving us and the bond I feel having gone through this as a group of amazing, inspiring, truly beautiful women . I can highly recommend Amanda”
The sharing of the images on our private Facebook page was an emotional moment too as all the ladies posted such supportive and motivational comments to each other and I think these sum up our amazing two days together and ones which I will always remember with such great memories.
“I need to say thank you, I’ve never cried so much in the last day and been overwhelmed by a fantastic group of ladies who I’d never met until 4 weeks ago. I’ve never been around such positive beautiful women before and you’ve made me feel I’m actually not that bad, after years of loathing my tummy, my legs my boobs, pretty much hide myself under a jumper 😂. I think you are all amazing and inspirational and thankful I got the chance to share this fabulous life changing experience with you all”
“I agree Julia. Something very special I wasn’t expecting has come out of this experience. The support, friendship and genuine excitement we have all shown at each other’s photos just goes to show that woman over 40 in my opinion lose their insecurities and can see the beauty in other woman, when we are younger we compare ourselves far too much to other women. I now think we all have something beautiful to show and the fact we are doing it together has made this whole trip fantastic. I hope other woman can see this calendar and realise we come in all shapes and sizes but we are all beautiful in some way. Yes I have lines when I laugh, no I’ll never be a size 6 or tall but hey I don’t care I really finally don’t!! Thank you Debbie,Susan and Amanda for this and thank you all you lovely ladies”
“ Deep down we all have the same fears and insecurities but it’s how we deal with them that makes the difference – our thoughts aren’t real, we only make them so”
The calendar is due out on November 27th and can be purchased from the following link for a fantastic price of only £7.50 plus £1.30 p&p. http://alive-fitness.co.uk/shop/charity-breast-cancer-calender/
A BIG THANK YOU from me to everyone who supported this amazing project, we couldn’t have done it without you!
If you would like more details about my Makeover & Boudoir Photo Shoot Experience days please get in touch, I’d love to hear from you!!