The Permission to Feel Beautiful

ometimes people need permission. As adults, it's a hard concept to grasp because we'd like to believe we're past the point of someone ever granting us permission to do something. I mean, some of the greatest things about being adult is eating dessert before dinner and jumping on the hotel bed! Sorry, Mom, I'm sad to say all those years of telling me NO hasn't done a thing for my maturity.

In more practical terms, I believe people sometimes need the permission to be honest, even when it hurts. Permission to be real, even if it's awkward. And--more relatable for girls--the permission to feel beautiful. It's a funny thing for me to even write, but I've been thinking about this for months now and I'm fully convinced of this notion. Yes, there are the rare species of females who are okay in their own skin (namely, the seven-foot, spandex-wearing blond with blue eyes, who sits in the front row of my spin class), but for the most of us it's not that easy. Especially when it has to happen in front of a camera.

When I shoot my clients, I take a few seconds to let them know that in that moment, between us, it's totally okay to feel beautiful. I'm not behind my camera thinking to myself, What is she doing?! In fact, it's quite the opposite. My insides beg for a girl to blossom confidently in front of my camera, so when she gets back in her car with her fiance, she feels radiant and loved. When that happens, I've done my job.

If you're a photographer, I want to encourage you to remind your clients they have the permission to feel beautiful. But don't say it like that. I give you the permission to feel beautiful. That's plain weird. But you get the idea. Remind your clients it's okay for them to let their guard down and commit to getting the type of pictures they've always wanted. It really does go a long way.
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Kim N. - Great post on encouraging your clients to let go. I'm recently engaged and as a photographer, really struggling at the thought of being on the other side of the camera. While I have my own insecurity issues, my biggest challenge will be encouraging my fiancĂ© to loosen up. He's very reserved in public and dislikes to be the center of attention, so I'm concerned our photos will appear stiff and lack personality. Any tips for dealing with a stubborn groom for both the photographer and the bride?  04.29.15 - 9:34am
Tony Sale Photography - Very nice article and great advice  09.08.11 - 2:04am
Jeff L. - I'm coming to this blog post 'late,' but I had to comment anyway as I just read it. I appreciate the reminder to communicate with my wedding clients in this way. You're right... I *never* find myself behind the camera judging them. I do want them to be at their most beautiful (or handsome) and open up to the camera and each other. But if I'm not *telling* them that, then it makes it that much easier for insecurities to creep in... Which always ends up being a self-fulfilling prophecy because neither I, nor the client are left with pictures that... transcend... the session and express the true emotions that the subjects feel for one another. Thanks again for such a great reminder! ~J  10.24.10 - 3:37pm
Heidi Giacomantonio - Sorry I never commented before. It was lovely getting to meet you tonight and like I said this spoke volumes to me. Thank you for the beautiful reminder...  04.02.10 - 10:55pm
Naomi - As someone who is not a photographer but who has been photographed plenty, I couldn't agree more! The photographer is doing herself a favour when she makes the client feel beautiful--I without exception always like photographs of myself more when they're taken by someone who I think thinks I'm pretty. Just keep telling them how great they're making it all look and the photo quality will go way up!  03.28.10 - 8:03pm
Heather - So beautifully written! I think growing up in So Cal as a freckeled brunette, beautiful wasn't a word I was accustomed to hearing. But, you know what God made me just the way I am, and now as an adult I can see myself that way too. In my line of work as well (wedding hair and makeup) I strive to show each and every woman the same thing! Thank you for your post, and the encouragement that it is for each woman to see herself differently!  03.28.10 - 4:33pm
ashley - Great stuff! Funny how you just need a little encouragement from time to time.  03.27.10 - 12:06am
cassandra-m - I was on vacation and feel like I'm way behind on my dose of J*. This should be titled "permission to feel sexy" cause her eyes are smize-ing at your camera.  03.25.10 - 1:26pm
SqueakDog Pet Photography - I love this post! I primarily photograph dogs, and fortunately they typically feel beautiful! But every so often I get a very shy dog. I have to give lots of extra hugs, love, and treats-and once they start to feel comfortable, their beauty sines through :)  03.24.10 - 9:47am
Abra Michelle - Very good point. I am going to try to convey this to all of the gorgeous women I photograph.  03.23.10 - 7:26pm
melissa oholendt - Thank you for this. Having a couple open up in front of you and give of themselves to the camera is a gift I only hope that I can repay to them. This could be the gift I've been looking for.   03.23.10 - 6:56pm
Ifong Chen - I am the most ordinary person that people will not even notice. But you make me feel beautiful. To set in your class in WPPI was so emotional. I love your from my heart!!   03.23.10 - 10:46am
Shuva Rahim - A great post! Thank you!!  03.23.10 - 5:02am
Hannah Lundberg - This is definitely the thing I struggle with most as a photographer - having the guts to get my couples to blossom. I am working on it but I think it is as much about their confidence as mine. I have started telling them they look gorgeous and I find that helps - I mean it, I just always thought it was fake before. Now I tell they look gorgeous because I know they do and because I know it makes them feel gorgeous too.   03.23.10 - 1:44am
Brian Fletcher - SO true, Jasmine! I am always telling my clients to just be themselves and have fun.....I would much rather shoot them being themselves than posing them! It's a lot easier with the girls than with the guys though...haha.  03.22.10 - 11:20pm
Debbie - Everyone wants to feel beautiful (or handsome!). It's soooo true.   03.22.10 - 10:19pm
Photographer Birmingham - This was an amazing post!Thanks for sharing, Jasmine!  03.22.10 - 9:12pm
Dawn McCarthy - This is so true! And it is amazing when you can actually witness the transition from shy, inhibited girl to confident, gorgeous girl. Everyone embodies a sense of beauty that belongs only to them. Great post J*.  03.22.10 - 2:50pm
sprittibee - Love this. So awesome. I am always after my mom for hiding from the camera. :) However, I have to admit that I feel most confident behind the lens myself. ;)  03.22.10 - 12:29pm
Leah G. - LOVE this post! Again, you've done a great job. Thanks for sharing your secrets!   03.22.10 - 12:03pm
a little bit of whimsy photography - As per your usual.. great post!!  03.22.10 - 11:59am
Dustin Izatt - Awesome advice Jasmine :) I really enjoyed listening to you speak this year at WPPI and have always been such a huge fan of yours. You are the most genuine and kind photographer I've met and so real. It's refreshing ;) D  03.22.10 - 11:39am
Amber Paterson - That is excellent advise! It does feel funny to think about, but it's completely true. Thank you!  03.22.10 - 10:30am
Jodi - LOVED this post!   03.22.10 - 10:12am
gladys jem - Jasmine, thank you for this post. fa real. To be honest, I've been a bit nervous to get in front of your camera because my cheeks get in the way of my smizing. HAHA, but this truly put me at ease and now I am so much more excited for our e-session next month. Thank you for this. Heart ya!  03.22.10 - 10:04am
Carolyn Egerszegi - Outstanding post Jasmine! Thanks for writing it. Effective immediately, all of my clients will be given permission to feel - and BE - beautiful!  03.22.10 - 9:14am
Brittani - This was an amazing post, J. I love it. And your girl in the photo looks gorgeous and plays up your topic perfectly. Whoever thought that the permission to feel beautiful would perfectly sum so many things up. It's very inspiring, to think of it like that. Thank you. =)  03.22.10 - 8:23am
Irene - LOVE this!!! My favorite sessions are always the ones where I can get the client out of their shell and feeling beautiful. I also wanted to say that those perfect blonds that you mentioned who feel comfortable in their own skin, are actually often the people LEAST comfortable! Just think of all the gorgeous people who spend their entire life NOT happy with their look and constantly getting surgery and treatments and just focusing their whole life on their looks. I think often the people who are most comfortable in their own skin (and therefore truly beautiful) are many times people who don't meet society's definition of "beautiful" and who honestly don't care one tiny bit.  03.22.10 - 7:48am
Amanda - Hi Jasmine :-) I wish someone was there to give the photographer permission to feel beautiful. I shoot thousands of special moments every year that will become the breadcrumb trail of memories for other peoples lives. Beautiful brides, first kisses, big celebrations, giggling babies - but when my fiance and I got engaged I wanted to post a few photos of us on my blog. As I started looking I realized I've been with my fiance for six years and there are only 8 photos of us. 8 photos of us in existence, in all the world to represent 6 amazing years of our life together. I cried about if for a whole morning. There are no breadcrumbs for us. Why? Because I've never felt beautiful. And I've said that we will take pictures next month, next year, next time. It's never a good hair day, or a feeling skinny day. I wish there was someone to give the photographer permission to feel beautiful.  03.22.10 - 7:43am
Stephanie Stewart - Love this post! It can be so hard sometimes to get clients to feel at ease and just be themselves in front of the camera...what a great idea, can't wait to try it! Thank you!  03.22.10 - 7:06am
Sally - You are so inspiring, thank you. I have just done three engaement shoots last weekend, my first for over a year - (I have just had my second child) and it did take a while for us to all warm up - I think if I had spoken to them with these words of wisdom it would have happened quicker and given them permission to feel comfortable, which I think we all need at times. Definately something to help next time.  03.22.10 - 6:41am
Angel Pope - Believe it or not, this starts at a pretty young age. I acted as the photographer for the PTA at my kids school over the weekend and you would not believe how this causes little girls to react. Young, perfect little girls shine if you remind them they are beautiful. I think I just get it because they are words I wish I would have heard as a little girl...I suppose it carries into adulthood. =) Thanks for the tidbit of advise, Jasmine. We all love you!!!  03.22.10 - 4:06am
elaine gates - so very true! beautifully written!  03.22.10 - 3:49am
dorelies - A few weeks ago after an e-session, the fiancee said to me "it was great to feel for a little time like a model - I loved it". and I loved her for that, as it maid so happy! And it's great to get to know, what other photographers feel and think - as I get connected to them!!  03.22.10 - 1:32am
s h e r r y - Thanks for sharing, Jasmine! I can't wait to hear you speak in Vancouver on Tuesday. (Your line "But don't say it like that. That's plain weird." made me giggle! :D  03.22.10 - 1:16am
Lydia - Beautiful words! After seeing myself in pictures tonight and feeling horrible about them, this post means so much to me. I want my clients to feel so comfortable in front of my camera that their true beauty can't help but shine!  03.21.10 - 11:33pm
amanda thiessen - i could not agree more with this post. well said! ;)  03.21.10 - 10:43pm
Nichole - I have been thinking about this lately. I totally feel what you are saying. I want my clients to feel like they can be theirself around me.I am not behind the camera evaluating them to judge them, I want them to look and feel thier best. So I can capture that!  03.21.10 - 9:35pm
Brandi - People tell me, oh no, I'm not sexy, I don't know how to be sexy or beautiful. I just tell them that's not true. And, eventually.. it comes out. The funny thing is, everybody has what makes them beautiful, sexy, cute, whatever it may be.. They just need some help opening the door. :) That is what makes a good photographer.. Past all the technical know how... knowing how to bring out the best in everybody and make them feel like a million bucks!  03.21.10 - 9:19pm
Theresa Minnette Photography - This is a great article!  03.21.10 - 9:11pm
Janeane Melton - Took the words right out of the back of every photographers mind! ;)  03.21.10 - 8:51pm
Carolina Gonzalez - I love this! All true and all relevant, just love it!  03.21.10 - 8:45pm
Thresha Benson - Well put Jasmine! We all need to be reminded of this.  03.21.10 - 8:37pm
Diandra - I think sometimes my favorite part of your blog is reading what your family says :) Your dad's comment made me tear up, and your sister... well she made me laugh.   03.21.10 - 8:29pm
Amber - Well said! It can be such an awkward thing! Great image!  03.21.10 - 8:17pm
gina - Thats a great thing to be reminded!  03.21.10 - 7:58pm
Michelle - Excellent advice and well said. Thank you for offering this.   03.21.10 - 7:52pm
Kaysha - Well said! Thanks for the reminder!  03.21.10 - 6:44pm
Katie Whitcomb - That was beautiful. ;) I swear I didn't mean for the pun.  03.21.10 - 6:16pm
Jessi - I think a lot of times people think butting on the sexy act is being beautiful. Cause well like ya said, you see the blond in spandex and think man she is HHOT I want to be just like that...and the act starts. I have found that searching for that little girl, "Girl Next Door Look" in each of us captures some of the most amazing pictures, because then we can see the person that everyone else see's the true use, not the act.   03.21.10 - 5:58pm
Erin Fults - Great post!  03.21.10 - 5:41pm
Francine - YES! You hit the nail on the head, Jasmine! I'm so glad I've found you. : ) I just photographed a couple celebrating their 25th anniv and the wife was SO VERY RELUCTANT, hating the way she looks, blah blah blah. After 20 minutes of "working through it", she blossomed. They were affectionate and she was glowing. If only I could articulate what I was feeling - that I knew she was beautiful and it was OK for her to let it show. You rock! (I HEART your work!)  03.21.10 - 5:03pm
Leora Shiff - I absolutely love this. What a great thing to say  03.21.10 - 4:50pm
Evie Perez - This is so ironic. My friend and I were just talking about Jessica Simpson's new show where she talks about what beauty is in other Countries. This is such a beautiful thing to remember!!  03.21.10 - 4:38pm
Stacy Cross - Love this post . . . and the whole concept of giving our clients a space to be what they want to be in front of the camera!   03.21.10 - 4:33pm
Keary Dee - I LOVE this J* So true, and makes girls feel like they're the most important thing for a few hours.  03.21.10 - 4:21pm
Melissa Papaj Photography - I love jumping on the bed and of course...feeling beautiful! Thanks for the reminder!  03.21.10 - 4:13pm
Papi - Jas, your Mum and I have been giving you and Bianca permission, since April 6, 1980, to not only feel beautiful, but to KNOW that you are... inside and out...Ssshhh. You're my favorite! :)  03.21.10 - 4:10pm
evie - Gosh, I really think I needed to read that just for myself. I hate being in front of the camera and can really relate when clients feel the same way. Love your perspective on this!  03.21.10 - 3:41pm
Tiffany - Did you attend Jesh de Rox's session at WPPI? Very similar advice. I love it. Especially coming from a woman-I think it makes it that more easy for some women to believe.  03.21.10 - 3:10pm
Bianca - Unless they're your twin sister and you constantly tell them to stop looking awkward in front of the camera :) Just sayin'...  03.21.10 - 2:57pm
Gina Sanders - Jasmine, THANK YOU for writing this! It's exactly what we have to convince our clients of at every shoot, and it's the foundation of our mission at our studio. Once women begin to feel comfortable and realize it's okay to be beautiful, the results are nothing short of spectacular! You rock. Thanks for posting this. :)   03.21.10 - 2:57pm
Pol - Great post :)  03.21.10 - 2:55pm
Damaris Mia - Thank you Jasmine. Thank you for posting this! Love it :)  03.21.10 - 2:48pm
Christine Pobke - I heart you. For realz. This is such a beautiful post and I so whole-heartedly agree with your sentiments. This is what we do as photographers, and your post is a perfect reminder of that: making people feel beautiful and loved, and celebrating that beauty and love. LOVE THIS! :) xoxo  03.21.10 - 2:47pm
cynthia Rust - Thank you so much for these words of wisdom to photographers. I appreciate so much the willingness of professional photographers to share such valuable information and advice. I want to be able to do this for my clients as well! Thanks Jasmine!  03.21.10 - 2:44pm
Leah Remillet - I love this post! It's such a special opportunity we have as photographers and so many miss it! I'm so happy you said this!   03.21.10 - 2:42pm
Kare - THAT is a fantastic reminder. I always assume clients will know I want them to look and feel fabulous, but I know saying it to them will go a long way. Thanks J.  03.21.10 - 2:18pm
Julie Massie - I LOVE this, Jasmine! L.O.V.E. this! It's such a simple thing, that I've really never thought about before...I always use terms like "you can be yourself" or "feel free to have a little fun" but the way you put it is perfect. God bless you girl. You truly are beautiful yourself!  03.21.10 - 2:14pm
Mandy Poole - I am a photographer as well, and I really connected with your last paragraph. I find it hard being behind the camera when I think that I'm making someone uncomfortable.. You try to crack a joke or two to get them to feel a little more loose, but I know personally if I think I don't look my best it will show on film. But you can't have super friendly-intimate relationships with every client, so you have to do the best you can. Love your blog btw, will be returning again tomorrow :)  03.21.10 - 2:13pm
Christa - Great advice! This is true in every aspect of life. Thanks for the gentle reminder :)  03.21.10 - 2:06pm
Jamie Worley - We were just talking about this yesterday. I so love it when a client who thinks they are not attractive is able to relax and feel beautiful! :)  03.21.10 - 2:05pm
Christine Meintjes - Jasmine, I read your blog all the time, but hardly ever comment. Not because I don't want to, but because you always have the PERFECT words and then I don't know what to write. :) But this time I just have to say YOU GO GIRL! This is your best blog post so far! I totally agree! I believe as photographers we are called to make people realize how beautiful they truly are!  03.21.10 - 2:05pm
Yasmin Tajik - What a simple reminder to step away from the technical and return to a notion that will make everyone's portraits sparkle!  03.21.10 - 2:04pm
ajira - Yes! It's an amazing gift to share with someone- showing them the beauty you see inside them! @Feuza has the right idea- get in front of a camera and practice allowing your beauty to shine through. No fear, trust!  03.21.10 - 2:04pm
Linda Sherrill - Great advice. I always ask my clients what type of photo they've always imagined would hang on their wall. They usually have a pretty good idea of what that would look like. This is so much a part of that concept!  03.21.10 - 2:03pm
krista - so many good points! i love telling people (especially the women i shoot) that they look "amazing" and "lovely" and just seeing how that makes them glow even more. :)  03.21.10 - 1:59pm
Delwyn - Love this post, it's so true its a very awkward feeling trying to be confident in front of the camera especially in front of your fiance, or friends  03.21.10 - 1:57pm
Lisa Richmond - Beautifully said Jasmine- thank you!  03.21.10 - 1:50pm
feuza - Such great advice and a tip for learning more of this is to get our pictures done so we know how clients feel and allow ourselves to feel beautiful as well  03.21.10 - 1:44pm
Gareth Robins (Auckland Wedding & Portrait Pho - This is such good advice Jasmine. I find it particularly true with some of the guys. It's amazing how many times they just stiffen up when the lens cap comes off. I spend a bit of time making them relaxed, and when they do I find their fiance/bride also relaxes too.  03.21.10 - 1:42pm
Cheryl Greenfield - ~And that it a beautiful thought.. no matter what age or place we are in ... being truly oneself ( a unique experience)...and content to be and to learn to be comfortable in one's own skin-- and caught that way by an empathetic, caring photographer who is like a cool and great is that? Congrats on this blog post!Encouraging and upbuilding... what all need;-)  03.21.10 - 1:41pm
arielle joy - Lovely post J. Well said! <3  03.21.10 - 1:40pm
Zarah - That is a wonderful, wonderful notion. Reading this makes me happy. :)  03.21.10 - 1:38pm
NathG - So beautifully said...thanks x  03.21.10 - 1:37pm
Amy Carson - Amazing post Jasmine, couldnt be more true!  03.21.10 - 1:37pm
Mel - I soooo agree with you! One of the biggest compliments I have heard is when I heard a client tell another one that I made them feel so comfortable. I was thrilled...comfortable to just be who they are and let that inner rockstar RAWR! I hope to some day get to be in front of your camera so I can feel the same! Much love to you j* :)   03.21.10 - 1:37pm
Ron Dawson - I just wanted to comment to see if I can be the first person to comment on a Jasmine* post. :) You sure are a prolific writer Ms. D.  03.21.10 - 1:32pm
grayella - Love this...I think I will go jump on my bed now!  03.21.10 - 1:30pm