thoughts on having your portrait taken (yikes!)

Sep 24, 2008 | Life in Progress

photo session with denise at
photo by denise andrade

like so many other women, i’ve struggled with how i look. my hair is too thin. my skin is splotchy. my arms are too flabby. you know how it goes. i grew up in a household where the women seemed to undermine their beauty over and over again with comments mostly about their weight (even though they were entirely gorgeous and healthy). although the comments were never directed at me, the impact of witnessing the judgement they had for their bodies stayed with me for many years as i tried to find my own peace about my physical skin.

somewhere along the line i began to find a brighter version of my body : the gap between my two front teeth didn’t seem so bad afterall. my booty wasn’t so blah afterall. wow, my spirit is housed in this body. and it’s healthy – even with all the self perceived flaws. it’s all still me, it’s more than enough, and i’m grateful. of course, some days are better than others, but the general acceptance of my body has been a major blessing of one long struggle overcome.

photo session with denise at
photo by denise andrade

and then i went to the lovebomb retreat where i was really seen. seen not just as a girl who paints, but for all that i am (bigger than my creative self) and who i’m becoming. seen for all of my potential and possibilities. for all the love, friendship, and capacity for connection that i hold. for the first time in my life, i saw myself being mirrored back to me in ways that undoubtedly changed everything about my life. during those few days, the photogs of the group seemed to capture the shift that was occurring for many of us. while all that inner work was happening on the inside, they were capturing the essence of it from the outside with photos like this and this and this. it was the first time i fully realized that photographers capture us how they actually see us and sometimes how they see us is a gift of even more sight into how we see ourselves. oh, that’s me? do you really see me this way? how did you capture how i was feeling so perfectly? they capture the essence of our spirits, what we’re going through, where we are in our lives. quite honestly, it’s a talent that blows me away. and it’s a remarkable gift to give someone – an image of their face, their brightness seen through the eyes of a person who really sees them, not just in physical form, but in spirit, too. that gift of sight is HUGE for those of us who struggle with visioning ourselves of how we’re actually seen.
photo session with denise at
photo by denise andrade

all of this is to say that i recently had the opportunity to be photographed by denise. having never been on a professional shoot before, i wasn’t sure what to expect, but i’ve always loved her portraits and i thought what the hell, i’ll do it. i was surprised at how utterly delightful it was to get all girly, to roll around in the grass and pretend i was an anthropologie girl. how seriously and simply FUN it was – like being 9 years old and playing dress up while running around your back yard with your neighborhood friend. and then to see the photos that came from that day – well, i’m right back to how i felt in oregon: totally seen.
photo session with denise at
photo by denise andrade

denise and i did this photo shoot just hours after that release i spoke about in one of my posts last week. i had been crying, tender, and the waterworks of my tears had finally run its course just before this shoot. i loved how joyful this experience was. how she captured the peace and okayness of where i was and how i was feeling. i loved how she saw me, how i turned out in these images, and how in sync they are to how i finally see myself. i would have never seen myself like this before lovebomb. but now i do. thank you, lovebombers, and thank you denise. the gift of these images will last a lifetime.

so yes, i want to say to all of you: go get your photos taken! give yourself the gift of a talented soul capturing you just as you are: beautiful and wild and whole and unique. if you’re like me, then you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it long ago. you’ll find yourself in images that translate to how you feel on the inside and it will help you feel more like yourself, both in physical and spiritual form. who knew this was the magic and gift of talented photographers? i love it.

next up: me, john, and our togetherness captured in photos. i can’t wait. if you’re interested in seeing more of our photo shoot together, go here. and more of her incredible portfolio here.

Sending much love,

Show/Hide Comments (44 comments)
  1. whenigrowupcoach

    I think actors get a head start on learning this, as they’re forced to get headshots for “the biz”! I always left my photo shoots feeling like a model on the outside, and you expressed the emotions inside so well I won’t even try to explain them myself. A good photographer makes you comfortable and brings your inside out.

  2. 2Travelers

    Kelly Rae – girl, you are a knockout. with a capital K. these portraits are beautiful work, yes, but what is MOST lovely about them – is your spirit, bright and shining through. awesome photogapher / photography – and an amazing “subject” for the work. ROCK ON, Kelly Rae. by the way, I’m still loving my prints from you, and your blogspot —
    all best to you – Davielle

  3. Katrina

    i love these photos of you. love them, love them! and your blog is looking super lovely these days too. congrats on all of it. xoxo ,k.

  4. paris parfait

    Hello Gorgeous! The joy of your spirit shines through in all these wonderful photos.

  5. scrapwitch

    wow your a stunner babe..
    i finished the 365 day photo challenge 6 weeks ago .and i too have always been afraid to be in front of the camera.but now .im not and i celebrate a quality shot .wow yours are smashing ,and just to let you knw ,if you didn’t already ,that a gap between the teeth means FAME AND FORTUNE ..wink.

  6. Anonymous

    Kelly rae,

    My stepdad used to tell me that the gap in my front teeth was a sign I was kissed by the Gods. Truly you are.
    Jen Diamond

  7. Cindy Ericsson

    some of the most amazing photos I have of myself were taken by a dear friend who loves me without reservation. The expression in those photos is the response to the way he accepts me.

  8. Mrs.French

    oh my…this post is amazing…I also have to say you are gorgeous!

  9. brittany

    When I first saw these photos I was so mad at myself for shying away from her camera. You are beautiful and she captures the beauty so perfectly. The light in your eyes shines through. It really truely is a gift. and enough to make all of our crushes a bit deeper:)

  10. Steph

    Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous photos – your physical beauty and your lovely writing and soul!

  11. Gypsy Alex

    How gorgeous you are! Inside and out! Each day that goes by and I get to know you a little better, I’m more inspired and blown away by your heart and your grace! Lovebombing you with hugs ~

  12. jeanne

    Kelly – you look amazing and I am so glad you came to the whole “beauty” realization….the women in my family are the same way – always using the “f” word (fat)….they are not and there are so many other important things….congrats!

  13. ama

    Kelly, you look so beautiful. And your powerful words and the experience of you seeing yourself as beautiful as you really are…well, you moved my spirit, and proud tears of love to my eyes.

    xoxo ama

  14. tricia

    beautiful photos….just gorgeous. I can totally relate to the struggle.

  15. Rowena

    How very interesting.

    Our illusions about ourselves so shape who we think we can be, but breaking through those illusions helps us to really grow our spirits into who we are meant to be.

    And interesting that it is being seen from the outside without our illusions that helps us see who we really are on the inside.

    Very interesting.

  16. Suzan Buckner

    Oh My Goodness …You are so young and very, very beautiful. I thought you were an old me..LOL..(I am only 43)

  17. Sandra L.

    Kelly, you look beautiful! Like someone I would want to know. Confident, happy…and I love those earrings!!!

  18. Eileen W.

    You have been captured and the beauty reflecting back to the world is beaming!! Gorgeous, happy, and whole. I’m so glad you did this. I wish I lived in Cali so I could do this as well…one day. 🙂

  19. Lelainia N. Lloyd

    How beautiful it would be if we could only see ourselves for an instant through the loving eyes of our friends.


    Thanks for this reminder 2 days before my 20th HS reunion.

  20. jessica

    i saw this photo on the bohemian girl’s blog and thought you looked stunning.thanks for sharing a few more pics. its wonderful that you are finding a true balance and points , or axes to move from

  21. Emilyt

    Those photos are divine. You are one lovely lady from the tips of your toes all the way past your nose! Thanks for sharing. I also love the one that is on Superhero’s blog. Perfection. 🙂

  22. Anonymous

    Hi Kelly Rae
    Wow , the photos are beautiful and so are you .They capture everything that you are about ….a sweet , loving , giving , sharing person .So open …Lovely
    Lorraine xxx

  23. Serena

    I can’t even pick a favourite….you are absolutely beautiful, Kelly, inside and out!

    I have seen Denise’s photography on other blogs too and I am always impressed at how she manages to capture more than just outward appearance….she has a wonderful gift.

  24. Gwen

    I love the first one, what a great photo!

    I have been thinking of doing this, and you may have pushed me over the edge!

  25. Christianne

    Kelly Rae, I cannot get over these photos. Denise captured you so beautifully. Every time I have seen someone post one of the photos she took of you at Squam, I am left breathless. I’m so thankful you had this opportunity to be loved and seen through her lens, and that all of us have the chance to partake of it.

  26. Kate

    These photos are fantastic. You look wonderful, your spirit really shines through.


  27. teresa sheeley

    You are gorgeous!! Beautiful photography. Please to tell where you got your very cute clothes!! 🙂


  28. amy

    so very beautiful. i love the spirit that shines through these photos.

  29. Lucy

    What a beautiful photo session you had, but it’s no wonder they came out so wonderful, how could they not, with all the beauty you radiate 🙂

  30. Jill Nalette

    Amazing, amazing, amazing!! these photo’s of you are beautiful and your words speak to me. I’m sure a lot of women can benefit from your words. I think I’d like to do a photo shoot: )!!
    xoxo Smiles,

  31. Lorraine

    Why not put up some of your favorites and let readers choose THEIR fav? Might be fun to see…

  32. mati rose

    Gorgeous! With a capital G!

  33. Boho Girl

    i feel all melty inside.
    thank you, kelly…

    photographing you was such a true gift to me. knowing you had a messy morning and that laying you in the grass was medicine for the soul, just breathed life into me and validated my dream of how i want to be so much more than a photographer to my clients.

    you were an exquisite model, allowing me to create a vision i have wanted for a very long time. it was an honor.

    thank YOU, my friend.

  34. Brandi

    Gorgeous Kelly .. the captures of your spirit and your gracefull heartfelt words! You inspire me!

  35. One Love Photo

    I love hearing the subjects side on a portrait session. I never thought about the power we can have with our cameras. I hope I make all my subjects see their inner beauty, the little spark that makes me smile while shooting. This was perfect timing since I will be on the other side of the lens this weekend for a promo video. I was really starting to get negative and now I have a whole new approach. Thank you!

  36. liz elayne lamoreux

    this is a beautiful post…i am so glad you shared these pieces of your experience…

    denise has truly captured you in these photos and i am so very glad that you are seeing yourself after your oregon retreat and this experience.

    i adore you my gorgeous, soul-full friend.

  37. Schmoops

    kelly, you are GORGEOUS, inside and out! smoking hot, girly!!! she really captured your sexy and your antrho in these photos.

    i was nodding at every word you said. when denise took my photos last year i felt the same way. i wanted to shout from the rooftops (and i did on my blog) that everyone should have this experience with a photographer who has this gift.

    i have never met anyone like denise when it comes to being seen. she really shows you how she sees you through her eyes. her gift is incredible.

    i find myself swooning over all her photos from squam and wishing i could have been there with all of you, loving you, being seen… and photographed.

  38. Shalet

    Those photos of you are simply gorgeous. You look entirely content and at peace. I recently had my photo taken (for my work webpage). The experience wasn’t nearly as rewarding. :o)

  39. Carmen

    These are so wonderful. You are such a beautiful soul and these pictures totally capture that.

  40. justagirl

    so very sweet you are… the colours are just so perfect, they sing. (Denise is a wonder with the camera)

    and your words, like they often do, have me on the verge of tears…


  41. naturally nina

    My goodness, I am blown away. I don’t even know you, 🙂 but I feel like I do from your pictures. You look absolutely gorgeous. Thanks for encouraging us to get our own done. best, nina
    p.s. Got your book and love it!

  42. Katrina

    wow! love, love, love these! denise is a dynamo…and you are just adorable!


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Hello + welcome!

I’m Kelly Rae Roberts

Before I picked up my first paintbrush at the age of 30, I was a medical social worker. I followed my creative whispers, and today I’m an artist & Possibilitarian. I’m passionate about creating meaningful art and experiences that awaken and inspire our spirits.

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