SEEN SESSIONS

SEEN // Mette Harrison

 

I first met Mette Harrison in Colorado City. I held a camera and Mette carried plants, lumber, and tools around the gardens we were rebuilding in Short Creek for our annual Fern Foundation service project. I was drawn in by her magnetic, truthful strength. My admiration for strong women comes immediate.

Over the years I have gotten to know Mette better through her writing and other small interactions mostly in the web. Mette carries the blessing and burden of a richly poetic voice that sings her blunt tellings into the soul center. Her latest work includes an experiment in poetry and her podcast that provides a deep examination of her Mormon upbringing ( Check our Mette’s Mormon Sabbatical podcast HERE).

Mette is currently working on a book about her stillborn daughter Mercy and the wounds of losing a child. It would be impossible to sum Mette up neither by calling her a loving and supportive mother, an accomplished artist and teacher, a connected friend, artist, or triathlete, these are parts of a fantastically expansive whole.

Mette has always had friends and family take her professional headshots. So kind, very supportive, and “good enough”. We find that good enough is good enough until it isn’t. When Mette showed up for an author signing for her novel, The Bishop’s Wife, she wasn’t recognized as herself and its not hard to see why- the woman in the photo looks nothing like Mette. That’s a problem- without the context of authentic, honest portraits, we just learn to hate what photography does to us. Made-over, air-brushed images may serve something but what? The truth? Sure, if the standard of that truth means societal prescriptions regarding portraiture that aim to eclipse and edit the truth of self.

Last week Mette, and the By Common Consent Press family, visited Ultraviolet Studios for a book signing and reading. Before we took our seats Mette told me that before our portrait session she was certain that she hated portrait sessions but that I helped turn that on its head by letting her be her. I asked Mette if she, always and ever the writer, would share her thoughts with me in writing so that I could share them here. Within moments, she sent me this-

I used to think I hated photos of myself. I have a terrible habit of hiding from my FIL’s constant photos of the big family. I’m short, so I tuck behind someone else and you only see an elbow or my chin. I stare at photos of myself and always think—that isn’t me. It’s even more true when I look at almost all of the professional photos I’ve had done. There’s a profound disconnect between the image that’s captured on film and who I feel like I am inside. Sometimes it happens when I look in the mirror, as well. But then Ashley did these series of photos of me and almost every one felt “right” in some way. They captured different expressions, different sides of me. I sent a set of them to my FIL, and his response was (of course—I should have guessed this), “I like the ones where you’re smiling.”

I deliberately told Ashley when we started that I wanted a professional author photo with me not smiling because I often see women authors with unsmiling photos and think how strong they look—I wanted to be brave enough to try to do that. I’ve titled the photo I’m currently using as my publicity author photo the “Don’t Fuck With Me” shot because I feel so strong in it. I feel like this is the me I wanted to show to the world and needed someone who understood to help me capture it. It’s not that I look angry. But I look fierce. I look strong. I look like the athlete that I am, with the strong arms that help me swim and beat lots of tough guys in a race. I look like someone people don’t say “Smile more” to.

When I look at the other photos I’ve had taken, some of which people told me to my face “That doesn’t look like you” because I was wearing heavy makeup and dressed in a way I never do in real life, I realize what the problem is. Those photographers were often trying to get me to look “good,” or “beautiful” and they were using a standard of female beauty that has never fit me well. When they tell me to bring makeup to put on between shots, I have to explain I don’t wear makeup and don’t want to wear it for a shoot, which I think sounds strange to them. Why don’t I want to have a photo that makes me look better than I would in real life? Because that’s not me. I don’t want to look like a model. I don’t want my boobs to look bigger. I don’t buy bras like that. Surprise! I want to look like who I really am. I want a photo that matches my soul.

A dear old friend of mine from grad school spent a long time perusing each of the photos Ashley had sent me. She chose the same one that Ashley had picked as her favorite and she kept saying, “You look beautiful in this.” I didn’t think I looked “beautiful” at all. I looked sad and contemplative. I looked broken. It was hard to see beauty in that, but maybe what my friend meant, and what Ashley was able to capture was realness, the authentic me that other photographers were always trying to “photoshop out.” I still remember Ashley saying if I wanted, she could erase a red blemish on my nose. I laughed when she suggested that because the red blemish on my nose was the least of my worries about the photos that came about as a result of that shoot. I wasn’t worried about people seeing that tiny flaw. I was worried about people seeing ALL of the flaws that those photos showed. I was supremely naked in those shots, which is really what I keep telling people about writing. If you’re not naked, you haven’t worked down to the truth yet. Ashley’s photos are art because they are truth.

Thank you Mette for sharing your thoughts about you and photos. For allowing me the pleasure of photographing such a strong, determined, soulful woman. Let’s do it again.

SEEN // What is Seen?

 

Seen is a collaborative photographic experience, exclusively for women, that documents and explores self-love, healing, and living. Being seen begins with seeing ourselves. By owning, coaxing, and curating our own wild, confident, and unsure parts of self, we create a belonging home within. Seen is a celebration of your self-love practice, your healing, and your life as the worthy being you are.

If you are interested in documenting your growth transitions, “Seen” is a photographic experience that promises to support you and show you, sincerely.

I recently received a testimonial from my client, Andrea that embodies and reflects the experience of Seen-

I cannot believe how uninhibited I felt shooting with Ashley. I have SO MANY issues with how I see myself and my appearance in real life AND in photos and I honestly gave two shits during the shoot. Those concerns that feel like bricks were not even present. I had COMPLETE trust that whatever we were going to create together, I would love. Ashley also created an EXPERIENCE that provided absolute specific intention and purpose for the shoot. This was not about taking "cute photos where I hopefully look thin to myself and others," NO, not one single ounce of that. This was about something so much more, about documenting motherhood, womanhood, and the human details of my life at this very moment with two heaping scoops of my unique style & personality - none of which is actually tangible and CAN ONLY be presented / captured by artists alike because it is ALL a matter of interpretation. It is not even about the physical things I wore during the shoot even though I love them, they were vehicles of sorts - this was about all the feelings, emotions, and energy I described above directly associated to the true intention of the shoot.- Andrea Updike

Seen Sessions begin with an in-depth questionnaire composed of a simple prompts to assist you in documenting you, as you. Taking the time to creatively declare truths about who and where you are is a self-made initiation into Seen. Plan 20-30 minutes to complete this questinonaire

After deciding on a fitting location we will meet for your 2-3 hour session. We will capture the light bringing celebrations and the shadowy soreness of living. With the help of simple scenes, and natural elements of fire, water, air, light, and earth we explore both light and dark, death and rebirth, chances, reinventions, battles, softness and strength to create powerful, simple fine-art portraits.

Seen Sessions are $650 and include a private 2.5-3 hour session, your choice of 2 high resolution files, a $50 print credit, and all low resolution files from our session together. Travel outside Weber County will incur additional travel and possibly accommodation fees.

Fine art archival investments of $450 or more include all high-resolution images (80+ images) to archive and print as you wish.

Sessions may take place in your home, in a studio, or in an outdoor location.

Clients should budget between $700-$1000 for the entire experience from the sitting to fine art preservation in albums, collections, prints, and gifts. All print orders include web-ready files for sharing whereas all purchases over $300 include the high resolution files.

Please shoot me a text (801)319-7114 or email ashley.thalman@gmail.com to be Seen.

SURVEY SHARE // Lacey

 
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When my clients first contact me to book a session, I begin our process with an intake form. The form invites them to open, to pause, to get creative and declarative about who and where they are right now. By prompting introspection and intention we are able to connect and build a relationship of trust and collaboration. 
One of the first prompts is, “I want to document this time in my life as a woman because...” Each answer is beautiful and whole. Here is Lacey’s, shared with her permission and encouragement.

”A photo is a moment captured.

I’m having a moment.

A moment of immense vulnerability coupled with strength. A moment of stepping outside of my role as being the supporter and allowing myself to be supported. A moment of no more hiding or making myself small. A moment of resounding trust in my own intuition. A moment of grounding and standing firmly in my integrity. A moment of letting all of the colorful parts of my heart to be seen. A moment of healed pain turning into wisdom. A moment of hearing the call, securely tucking my children under my arms and taking the steps to return back to myself. A moment of complete clarity. A moment of fear being challenged by unconditional love. A moment of an old life being put to rest as I begin to sleep next to acceptance. A moment of rising and rebirth. A moment of becoming expansive in every way, taking up space in the world. A moment of doing the hardest thing I have ever had to do... to let my loved ones witness all of me and support me. 
I can’t think of a more important moment in time to capture... a woman standing in her power and vulnerability.

This is strength.

This is growth.

This is love. It’s beautiful and scary as hell but I am learning as I move forward that there is so much unconditional love ready to greet me the more I allow myself to be seen.”


I have 4 appointments for June, 5 in July, and 6 for August available. Is this for you? Send me a direct message for details.

SEEN // Alicia Sanford

In addition to booking her annual family portraits this year, Alicia Sanford added an extension to document her beautiful cranberry linen creation.

I love the happy humming vibration of handmade things. Handmade and uniquely designed clothing is so rare, a dying art. The contrast of factory-fast disposable clothing makes seeing the value of one-of-a-kind pieces very obvious. This dress carries the energy of Alicia’s learning and flow. It tells the story of cut fabric, folding and pinned, of broken needles and late night frustrations, of Liberty of London details and the perfect weight for October.

Artists and their art make the world go round.