22 Dec 2018 – Looks Can Be Deceiving ~ Winnipeg Boudoir Photography
Step 1: Watch the Video – make sure to change settings to 1080P for best images
(and if you make it through the 15 minutes it takes, then keep on reading!)
Step 2: Now, read on about the people that “saved” me this year!
While 2018 was a tumultuous year of travel, experiences, and a wee bit of hardship, it was also an amazing year for me to be grateful for the amazing humans that I interacted with throughout the year. In my positive psychology class, we learned that telling people how much you appreciate and why you appreciate them is essential to their happiness quotient, so I have to stop assuming they all know and just get it out there.
There are more people than I am going to mention below, but I’ve already kept you here (hopefully) for 15 minutes, so I will list the ones that had the biggest noticeable impact on me this year!
MY BEST FRIEND STEPHANIE
Man, this babe has been with me since Grade 6, so she has had her fair share of Teri Time…but this year, even though we saw each other a little bit, I knew she was there if I needed her. We started of 2018 with an AMAZING trip to Portland where we not only got shushed on the plan for talking to much, but I got to witness her very impressive parallel parking and new city driving skills, introduced to some cool coffee shops, ice cream locales, and various other fun things to do in Portland AND she made us Portland BINGO cards! While the experience was awesome, I hope to never take for granted just what an amazing presence she brings (and has always brought) to my life. When I tell her I am super busy with life, she responds with the best response: “What do you need from me right now?” which is the perfect thing to say, because it lets me know she’s in my corner if I desperately need her. In addition to that, she’s always trying cool stuff, attending fun workshops, and learning new things so it’s fun to hear about all of them when we catch up! I hope that we can maybe continue with an annual trip to anywhere for the both of us, because it was great to make some awesome memories (and piss ourselves laughing while we captioned a 1970s SEARS catalogue).
So, Kevin is the amazing talent behind Kevin Lowery Portraits. Him and I had met last year at a workshop in NYC and hit it off and THIS year, I went to visit him in Atlanta in hopes that he would teach me about photographing men in the not so traditional way and I would teach him about shooting ladies (with their boobs and bums and stuff) and I think both of us clicked more than we thought we would. I mean, I knew we had a lot in common, but I think that trip to Atlanta kinda sealed the deal for us when we realized that both of us were trying to achieve similar results in the photography industry: DIVERSIFY THE BODIES WE SEE AND HOW WE SEE THEM. So, not only did we have a common goal, but also, we both have the energy to match (and both of our husbands are pretty much robots). I have learned so much from Kevin over the past year and have had the amazing privilege to work alongside him at our everyBODIES workshops in OKC & Dallas and the upcoming Vegas & West Coast tour. Hopefully we don’t get sick of each other because we have to drive a car down the west coast next year…but if we do, we will settle it over tacos. Kevin is also someone I am able to speak openly about my struggles in the photography and entrepreneurial world with and I am pretty sure we have seen each other at our most vulnerable times, which essentially means we can never part ways. In addition to that, we both stood naked in on a rooftop in Oklahoma City and had our butts photographed against the skyline….so there’s always that.
Approximately a year ago I contacted Boon (after only speaking to him on the internet) and asked him if he would be interested in teaching a workshop alongside me. Not going to lie. Part of it was with the intention of learning his tricks & talent. The other part, however, was because I respected him and knew he had so much to offer to our attendees. [As I go through this list of people, you are going to realize I like to partner with people to run workshops….I think it’s important to offer a variety of perspectives to the attendees so they can see there is not just one way to succeed as a photographer] Boon is the complete opposite of me when it comes to not only HOW we creates his work, but also the final product as well (hence why our workshop was called The Calm & The Chaos). He talks openly about inviting photographers to stop trying to put our clients into a “boudoir box” and build a new box based on the client and I absolutely love this. He also inspires me to slow down, compose, and think intentionally about creating art instead of just clicking for the sake of clicking. Every time he posts a blog post, I stop what I am doing and run to experience it because he is so intentional about it. Lastly, as a human, Boon has put up with a lot to be true to his authentic self and I have massive respect for that. He works within this duality of his personality where one minute he is a super analytical engineer and the next he is dripping sweat, covered in neon lights, hyping up a crowd with a Zumba routine. I don’t think he realizes the impact he has had on me as an artist, but also as a human, but I only hope that after reading this, he will.
I think I met Beth at the same workshop I had met Kevin and instantly fell in love with her awesomeness. I feel like I have known her forever, to be honest. She was like me, wanting to empower fat babes everywhere, improve the diversity of bodies and genders we see in the photography industry, and just an all around cool chick. It wasn’t until she joined me in Mexico, though, that I realize just how freaking talented this babe is. When she took it upon herself to create a spreadsheet with everyone’s details and research various touristy things (not unlike my buddy Stephanie) to help make the experience not just better for her, BUT FOR EVERYONE. So, now I knew that not only was she super rad, but she was smart as a whip and ridiculously organized! So, I brought her onboard to help me execute my first ever Body Image Bootcamp in Mexico and she did a freaking phenomenal job of taking care of everything AND speaking fluent spanish to make the language barrier easier….like, c’mon. I also got to see her again at Camp Do More and then spend some days together in Toronto, post camp, where I saw more of Toronto than I have before, because of her epic research skills. I will never forget the evening we were going to this “bar” where the door was literally a red drape and I was like “Is this it?” with a bit of a worried look on my face, and she essentially pushed me through the curtain INTO THIS AMAZING, KITSCHY HAWAIIN DREAMLAND where we had the most amazing drinks!! (So much so, that we took our friends there the next night!) Needless to say, I won’t go through a random curtain with just anyone, so I totally trust Beth because she is, quite literally, the tits.
Twyla was another human that I had met at the workshop in NYC. Because she was more well known in the family/portrait world of photography, I hadn’t heard of her before then, but once I got to know her, I loved her. She is the embodiment of her work and works hard to create moments with her family, more than just collecting stuff. Upon meeting Twyla, that was also when Keshia’s new album came out and Twyla had kind of a Keshia vibe going on, so I said I was going to travel to Florida to shoot her in all our 70s gold, sparkly, crazy glory. I don’t think I understood, however, just how wonderful that trip would be. For photographers, I think it’s important to hang out with people that shoot different shit than you and to work together to fuse the styles into something epic. I shot Twyla in my style: sequin, fringe, sparkly, jumpsuits, and gaudy crap and she dressed me in a long flowing red dress in the water. We had so much fun exploring her little town and creating amazing images with our other friends Lauren and Brittany as well. I think the experience was good for both of us, because we literally just played, explored, got messy, and got creative. Even now, some of the photos I took during that trip are some of my favorites and I created work that I normally wouldn’t have if I had stayed in my bubble. Twyla still continues to inspire me (as she does many other photographers) and I love to watch the new stuff she creates. I hope that I will get to see her somewhere next year….maybe in Winnipeg???
KYLIE SMITH & JADE MICHAEL
Well, there is no shortage of these two all over my instagram this year and a big reason for that is, they kept my creative fuel up. Kylie, one of my amazing makeup artists, came to Mexico with me and did makeup not just for Jade but for a handful of the other ladies there and never once (okay, maybe once) complained about it! She did beautiful looks which helped create amazing images, but more importantly than that, she has an incredibly dry sense of humour, which I obviously love. In addition to her love for sarcasm, we also found out this year that she is essentially an 80 year old woman, who loves Murdock Mysteries and settling in for the night. Seriously, though, from Mexico onward, we realized that when Kylie, Jade, and I worked together it was a great combination for a creative outlet for all of us. Jade, now, has always been a muse of mine, but since we added Kylie into the mix, shit got even better (WE DIDN’T EVEN KNOW THIS WAS POSSIBLE….) the 3 of us seem to get onto the same page and create amazing energy when we shoot, and even more importantly, when things go wrong (like bringing the wrong makeup color kit, or having the wrong outfit for a shoot….for example…) we all are able to adapt and still come out with something amazing. Having creative days to balance out the work (even though I love my work) is ESSENTIAL to keeping the ART alive and this “dream team” saved me. I can’t wait to see what craziness we cook up for 2019!
You may have heard of Stefania before, but this frickin’ angel did more for me than she will ever know. I had sent her a message on instagram over a year ago and never heard back, so I thought “welp, that’s the end of that” BUT then I commented on a post of hers in August and she saw the original message I had sent, telling her that I’d love to shoot with her if ever the stars aligned….well, aligned they did. She responded back that she would love to shoot with me and I didn’t even hesitate before booking a flight to NYC to go visit her. I had seen her first in the Embrace documentary and that’s when I started following her and then saw the amazing work she was putting out and fell in love every time she posted. Now, not only was this babe cool with me coming to NYC to shoot with her, but she also offered to let me stay at her apartment…SHE DIDN’T EVEN KNOW ME!! But when we talked about it, she said it felt right….and boy was she right. We ended up shooting probably 3 X as much as if I had stayed somewhere else because we shot whenever the mood struck. One of the coolest things about spending time with Stefania was when we created the more androgynous look for her and those were the images where she said she had always wanted to see herself like that (I almost died btw) and that’s when I had the epiphany about pretty vs. beauty and how I want to start showing people their BEAUTY, instead of creating their PRETTY. We never photoshopped any of her images and it was so freeing and wonderful to see someone love photos of themselves with skin texture, under the eye lines, bum dimples, etc. Again, it was spending time with this woman who’s heart aligned with mine that reignited the flame for why I do what I do. I am planning on heading to Australia next year, so if that’s the case, I will make a point to photograph her in her homeland!
BODY IMAGE BOOTCAMP CREW
All of these amazing, fearless babes helped make one of my biggest dreams come to life this year and I cannot thank them enough. They took a chance on something that hadn’t been done before, invested in it in an effort to invest in their clients, and really changed my life for the better. While I may have been the facilitator (with Beth doing the behind the scenes stuff), each and every one of these babes opened up, spilled their stories, got vulnerable and let me into their lives and allowed me to *hopefully* take them further in their body love journey. That kind of trust I don’t take lightly and so, unfortunately for them, these babes are stuck with me forever. They have now become the Traveling Gaggle of Goddesses where we will reunite again next year for ROUND TWO of self discovery! But I cannot thank them enough for being the neophites and trusting in me, to give them something to help the people in their lives become the best version of themselves.
Well, this one’s pretty much a no-brainer, but he definitely gets the most gratitude because he has put up with the most shit. A lot of the times when I feel “squidgy” because I am not aligned with my purpose or I’ve fallen off my path in some capacity, the Mr. gives me room to figure it out. While I joke about him being a robot all the time, he is still my sounding board and more importantly the anchor that reminds me of what is important. While I went off on all my adventures this year, he never once tried to convince me otherwise and instead wished me well and knew that I would come back (usually with no voice from talking so much) happier for at least a little bit of time. This guy has also figure out that if you put me on a boat with no internet service for a week I will ACTUALLY relax and nap. all. the. time. Hence, why all of our trips together involve a cruise ship and 1-2 weeks without internet….he knows what’s best for me, even when I don’t. More importantly than that, he has been a huge supporter of my dreams since day one and even when I told him about this studio space that looked TOTALLY AMAZING and was only $5800/month, he didn’t tell me NO, he just laid down the facts and told me just what the equivalent of that spendature would be and allowed me to come to my own conclusion that that was an unnecessary overhead cost. Mr. Ledgerwood is the husband I never talk about because he doesn’t have social media so I really don’t see the point, but today he gets a mention on my blog (despite him probably never even seeing this.)
There were so many other people who had a hand in making sure I stayed sane this year:
My sister Cori Poon – who despite running her own business and having her own stress, still made time to cook me food
My mom Wendy Hofford – who introduced me to Strengths and is the best sounding board for ideas & business advice
Jen Swedhin, Brianna Phelan, Alex Charilou, Pratik Naik, Toni Black – for providing me with great business advice, resources, and phenomenal discussions that challenge me and make me want to strive for and be more!
My clients turned friends: Samantha, Regan, Danika, Micah, Attieh, Ginaya, Nikita and Jen F – for being available last minute for photo shoots, but also checking in with me to make sure I was taking care of myself!
Fellow Body Image activist & photographer:
Shannon Smith – for believing in what I teach and working so hard to create a body positive movement for her clients. She has been a huge advocate for Body Image Bootcamp, but watching her learn and grow in her own journey is inspiration in itself!!
My CAPP (Certificate of Applied Positive Psychology) Class – they have been instrumental in me realizing what is holding me back, pushing me dig deeper within my own personal journey and beliefs, and of course, challenging me to be the best version of myself. But most importantly, for providing me a safe space to truly be vulnerable and share every worry, issue, problem and trauma without fear of judgement or shaming. Radical inclusion is the tits! (that means it’s good)
Lastly, my team members: Nicole V – who not only takes care of my babely clients & models for me, but also brings order to my house and keeps my kitten alive, NCS PRO Girls – Vanessa & Sandy – who get my insane drive for achievement & shopping, Liz D’alessio and Ally Gonzalo – who share my passion for making change through photography, and of course, Jasmine Houston for making sure my shit’s together for the most part.
AND LASTLY, LASTLY, LASTLY…
Thank you so much to every client who trusted myself and the team to empower them. Every year I am grateful for the people who take a chance on us, but more importantly, on themselves, in hopes to better their relationship with their bodies and their minds. It is my intent and my biggest hope, that as THP Studios moves into the new year with new additions and a few new changes, that our core value and mission will stay the same: We will continue to help change the lives of the clients that cross our doorway, regardless of their gender, their skin color, their size, their shape, physical form, or whatever other barrier they perceive to get in their way. It has been my pleasure, and the pleasure of my team, to serve all 125 clients from 2018 and provide them a life changing experience, documented in the form of artistic imagery.
And if you watched the video and then read this, you might be feeling conflicted (ie. how can Teri be depressed but also be grateful??). Welp, the truth is, it’s kinda the same feeling you get when you have kids: You wanna strangle them for being little shits, but then they do something incredible and you are once again overwhelmed with love and realize it is all worth it….this is literally how it feels to run a business from your heart. It’s exhausting, frustrating, and sometimes feels thankless….and then I get a message from someone on Facebook that tells me a post about a client inspired them to love themselves a wee bit more, or an email from a client saying she hasn’t stopped smiling, despite it being a week after the session, or a text message from a clients’ partner thanking me for the newfound confidence in the love of their life and I am reminded instantly about why I do what I do and just how important it is to provide my clients with more than just pretty pictures and THAT makes it all worth it.