"I have really low self-esteem," Helen said the first time we talked. She'd just got done telling me about her incredible 30-year career as a nurse, overcoming thyroid cancer, and enduring the heartbreak of suddenly becoming a widow. How could a woman that accomplished, and believe me I'm not even scratching the surface, not think highly of themselves? "Doesn't she see how incredible she is?" I asked myself while listening to Helen talk about her struggles with self-worth.
Helen nodded her head as she continued, "I've never liked my body. I've always felt this way."
I waited a moment before asking a really hard question. I almost didn't ask it because . . . well, it almost sounds a little rude unless you're there in the moment. And it's a hard question but a telling one. "Why are you doing this, Helen? This is a hard thing, being photographed. So why now?" I asked. Helen nodded her head and almost seemed to smile.
"You capture this part of people that shows who they really are. You can really see them and that's what I want. I want to see myself like those who love me see me."
I sat stunned . . . I still am.
That was not the answer I expected, not worded that way. Not so upfront. Not so raw and real and honest.
But that's who Helen is.
There is no fluff to this woman who's darn-near seen it all.
A woman who had held her own. Fought and battled the unfairness of life as she worked through sleepless nights and long days caring for others. This woman, Helen was ready to see something she had yet to see . . . herself.
Her true self.
Her self that was not seen through her own judgmental eyes that often lied to her.
She wanted to see the Helen that her husband saw, that her daughter sees, that her grandchlidren see.
Helen came to me to see herself and the Helen I saw, the Helen I photographed is absolutely, unquestionably, divinely beautiful.
This is the soul-deep beauty she always had.
She just couldn't quite see it.
But now she can.
This is the power of a portrait.
Photography Studio in Athens PA.