More Love, Less Competition

pittsburgh boudoir photography female empowerment group photo shoot

What happens when you get women of all different backgrounds, all different shapes, all different ages together for a group photo shoot?  The concept was simple.  What would they experience?  What would I experience?  How would they come together?  Would they share in the glory of each other?  Would they embrace what makes them similar and celebrate what makes them unique?

So many questions went through my mind as I thought about this shoot.  I knew I wanted it to happen, I knew what I wanted to prove with this shoot.  Every day, surrounding us are images of other women, other people that we are supposed to look up to.  We begin to feel like we aren’t a good enough mom, not the best wife, need to lose more weight, have to have the best skin, must buy better clothes.  It’s never enough, WE are never enough.  Just go look at your news feeds on social media – it’s in our face all the time.  Here’s the honest truth from me — you are amazing just as you are!  It’s time to celetebate and love yourself, stop comparing yourself to what you see, and stop competing with others around you.  Because, guess what – at the end of the day – we all share a similar journey.  We’re just trying to be the best version of ourselves.  And, there’s more commonality in each other than there are differences.

More Love, Less Competition!

Each woman.  So unique.  So beautiful.  I wanted to show them that even in their differences they had more that bound them together.  I wanted to push their comfort zone.  Nothing about this was going to be familiar to them.  I knew that getting them into an uncomfortable situation was going to help them to grow.  Outside, in front of each other, nowhere to hide, you can’t conceal your cellulite, stretch marks will be there for everyone else to see.  But, they would SHINE like stars during the time we shared together.

Each felt a bond, gained a new level of confidence, and saw themselves through my eyes and the eyes of others.  So much empowerment is to be gained when we stop competing with each other and embrace the journey we all share.

We’re better together…this PROVED it!

Watching them embrace themselves, and shower love and encouragement to the others that stand with them. No more competition. No more comparison. No “I wish I looked like that.”  No “I’m not as pretty as so and so.” Just a total embrace of everything you are and everything you offer to this world!! The imperfections that each woman sees on their body aren’t even focused on by the other women. They see courage, power, strength, vulnerability, humility, compassion, determination.  They see you for WHO you are!

What I saw is that each of them struggle with something. They worry about certain parts of their body…NONE of them are immune to those concerns. We all have them. At the same time, though, we have to work at changing our focus. There is so much beauty in ourselves that goes far beyond what our bodies look like!  We must choose to focus on the aspects of ourselves that make us who we are – your personality, your spirit, your soul.  The depth that we have as women far surpasses our surface looks!

Hearing them encourage each other as individual photos were taken was unbelievably uplifting – you could see the confidence soar to new heights of the woman that was in front of my camera. It wasn’t just me yelling positive things to each woman … I got to hear the other women encourage her, hoot at her, make her feel like a supermodel. The joy (energy, love, understanding) you feel when someone recognizes you for the amazing woman you are is a wonderful thing to capture! You see, there’s no hiding during something like this. Don’t like your cellulite, oh well – it’s there for them to see. Want to hide behind someone else?  You can’t. What you begin to see is that we all have these things we worry about – stretch marks, cellulite, rolls, lumps, bumps…but, it’s all there in each of us.  It’s not abnormal, it’s not something to be ashamed of, you can still be a kick ass woman, take part in a photo shoot and have stretch marks.  The more you see it, the more comfortable you become.  Don’t hide from it – come face to face with it – that’s what I wanted to do.

No more hiding!

The lesson you learn is that while you are vastly different women, you share some common charactertiscs. And, the heaviness that you put on yourself about these perceived imperfections begins to fall away. It’s the most empowering shoot I’ve ever put together. I felt it, they felt it. I want to help these women to take control of their feelings, focus on the real things that matter in life and share love with those around them!  We waste far too much time on things that don’t make a difference in the end.  Focus on what matters, be someone that people want to be around, encourage and uplift one another, and love.  Just love.

To me, these photos depict what real women look like.  Real women who stand up with each other, stand up beside each, stand up to lift each other up.  They represent what I try to do each and every day with every woman I photograph.  The only thing standing in your way is you!  Show more love, shower it to everyone around you.  Don’t compete.  We’re all unique and amazing beings, and we’ve got something special to share with this world!  You will never be able to find those things that bind you together if you are constantly comparing and competing.

It’s all about love – love for others; love for yourself!

Enjoy some photos from the session.  I’ll include some quotes from the ladies themselves!

 

outdoor boudoir photo shoot in pittsburgh PA with 9 women

boudoir photo shoot with two women during female empowerment shoot in pittsburgh

outdoor boudoir photo shoot in pittsburgh PA with 9 women

From Kari, “The ambassador shoot absolutely meant the world to me. I’ve never met such strong, beautiful and above all kind women in my life and I’m honored to call them my tribe. Maura’s vision and these ladies’ drive will change the world, one empowering photo shoot at a time.”

From Ashley, “I cried with such happiness and pride to have been a part of something so amazing.  Maura this shoot was so amazing and uplifting for me.  To finally be in a room full of gorgeous women and to not feel like any of them were judging me or worrying that they were picking apart my flaws like I do.  Not a single one of them did anything but love what each and everyone of us brought to the table.  I am a better person now just from being a part of this shoot.  I see women in a whole new light.  Thank you for letting me be a part of something so fu*&king awesome!”

I gave them one photo where I removed cellulite, at their request.  It’s the below photo: pittsburgh boudoir photography female empowerment group photo shootpittsburgh boudoir photography female empowerment group photo shoot

Lastly, I’d just like to tell every single one of these women how much they mean to me!  These are all past clients of mine who have touched my life more than they’ll ever know.  Their journey continues long after their shoot, and sharing my life and business with them has been a wonderful thing for me.  These women stand beside me in spirit each day.  THEY motivate me, THEY push me, THEY make me want to be the best version of myself.  I thank them from the bottom of my heart for going along with my crazy idea.  Kari, Ellen, Shannon, Alysse, Athena, Leah, Ashley, Heather and Angela – I LOVE YOU!  You showcase everything I want to be!

(For the record, everyone was so nervous at the beginning to be outside….by the end, they climbed onto a truck bed without hesitation.  That release is so wonderful to see – it happens in every single photo shoot)

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{Inspiration Shoot} Fur!

I love getting to be creative!  The creative side of running a photography business is the best part of the job.  After all, I’m an artist and I want to continue to hone my craft.  As I look around at various sites for outfits for my collection or for clients, I find items that immediately spark my interest.  The fur coat was just that!

I found this coat online and immediately knew that I needed it.  I was inspired – I knew exactly how I would style it, I knew exactly how I would have hair and makeup done, I knew exactly where the shoot would take place.  It all just came to me and that creative side of me was ready to go….in fact, she couldn’t wait (yes, I just talked about myself in the third person!).

Here’s the thing … when I get inspired like this, I can hardly think about anything else but that until it’s out of my head into my camera!  The creative takes over, it sees everything, and it NEEDS to get out.  With my crazy busy schedule, I wasn’t expecting to have time to do it soon but then a random cancellation happened and I wanted to take advantage of that while I could!

It was magic!  From the first snap of my camera, to the editing of the images, I was inspired!  My daily inspiration comes from all my FABULOUS clients….they make my days so bright and fill me with complete and total joy!  The inspiration I found in getting this vision to come to life was something so different and something I enjoyed.  You see, I loved the creative and artistic side of photography, which is why I fell in love with it all this years ago.  I need to remember that while running a business — we often forget that.

I’m promising in 2018 to do more inspirational shoots that are just for me.  Get ready for some awesome stuff!!

Now, enjoy some photos from the session…..

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Hair and makeup by Pittsburgh Makeup Artist, Kristen Tatko

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Boudoir For Single Ladies?

A boudoir session is FOR YOU!  While most of the time my clients come to me for what starts as a gift for someone else, I adore those women who want to celebrate themselves!

Follow the links below for all the details on boudoir shoots:

~BOOK YOUR BOUDOIR! Complete a short questionnaire to start the booking process

~BOUDOIR PRICING DETAILS!  Pittsburgh Boudoir Photo Shoot Information

~ Need Assistance with Your Shoot? Check out these boudoir tips!

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In my early 20s, I spent too much energy trying to be something I wasn’t.  I felt like I was unworthy of love and I constantly tried to change myself into something or someone I thought people could love.  When I’d meet someone new, if they liked coffee, I suddenly liked coffee (though I’m a tea and caramel frap girl).  If they liked skiing, I’d *try* to ski (I hate skiing and have NEVER been successful at it).  If they liked brussel sprouts,  I did too (ugh – worst food ever).  If they weren’t creeped out by the word “moist,” neither was I (gosh, that’s the worst word in the English language).

You see.  I didn’t think that who I was was enough for someone.  That I was always trying to find someone or something to make me happy – never realizing that I could be happy just being me.  Think of all those wasted years and tears I could have saved had I just learned this from the beginning.  When you’re content with who you are, you won’t allow yourself to get into situations where you find yourself with people who don’t value you.

This is why I love when single ladies decide to do a boudoir shoot.  I want to help them see their worth, boost their confidence, and show them that they don’t need anyone else to be amazing.  Don’t waste time on people that don’t matter.  Value yourself!

At the end of the day….

I’m Maura.

I’m raw, I’m real, and I’m unapologetically myself.

I like lighthouses, I like the ocean but hate sand, I love waterfalls, I like to hike, I love laughing, I love the smell of campfires.  I love bringing joy to the lives of women, I don’t care what pants size I am, I don’t want to hide myself from those around me.  We all deserve to be ourselves.  Learning to love ourselves is a brave thing to do but we are each so unique and so wonderful.  You don’t have to apologize for being you!!!  Just be you!  The world will accept you when they see you embracing your unique self!

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{Inspiration Session} Warehouse Dream Shoot

 

I have this friend.  She had a shoot with me last year.  I immediately loved her.  We both mentioned that we’d be best friends if she lived closer.  She came from 2 hours away for her session with me.  I was honored.  We laughed, we cried, and we had a blast.  I loved her first session.

As I was watching from the sidelines, I noticed that she cut her hair … SHORT!  Like, super short!  And, instantly I was inspired!  Knowing that she let me share her photos the last time, I thought she’d be interested in doing an inspiration shoot with me!  I knew immediately that I wanted to show off that SHORT IS SEXY!

We see long hair and beautiful curls in most of the boudoir phots that are shown.  I wanted to give a shout out to the ladies with short hair to show them that they are pretty fantastic!  I’m inclusive of all looks and I loved getting to showcase this beauty.

I knew how I wanted to style her and where I wanted to do this shoot.  There is an abandoned warehouse that I love to use for these shoots.  We did some stuff inside the studio, then went out to have some fun!  It was absolutely perfect and everything I had envisioned.

Check her out….and check out what she had to say at the end of this post!


After I took the above photo, I stopped immediately.  I had to tell her something.  You see, this woman has been through a lot of struggles — things that most of us don’t imagine happening to us.  In this moment, I saw her OWNING her sexuality.  It was hers to give, hers to share, hers to celebrate!  I love seeing that in her!  She is deserving of so much.  At the end of this post, I’ll share with you what she said after this inspirational shoot!

I love looking at these photos!  I messaged her as I was writing this blog post telling her that I was crying.  And, I wasn’t sure why.  I just LOVED seeing this amazingly confident woman!  Her strength that is portrayed in these photos is something that I am so very proud to share on my blog.  I’m so honored to be a part of her journey and share these experiences with her.  THIS is what my job is about….changing women for the better!

Lastly, I leave you with what she said:

“It was a year ago today I met Maura and had my shoot. I had booked it as a gift for my husband’s 30th birthday, but I never imagined how much that shoot would end up affecting me.

I was sexually and physically abused from a very young age, and never had a very high level of self-esteem. My husband has always been super patient with me and my recovery and constantly goes out of his way to make me feel loved and important, so I thought “What better gift to give him than for me to maybe step into these shoes and finally see what he sees?”

From the moment I walked in the door, Maura made me feel like a VIP. I can only imagine that this is what Ashley Graham feels like when she walks onto a set. I was on cloud 9 all day, even after the shoot was over, and when I finally got to see those pictures, my jaw hit the floor. “Wait…THAT’S ME?!!”

Maura has FOREVER changed how I feel about myself. I no longer step on the scale every day and stress over a fraction of a pound. I no longer wear baggy clothes to hide my ridiculous insecurities. I didn’t immediately take all my shoot lingerie to Goodwill…I bust it out randomly and wear it PROUDLY (and with the lights on!!) 😉

I am good enough. I am sexy. I am worth loving. WE ALL ARE. 

****

Hair and makeup by Pittsburgh Makeup Artist, Kristen Tatko.

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Amaze-balls

Amaze-balls???  Yup, that’s how she described her session!  I love that my clients feel so happy and overjoyed after their shoot!

Follow the links below for all the details on boudoir shoots:

~TIME TO SCHEDULE! Complete a short questionnaire to start the booking process

~BOUDOIR PRICING DETAILS!  Pittsburgh Boudoir Photo Shoot Information

~ Need Assistance with Your Shoot? Check out these boudoir tips!

****

This blog post in her words!

1) Why did you decide to invest in a boudoir photo shoot?  I had been working and still working very hard with my body. I wanted to feel amazing for myself inside as well for my husband. I did this for our Anniversary that is coming up and as a reminder for him once we grow older together.

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2) How did you feel about yourself before your photo shoot?  Well terrible, I’m my worse critic. I have a hard time with self love. Some thing I’ll probably struggle with for a while until I can let go of my struggles.

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3) How did you feel about yourself after your photo shoot?  During my session I saw me finally standing in that mirror. It was easy for me to be in front of that camera. Now after today, hot damn I feel so much better about myself. And now all I want to do is just keep making myself better.

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4) Describe your session in 3 words?  Fun, amaze-balls, and incredible.

sexy photo of woman on bed during pittsburgh boudoir photo shoot

5) What was your favorite part of the boudoir photo shoot?  Maura’s energy and the laughs and talks we shared that allowed me to be more at ease with myself.

6) What would you say to other women who are considering a boudoir photo shoot?  To absolutely do it and with my chick, Maura!!!

Here’s what she said once she gave the gift to her husband:

I was just more excited to give him this gift. And boy was he shocked. And loved it! Truthfully, he’s still in shock. But the biggest gift came back to me after he looked through the book several times, he said he was so proud of me! Proud, because he knows my battles inside and out. He knows how I feel about myself deep down and scars that limit me. But he saw something different in me these past few months that he knows I’m making some changes slowly but surely. I know I can’t forget and forgive everything right away but I’m a work in progress and I’m okay with that because today I feel beautiful, I feel sexy and proud to be me. And my husband knows how hard it was for me to be in front of that camera but absolutely in love with the work, that I think he wants me to do it again! 

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