Guest Blog Post By Teri Hofford
Like most people you probably hate to have your picture taken (unless you've had a few drinks) and to be honest, you aren't alone. I would estimate that just about everyone dislikes having a camera pointed in their direction, just as much as hearing their voice on a recording (cue the shudder and ewwwwww).
You'll be happy to know that you aren't alone. In fact, I can tell you as an empowerment photographer I have never had a client book a session BECAUSE they know they that they look Bangin in all their photos - if anything, almost everyone uttered their distaste for seeing themselves in a photograph with a series of "ew" "ick" or "this is my good side".
Well, I'm here to tell you that ALL sides are good side and how you show up in a photograph is entirely up to you. "But, Teri! You are the photographer!! That's your job to make me look good!!" You might be screaming at whatever screen you are viewing this on, but I promise you that ALL of you looks good. Because you have infinite possible angles and all of them lead to one thing: you, as the awesome amazing, terrific, phenomenal person that you are. We have just been taught that one angle is superior to another, for no other reason than it adheres to the current beauty standards. We let a "bad" angle ruin our day, our self-confidence and detract from all our successes - all because we don't look "perfect".
So I urge you, the next time you see a photo where you don't look "perfect" to stop and consider WHAT you were doing, WHO you were with and HOW you felt because that, to me, is more interesting - because it is YOU, invested in this amazing thing called life and that photo is just a documentation of a split second of your entire life. Don't let a "bad angle" determine whether it's worth keeping, because ALL of you are worthy!
Teri is on our storyteller panel at the Ladylike Chat Vol. 2 in Winnipeg, August 24th! There are still a few early bird event tickets left reserve yours HERE
ABOUT Teri Hofford:
Teri Hofford is an inspirational speaker, empowerment photographer and body image activist based out of Winnipeg, Manitoba. After having been at both ends of the weight spectrum herself, Teri realized that achieving the "perfect" body was not the answer, but rather, finding contentment with the size and shape that one is at in the present is the key to feeling complete and confident. From this, Teri created an empowerment empire, which includes her photography business Teri Hofford Photography, BODY IMAGE BOOTCAMP (™), and everyBODIES Education, 3 resources which help women and photographers overcome their body image issues, so they can shift their focus from changing their bodies, to changing the world.
1) What exactly is an empowerment photographer?
Well I kinda coined that term because "boudoir photographer" seemed to niche - like you HAVE to wear very little clothing, but I think the empowerment comes from the intent behind the shoot - so as long as whatever you are wearing makes you feel like...the best version of you, then it's empowerment photography! So if wearing nothing empowers you - awesome!! If a floor-length ball gown with Marie Antoinette hair empowers you- perfect!
I also wanted to create a title for the type of photography that is for the person having the photo taken - it's not for the partner, it's not for the family, it's not for anyone else - it's purely for the subject who graces my lens and they can choose who they want to share that experience and those images with - if they want to.
2) As a body image activist, how and why did you get into that line of work?
Like most women, weight and body size took up about 95% of my brainpower for ,a good 26 years of my life...I was a larger kid growing up, lost 100lbs in Korea, and have since gained in back (and then some). I realized that when I was at "an ideal weight" or where I thought I was supposed to be, I still was critiquing the shit out of my body - I just moved onto other parts of my body instead. Then after photographing so many women and hearing every single one of them tell me how much they hated their bodies regardless of their size or shape I realized maybe body image had nothing to do with the actual body - and Holy shit, I was right 😂. I started studying the science and psychology of body image and that led me down the path to help people liberate themselves from their body! I'm don't care if you become body positive, let's get you body neutral.
3) Why is body image a problem in our society
The patriarchy!! Haha, but seriously the systemic oppression in bodies, particularly large bodies of colored folx has been around for ages. On a personal level, I think it's a first-world problem - we are bored and put on this treadmill of continual "progress" - like until you learn to be content, you'll never be content. I don't think people in 3rd world countries are worried about their waist size when they are running for their lives.
4) Do you notice a commonality among your photography clients?Everyone hates the way they look in photos (until I show them otherwise ;) ) and everyone apologizes for some part of their body - me included and it has to stop.
5) What does 'More Than Beautiful' mean to you?
I think striving for beauty is so boooring. I did a poll to see if people preferred interesting photos over flattering photos and everyone said they like interesting images, but the next question asked "if it is a photo off YOU do you prefer interesting or flattering" and everyone picked flattering - uuuuuugh. Stop trying to be symmetrical, stop trying to make your body fit the current standard - CREATE YOUR OWN STANdARD!! In essence, more than beautiful means interesting, intriguing, clever, curious, imperfect, wobbly, etc.
6) Why are the Ladylike Chats important?
Over my years as a photographer, speaker and body image activist I have seen the power of women coming together in groups to support each other and realize we aren't alone. To be heard is amazing, to be seen is amazing, and LadyLike Chats allow us to do that .they also give us better conversations than "omigod you look so god have you lost weight? How's your keto diet going? How many calories are you eating? I feel fat tell me I'm pretty". It's conversations of substance, radical inclusion and change.
7) One tip for someone struggling with body image issues?
Pay attention. Listen to what you are saying about yourself and about others. Listen to what others are saying about themselves, about others, and about you. Watch what you take in in terms of content and notice how it makes you feel. Once you start seeing and hearing, you can then decide what you want to do to move forward.
Oh and look at your body naked. Every day. Get close 🤩