“I got changed and the shoot started. I have no words that can explain what happened in that hour we spent in the studio. I had so much fun, smiling away and laughing!”
My journey started in November 2015 when my brother’s girlfriend showed me her pictures from her photo shoot. She had a shoot done in the August for her 21st birthday. Wow, she looked amazing! Not that she doesn’t usually but these pictures really had the ‘WOW’ factor. She looked so beautiful, happy and relaxed. I thought to myself it would be nice to have my pictures done but she is a beautiful young twenty-year-old, no it isn’t for me. I liked the Kensa Facebook page and just looked at the lovely pictures popping up. Please be aware that I have always been quite a confident person, happy to talk away to anyone but not body confident at all. During July and August of 2015, I really struggled at work trying to do too much and being a ‘yes’ person that I exhausted myself to the point where I was signed off work with anxiety and worry. I then went to counselling to learn how to deal with my worry and realised that where I thought I couldn’t complete my work because ‘I was not good enough’ was actually not the case. I couldn’t complete all the work I was given because I was trying to do 4 full time job roles within one full hour job. Taking work home and missing out on time with my family, starting at 8am until nearly 6pm and then loading up the laptop at home from 8pm until 11pm. Not a healthy working lifestyle at all.
Over time, the pictures began popping up a bit more regularly. There were some really cheeky ones that I liked the look of as well as just beautiful pictures. Around about May time 2017 I saw a couple of really great pictures and showed them to my husband. I mentioned that I was thinking about doing this, and he said to go for it if it’s something I’d like to do! I had now left my old job and reduced my hours and beginning to find my old self again. Being a mum, doing the school run but also still working and starting to feel worthy and appreciated again. Once again though I still didn’t feel fully comfortable with myself or brave enough to have a photo shoot, so I left it and just kept looking at all the pictures that kept popping up. I showed them to my best friend and she was telling me to have it done but again, it just didn’t feel right. The women I was looking at were all so beautiful I just didn’t think I would look any good.
Christmas 2017 we went to my parent’s house just before New Year and my brother’s girlfriend and I went to watch The Greatest Showman – what a film! It really struck a chord with me, accept people and yourself for who you are was the message I got from it. The song ‘This is Me’ made me think. Be who you want to be, you are beautiful, love yourself for who you, don’t apologise for being you, you are a beautiful person inside and out.
New Year (2018) came, time for a new me. I am going to love myself as my husband tells me I am beautiful and he loves me for being the kind, lovely, caring, sexy person that I am. Maybe I am not sexy, but I am all the other things. I began doing Slimming World at home as I had done it before and knew the rules, along with the Tom Kerridge recipes and decided to lose a bit of weight. I commented on one of the Kensa posts that was about a weight loss journey.
End of January 2018 a private message popped up on Facebook asking if I would like to have a chat about a possible photo shoot. I still don’t think this was for me but a chat about it wouldn’t hurt, would it??? I gave my number and within a couple of days the lovely Karen gave me a call. She was so lovely and by the end of the call it felt like I was talking to an old friend. I was so relaxed just chatting away and telling her how the film, The Greatest Showman had really affected me and that I was really considering doing the shoot but wanted to lose a bit of weight. At the time Kensa were booking a couple of months ahead so we discussed booking in for April. I confirmed I would check all the details with my husband etc and maybe book in the following week, Karen said she would call back in a week’s time.
As promised the following week, Karen called and I booked the shoot for April 18th 2018. That was it, I was going to have a shoot done. I was so excited, nervous, apprehensive, unsure, so many emotions but over time I got more and more excited. It was all I talked about to my close friends as the time got nearer. I asked my best friend if she would come with me for moral support and she was very happy to come too. By the time the shoot came around I had lost 2 stone in total. I had a rock n roll dress that still had the tags on it from Christmas 2015 which I had not worn and I wanted to take with me. A week before my shoot, I tried it on and it fitted – what a relief.
The closer it got to the shoot the more excited I felt! The song ‘This is Me’ from the film really made me believe in myself that I am who I am, and I just have to accept that and go with it so I was going to make the best of this experience. I love a matching underwear set and I also love a nice stiletto pair of shoes, so I started thinking about what I might wear. I have a few pairs for Ruby Shoo and other nice heels and so my wardrobe of what I was going to take was mostly decided around the shoes. My husband is a huge Man Utd fan so I knew I wanted to take one of his shoes and I also took his scarf in case I felt braver later in the shoot. Several pairs of shoes and outfits later, I was packed and ready, and this was a week before! Those people who suffer with anxiety know for some of us we have to plan. Being packed and organised was part of my control and so having this done early was important to me, still feeling some anxiety about it the shoot but as ready as I could be. A few days before another phone call came through from Karen checking I was still happy to go ahead with my shoot the following week. At the time I felt very in control and still excited, I had booked in to have my nails done, something I have only ever done once before for my wedding that was almost 15 years ago! I was ready and couldn’t wait.
April 18th had arrived I was so excited, a little nervous but knew it was now or never, let’s do this! I picked up my friend and we headed off to Crediton which was about an hour’s drive away. We chatted away in the car with a couple of silences where I was still processing in my mind that I was about to have this shoot done. Got to Crediton and went into the studio. We were greeted by the lovely Elaine who did my hair and make-up. Talking with Elaine was like being with an old friend again! She was really chatty and we talked about all sorts whilst she did my hair and makeup. I explained that I never wear makeup, in fact the last time I had a full face of makeup on was nearly 15 years prior, on my wedding day. Elaine reassured me that although a lot of makeup was required for the lighting she would keep it quite natural. Karen then appeared and again we began chatting some more. Some music was put on – The Greatest Showman sound track and at once I was relaxed again and decided that I am never going to do something like this again and I do not want to come away regretting that I had not fully enjoyed the shoot so I was just going to go for it! Elaine said that’s it, take a look – Wow, was that me? I knew it was me but I looked different, I was now really excited!!
Karen, my friend and I went into the studio, it was an amazing room with a beautiful bed, a chaise lounge, a dressing table, lots of props, it was lovely.
Karen and I discussed my outfits, most importantly the shoes and I explained that I would like something done with the Man Utd shirt and scarf, if I was daring enough! We picked out the options we were going to do and I got changed. Karen said we will start with the black and red 2 piece, stockings and suspenders and grey/red heels! I said not the dress first??? Karen’s reply was we may as well just go straight into it shall we? She knew I was ready and wanted to dive straight in I just needed a gentle push. This was done in a very relaxed way, Karen knew that I wanted to do it and just needed a gentle push in the right direction. Karen is so professional but in a friendly relaxed manner that I was happy to go with it.
I got changed and the shoot started. I have no words that can explain what happened in that hour we spent in the studio. I had so much fun, smiling away and laughing! I even got my heel caught in the bed which could only happen to me but again it was like hanging out with my friend. Karen made me feel so special and important but so relaxed at the same time! It is definitely the best thing I have ever done for me. Having my two children and marrying my husband are obviously the most important things to me but this is right up there with them. You cannot describe the feeling you get from having the shoot done, it is magical!
Anyway, the shoot was over, time to get dressed and go home and await the viewing session. Karen and I picked a date for 2 weeks later to go and view them with my husband, he would be shocked when he sees which pictures I posed for. I posed in front of Karen in a way I have never stood in front of my husband. That is the confidence Karen gave me! I felt so comfortable in my own skin and just enjoyed being me.
My life for the next two weeks revolved around the shoot, it was all I could talk about! I talked about it to everyone telling them it was the best day, you should have it done, can’t wait to see my pictures. When I met with my friend that came with me and her family, again it was all I talked about – do you remember this from the shoot, I think I had a picture like this, wasn’t that bit funny… I think everyone was getting sick of me talking about it but they could also see how excited I was about it all and how much inner confidence and self-esteem it had given me.
Viewing day, May 2018 my husband and I were driving to Crediton to view my pictures. My questions now were, what if we don’t like any of them, what if they do not look like me, what if my husband doesn’t like them… the questions kept coming. We arrived and my husband didn’t even realise that the picture on screen was me, he had to have a double look! We viewed all the pictures, I have no words. There wasn’t one that I did not like. They all looked like me but a beautiful, sexy, gorgeous me. It was whilst viewing them that I realised these pictures were all of me, yes I did have make-up on and my hair was styled, but the picture looking back at me was ME! I am beautiful, gorgeous, sexy like my husband keeps telling me so but it was only through seeing the photos with the huge smile on my face that I realised the beauty looking back at me was inside me, not just on the outside, but from within.
My husband and I could not pick which of the photos to have. We choose some but then realised there was some we didn’t have that we also liked, then the decision was made – WE WILL HAVE THEM ALL!!! Please understand we have not won the lottery, we do not have a big savings pot but this is what my husband said to me. “I have been telling you for years how beautiful and sexy you are and you just laugh it off, and if it takes having these pictures to realise that then we will get them.” I look at these pictures and now myself in the mirror and realise he is right. When you buy the pictures, you are not just buying photos it is the emotion and confidence that it instils within you. If you could bottle what the Kensa ladies have done for me it would cost millions. I realise now that I am still the kind, lovely, caring lady I was before but also beautiful, sexy and gorgeous too. I may not be a size 6, with the right length or colour hair, the right size bust or waist but I am me and that is absolutely fine.
About a week later, Nicky phoned me to say my photos that I ordered were ready to be collected. Once again, I looked at them and still could not believe how great they were. I have put about 8 of them up in frames in the house and I show them to everyone. Well everyone that wants to look at them, although I do not give some of them a choice haha!
I have now begun to stalk the Kensa team. Every time there is new post on the Kensa pictures I can’t wait to take a look and comment as every one of them are beautiful. When one comes up of yourself it is even more exciting!!
Thank you so much to the Kensa ladies you have given me so much confidence and self-belief that I did not think was possible. I am so pleased I found the will power to book the shoot and I did it. My life literally revolves around talking about my shoot and the Kensa team, trying to convince my friends to have a shoot too. In fact, I have not stopped talking about it so much that I have decided to lose a bit more weight to make myself healthier. As I have said before I am happy with the way I am but want to be able to do more and be more fit so I have returned to Slimming World. My husband has said that when I get to target he will pay for me to have a second shoot. Well that is my incentive, I can’t wait! Two weeks in and 5lb down already!