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  • Writer's pictureSara Marsden-Shreeve

How I Captured My Confidence!

Female Portraiture

So, as you may or may not know…I’m pretty okay with my 41 year old body. Whaattt?! Before you ask, no I am not buff. nor am I toned, tanned or particularly svelte, but hey, my boobs and butt cheeks are still holding things together… What can I say, it’s mine and it allows me to walk and talk, it also attracted a mate, then gave me two remarkable children and is pretty damn efficient at tolerating home measures of gin & tonic.

Yes I could ‘upgrade’ by going on weird diets and intense exercise regimes but meh, I’m good for now and not feeling inclined to be miserable. I’d choose a weekly canter and smaller portions every time.

My body ninja tool kit consists of colour trickery, baubles, bags, clothes knowledge, learned confidence skills and a positive mind-set.

Anyhoo, through my work I’ve always made it my soul purpose to make sure each client goes away with more confidence in their bodies, than when we first met. More self-respect, more things to notice and love about themselves and more knowledge to apply to their wardrobe to look and feel better. It’s therefore, always heart-warming to read testimonials, receive gifts and thank yous from happy women who’ve experienced positive results.

However, I’ve always wished I could capture their new confidence in some way and keep it going indefinitely.

So I wanted to create something that they could experience, look at and treasure for those times of disbelief that I know they have, hell we all have. I wanted it to be a reminder of their beauty and bloody well keep believing it.. to see it with their own eyes whenever a 'pick me up' is required. A Pandora’s Box of loveliness, to peek at.

Now I know that the majority of us hate having our picture taken (me included) but what if we could actually have great ones, done in a comfortable location, with chilled out peeps who will make you look and feel amazeballs? Heck you wouldn’t even have to panic about what to wear?

No more shitty selfies, half shut eyes or awkward Facebook tags from smug friends, who seem to look way much better than you in them. I’m talking proper professional photos my dears with a Stylist & Image Coach, Photographer Extraordinaire and a Hair & Make-Up Wizard.

Yes…I got excited! I'd want it too!


They say “where focus goes, energy flows” so I set to getting it sorted, a marvellous collaboration was urgently required. So, I thought "get a frickin photographer girlfriend", then a hair and makeup guru and go from there. Easy peasy...." Oh and one more thing, you’re going to set your stall and get your kit off luv"! Practice what you preach as they say. Right……?!

So after seeking high and low; well not really, fate brought us altogether, serious laws of attraction working (that’s another story), I can present to you, the girl power crew. Who on several occasions supped copious amounts of coffee, ate cake, researched, amused Bertie the dog, brainstormed, wrote plans and removed items from Bertie the dog (his mouth) to put together this idea.


Beverley Perkins Photographer Natalie Fox Make-Up Artist Sara Marsden-Shreeve (Me) Bertie The Dog

Obviously, I stepped forward and offered myself as a guinea pig, that way I could experience the idea first hand and also figured that this would also help iron out the processes and build a more personalised package. Truth!


To start the ball rolling, I discussed the ideas/looks I liked and pinned these plus photographs I found, to a Pinterest board for us to comment and share on. I then added pics of what I wanted to wear so Bev could get the creative juices flowing for the studio and lighting.

Then my pre shoot preening commenced a few days before the big day and mainly consisted of de-fuzzing, exfoliation, moisturising, nail neatening and anal bleaching (I’m joking) Lots of water was drunk and booze was shelved the night before.


After being greeted by a bouncing Bertie, a piece of cake and a fresh coffee. I got changed into my slippers and dressing gown and sashayed over to Natalie, who was stood waiting with brushes flexed and what looked like the whole of the MAC counter, complete with lotions, sprays, straighteners and dryers. I kid you not, I thought I should be on a film set.

By the way, our lovely Natalie has worked on loads of cool stuff, ranging from music videos to films and even Downton Abbey, no less, plus she's also a wig specialist.

After being beautified, I then got changed into a fluffy jumper and started off on a comfortable clothing level. Now, as I’m the Style Guru, I had the advantage of already knowing what would suit and work, so I won’t go on about my personal selection process, that’s something that a client would enjoy pre shoot.

On entering the home studio, I felt a bit of nerves, these ladies were going to see my flesh under all this dazzling equipment. However, Bev, our established (20 years+) photo queen, guided me heartily through various poses and shared photography secrets of flattering angles whilst Natalie poofed my hair and powdered my nose.

I soon relaxed and had to hold in my sniggers frequently when Bev asked me to give her “more” and then do the “turtle neck” when required. We had so much fun I forgot I’d only got my under crackers on, at times. At one point I’m pretty sure I was stood there in heels doing the classic wonder woman pose (hands on hips) in my bra and pants without batting an eyelid.

No one was staring at me, no one cared, as they were both busy tweaking cameras and being arty. I felt as “naked as a fish” (Bev’s term) and it felt strangely powerful. Hell I could’ve been a cave woman a squillion years ago donning an otter pelt and grunting loudly to attract a rugged neanderthal. I reckon from now on I will seriously use that feeling to anchor my confidence when it flounders. I wonder if that’s why nudists are so cocky. No pun intended.

It's true I would have gone totally organic with a few twigs if it wasn’t for running out of time but Bertie’s beloved decapitated duck toy was the only thing closest to hand. After a couple of hours-ish we were done, several outfits and varying poses and back drops later.


A week later, I returned, this time to view my images. Now, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit nervous but I also felt giddy with anticipation. It was even better when I noticed Bev had turned her studio into what seemed like a mini Showcase Cinema. Dark and comfy, with a projector screen and everything. I had my own private screening of my photos like a show reel with a soundtrack too, how awesome is that?

I then got to freely say which ones I liked, wasn’t sure about, or didn’t like, using a computerised emoji system, which it then showed me the final loved ones altogether. They all looked so different and glamorous and I’d not seen myself looking that good before. The hard bit was choosing the ones I liked the most! Here’s a looksy at just a few of the ones I chose.


After they'd been printed a few days later, I came away with a bespoke “Peek-a-Boo box with my finished images tied with a gorgeous ribbon, along with a beautifully blingy USB stick containing the digital versions, to do with what I liked. You know, maybe a dentist's waiting room or an interesting coffee table conversation piece :) !

However, equally as important, I left that room with pride as I had beaten my photo phobia and stood strong in my own skin, bumps and all.

As experiences go, we all agreed that it was successful. It not only celebrated the beautiful female form, whether it be in a portraiture or boudoir-esque style, but it provided an open book to explore one's confidence.

So, whatever you feel comfortable with, from a ball gown to nipple tassels, I'd say it would definitely provide an opportunity to capture that dormant inner confidence and give your outer beauty a loving pamper in a unique way, flexible to your tastes and just for you!

All that with professional girl power and a sprinkling of fun, something we hope you’d cherish forever. I know I will! So come join us and have a go, We'd love to meet you

Sara x


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