The last few months I’ve delivered portraits to beautiful women, women that share something specific in common: their over looked ages. A gift for her husband of 20+ years. A gift, ultimately, for her. As she pulled the images out of the gorgeous silk box she had ordered, she quietly, so quietly said, “I will LOVE to look at these when I am 80.” I nearly cried…Another woman giving herself birthday gift, she hadn’t had portraits taken since she was 50…A woman who found herself divorced after many years in a lifeless marriage, looking to meet someone in this “modern age” of online dating.
Each of them seeing themselves, really, seeing themselves for the first time. “I will love to look at these when I’m 80….Oh, I had no idea I look like that….My daughter said this is how she sees me….I think I can date now….”
Working with women “North of 40” and seeing them react like that shakes around a few memory brain cells I haven’t heard from in a while…When I was a teen, (years and years ago, cough, cough) and knew who the hottest movie stars were, seriously, I see People Magazine and have no idea who 90% of them are now, I rolled my eyes at the constant whining I heard from actresses over 35. I didn’t understand what they were talking about when they said they “feel invisible”, “don’t get as many offers”, “have to audition now”. Of course, now that I’m in that demographic, I get it. My clients get it: society blocks you out when you’re “too old”.
Now, I find myself counting how many male actors are in a movie or TV show vs. how many women. I try to calculate how many women are over 35 in any given movie. How many are cast as beautiful, sexy characters. The numbers are disheartening to say the least, especially considering that common wisdom keeps drilling into our heads that women reach their sexual prime “later in life”.
So it should come as no surprise that I absolutely ADORE sessions with women “of a certain age”. Some photographers call them Forty (or Fifty) and Fabulous. Mature portraits. Whatever. I’ll stay with “of a certain age”, or, hmmm, how about bel âge?
Lately I have had many women in my studio as who are north of fifty. North of sixty. We have an absolute blast together. The women who give me the honor of letting me make their portraits are generally a sassy bunch, but these ladies put everyone to shame. I should start asking permission to share their sassy stories. Are you in the bel âge group? What’s YOUR story? How do you imagine your portrait session? Share with me; I’m listening. xo