The Permission to Feel Beautiful


Sometimes people need permission. As adults, it’s a hard concept to grasp because we’d like to believe we’re past the point of someone ever granting us permission to do something. I mean, some of the greatest things about being adult is eating dessert before dinner and jumping on the hotel bed! Sorry, Mom, I’m sad to say all those years of telling me NO hasn’t done a thing for my maturity.

In more practical terms, I believe people sometimes need the permission to be honest, even when it hurts. Permission to be real, even if it’s awkward. And–more relatable for girls–the permission to feel beautiful. It’s a funny thing for me to even write, but I’ve been thinking about this for months now and I’m fully convinced of this notion. Yes, there are the rare species of females who are okay in their own skin (namely, the seven-foot, spandex-wearing blond with blue eyes, who sits in the front row of my spin class), but for the most of us it’s not that easy. Especially when it has to happen in front of a camera.

When I shoot my clients, I take a few seconds to let them know that in that moment, between us, it’s totally okay to feel beautiful. I’m not behind my camera thinking to myself, What is she doing?! In fact, it’s quite the opposite. My insides beg for a girl to blossom confidently in front of my camera, so when she gets back in her car with her fiance, she feels radiant and loved. When that happens, I’ve done my job.

If you’re a photographer, I want to encourage you to remind your clients they have the permission to feel beautiful. But don’t say it like that. I give you the permission to feel beautiful. That’s plain weird. But you get the idea. Remind your clients it’s okay for them to let their guard down and commit to getting the type of pictures they’ve always wanted. It really does go a long way.

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  1. grayella

    March 21st, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    Love this…I think I will go jump on my bed now!

  2. Ron Dawson

    March 21st, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    I just wanted to comment to see if I can be the first person to comment on a Jasmine* post. πŸ™‚ You sure are a prolific writer Ms. D.

  3. Mel

    March 21st, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    I soooo agree with you! One of the biggest compliments I have heard is when I heard a client tell another one that I made them feel so comfortable. I was thrilled…comfortable to just be who they are and let that inner rockstar RAWR! I hope to some day get to be in front of your camera so I can feel the same! Much love to you j* πŸ™‚

  4. Amy Carson

    March 21st, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    Amazing post Jasmine, couldnt be more true!

  5. NathG

    March 21st, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    So beautifully said…thanks x

  6. Zarah

    March 21st, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    That is a wonderful, wonderful notion. Reading this makes me happy. πŸ™‚

  7. arielle joy

    March 21st, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    Lovely post J. Well said! <3

  8. Cheryl Greenfield

    March 21st, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    ~And that it a beautiful thought.. no matter what age or place we are in … being truly oneself ( a unique experience)…and content to be and to learn to be comfortable in one’s own skin– and caught that way by an empathetic, caring photographer who is like a cheer-leader…how cool and great is that? Congrats on this blog post!Encouraging and upbuilding… what all need;-)

  9. Gareth Robins (Auckland Wedding & Portrait Pho

    March 21st, 2010 at 8:42 pm

    This is such good advice Jasmine. I find it particularly true with some of the guys. It’s amazing how many times they just stiffen up when the lens cap comes off. I spend a bit of time making them relaxed, and when they do I find their fiance/bride also relaxes too.

  10. feuza

    March 21st, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    Such great advice and a tip for learning more of this is to get our pictures done so we know how clients feel and allow ourselves to feel beautiful as well

  11. Lisa Richmond

    March 21st, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    Beautifully said Jasmine- thank you!

  12. Delwyn

    March 21st, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    Love this post, it’s so true its a very awkward feeling trying to be confident in front of the camera especially in front of your fiance, or friends

  13. krista

    March 21st, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    so many good points! i love telling people (especially the women i shoot) that they look "amazing" and "lovely" and just seeing how that makes them glow even more. πŸ™‚

  14. Linda Sherrill

    March 21st, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    Great advice. I always ask my clients what type of photo they’ve always imagined would hang on their wall. They usually have a pretty good idea of what that would look like. This is so much a part of that concept!

  15. ajira

    March 21st, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    Yes! It’s an amazing gift to share with someone- showing them the beauty you see inside them! @Feuza has the right idea- get in front of a camera and practice allowing your beauty to shine through. No fear, trust!

  16. Yasmin Tajik

    March 21st, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    What a simple reminder to step away from the technical and return to a notion that will make everyone’s portraits sparkle!

  17. Christine Meintjes

    March 21st, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    Jasmine, I read your blog all the time, but hardly ever comment. Not because I don’t want to, but because you always have the PERFECT words and then I don’t know what to write. πŸ™‚ But this time I just have to say YOU GO GIRL! This is your best blog post so far! I totally agree! I believe as photographers we are called to make people realize how beautiful they truly are!

  18. Jamie Worley

    March 21st, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    We were just talking about this yesterday. I so love it when a client who thinks they are not attractive is able to relax and feel beautiful! πŸ™‚

  19. Christa

    March 21st, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    Great advice! This is true in every aspect of life.
    Thanks for the gentle reminder πŸ™‚

  20. Mandy Poole

    March 21st, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    I am a photographer as well, and I really connected with your last paragraph. I find it hard being behind the camera when I think that I’m making someone uncomfortable.. You try to crack a joke or two to get them to feel a little more loose, but I know personally if I think I don’t look my best it will show on film. But you can’t have super friendly-intimate relationships with every client, so you have to do the best you can. Love your blog btw, will be returning again tomorrow πŸ™‚

  21. Julie Massie

    March 21st, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    I LOVE this, Jasmine! L.O.V.E. this! It’s such a simple thing, that I’ve really never thought about before…I always use terms like "you can be yourself" or "feel free to have a little fun" but the way you put it is perfect. God bless you girl. You truly are beautiful yourself!

  22. Kare

    March 21st, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    THAT is a fantastic reminder. I always assume clients will know I want them to look and feel fabulous, but I know saying it to them will go a long way. Thanks J.

  23. Leah Remillet

    March 21st, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    I love this post! It’s such a special opportunity we have as photographers and so many miss it! I’m so happy you said this!

  24. cynthia Rust

    March 21st, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    Thank you so much for these words of wisdom to photographers. I appreciate so much the willingness of professional photographers to share such valuable information and advice. I want to be able to do this for my clients as well! Thanks Jasmine!

  25. Christine Pobke

    March 21st, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    I heart you. For realz. This is such a beautiful post and I so whole-heartedly agree with your sentiments. This is what we do as photographers, and your post is a perfect reminder of that: making people feel beautiful and loved, and celebrating that beauty and love. LOVE THIS! πŸ™‚ xoxo

  26. Damaris Mia

    March 21st, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    Thank you Jasmine. Thank you for posting this! Love it πŸ™‚

  27. Pol

    March 21st, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    Great post πŸ™‚

  28. Gina Sanders

    March 21st, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    Jasmine, THANK YOU for writing this! It’s exactly what we have to convince our clients of at every shoot, and it’s the foundation of our mission at our studio. Once women begin to feel comfortable and realize it’s okay to be beautiful, the results are nothing short of spectacular! You rock. Thanks for posting this. πŸ™‚

  29. Bianca

    March 21st, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    Unless they’re your twin sister and you constantly tell them to stop looking awkward in front of the camera πŸ™‚ Just sayin’…

  30. Tiffany

    March 21st, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    Did you attend Jesh de Rox’s session at WPPI? Very similar advice. I love it. Especially coming from a woman-I think it makes it that more easy for some women to believe.

  31. evie

    March 21st, 2010 at 10:41 pm

    Gosh, I really think I needed to read that just for myself. I hate being in front of the camera and can really relate when clients feel the same way. Love your perspective on this!

  32. Papi

    March 21st, 2010 at 11:10 pm

    Jas, your Mum and I have been giving you and Bianca permission, since April 6, 1980, to not only feel beautiful, but to KNOW that you are… inside and out…Ssshhh. You’re my favorite! πŸ™‚

  33. Melissa Papaj Photography

    March 21st, 2010 at 11:13 pm

    I love jumping on the bed and of course…feeling beautiful! Thanks for the reminder!

  34. Keary Dee

    March 21st, 2010 at 11:21 pm

    I LOVE this J* So true, and makes girls feel like they’re the most important thing for a few hours.

  35. Stacy Cross

    March 21st, 2010 at 11:33 pm

    Love this post . . . and the whole concept of giving our clients a space to be what they want to be in front of the camera!

  36. Evie Perez

    March 21st, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    This is so ironic. My friend and I were just talking about Jessica Simpson’s new show where she talks about what beauty is in other Countries. This is such a beautiful thing to remember!!

  37. Leora Shiff

    March 21st, 2010 at 11:50 pm

    I absolutely love this. What a great thing to say

  38. Francine

    March 22nd, 2010 at 12:03 am

    YES! You hit the nail on the head, Jasmine! I’m so glad I’ve found you. : ) I just photographed a couple celebrating their 25th anniv and the wife was SO VERY RELUCTANT, hating the way she looks, blah blah blah. After 20 minutes of "working through it", she blossomed. They were affectionate and she was glowing. If only I could articulate what I was feeling – that I knew she was beautiful and it was OK for her to let it show. You rock! (I HEART your work!)

  39. Erin Fults

    March 22nd, 2010 at 12:41 am

    Great post!

  40. Jessi

    March 22nd, 2010 at 12:58 am

    I think a lot of times people think butting on the sexy act is being beautiful. Cause well like ya said, you see the blond in spandex and think man she is HHOT I want to be just like that…and the act starts. I have found that searching for that little girl, "Girl Next Door Look" in each of us captures some of the most amazing pictures, because then we can see the person that everyone else see’s the true use, not the act.

  41. Katie Whitcomb

    March 22nd, 2010 at 1:16 am

    That was beautiful. πŸ˜‰ I swear I didn’t mean for the pun.

  42. Kaysha

    March 22nd, 2010 at 1:44 am

    Well said! Thanks for the reminder!

  43. Michelle

    March 22nd, 2010 at 2:52 am

    Excellent advice and well said. Thank you for offering this.

  44. gina

    March 22nd, 2010 at 2:58 am

    Thats a great thing to be reminded!

  45. Amber

    March 22nd, 2010 at 3:17 am

    Well said! It can be such an awkward thing! Great image!

  46. Diandra

    March 22nd, 2010 at 3:29 am

    I think sometimes my favorite part of your blog is reading what your family says πŸ™‚ Your dad’s comment made me tear up, and your sister… well she made me laugh.

  47. Thresha Benson

    March 22nd, 2010 at 3:37 am

    Well put Jasmine! We all need to be reminded of this.

  48. Carolina Gonzalez

    March 22nd, 2010 at 3:45 am

    I love this! All true and all relevant, just love it!

  49. Janeane Melton

    March 22nd, 2010 at 3:51 am

    Took the words right out of the back of every photographers mind! πŸ˜‰

  50. Theresa Minnette Photography

    March 22nd, 2010 at 4:11 am

    This is a great article!

  51. Brandi

    March 22nd, 2010 at 4:19 am

    People tell me, oh no, I’m not sexy, I don’t know how to be sexy or beautiful. I just tell them that’s not true. And, eventually.. it comes out. The funny thing is, everybody has what makes them beautiful, sexy, cute, whatever it may be.. They just need some help opening the door. πŸ™‚ That is what makes a good photographer.. Past all the technical know how… knowing how to bring out the best in everybody and make them feel like a million bucks!

  52. Nichole

    March 22nd, 2010 at 4:35 am

    I have been thinking about this lately. I totally feel what you are saying. I want my clients to feel like they can be theirself around me.I am not behind the camera evaluating them to judge them, I want them to look and feel thier best. So I can capture that!

  53. amanda thiessen

    March 22nd, 2010 at 5:43 am

    i could not agree more with this post. well said! πŸ˜‰

  54. Lydia

    March 22nd, 2010 at 6:33 am

    Beautiful words! After seeing myself in pictures tonight and feeling horrible about them, this post means so much to me. I want my clients to feel so comfortable in front of my camera that their true beauty can’t help but shine!

  55. s h e r r y

    March 22nd, 2010 at 8:16 am

    Thanks for sharing, Jasmine! I can’t wait to hear you speak in Vancouver on Tuesday. (Your line "But don’t say it like that. That’s plain weird." made me giggle! πŸ˜€

  56. dorelies

    March 22nd, 2010 at 8:32 am

    A few weeks ago after an e-session, the fiancee said to me "it was great to feel for a little time like a model – I loved it". and I loved her for that, as it maid so happy!
    And it’s great to get to know, what other photographers feel and think – as I get connected to them!!

  57. elaine gates

    March 22nd, 2010 at 10:49 am

    so very true! beautifully written!

  58. Angel Pope

    March 22nd, 2010 at 11:06 am

    Believe it or not, this starts at a pretty young age. I acted as the photographer for the PTA at my kids school over the weekend and you would not believe how this causes little girls to react. Young, perfect little girls shine if you remind them they are beautiful. I think I just get it because they are words I wish I would have heard as a little girl…I suppose it carries into adulthood.
    =) Thanks for the tidbit of advise, Jasmine. We all love you!!!

  59. Sally

    March 22nd, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    You are so inspiring, thank you. I have just done three engaement shoots last weekend, my first for over a year – (I have just had my second child) and it did take a while for us to all warm up – I think if I had spoken to them with these words of wisdom it would have happened quicker and given them permission to feel comfortable, which I think we all need at times. Definately something to help next time.

  60. Stephanie Stewart

    March 22nd, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    Love this post! It can be so hard sometimes to get clients to feel at ease and just be themselves in front of the camera…what a great idea, can’t wait to try it! Thank you!

  61. Amanda

    March 22nd, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Hi Jasmine πŸ™‚ I wish someone was there to give the photographer permission to feel beautiful. I shoot thousands of special moments every year that will become the breadcrumb trail of memories for other peoples lives. Beautiful brides, first kisses, big celebrations, giggling babies – but when my fiance and I got engaged I wanted to post a few photos of us on my blog. As I started looking I realized I’ve been with my fiance for six years and there are only 8 photos of us. 8 photos of us in existence, in all the world to represent 6 amazing years of our life together. I cried about if for a whole morning. There are no breadcrumbs for us. Why? Because I’ve never felt beautiful. And I’ve said that we will take pictures next month, next year, next time. It’s never a good hair day, or a feeling skinny day. I wish there was someone to give the photographer permission to feel beautiful.

  62. Irene

    March 22nd, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    LOVE this!!! My favorite sessions are always the ones where I can get the client out of their shell and feeling beautiful.

    I also wanted to say that those perfect blonds that you mentioned who feel comfortable in their own skin, are actually often the people LEAST comfortable! Just think of all the gorgeous people who spend their entire life NOT happy with their look and constantly getting surgery and treatments and just focusing their whole life on their looks. I think often the people who are most comfortable in their own skin (and therefore truly beautiful) are many times people who don’t meet society’s definition of "beautiful" and who honestly don’t care one tiny bit.

  63. Brittani

    March 22nd, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    This was an amazing post, J. I love it. And your girl in the photo looks gorgeous and plays up your topic perfectly. Whoever thought that the permission to feel beautiful would perfectly sum so many things up. It’s very inspiring, to think of it like that. Thank you. =)

  64. Carolyn Egerszegi

    March 22nd, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    Outstanding post Jasmine! Thanks for writing it. Effective immediately, all of my clients will be given permission to feel – and BE – beautiful!

  65. gladys jem

    March 22nd, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    Jasmine, thank you for this post. fa real. To be honest, I’ve been a bit nervous to get in front of your camera because my cheeks get in the way of my smizing. HAHA, but this truly put me at ease and now I am so much more excited for our e-session next month. Thank you for this. Heart ya!

  66. Jodi

    March 22nd, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    LOVED this post!

  67. Amber Paterson

    March 22nd, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    That is excellent advise! It does feel funny to think about, but it’s completely true. Thank you!

  68. Dustin Izatt

    March 22nd, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    Awesome advice Jasmine πŸ™‚ I really enjoyed listening to you speak this year at WPPI and have always been such a huge fan of yours. You are the most genuine and kind photographer I’ve met and so real. It’s refreshing πŸ˜‰


  69. a little bit of whimsy photography

    March 22nd, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    As per your usual.. great post!!

  70. Leah G.

    March 22nd, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    LOVE this post! Again, you’ve done a great job. Thanks for sharing your secrets!

  71. sprittibee

    March 22nd, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    Love this. So awesome. I am always after my mom for hiding from the camera. πŸ™‚ However, I have to admit that I feel most confident behind the lens myself. πŸ˜‰

  72. Dawn McCarthy

    March 22nd, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    This is so true! And it is amazing when you can actually witness the transition from shy, inhibited girl to confident, gorgeous girl. Everyone embodies a sense of beauty that belongs only to them. Great post J*.

  73. Photographer Birmingham

    March 23rd, 2010 at 4:12 am

    This was an amazing post!Thanks for sharing, Jasmine!

  74. Debbie

    March 23rd, 2010 at 5:19 am

    Everyone wants to feel beautiful (or handsome!). It’s soooo true.

  75. Brian Fletcher

    March 23rd, 2010 at 6:20 am

    SO true, Jasmine! I am always telling my clients to just be themselves and have fun…..I would much rather shoot them being themselves than posing them! It’s a lot easier with the girls than with the guys though…haha.

  76. Hannah Lundberg

    March 23rd, 2010 at 8:44 am

    This is definitely the thing I struggle with most as a photographer – having the guts to get my couples to blossom. I am working on it but I think it is as much about their confidence as mine. I have started telling them they look gorgeous and I find that helps – I mean it, I just always thought it was fake before. Now I tell they look gorgeous because I know they do and because I know it makes them feel gorgeous too.

  77. Shuva Rahim

    March 23rd, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    A great post! Thank you!!

  78. Ifong Chen

    March 23rd, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    I am the most ordinary person that people will not even notice. But you make me feel beautiful. To set in your class in WPPI was so emotional. I love your from my heart!!

  79. melissa oholendt

    March 24th, 2010 at 1:56 am

    Thank you for this. Having a couple open up in front of you and give of themselves to the camera is a gift I only hope that I can repay to them. This could be the gift I’ve been looking for.

  80. Abra Michelle

    March 24th, 2010 at 2:26 am

    Very good point. I am going to try to convey this to all of the gorgeous women I photograph.

  81. SqueakDog Pet Photography

    March 24th, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    I love this post! I primarily photograph dogs, and fortunately they typically feel beautiful! But every so often I get a very shy dog. I have to give lots of extra hugs, love, and treats-and once they start to feel comfortable, their beauty sines through πŸ™‚

  82. cassandra-m

    March 25th, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    I was on vacation and feel like I’m way behind on my dose of J*. This should be titled "permission to feel sexy" cause her eyes are smize-ing at your camera.

  83. ashley

    March 27th, 2010 at 7:06 am

    Great stuff! Funny how you just need a little encouragement from time to time.

  84. Heather

    March 28th, 2010 at 11:33 pm

    So beautifully written! I think growing up in So Cal as a freckeled brunette, beautiful wasn’t a word I was accustomed to hearing. But, you know what God made me just the way I am, and now as an adult I can see myself that way too. In my line of work as well (wedding hair and makeup) I strive to show each and every woman the same thing! Thank you for your post, and the encouragement that it is for each woman to see herself differently!

  85. Naomi

    March 29th, 2010 at 3:03 am

    As someone who is not a photographer but who has been photographed plenty, I couldn’t agree more! The photographer is doing herself a favour when she makes the client feel beautiful–I without exception always like photographs of myself more when they’re taken by someone who I think thinks I’m pretty. Just keep telling them how great they’re making it all look and the photo quality will go way up!

  86. Heidi Giacomantonio

    April 3rd, 2010 at 5:55 am

    Sorry I never commented before. It was lovely getting to meet you tonight and like I said this spoke volumes to me. Thank you for the beautiful reminder…

  87. Jeff L.

    October 24th, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    I’m coming to this blog post ‘late,’ but I had to comment anyway as I just read it. I appreciate the reminder to communicate with my wedding clients in this way. You’re right… I *never* find myself behind the camera judging them. I do want them to be at their most beautiful (or handsome) and open up to the camera and each other. But if I’m not *telling* them that, then it makes it that much easier for insecurities to creep in… Which always ends up being a self-fulfilling prophecy because neither I, nor the client are left with pictures that… transcend… the session and express the true emotions that the subjects feel for one another. Thanks again for such a great reminder!


  88. Tony Sale Photography

    September 8th, 2011 at 9:04 am

    Very nice article and great advice

  89. Kim N.

    April 29th, 2015 at 4:34 pm

    Great post on encouraging your clients to let go. I’m recently engaged and as a photographer, really struggling at the thought of being on the other side of the camera. While I have my own insecurity issues, my biggest challenge will be encouraging my fiancΓ© to loosen up. He’s very reserved in public and dislikes to be the center of attention, so I’m concerned our photos will appear stiff and lack personality. Any tips for dealing with a stubborn groom for both the photographer and the bride?

  90. designerlistic

    February 21st, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    Always LOVED all Jasmine post, Thank You