Amber // Warrior Makeover Documentary Session // Columbus, Ohio

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Potential clients reach out to me on a fairly regular basis. I would say I receive 2 - 3 messages or e-mails a week asking for session info or wanting to put something on the calendar. For a full time working mama who owns this amazing photography business on the side, I do my best to keep up with them all.

ONE PARTICULAR SATURDAY EVENING THOUGH, I RECEIVED A MESSAGE WITH A REQUEST THAT SIMULTANEOUSLY MOVED ME TO TEARS AND ROCKED MY SOUL.

About a month ago, a notification popped up that I had received a message on my Facebook business page from Amber. Her words were filled with warmth and kindness, telling me how much she loved my style and had been wanting to book a session with me for some time now.

After a few sentences though, the intention for this specific message became clear — Amber found herself suddenly facing a rare form of cancer and was starting chemo that following week. She spoke of being inspired by a “Warrior Makeover” session she found on a blog. She wanted to chop off her hair before she lost it to chemo, to be able to take ownership, feel beautiful, and truly embrace this process. She also asked if I would be open to photographing this special makeover session.

My heart nearly burst and I replied with a resounding “YES!”.

I swear, if you could hug someone through messenger, I would have given her the most love filled hug right then and there.

So, we started planning.

We collaborated on all of the details and settled on reaching out to an incredible salon in Clintonville (within Columbus, Ohio) called Virtue Salon. They use natural, vegan-friendly products, and their makeup and hairstylists are insanely talented. We locked the plans into place and awaited the transformational day.

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The official day came, and we were greeted by the incredible Allison, a stylist at the salon. If you’ve never been to Virtue, check out this space — this place is filled to the brim with warmth, acceptance, empowerment, and beauty. As was Allison, and she encouraged Amber to embrace this change and feel beautiful in the process.

I’m going to let the images tell the rest of the story, but the energy in this room as the process unfolded was unreal.

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Amber, thank you for trusting me with such a vunerable moment in your life. I am cheering you on from the sidelines to fight and beat this cancer. You’ve got this girl.

Why it Matters - Your Life, Documented Through Someone Else's Lens

Welcome back, everyone! Here I am, showing up on a Monday ready to share my heart on a new subject — why it’s important for someone else to document your life from their perspective.

Let’s start by addressing this common line of thinking:

“I have a cell phone with a pretty good camera and I’m already documenting my everyday life. Why should I hire you to do this when I’m basically already doing it myself?”

Ah, yes. Aren’t our phones such an awesome blessing and rad piece of tech?

Heck yes!

 Image (c) Alisha Skeel Photography 2018

Image (c) Alisha Skeel Photography 2018

Are they also often a source of anxiety, comparison, and steal way more of our attention than we would like to admit?

Yup.

We spend so much time with our eyes on that tiny screen, continuously feeling pressured to capture our lives more than be present in the moment. SO. To give you a chance to be fully present during your session with me…

I ask your family to “unplug” for the day, as much as possible.

Yes, you read that right. No, no — I’m not talking about watching morning cartoons or lounging while watching a family movie. I’m talking about that pesky little cellphone or tablet that inserts itself into your life without a thought. I also know this is a big ask. However, the reason why I ask for this might surprise you.

When you aren’t engaging with technology, you are…

  • …being present in the moment with your family.

  • …noticing the little things: what makes your child smile, or how their eyes light up when you ask them to have a dance party. How your partner lovingly sneaks a glance at you when you are washing dishes. Split seconds of emotion that come and go without a word.

  • …engaging with the humans beside you as well as your surroundings.

  • …spending more time in conversation with those around you, sharing everything from hopes and dreams to grocery lists and plans for the day.

  • …showing up and inserting yourself into the visual narrative you are often absent from because you were capturing the moment instead of living it.

That is what I can offer you. I visually place YOU — the beautiful, complex, do-it-all, behind the scenes personality — back into the narrative of your life. As a fully present, mostly undistracted part of the team. You are an integral part of your family unit, and you deserve to be a part of your visual family story too.

How many photos do you have of you saving the day by kissing a boo-boo? How about photos of you hugging your kids or snuggling with the dog? What about those meaningful glances that come and go in a split second? Or the way your kid watches you with admiration when you are cooking dinner or folding laundry?

 Image (c) Alisha Skeel Photography 2018

Image (c) Alisha Skeel Photography 2018

As your photographer I get to offer you something pretty special: a series of frozen moments that portray not only how unique and magical your family dynamic is, but also just how loved you are.

Imagery that shows the gritty reality of a life that may feel overwhelming and messy, but when viewed from an outside perspective tells a bigger story than that. It tells the story of the love and care and emotion that comes with each interaction.

When you unplug and your family chooses to be present and embrace life as you know it, those special snippets shine through without effort. There's no need to try and create artificial moments because they form all on their own. You don’t need to disconnect and try to capture something that’s happening because I’m right there doing it for you…and even including you in the frame.

 Image (c) Alisha Skeel Photography 2018

Image (c) Alisha Skeel Photography 2018

As an outsider, I see so much life and beauty in what to you may seem ordinary. I don’t have to seek them out because they are just there. They already exist.

Let me be that person for you. Let me capture your life from a new point of view. And when you decide to unplug, you get to experience it wholeheartedly in the moment with the people you love.

Re-insert yourself into your family’s narrative. You deserve a chance to see what your love and devotion looks like from the outside. When you hire me to do just that, I promise there will be a little extra magic present in each and every image we create.

The most magical thing of all? That these images will be a reflection of your family, as you already are.

Have more questions? Let’s chat more about it:

My Journey Back to Authentic Photography

Well, hello there!

I’ll start out simple — I’m Alisha Skeel. I love long walks in the woods, hot apple cider (spiked is best), and….oh wait, this is not that type of blog post.

Among many (many) other things, I am a photographer.

Whether you've followed my photography for a hot second, been a long time friend, or it's your first time on my site, there will be something for you in this blog post. Buckle in, because I'm going to be taking you for a bit of a ride (but seriously hold on tight, this post is a doozy).

It's time for me to talk about the elephant in the room - why my photography business is moving in a different direction. Most of you have caught on. I was hoping you wouldn't, but you are all intelligent beautiful humans, and in the end I love that you did.

If you're not familiar with my work, I've been an established Lifestyle Family Photographer in Columbus, Ohio for about 5 years now. I have hustled hard to reach this point: years of assisting other photographers, answering hundreds of e-mails, taking workshops, designing all of my own content, and lovingly editing thousands of images.

All while holding down a full-time job and being a mama/wife/friend/daughter/employee/etc/etc/foreverandeveramen. 

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I bought into the same idea most photographers buy into — that you'll always make more money by photographing weddings and family portraits. Forget the type of photography you enjoy. And you know what? My business has been booming through this mentality. I have also been fortunate to continuously work with clients who are kind and genuinely amazing people who value my work.

Yet somehow, around June of this year, I was ready to give up photography. 

"HOLD. THE. PHONE. What?!? Why in the world would you consider that?"

- Every person who has ever been emotionally invested in my photography.

Yeah yeah, I know. I think every person in my life that I verbalized this to said something along these lines. It sounds crazy, right? 

But I didn't feel crazy. My gut was telling me something was up. My passion for photography was fading. So I started asking my own questions.

Why was I feeling this way?

What part of these sessions couldn't I get on board with?

Did I just need a break or should I give it up forever?

Then BOOM. It hit me - My photographs weren't real. 

Yes, you read that right. Hear me out.

I was capturing and delivering photos that weren't an honest depiction of the people I was photographing. It's not unusual for me to become friends with my clients, and once I got to know these people I started to see the difference in our day to day interactions.

My direction, prompts, and laid back nature often helped bring out more “natural” moments, but it was only in snippets. I knew my clients, and I didn't feel like I could deliver an authentic look at how beautiful they were as humans and family units. And if I didn’t believe in my own product, who would?

So when did I feel like I was getting it right and truly capturing a family as they really are?

The answer?

*drumroll*

When my clients invited me into their daily life, and they allowed me to capture it. Raw, emotional, fun, silly, hard, messy real life

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Apple picking filled with joy, and laughter, and toddler meltdowns.

Muddy playdates at the park.

Spending time with grandparents who don’t visit often.

Getting ready for nap time on a dreary afternoon.

Chill picnics with friends that include wine, laughter, and being snuggled up by a fire.

Making cookies with a 3.5 year old (seriously, have you tried this one? It’s equal parts amazingly rewarding and whole heartedly patience testing).

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That's where the process begins. Re-aligning with my base values and honing in to what makes me unique from so many of the other hundreds and thousands of photographers out there.

I will bring an honest lens to every photoshoot I show up to. I don't have to look for beautiful moments because they already exist. I don't have to prompt them, because if I'm patient and I wait, they just happen.

I am unendingly optimistic, and I aim to be dependable, loyal, and trustworthy. I put my trust in each client I take on, because I ask them to be vulnerable and trust me in return. I care so deeply about every single person I photograph, because I feel like they’ve shared a piece of themselves with me.  

The business I was running before may have been successful from the outside looking in, but I needed more than that. I needed to build something that felt true to me. Something I could stand behind and be passionate about.

 A rare photo of me and my kiddo in our element, taken by a dear friend of mine.

A rare photo of me and my kiddo in our element, taken by a dear friend of mine.

So here I stand, feeling equal parts terrified and inspired to put myself out there. I’m so excited to share the whole story with you guys in 2019. If you want to follow along, sign up below (scroll aaaalllllll the way down) and I’ll make sure to keep you in the loop (and maybe even throw some discounts your way).

Until then, I’ll leave you with a quote from the woman who inspired and encouraged the majority of this whole-heart exploration:

“decide that you care more about creating your magic and pushing it out into the world than you do about how it will be received.” 
― Rachel Hollis, Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be

I love you all. Stay tuned.

<3 Alisha Skeel

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