May 2, 2013

Embracing the Beauty that is You | Beauty and Glamour Portraits by MarieSam Sanchez

Growing up in the city of Cerritos, I was surrounded by a bevy of colors and cultures. Since my first days at Leal Elementary, I remember looking around at my classmates and seeing every shade of color … brown, white, yellow, black. I grew up knowing and embracing a melting pot of race, culture, and religion. It was the world I knew … well, at least part of it …

The other half of my childhood, outside of school, was spent at a dance studio. I had dance class at least 4 times a week — and I lived and breathed this lifestyle for about 8 years. And while it provided me with a great foundation and work ethic, it was also was the breeding ground where I developed a complex about what I looked like. It was during my dancing days when I began to question the definition of beauty, and actually, what it meant to be “normal.”

Yep, I, the short, brown skinned girl with dark, wavy hair and brown eyes found myself surrounded by what everyone around me at the time labeled as beautiful + perfect … blonde hair, blue eyes and a tall statuesque size 4 frame — everything that was NOT me.

(Side note: I am Filipino and that means family + happiness revolves around good eats and having your aunts shove a plate in your face as soon as you walk in the door to every family function! So how the heck am I supposed to be a size 4 when rice is served during every meal? And everything my family makes taste like heaven? LOL)

I was in all sense, the ugly duckling for many years, surrounded by beautiful and elegant white swans. And during that time in my life, I often found myself praying and wondering daily why I was so different from everyone else. I remember wishing I had blonde hair and blue eyes, and hoping that my skin just wasn’t so … brown, and struggling with the fact that I would never be a tall, statuesque beauty like the girls that surrounded me. To say the least, it was hard to look so different, and sometimes I admit, those insecurities still find a way to crawl into my head even till this day as a 30-something woman.

It honestly wasn’t until my 30s that I slowly began to realize that not looking like every image on the cover of a magazine was perfectly OK. Ironically, I am now trying to teach my own teenage daughter this very same lesson — of being healthy, but accepting your imperfections and learning to embrace what you’ve got … curves, dimples, cellulite, random breakouts of the skin, bad hair days and all. (But really, why the heck do I sometimes have random breakouts in my 30s? What is up with that? I demand justice!!! And yes, I do obsess over the slightest sign of a wrinkle, I am still human LOL)

Part of the lifelong journey of accepting who I am was fast-tracked about two years ago when I first picked up a camera and developed a love affair with photography. It’s funny how you start to look at the world so differently through the frame of a lens …

  • I began to notice the way a mother’s eye sparkles when she looks at her children …
  • The way a man’s heart flutters the first time he sees the love of his life on their Wedding Day …
  • The special moment when a father holds his baby boy in his arms for during their first photo together …
  • The way an 80-year-old man holds his wife’s hand and they chuckle together, a sweet sound of laughter they’ve shared for decades …
  • The glimmer of light that radiates from a woman’s smile the moment you tell her she looks ridiculously beautiful …

By living through my camera I’ve realized that beauty comes in so many different shapes, sizes and colors. There is beauty in every connection, every emotion, every smile and tear. There is truly a breathtaking and incredible quality in every person you come across — be it physical, spiritual, mental — we all have something “beautiful” to offer this world. This, is a priceless lesson I continue to learn with every click and photo I take, and one that reminds me that being beautiful means so much more than being a size 4 with sparkling blue eyes and flawless skin.

The funny thing is, every time I photograph a woman, the first request is always: “MarieSam, PLEASE make sure I don’t look fat!” 🙂 This dire plea comes from gorgeous skinny women to my beautiful curvy gals as well. And trust me, I do the same thing!! Full disclosure: I have seriously perfected the angle of tilting the camera to look as slim as possible LOL. PS — if you need to know how this works, just message me 😀 *HOLLA*

That said, I honestly don’t think the pressure to conform to the mainstream standards of beauty will ever go away. But I do think that as parents — especially mothers — we can do a lot to teach our kids that being a beautiful person encompasses so much more than just looking like a “cover girl” or the handsome celebrity that all the girls love.

Growing up as the little brown girl with wavy hair, apple cheeks and thick waist and short legs, I have come to realize that being a beautiful person means being strong, confident, fearless, kind, intelligent, giving and in all honesty … being fierce! The days I feel the most beautiful are ones when I’ve done something to truly help make a difference in someone’s life — be it making them smile when they are in pain, making them laugh on a crappy day, or inspiring them to action in a moment of despair. When I can impact someone in a positive way, these are the days I feel most whole. (But I’m not gonna lie, I am still a woman, and I do like to get dolled up every blue moon and hear a whistle or two every now and then 😀 )

In truth, some of the most beautiful people I have ever met in this world would not fit into the “type” you expect to see walking down a New York city runway. Instead they are people who make this world sparkle a little brighter simply because of who they are — as people. And that to me is the kind of beauty that never ever fades.

If you have read all of what I just wrote — THANK YOU for stickin with me 🙂 I know, I talk too much — that’s the journalist in me LOL. But there is a reason for all this … I have had an announcement brewing in my heart + mind for so many months now, and I am so happy to finally be able to say that I’ve launched a new line of beauty photography that focuses on highlighting the beauty, strength and spirit of a woman. In a gist … I LOVE being a woman 🙂 But this self-acceptance has been a lifelong journey that I am still trying to weather through  each and every day. In the meantime YES … I want to scream to the world … besides being a wedding and portrait photographer, I’m also a photographer of women — a beauty photographer who relishes in the opportunity to take your photograph. And I want to help women realize they are a gift to this world and they deserve to feel beautiful in their own skin.

Here’s a peek of some of the images I’ve taken of an incredibly wonderful bunch of women of different paths and different stories — single, married, mothers, working women, businesswomen, homemakers, thin, curvy — but all with one thing in common … they are like me and you — sometimes unsure, some days tired, sometimes in need of a boost — but at the end of the day … they are fierce, they are fabulous and they are women!!!

All that said … here’s a link to my new website dedicated to Beauty and Glamour Portraits by MarieSam Sanchez — there are lots of changes and additions I will be making on the site, but check it out to see some incredible “Before + After” photos of these lovely ladies. In the meantime this new journey of mine has begun … lots more details and info on specials coming soon!!! And of course, if you are interested in a session … HOLLA, I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to photograph you 😀




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  1. […] year, I launched a new line of photography geared toward empowering girls and women — single ladies, married women, mothers, moms-to-be, […]

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