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minette magnifique

Connecting | by +Krista

A few years ago, I came across this really awesome (and very poignant) quote- I found it (or it found me) at a time when my life was essentially flipped upside down. I was questioning things a lot: where I was, where I was going, and who I’d chosen to surround myself with. And then, I found it. I’d like to say it was scrawled someplace significant but it was probably doodled on the inside of a college textbook or something… but it basically slapped me in the face: “People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. When you figure out which it is, you know exactly what to do.” And wow. It was exactly the lightbulb moment I needed. And while I’ve stumbled and backslid a few times since, that saying is now always in the back of my mind, like the good advice I don’t always follow but do always remember- eventually. Because life is about connections. Like photography.

It’s easy to snap a picture of something pretty. There’s pretty stuff all around us- a sunset, a bunch of flowers, whatever. But the challenge of creating lies in making something a little bit (okay, a LOT) better than something that’d hang on the wall in a hotel room- and the best challenge of all is connecting. With a face: eyes locked, betraying the mind. With a moment: head thrown back in mid-laugh, shoes kicking up in the air. Or with a place: connecting so well that you’d swear you could pull a Mary Poppins and be inside that place in an instant. The connection is what I love most about photography- connecting with the camera, with another person, anything.

I find myself, especially at weddings, dropping my camera down from my face for just a moment during the first dance- because I love watching that connection between people in love. I sometimes hide around the corner of my living room hallway, watching my daughters and their own little connection: sisterly, fiery, loyal and loving- I stifle my laughter when my Little One fights back against her big sister’s bossiness with a bite. The connections in life- no matter how meaningful or superficial- are what make us.

And I’ve had lots of connections. I still wonder about some- as in, what the HELL was I thinking?- and I miss some. Regret some. Hold onto some. Let go of others. (Sometimes multiple times.) Every single connection really can be divided neatly into a category: season, reason, lifetime. I literally have a photographic memory- a blessing and a curse- and forever have those connections, no matter who they were or why they were, ingrained into my mind. And into my photography too. And that. is. awesome.

Minette Magnifique!

I’ve been sucked into the vortex that is Foursquare. I know, I know. Life is so much more than becoming Mayor of your favorite sushi take-out place and earning your coveted ATL badge. BUT. When I checked into the Warren City Club- for a burlesque show, in fact- and got extra points for visiting my first speakeasy(!), I couldn’t help it. Call me silly. I just checked into a speakeasy. Um, AWESOME.

 

Minette Magnifique is a group of fabulously sexy gals in Atlanta that put on burlesque shows around the city. And I’m telling you right now, if you’ve a) never seen the Minette girls in person or b) never seen a burlesque show to boot, you should know: you’re missing out. Burlesque! Costumes! Champagne! Pin-ups! Stage kittens! Cigarette girls! The art of dance, sans the pants! Seriously. Get yourself to a burlesque show immediately and start living a little bit more. They’re sexy and empowering and SO MUCH FUN. I brought Intern Luiza along with me on this one- to share in the Girl [em]Power. Have you checked our her shots from the night yet? 

Yeah. I said empowering too. I think what intrigued me most about Minette Magnifique’s show that night, besides being in a room of people who clearly share my affinity for 1940s culture, was how empowering the atmosphere really was. The performers were all beautiful, of course, but completely different from the each other. There wasn’t a formula to how any of them looked. They just looked… beautiful. And proud. And confident. And really, what’s better than feeling good about yourself?

Remember how I frequently bemoan being born decades too late? The 1940s just pull me in. I’m fascinated. My husband and I met in high school and bonded thanks in part to our mutual love of big band music. The clothes and the movies and people wearing hats every day. The soldiers and war-time love affairs. I just get swept up in the romance of it all.

A couple of years ago, I had a moment of craziness/ intelligence and had a photographer friend take some pin-up pictures of me. I disguised my reasoning for doing something so out-of-my-element as it being a gift for my husband. But I’m going to let you in on a secret. I actually did it for- gasp!– me. I had a young toddler at home and wanted (and needed) to do something for myself. I needed to feel good about myself. So I had the pictures taken and was scared and nervous and feeling pretty much ridiculous… and then I ended up having so much fun. I was so proud of myself for doing it. It’s the whole basis behind boudoir photography and why, despite people not understanding it, why I feel it’s such an incredible gift to give YOURSELF and not anybody else. It’s your opportunity to liberate yourself from the body hang-ups that women are conditioned to suffer with from the time we’re little girls. Also? It’s seriously awesome for self-esteem. Aaaaaand… it’s really really fun.

And then, a Mean Girl- and we all know our fair share of them- made a comment. And to be honest, I don’t even remember what exactly she said… but I do remember exactly how I felt. I was embarrassed- why did I think I could ever do something like that? why didn’t I lose more baby weight before taking those pictures? who did I think I was? I felt ridiculous. I wanted to die in shame or go move to Australia or join a convent. And so I let in that monster that terrorizes us all- the one that makes us doubt our beauty, our self-worth, our inner model that was effing OWNING that photo shoot just a few weeks before.

Until a girlfriend of mine- a straight-talking, tell-it-like-it-is, bursting with self-confidence friend, and if we’re lucky, we happen to have one or two of them in our lives- set me straight again. “You’re beautiful and um, hello, OWNED that photo shoot, remember?” And just like that, I remembered why I did it in the first place. For me. Because doing something crazy, just for you, whether it be your own boudoir photos or doing a burlesque striptease to the theme from “A Clockwork Orange”, isn’t for anyone else. If you’re doing it for someone else’s approval, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons and you’re going to fail miserably. You have to do it for you. And you have to own it.

And the girls of Minette Magnifique totally OWNED IT. So thank you, ladies- for the amazing opportunity, for graciously letting me follow you around with my camera all night, and for reminding me that we all deserve to feel beautiful. You. Are. Awesome.