Vancouver photographer shoots portraits for the shy

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No one is photogenic according to this photographer.

“I always chat with people for a while before I pull out the camera,” says Tamea Burd.

Vancouver photographer specializes in portraits and portrait photography and has always taken a person-centred approach to her art, but in recent years she has observed that “people need to talk a lot more”.

“During the pandemic, I noticed that the ‘normal’ amount of stress and sadness just quadrupled,” she explains. “People’s insecurities seem to be much more intense”

Burd has a lot of experience dealing with people’s insecurities on camera. She sees many people for business or online dating photos and says they often enter the process with an overwhelming sense of dread or an ingrained belief that they are not photogenic.

“I’ve had people so nervous or tense they were shaking or crying,” she shares.

Burd also has a background in peer counseling and is certified as a life coach by the Wainwright Global Institute of Professional Coaching. She uses this knowledge base to put her clients at ease and is extremely detailed with them on what to expect before arriving for a photo shoot.

“The reason we look bad in pictures is because we think we look bad in pictures,” she says. “Everyone is photogenic if they are comfortable when their picture is taken.”

What are “wellness portraits”?

Making people come out of the experience feeling better about themselves has always been an underlying part of the photography process for her, but after a therapist client suggested that the way she approached photography was indeed therapeutic and after witnessing the distress and unease people had about their post-pandemic appearance, she decided to develop a specific service to address photo anxiety. She calls him wellness portraits.

Being careful not to ‘therapise’ the process and using casual terms not specific to therapy, Wellness Portraits is a service Burd offers to clients 16 and older, which includes a discussion of self-esteem. of self and self-image before filming.

She says the conversations vary from person to person, but she keeps them specific to her expertise. To start, she will ask customers “What brought you to me?” Followed by “When looking at an image [of yourself]what do you see that makes you not like it? »

She does not ask a series of intrusive questions, but rather allows the client to lead.

How the photographer contributes to building the client’s self-esteem

In hypothetical terms, Burd says that more often than not, the client’s parents or someone in the life has eroded their self-esteem. Burd helps his clients address the voice in their head that is not theirs. “Once you’ve made that connection, it’s easier to let go,” she says.

When filming begins, Burd carries on a sweet, fun conversation as she takes a picture. She used to work in a studio, but the “difference in people’s comfort levels was huge” outdoors in natural light, she says.

Burd uses several outdoor locations that she chose based on their ease of access, nearby parking and restrooms, but also because they don’t attract a lot of foot traffic or attention.

Burd chokes while describing the response to wellness portrait sessions. She says the reception has been incredible and people have told her that the scars linger.

“The word I hear most often is life changing,” she says.


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