Photographer Feature! | @br.en

Welcome to my first post in a small series – Photographer Features!

I want to put my photographer friends in the spotlight and do little sets of our shoots.

See, I don’t like to be considered one of those “Instagram models”. I don’t like the stigma that goes behind it and I really think it should end. If you’re a runway model, you’re a runway model. If you model for fashion, makeup, photography, whatever it may be – that’s what you do. And that’s great. A lot of hard work and effort and dedication is obviously put into those projects, I respect those artists just as any other!

For me, I view these photo shoots as a documentary of my life. I’ll do a photo shoot after a dramatic change in my life, my hair, my energy – whatever I may be feeling. Every time I look back on a shoot, I remember exactly what I was going through at that time in my life. This theory is exactly how I feel about tattoos, as well. And I don’t think us “Instagram models” should be ashamed of that!

I don’t have the body of a model, and that’s okay with me. I don’t have a perfectly symmetrical face, so I’m insecure about straight-on shots. I get jelly rolls when I bend over, like everyone does, and I have scars and cellulite on my legs. I have never been trained to pose, don’t know how to make my hands look less awkward and I’ve never been shot “professionally” aside from my senior pictures. I don’t want to be a model, it’s just not the life I want to live. But guess what? I love looking at myself, I love posing, I love being the subject of the camera, I love having the eyes on me and flash in my direction. That’s just my lioness coming through!

My brain produces such clear, bright visions of “feelings” and emotions. It’s like a never-ending mood board inside my head. When I think up something, I really go for it. I run wild with it, and I make it come to life. From the colors, to the style, to the emotion and all that goes in between.

I have a few photographer friends who shoot me just for fun and just to create something. It’s so cool to be casual and collaborate ideas in such an expressive and transparent way with no pressure on either side.

My closest photographer friend, Bren, holds such a special place in my heart. We met a few years ago through mutual friends and Instagram. He has helped me cope through some of the toughest times and is always here for my photo editing/Instagram needs! He’s incredibly talented behind the camera, and even when he hops out in front of it and lets me shoot him for a change! Whenever Bren and I have worked together, it’s such a smooth and natural flow. He’s better with technicalities of the pictures/camera and I’m better with people/looks, so naturally, we compliment and balance each other out.

Show some love and follow my talented friend on Insta: @br.en

We don’t take a lot, if any, smiling shots. Whenever you see me smiling in a picture taken like such, it’s literally because I felt a wave of happiness come through me. Bren will pop his head out of the camera and be like “WHAT IS THAT FOR”. (He’s gay and will get utterly uncomfortable when I give the camera/him such a seductive and provocative smile without meaning to hahaha) We joke and he’ll be like “I’m suddenly straight!”

The thing about this shoot in particular is that I really didn’t feel well. I woke up with a terrible headache and weird stomach issues, but I did my best to feel and look okay.

My idea for this shoot was to create a bedroom scene.

Something private, intimate – pillow talk.

I wanted to capture myself in my natural element – my bed!

My messy bedhead, my glazed look and innocent but bold figure.

Kind of like a “just woke up with LJ” experience.

And then this happens ^ about halfway through the shoot when I can’t take myself seriously for much longer.

This one right here was a result of “hang on wait switch sides, the light is coming from this way” and I moved and Bren had me peek at it and it was just YES. It’s so cool to take a direct problem, adjust it immediately, see the results instantly, and roll with it.

I started to feel worse and worse a little while into the shoot. I felt so bad, but I couldn’t continue. I just didn’t feel like myself, didn’t feel present and able. I napped for an hour while Bren uploaded and edited pictures.

The truth is, sometimes you just aren’t physically able.

This shoot in particular was an eye-opening experience for me. As I look through these shots of myself, with weary eyes and scraped razor burned knees and an oily scalp, I actually fall in love with myself.

I am reminded of my flaws, my feminie power, my energy, my strength.

That is something no one can ever take from me.

Stay tuned for more Photographer Features here on Laura the Leo!

Contact me if you’re a photographer and you’d like to work together!

Thank you all for reading. You are loved and appreciated.


– Laura the Leo