An Open Letter to the Women Who Step in Front of my Camera

I know how you feel. You are nervous. Pictures from phones, glances in full length mirrors, and comments from others have made you painfully aware of every detail of your appearance. You feel insecure because you’ve been told that things are wrong with you. You feel ill-equipped because you can’t possibly keep up with every fashion and makeup and hair trend. You feel selfish at the thought of spending time and money on yourself. 

So when I look you in the eyes and tell you I’d love to photograph you, you have a hard time believing me. After all, you don’t look like Gisele and even if you used to, that was decades ago. You warn me that you aren’t photogenic and your face looks weird in photos. You apologize for the curves that helped you bear children and the lines that soaked up sun and expressed years of joy.  But eventually your eyes light up when I show you how I’ll help, and remove the barriers so you can feel beautiful - either again or maybe for the first time. 

Because when you walked into my studio, I saw your glittering eyes. I admired your jewelry and noticed the warmth of your smile. You see, you know yourself too well. You know yourself so well that you focus only on the flawed parts and completely forget the good. But the reality is, the rest of us see the good. The ones who love you think of the good. They hear your laugh and they smile, they look at your eyes and feel as though you’re close. And I know that when you come back to the studio and look at the portraits we create, you will see the good again too. You’ll see the good and it will overpower everything else. 

So thank you. Thank you for stepping in front of my camera. I honor your trust. I do not take my role lightly. Stepping in front of a camera is like stepping on a stage - both terrifying and exhilarating. But after you do so, you’ll tell me you’re so glad you did.

“I saw myself for the first time.” 

“I’ve never felt so beautiful.”

“These photos make me focus on what I AM, when I tend to focus on what I am not.”


Trust can be hard. Changing the way you see yourself can be even harder. But every day is new, and you’re never too old, young, thin, thick, busy, lonely, worried, or unworthy to be empowered. Because friend, you are worthy of the love you so eagerly bestow upon others. You are worthy. 

Love,

Mitzi Starkweather

Today we celebrate 6 years of Mitzi Starkweather Photography, and 1 year of our amazing Downtown Joplin studio. We’d love if you’d stop by to celebrate this evening, Thursday May 16 5:30-8:30 during Third Thursday. We are humbled by your support and excited for the year ahead!

Note about the beautiful subject in these portraits: Christina first contacted me a year ago for a photo shoot, and since then she’s become a dear friend. We did her second shoot a couple weeks ago, featuring Lifted Lashes and makeup by Natalie DeMint. What a joy!