This weeks post showcases Top Photographer Iman Woods — known mostly for her fun, sexy and sassy pin-up style images, she has realized very quickly that her dream life of becoming a top photographer was not her only goal — and that now there is a deeper meaning to the art she is passionately driven to create.
Iman, how did you get started — and how long have you niched yourself in this style photography?
I went to a small Arts School in Orlando, but I’ve loved photography all my life.Â I am a self taught digital photographer and Photoshop expert – and I know I still have a lot to learn.Â After my son was born, we needed to find a way to make more income.Â I literally started from scratch with a niche idea – Everyone thought it would be impossible for me to ramp up a new business in this bad economy.Â I was surrounded by a lot of negative thoughts but I just dove in — no one will ever be able to convince me that something I want is impossible or out of reach.
It was hard, yea.Â But I did it and after about 9 months I’ve made it a full time career — and my session days are always booked.
What are your clients sessions like?
In our first meeting I spend about 2 hours uncovering what she likes about her self, what features she feels are her best assets.Â I also find out what she doesn’t like about herself.Â I have a hard rule in my studio that as my client, you are not allowed to say anything negative about your body or yourself while we are shooting.Â I am intentional about capturing images that show her self “likes” as well as her “dislikes” because I want her to see herself through my lens — a way a loved one would look at her — because our perceived faults and the things we don’t like about ourselves never show up on film as bad as they do in our own minds.
This is in no way a ‘normal’ studio photo shoot — they’ve probably never done anything like this before in their lives.Â What do you notice about these women as the sessions start?
They start to let go of their insecurities almost instantly. They realize they are in a special, safe place and this gives them permission to be sexy — to find their inner beauty, to feel like it’s ok to express who they really are.Â The entire time we are shooting we honor the “no negative comments” rule — and I use words like ‘beautiful’, ‘lovely’, ‘sexy’ — as a way to start a new inner dialogue, a new narrative for them.
I want them to let go of their insecurities, a lot of that self talk about trying to be perfect, and focus on how beautiful they already are.Â By the end of the session we are all laughing and it feels like we’ve been friends for years.Â Even if they were scared or shy at the start of the shoot, I can honestly say that I’ve never had a client say they were disappointed or unhappy with their session.Â Ever.
Sounds like the experience you create for them is really amazing — they must leave feeling inspired?
Yes, I think we all leave feeling amazing and inspired, like anything is possible.Â And that is one of my goals for the session.Â I realize I don’t get to choose how I inspire people, though.Â But if I am helping her change the way she see herself, or giving her space to talk about self love, finding a way to help her smile through her insecurities, or helping her believe that she can go after her own dreams, how could that NOT be inspiring?Â Believe me it makes the hours and hours I spend in editing and post processing all worth it.
Your finished work is absolutely beautiful.Â How much non studio time is needed to set up the shoot, and how much time do you spend in post production?
Preparing for the shoot can take anywhere from 3-6 hours, depending on how many women there are.Â A lot goes in to getting them dressed and ready, with make up and hair.Â Once that is done, the shoot itself can fly by.Â In post production, I hand airbrush each image that I want to show the clients.Â It is a HUGE process, I realize – but I do it with a lot of love, care and attention to detail.Â Whatever it takes to create an amazing experience for them, something they will remember forever.
What are your own personal dreams?Â What is next for you?
I have this vision, this dream of changing the self perceptions and the little inner voice of young women everywhere.Â I want to reach them and give them the tools to be strong and proud of who they are inside and out. I want to start a new narrative.Â A new way that women will speak to themselves and to each other.
Right now I can do that through my photography.Â But ultimately I could see myself writing, speaking — reaching out to all women with a voice of compassion and self love.Â And if I could accomplish that, that would be an amazing dream to live.
It was an incredible experience interviewing such a passionate, thoughtful dreamer. Â Go to her website at imanwoods.comÂ to see images of her most recent clients and to read herÂ insightful blog posts. Â Pay special attention to the career of Iman Woods – she will no doubt change this world, in more ways than one.Â – Rem