06.06.16 { THE CONSEQUENCES OF BEING SEEN }

These past few months have been pretty raw. And I didn’t have the desire or energy to try and decide who I would tell what to, how many filters I would be switching through & how open I could be. So I just decided to be real.

I set 99% of my Facebook posts to ‘Public’. I talk about dating and my inner erotic creature (& how I found her)… I talk about being weirdly happy about silly things, and I talk about being anxious/pissed/scared/sad when I am. I don’t wonder what ‘other people’ are going to think… seriously, only my friends are truly paying attention and if ‘other people’ happen to actually care & think I’m strange…. GO me. But what I wasn’t prepared for was doing this AND being a woman in this Patriarchal culture. Being open like this is totally new to me. But it felt completely natural, and it still does. The issue I find myself running into is…. condescension. Mostly from men (sorry guys). When, for instance, I would post about a hilarious & kind of pathetic online dating incident…. I would receive REALLY cliche & obvious ‘life advice’.

The responses to those stories range from ‘You should get offline, all those sites are just going to lead to X’, to ‘When you stop looking, it’s true, that’s when it happens!’ to ‘Don’t spend so much time worrying about finding someone, just be happy with who you are’. You guys. Seriously. The list goes on and on. A plethora of ‘Just do ___’ and ‘You should ____’….

Essentially… advice you would give a young teenage daughter. Of your OWN.

Not advice you would give to a 30-something woman with HUGE Life-transforming personal work under her belt. The things I’ve learned, the tools I have, the experiences I’ve gotten through places like Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts and through working with Jaiya Ma, a somatic sexologist, would BLOW their little minds. And yet, I am seen as an inexperienced, scared/lost little girl who needs a man to tell her ‘Everything will be okay’. Hmm… You know what? I kind of love that.

I love men. Love, Love, LOVE them. What an incredibly sweet gesture… to see a woman in ‘pain’ and offer her what you have… even if what you have is 4th Grade Life Advice. Oh, did I mention I’m a Brat? I should’ve, sorry ;) But it’s the truth. I see the masculine in his earnest desire to ‘fix’. And I have nothing but love for it. Okay, a BUTTLOAD of frustration & wanting to smack him, but THEN, nothing but love. Because, you know what? I AM really inexperienced! I’ve actually never really dated before! So my honesty about where I’m at is big and open and visible and that’s okay. When it comes to dating, I pretty much AM like a baby teenager.

But here’s the catch… I’m SO NOT. I won’t say I’ve lived a very big life up until now (there is SO much traveling that needs to happen you guys!!) but I will say that I am proud to be an Awakened Woman. I am an Empath. I am a Goddess. I am a Lover. I am a Friend. I am well versed in claiming my emotions, right where I am and not apologizing for them. I claim what I want. I claim what I don’t. I know how to protect my energy. I know how to hold space. I know how to break down. I know how to stand up. And I know that my choices are mine alone and don’t have to make sense to anyone else. When I say I am caught in self-loathing… I mean it. I own it. And I don’t need someone saying ‘Just try to come from a place of Gratitude’. Baby, I grew up watching Oprah, you sound like 25 years ago to me. But OH HOW I THANK YOU, you sweet, caring man!

I know seeing someone in pain or going through something is difficult. Uncomfortable. Even painful for the masculine. You want me to change course immediately, maybe even to soothe your own discomfort. And I so get that. But I just wanted to let you know… I am just being open. I am just saying out loud what millions of people are going through and maybe not saying out loud. I have just decided to let myself be seen. I will continue to own where I’m at, every step of the way. I will continue to walk with my eyes open… into triumph, into brokenness, into the deep dark swamp of anger or sadness, and into the sun again. Over and over. Like the wildly imperfect female human that I am. And if you want to be there, if you are called to care and soothe and comfort… just let me know you see me. Right where I am. And you support me feeling exactly what I am. And you love me, exactly as I am.

04.28.16 { CIGARETTES, SEX, & A SNEAK PEEK }

I’m a smoker in my dreams. And to this day, I’ve never smoked a cigarette. But…

When I was really young (about 6 or 7 I think), I went outside and collected a couple cigarette butts that my neighbor, Mary Lou, discarded. And I hid them under my bed.

Now, I definitely never lit them and I don’t even think I put one in my mouth. But I took them. I wanted them. I somehow knew that part of my persona was this… badass. Not even a rebel. Rebels tried to get a rush from doing something they thought was ‘forbidden’. But I didn’t want it to be forbidden. I just wanted to BE.

Of course my mother had an attack… I think she might’ve believed that I’d smoked them. Which I remember being confounded by. As she was screaming at me, pushing me to confess what I’d done… I remember thinking ‘That’s GROSS! Why would I put this in my mouth and light it? I’m a KID! It was in the GUTTER!’ Turns out… she thought what I’d done was heinous enough, just storing them under my bed, and I’m sure it scared her. That she had a daughter that had it in her to think about cigarettes so seriously that she’d pick them up from the street, used. But the truth is, I had no desire to actually smoke. And the practice still seems a little silly to me. I didn’t want to smoke. But… I wanted to be a smoker. And yes, there’s a difference.

What I’ve learned over the past 18 months about myself, mainly due to working with the incredible Jaiya Ma (somatic sexologist/educator/mentor/coach) has been a process of discovering so many awesomely fun things, but more than that, it was a process of coming back to myself. But in a way that was brand new. I recognized these truths about myself that have ALWAYS been there, so clearly, but I’d denied them for so long because of the relationship I was in. I was never asked to be a different person. I was never asked to tamp down my traits. But it’s what I did. And I had to learn the hard way.

When I do a Boudoir or Brand Shoot… it’s not just about creating something ‘pretty’. It’s not about putting together a perfect-looking scene of glamour & posing or a sitting outside in a fancy outfit, drinking a cappuccino at a Cafe you’ve never been to. It’s about BEING. Yes, I help style wardrobe and yes, I’ve got my hair & makeup artist with me… but it’s not to help you fool people into thinking you’re this particular persona…. it’s to put an exclamation point on the reality of YOU.

When I learned, accepted, and embraced these traits about myself… that I have a dark, feminine persona, that I SHOULD be buying mostly black clothes, that I love to sway and shake my ass to a heavy, down-beat dub-step-style song, that when I do my makeup, the darker & smudgier my eyes, the better, that I prefer rough textures (in some things) over smooth, that I prefer a thud or a scratch on my skin over a gliding touch or a sting, that I can bring out my brattiness… and it can be SUCH a good thing!… and so many more big truths… when I did that, I was even more sure of my purpose with my work. That it’s about finding your core traits and magnifying them.

My Personality Brand clients get to explore the depths. And I get to go with them. We get to play with all the different facets of their life and show them, maybe for the first time, to the world. The process of owning every piece, from leader to lover to friend, daughter, mother, marathoner, couch potato. From calm yogi to emotional outpours, from green smoothies to bottles of wine. They’re ALL beautiful. They’re all perfect. Because they’re all REAL.

With Boudoir, I get to play. I get to create something from my fantasy rather than pure reality. Beauty is found in that process so magnetically and magically. Playing in different arenas in my Boudoir work doesn’t just feed my desire to create & fulfill what I know is truly ME… it often sparks my client to remember who SHE is also. And sometimes, discover who she is for the first time. Watching a woman’s eyes grow wide with recognition of how this vision that I’ve created with them feels so TRUE? Nothing more incredible than that moment. She may tell me she never would’ve discovered that on her own. That she never would’ve worn ‘this’ or done her hair & makeup like ‘that’ and that she feels truly alive. In a way she never expected and doesn’t know how to process yet. That she feels sparked, supported, excited. Truly SEEN.

And that’s what it’s all about. Whether you are a dream-smoker, a rock-climber, a musician, a sex-geek, a wanderer, a guide, a fighter, a facilitator or a fairy…. there’s no more important place to start than by simply BEING.

Welcome to my yet-to-be-unveiled new website & new movement….

01.06.16 { THE TRUTH BEHIND THE LENS }

YES she was really driving at about 50mph. And YES I also sat on the top of the passenger door while she was driving…. good times.

Check out More fun from my shoot with Molly Mahar, of StrateJoy…

https://www.instagram.com/p/BAN-Ib-FEgw/?taken-by=daniellefletcherstyle

https://www.instagram.com/p/BAI9JrmlEol/?taken-by=daniellefletcherstyle

02.17.15 { WHY I PHOTOSHOP }

The whispers of photoshop backlash are real. Much of the public is demanding for magazines to cut it out already. It’s going overboard. People are missing LIMBS! When will the madness stop? Some people and publications are responding with ‘un-photoshopped’ images gracing ad’s in magazines and blogs.

And I GET it. Missing limbs are sort of uncool. As is plastic looking skin. And making people look unrecognizable.

But I am hearing some version of this question everywhere lately on social media, in support of the anti-photoshop movement. “I mean, what did people LOOK like in pictures before photoshop??!!?”

I’m here to answer that question.

First of all, in snapshots that the general public took, they looked the same as they did in real life. Usually with just enough blur to make us all look a little better. So, there’s that.

But in Professional Photography… photoshop in some form has been around a long time. Like, a REALLY long time. Images have been digitally manipulated for decades. There were some now archaic software programs that allowed photo editing departments to take notes from the image (whiter teeth, remove pimple, under eye circles softened, hair darker, eyes bluer, right thigh cellulite, etc. etc. etc.

Before that? We Professional Photographers marked a little box on the glassine of the negative that we sent to our lab that said ‘Retouch’. Yep, labs retouched NEGATIVES with inks & dyes. We would write down what we needed retouched and it all happened on the negative before printing. And it wasn’t even expensive. It’s what was done and there were many people who were employed to do just that and they did it well. I’d also sometimes retouch a print using a special spray (like a dry epoxy sort of) and colored pencils, if I wanted a little extra something. We could also do a little paining with dyes and tiny brushes on some prints, I remember doing it on canvases. Again, amateur snapshots… not retouched. Professional photography, retouched.

Before THAT? Well, there was people like legendary photographer George Hurrell, who would spend about SIX HOURS retouching a single Black & White negative with graphite, to give the Hollywood Starlets glowing skin, eyes & hair. It was a glamorous ideal that was a given with having a professional portrait done. It was part of the experience. Like having a portrait painted. Surely, a great painter who made his living off portraits will not include blemishes, squished limbs or dim eyes.

So, what’s the problem?

The problem is two-fold. One, photoshopping has been abused to an alarming degree. When someone looks 30 pounds lighter, that’s an issue. Two, it is now accessible to the public meaning that no one knows when and if ‘snapshots’ are retouched. So we’re now seeing unprofessional photography that HAS been retouched. (and ‘professional’ photography that hasn’t, but that’s another story for another time). And when our snapshots are retouched, we now raise our level of expectations of professional photography retouching. Which can force the outcome to be one that is unnatural and potentially dangerous.

The fact remains, photoshop is here and it is being used.
I am a Professional Photographer. So as I have defined it for my own business, it is my duty to provide professional-level products to my clients. Just like all the professionals who came decades before me did. It’s part of my job description. It is part of creating and producing a finished product of high quality. Because that is what professional portrait photography has always been (sans a couple renegades I’m sure). Do I make my clients look unrecognizable? Never. Do I take extreme measures? Never. I simply look at the image and either say ‘yes, that’s what she looks like’ or ‘hmm… I don’t remember her looking like this in person so i’m going to soften this line or brighten this up or whatever. It’s a subtle art and it’s something I take very seriously.

My work is never about forcing my clients into barbie-doll poses to get a perfect hourglass effect and it never will be. While I know the tricks, I use them with my own twist and my own conscience about creating art. Perfection and ‘Pretty’ should NEVER be above ‘moving’ and ‘beautiful’ (yes, beautiful is different than pretty) in my work. So with that in mind, I often do a tiny bit of extra work on my images (not all but maybe 75%) to compensate for not sacrificing my vision. But that work is done so sparingly (admittedly more liberally when i first got my hands on the program) and with so much intention to keeping the integrity of the image that I feel absolutely proud of saying I photoshop my client work.

xox,
Danielle

01.01.15 { PEACE OUT 2014! }

What an incredible year it was.
Exploration.
Transformation.
Excavation.
Awakenings.
Growth.
Okay, Painful Growth.
Things Discovered that can’t & won’t be buried again.

IT WAS A SENSATION.

I can’t help feeling like 2014 was a singular, solid, undeniable, no-turning-back foundation for the changes that will come in 2015 and beyond. Without scary exploration, scary changes would be impossible. And oh, how those scary changes can bring delicious new things into our lives!

So here’s to 2015.
Here’s to Expansion.
Here’s to being Daring.
Here’s to taking a Leap,
Here’s to Bliss.
Here’s to Craziness.
Here’s to Fun.
Here’s to Being Truly Valued.
Here’s to Getting What We Want.
Here’s to Connection.
Here’s to Passion.
Here’s to Wildness.
Here’s to Love.