portrait of ethnic woman in Peterborough Ontario by Alana Lee Photography

The Power of a Portrait

Just One Photo: An authentic portrait session for every woman

Early one morning in late December I received a phone call from Jennifer. She was turning 41 and wished to be photographed on that very same day. It was last minute and unplanned but I could tell just from the urgency and conviction in her voice that it was very, very important to her. After moving a few things around in my schedule I was able to fit her in…”Just one photograph”, she said. “I just need one photograph of ME, on THIS day”.

Typically, my portrait and headshot sessions begin with a consultation to carefully plan and style the perfect photography experience for each client. But my heart told me Jennifer needed something different. No makeup. No hair styling. No wardrobe. Just Jennifer.

Through the course of our hour session we talked. About life. About death. About the highs and lows we all face on our journey. We all have our own unique paths, yet underneath it all we all have commonalities that tie us together through our humanity. Our fears. What brings us joy. Our regrets, challenges and our hopes for the future.

Together Jennifer and I explored what she was feeling on this day, her 41st birthday. We laughed and cried together while creating the most perfectly imperfect portraits of her. Stretch marks, wrinkles, scars, laugh lines and all.

In the end we captured much more than “just one photograph”. In addition to a collection of portraits that Jennifer will treasure forever we captured her humanity. Her beautiful soul. And these prints will become part of her legacy to be passed down, along with her story, through generations to come.


I believe EVERY woman should have the experience of a portrait session that captures her authentic self.


Here is what Jennifer wrote about her experience:


I had been discharged from the hospital a day before these pictures were taken of me. Attempting to heal from multiple infections, I was physically and mentally exhausted. I often take pride in being fit, perhaps taking my health for granted, but after multiple trips to and from the hospital with each one not resulting in recovery, I found the whole experience to be a humbling one. Culminating weeks of stress from work, school, and at home, my body finally gave out on me. I went from running 15 to 20 kilometers daily to struggling trying to get out of bed. Reflecting on 2018 that morning, I realized I wanted to document how fourty-one years looked on me. I was in a vulnerable place, but also recognized that if I could make it through, I would experience brighter moments ahead. I am after all a fighter. I have survived and am still surviving severe depression and crippling anxiety as a result of trying to cope with the loss of our first child and more recently, the possibility of losing our youngest. Yet I am still alive and functioning. I wanted to document this pain and vulnerability I had endured and been enduring through photographs, as a reminder for me – that I have faced some very dark chapters in my life, lived through them and I can do it again. Because for every dark moment that makes me pause to reflect if I can continue to endure the pain, there has been, so far wonderful moments that follow reminding me life is worth living. That I am loved, and that I have strength, and that I am still capable of fighting for something meaningful. My life like many others, I imagine, has not been without its challenges. And I don’t necessarily want it to be. It is colourful because of everything I`ve been so blessed to have experienced. In my fourty-one years, I’ve lived in an orphanage, had wealth and disparity, been adopted and disowned, traveled, endured physical and mental pain, survived abusive relationships, and also embraced in loving relationships. I’ve met individuals that I fear, hated, respect, admired, Love and worshipped. I have let myself be vulnerable and deeply hurt, but also learned valuable lessons from it – Like who deserves my passion and heart, and who doesn’t. I’ve been faced with ethical conundrums and am still working through them hoping to one day rejoin my son in heaven instead of looking up from a much less desirable place. Over all, I don’t have regrets. I lived a full life. I have scars to show for it: my stretch marks on my belly, and the wrinkles and laugh lines on my face tell many stories. My stories. And I hope to have many more to share”.


Retouching: Erin O’Connor @retouchingnyc and Alana Lee @photographybyalanalee

Lighting: Stella Pro Lights @stellaprolights

Music: “Charge” by Gerson Lopes @_gersonlopes_


If you are ready to start planning the photography experience of a lifetime, contact Alana Lee today for your no obligation complimentary consultation.



You may also like