find yourself, thailand • the sessions

i need to express somehow the feelings that overwhelmed me as i worked on the photos from our thailand trip. i think i needed some space from it in order to look back and see what we did objectively. it was magic. pure and simple. magic. these women made it what it was. emily and i were just there, giving them ideas of what to do or where to go. THEY brought so much magic to the trip. by trusting us, giving themselves purely to us, being bright and happy and open. by taking in what they learned about us or each other. and holding it close. and now, as we remain friends, they continue to bring magic to my life.

looking through the shots i took while we were staying in krabi was just SUCH a refresher for my heart. ive been bogged down, too busy, grumpy, and stressed since summer it seems. i am stumbling right now, trying to make my life what i want it to be, trying to balance the work i have such passion for, with the family i have such passion for, and the man i have such passion for. these women may tell me that i have given them such a gift, but what they dont understand is that it was them who have given to me. being able to look into their eyes, i was able to see how they saw me, and also how i made them feel about themselves reflected back at me. in the moment, it was powerful. emotional. working on them brought it all back to me. and i didnt know how much i needed it. it was a gift to me. they are a gift to me. these girls are precious. each and every one. i never ever imagined in a million years what *I* would get out of our trip. they probably never imagined what they would give to me. but they did. they gave and gave and gave and trusted me and were just so OPEN and vulnerable. we were in this amazing little bubble. many of them were incredibly nervous about being focused on. i had talks with several of them about how i wanted them to feel about it, how i wanted them to just let go and really trust me when i said that they were beautiful. who they are is so, so very beautiful. and it doesnt even need to be me in these photos, i feel so free and so amazing from just rubbing up against them.

there is a tiny bit of skin shown below, if that makes you uncomfortable, just letting you know.

















i hope they can see how they shine. how sexy, special, powerful, stunning they are. total girl power.

lastly, id like to share the email i sent them when i showed the photos to our group. take away from it whatever you need today. sometimes, it is just nice to be reminded of the truth.

“be gentle with yourselves. try and see you as i saw you. i know how hard it is to see yourself and all of your imperfections. just remember, everyone that loves you and knows you sees you just as you are every day, and they love you anyway. you need to love yourselves just as much. we are all very different, and your definition of beauty may not include yourself, but i want it to. because my definition of beauty includes you. all i see when i look at each one of you is immense stunning BEAUTY. each and every one of you is so beautiful and special to me. no matter wrinkles, size, break outs, whatever. it is what makes you YOU. full of character. lovely. unique. (tears!)

please, as you look at your photographs, remember these words. feel my love for you. be gentle. and understand most of all that no matter how much you doubt it-YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL just the way you are.


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  1. funny…you would never think that women as beautiful as these would think such negative things of themselves but you know as well as I do that the first thing that most of us do is pick ourselves apart. This is my challenge almost every shoot to make the women happy with herself…and what a challenge this can be. You did perfect these pics inspired me on so many levels as a female. luv yourselves you ARE amazing!!

  2. what a gift you’ve given me – i have been an avid lurker of your website for years now and your photos never fail to inspire me. you are so real and magical, your images linger in my mind – such powerful views of what’s real. such substance, such wonderous colors and such inspiration.
    yet today it is your words that wash over me – both your honest description of the struggles to balance all of your passions and your message to your thailand friends asking them to be gentle and shift their self perception to see the real beauty that is there.
    i am sure you’ll never know the amazing and profound impact you have on strangers like me. our lives and our worlds may be miles apart and our physical paths may never meet, but i want to thank you for the gift of your blog. i hope there’s no doubt in your mind that you are living a purposeful life of service and making a real difference in ways you’ll never know. thank you from the bottom of my heart for the wonderful emotions your pictures and words help me feel.
    have a blessed holiday.

  3. Tara, the words you wrote brought tears to my eyes! I could be one of these women you are writing to. I have always had such a problem with my body image,(being a bit of a chubby girl) and of being comfortable in front of the camera. Even now, my hubby has to sneak the camera away from me, in order to take a picture of me. I hope one day I am as lucky as these girls were and have the fabulous Tara Whitney take my picture. Because if anyone can make this wallflower comfortable in front of a camera, it would be you! :-)

    You are such a beautiful women both inside and out. These women are so gorgeous but you took it one step further and captured their souls and their spirit in every shot you took. The photos are completely stunning. Never doubt what you are doing or who you are, because these photos are proof that you are doing a fabulous job are are one amazing photography and person!

  4. Tara,
    Let me add my voice to the chorus of gratitude. Of the hundreds of blogs that I have in my blog reader, there are 2 that I always save for last and your blog is one of them. It is because I always feel inspired and moved by your work. I have lurked for a long time and this is not the first post that has made the tears run freely, but after all of the pent up holiday pressure…the release was something to behold. Thank you for the gifts that you share with us. Just thank you.


  5. I have viewed your website with such envy for those who have been lucky enough to be photographed by you! I can’t believe I’m now one of the lucky ones. You are the best Tara! *Anyone thinking about setting up an appointment…DO IT you will not only love your photos but you cherish your time spent with this amazing person.* oxox Tami

  6. Tara: I confess this is my first visit to your site. Your words are lovely, but honestly unnecessary. Your wonderful, generous, clear vision totally came across in your photos. These women and your pictures of them are nothing short of stunning. (It’s funny…that is the exact word I thought of when looking at them only to see that it has been used so many times by others…so you know it’s true!) It is amazing how clearly comfortable you made each and every one of your subjects feel in order to capture their true essence so beautifully. Thank you for sharing them!

  7. These images are one of the reasons why i’m in portrait/wedding photography. Each of these women are absolutely stunning and most likely don’t see themselves as such. Your portraits capture their individual grace and beauty. One of my goals as a photographer is to make each woman feel the way she longs to feel about herself. The women you’ve captured must be ecstatic! You’ve done a fantastic job, and I was very moved by the mood and emotion captured in each image. Thank you.

  8. I just wanted to say that you take absolutely beautiful photos. The subjects and they way the photo is taken are just amazing, I’m no photographer but I truely love the way you take your photos. cheers loretta

  9. Your words have encapsulated what I think as woman we all have dealt with… our own sense of beauty. As someone who does not know these women I am looking with new eyes at what gorgeous women you have as friends now. You have created wonderful images that express so much beauty and love for these women. We all need a Tara in our lives to remind us that no matter what shape or form we are, “Beauty” resides in all of us, it just needs the right light sometimes to shine!

  10. 4 years go by and I still look at these pictures and dream of doing a trip like this. Sorry, I just needed a sand, Thailand, sarong sort of vacay picture fix.

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