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.


Join the Conversation


  1. Wow!! What gorgeous and powerful photos. You captured these women beautifully. They are more spectacular than any Super Model in a magazine. You have been given a wonderful talent, thanks for sharing it with the world! Merry Christmas…you rock!

  2. These are absolutely breathtaking… every single one. As a female photographer (and one with the body-conscious issues most of us struggle with) these photographs and words are an inspiration to me. As a woman, to be more confident in myself. And as a photographer, to prove to every one of the ladies who is brave enough to get behind my lens, how wonderful and amazing they are. Thank you so much for sharing.

  3. Each and every one of these women is absolutely stunning. Your message at the end brought me to tears and I’m not even quite sure why, just really struck a chord with me. Thank you.

  4. Tara,
    You did it again!! These images are stunning and you deserve a bravo for showing these women how gosh darn beautiful they are!

    Love your blog, love your style, love your photos, love your writing.

    Hoosier Love,
    Gail Werner

  5. these – you ladies – are all such beautiful, lovely REFLECTIONS of eachother. i see two people (and also an everywoman) in every photo . . . beauty is permission to allow others to see you as they choose. and accept that your own version is every bit as gorgeous. thank you for allowing yourself, tara, and each gorgeous lady here . . . to just. be. such emotions. thanks, you.

  6. Today was a day I really needed to see these wonderful photos…thank you. Even though I don’t know you or these amazing gals, I GET IT. And thank you for recognizing that most women doubt themselves and for teaching us to overcome that…you are inspiring Tara, real and honest.

  7. Wow.. they really are each such beautiful women! Seriously, they are each just totally uniquely stunning in their own way! The photos are awesome and truly show personality. I hope they are able to enjoy them and don’t see the photos in a critical light. I didn’t see one flaw, personally!

  8. my husband wants to give me a trip to thailand with you and emily because it just looks so magical and wonderful! these photos are stunning, these women are stunning, and you are wise to see the true beauty in all of us. thank you for this :)

  9. Tara
    Just from reading your blog everytime you blog I knew you were an AMAZING photographer. (what I would give to capture just some of the emotion you do.
    But from the words that you wrote to your friends about these photos I can tell you are an AMAZING person as well.

    I know those words are intended for these ladies but they really touched my heart.

    I Hope you have a wonderful Christmas and then a trip. and mostly I I hope you have an AMAZING new year.


  10. Tara, you don’t need me to say it, as I’m sure you know it in your heart already. But clearly you do see us (women, mothers, sisters, wives, friends) through very clear eyes. What a true blessing for us all to see through your eyes if even for a few moments a week.

  11. Wow.
    I looked at these AMAZING pictures, then read your words and thought ‘what wrinkles…what breakouts….’ I noticed none of that. (if indeed it was there to notice!) What stunning women. What a strong message about beauty, not just your words but these photos~!

    p.s. I wish i had a bumcracker shot like that ;)

  12. such beautiful women. they are all gorgeous and i hope they can see that when they see these photos. the one lady that really stood out to me was claire. stunning.

  13. Thank you for such a perfect post right when I needed it most. I always go to my husband’s family’s holiday celebration worrying that they think I should be thinner and it ruins my night every year. Tomorrow I am going into the holiday to enjoy it with an open heart and the knowledge that being surrounded by loved ones = happiness. I may even have a piece of pie. ;)

  14. wow. this is the most beautiful and touching blog post i’ve ever seen. from anyone. these women are all stunning, and i’m so incredibly blown away by your ability to showcase the beauty in everyone. you are truly gifted.

  15. Oh, Tara…I am quite weepy over here. I will add my voice to the chorus of thanks for these beautiful images, amazing women, phenomenal words and spirits shared. Thank you. As a photographer and large woman who never gets in front of the lens if she can help it, who has struggled with my own body issues for a long time, thank you for celebrating the beauty in us all. At the risk of being a bit cheesy (and definitely a little mooshy), you are my hero. I hope that’s ok. :-) xoxo, Lilia.

  16. I too had teary eyes reading your post, and I too am not sure why. You can’t read your words and see your images and not be moved by the incredible beauty of these women, and at how you’ve captured it. They are all absolutely gorgeous Tara but the 2nd color one of Clare I find particularly enchanting. You have her essence.
    S x

  17. all of these ladies are incredible, brave and absolutely beautiful…you should be so proud of yourselves and definitely…I don’t see imperfections…I see beauty…wow…how exciting for all of you to have these incredible photos of yourselves…enjoy!

  18. Tara,

    Wow! I love every single shot. I, too, wept tears as I read your beautiful message. You are an incredible person and I know first hand the incredible gift you have of bringing out the beauty in people you photograph. Thank you for your gift and sharing it with the world.

    Merry Christmas!

  19. your trip sounds like such a life changing moment. you captured a beautiful ‘realism’ in these photos. great job. i think it may be just as tough to be vulnerable behind the camera as it is in front of it. you all did that so well. excellent! take care. merry christmas.

  20. Tara, you are lovely – really. What a gift your time and your perspective are to these women and to many, many more. You did a shoot for my family in October 2007 in SF. It was a big stretch for us, but it was important to me. We have enjoyed these photos on many levels, but two really stand out for me today. One is of Nathaniel – looking full into the camera, I’m holding his hand and so is my daughter, you can only see a tiny triangle of my smile in the upper right hand corner. I think this is the most beautiful photo of me ever taken – in it I can see that my deep, unconditional, incredibly costly love for my son is what makes me shine. In another you have the entire family surrounding Nathaniel while he blows out a dandelion. Thank you for all the work you do, your heart, and how your life force is reflected in every photo. I hope you know how special you are! Peace. Susan

  21. Gosh, I’ve never started tearing up in someone else’s blog post before but this one sure made the tears come. I don’t know if its the stress of the holidays or the fact I’ve been feeling very vulnerable and frankly feeling ‘yucky’ about myself recently. You hit a chord with your words and pictures and for that I want to send you a huge thank you.

    May you and your family be blessed this holiday and in the new year.

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