Monday, January 18, 2016 12:57PM
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I've been struggling a bit with how to wrap up this project.  The words haven't come easily, especially at this time of year when it feels as though I'm re-training my brain to actually work again :) 

The truth is that I'm not sure there is a perfect way to wrap this project up in a nice little package.  I'm not sure anything I say or do could elicit in you the emotions that have been elicited in me.  This project took a full year.  A year of dreaming, planning, shooting, editing, discussing, sharing and feeling.  The feelings ran the full spectrum - happiness to sadness and back to happiness again as I listened to your stories of perseverance and struggle.  Weakness to strength as I turned my personal idea into a professional committment (as a Capricorn, I'm loyal as hell).  And of course, the feeling of accomplishment at the end, as I closed my doors both literally and figuratively on my first year-long project that has meant so much to me.

I don't want to get too deep here, because I think it gets weird when people start over analyzing and over-emotion-ing about their personal lives and projects, but I want to share a quick little story with you so you'll get a better idea of WHY this project has impacted me so much.  If it gets too wordy and eye-rolly for you, just scroll to the bottom to read the technical stuff, and my answers to some FAQ's which may be more interesting!

If you've been following my blog, you may remember that at the beginning of last year, I loosely declared 2015 "The Year of Me," after a particularly overwhelming and difficult 2014. And I busted my ass to stick to that resolution because I wanted to feel better inside my own head and body.  I tried to look after myself before looking after anyone else (putting on my own mask first, as they say).  While I slipped up many, many times, I have to tell you, the results were pretty big when I did follow my own rule.  And it all started with a little note I wrote to myself.  

The note said, "All You Can Control is YOU," and I taped it to the wall beside my desk at the end of 2014.  After that started to sink in, and after my mind started to accept that I couldn't control anything that anyone else did, I started to feel some mental weight slip away.  The "weight" was the worrying, the what-ifs - the brain clutter.  One day, I altered the note to read, "You Can Control YOU."  And that's when things really started to click for me.  It's funny how when you write things down, they become real.  This new note gave me permission (that I seemed to really need at the time) to stop making excuses, and to look after myself.  It gave me permission to be responsible for one person only (me) and my actions and reactions to those around me.  And that's the true beginning of this project.  It was a committment to myself, first and foremost, to allow myself to look after MOI.

I had no idea at the time, that this permission slip I wrote to myself would open up a door that I didn't even know was closed.  The Stripped! project evolved out of a botched personal project that involved photographing myself in attempt to reach a better place of peace with my body (read about it here: http://www.lyndsaydoyle.ca/1-the-past-12-months/stripping-down-a-personal-project-part-1).  A year prior, I would never have even attempted that first project (the selfie project), let alone ask other women to show any vulnerability for me.  I would never have thought I was good enough, talented enough, brave enough, or anything enough really to embark on project like this one. 

But I did.  And in all honesty, from the outside looking in, it wasn't a huge leap.  Much larger leaps have been made in the history of leaps.  But it was a good-sized one for me.  Those who know me well know that I am very introverted (not to be confused with being shy - I am not shy), and I love alone time to a fault.  I am not the most social person in the world, and I recognize that.  I don't consider this a weakness in my life, but I do consider it a weakness in the business I'm in.  So, yes - this was a big leap for me.  It was a medium-sized step outside of my comfort zone that yielded a massive ROI.  I'm calling it a good investment.  You can read some of my previous blog posts on how this project has improved my confidence, which I so desparately needed - I'll list the links at the bottom of this post.   I've also spent an enormous amount of time gushing about all of the women who took time out of their lives to participate in this project.  I won't subject you to listening to me go on and on about them any more about that, so if you're so inclined, take a few moments to scan the old blog posts to see how I feel about them (hint: massive amounts of love).

What now?  Good question.  I have no idea, really.  I have lots of ideas floating around in my head about new projects - some funny, some serious.  I have a collaboration in the works with another wonderful woman that could turn into something really cool this year.  We'll see.  One of the best thing about being an artist, is that people expect me to be aloof.  That I work when the inspiration hits, or maybe that my inspirations come in the form of dreams or sparks of madness at random times.  Is there any truth to this?  Perhaps.  But who am I to dispell the romantic notion of how the artist's brain works?  If I told anyone otherwise, they'd be disappointed.  So for now, we'll stick with the dreams and sparks and all the romantic stuff.  You'll just have to wait and see ;)

So in conclusion, and in case you missed it at the top of this post, and because we deserve to be seen again, here are the 70 women who stripped for me in 2015.  Including myself, of course.  70 awesome women who are stunning, beautiful, strong, confident, vulnerable, powerful, dedicated, amazing, emotional, and all the wonderful words that make us "pretty."  Every body type, every hair type, every skin type.  Every marital status, every economic status, every professional status.  All different, all the same.

Thank you ladies.  I love you all. 


   

Previous blog posts and links associated with this project:

Part 1: http://www.lyndsaydoyle.ca/1-the-past-12-months/stripping-down-a-personal-project-part-1
Part 2: http://www.lyndsaydoyle.ca/1-the-past-12-months/stripped-part-2
Part 3: http://www.lyndsaydoyle.ca/1-the-past-12-months/stripped-part-3
Part 4: http://www.lyndsaydoyle.ca/1-the-past-12-months/stripped-part-4
Part 5: http://www.lyndsaydoyle.ca/1-the-past-12-months/stripped-part-5
Part 6: http://www.lyndsaydoyle.ca/1-the-past-12-months/stripped-part-6
Part 7: http://www.lyndsaydoyle.ca/1-the-past-12-months/stripped-part-7

Article in the Halifax Citizen: http://halifaxcitizen.ca/2015/07/20/capturing-inner-beauty-photographer-on-a-mission-to-help-women-see-themselves-in-a-new-light/ 

LDP Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LyndsayDoylePhotography

Interview on CBC Radio: http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Canada/NS/Audio/ID/2672549061/


FAQ's:

Where are all these photos taken?

Almost all the photos were taken at my studio, in Stillwater Lake, Nova Scotia.  The others were taken at a private event.  I was invited to speak about this project and photograph the attendess. 

How many sessions did you have?

In the end, we shot eight separate sessions over the course of the year.

What were your studio settings?

For consistency, all studio images were shot on the same coloured paper backdrop (bone), with the same camera (5DMKIII), same lens (85mm), at approximately the same time of day each time (morning).

What did you tell your models about preparing for their session?

Almost nothing.  If they didn't ask, I said nothing.  If they asked, I told them to dress as they normally would.  If pressed for specific instructions, I would tell them to dress in simple clothing with minimal jewelry.  I wanted them to show up "as they were" without too much thinking.  The only real rule was "no makeup!"

What type of woman came out to these sessions?

All kinds.  We had entrepreneurs, professionals, students, and retirees.  The woman were of various ages within my suggested age demographic of 25-50, and of various backgrounds and cultures.  Some wanted to proudly show that they never wear makeup and that they didn't ever aspire to, while others were taking a huge leap by removing their makeup in "public" for the first time.

What difficulties did you have?

In typical NS fashion, the weather forced me to cancel one session completely (March) because we couldn't even clear a path to the studio.  It was crazy.  And because I committed to using natural light for all the portraits, the amount of sunlight we had on any given day was a huge variable.  Some sessions were brgith and sunny, while others were rainy and gray.  It was a bit of a challenge to make all the final portraits look similar because of this. 

Also, because most of the sessions were on weekdays, scheduling was often a problem.  I know there were other women who wanted to come out for a session, but couldn't make it on a weekday.  I did hold a Saturday session at the end in order to accomodate those who prefer weekends.

How much did you guide the women through the sessions?

Honestly, not much.  Every photo shoot needs guidance from the photographer, so even though these sessions were very "hands-off," I did guide the women through some different poses to ensure variety in our final images.  I purposely guided them into typical 'male' poses (not sure if they realized this!) as opposed to 'female' poses, because my end goal was to portray them in a strong way.  Typically, men are photographed to appear large, powerful and authoritative, while women are typically photographed to appear small/thin, submissive and dainty.  Personal opinions aside on whether or not that is appropriate to do, that's not what I wanted for these sessions.  I put the women in power poses, often reserved for men, in order to portray power, strength and confidence.   

What surprised you the most?

Almost everything!  I had no idea what to expect when this project started.  In the beginning, I was surprised that anyone showed up at all.  Near the middle, I was surprised that media outlets were picking it up.  At the end, I was surprise that I made it to the end.  But the one thing that surprised me the most, and I've been saying this all along, is how many women opened up to me and trusted me enough to tell me their stories.  In hearing some of their stories, my eyes were really opened to the notion that a) everyone HAS a story; and b) the fact that many, many people are hiding pain under their surface.  I think I became a better listener throughout this project and more empathetic to the emotional weight that many women carry.  

Is this project a push back against the makeup industry?

Yes and no.  I wear makeup, I love makeup.  I love clothes and fashion, and I love dressing up.  I have a real problem with the marketing machines working behind the scenes at some corporations that bombard women with conventional beauty ideals and the pursuit of perfection.  It's wrong.  This project was conceived out of a desire to pursue self love and acceptance, and to encourage other women to do the same.  Take those beauty ads, with the models with perfect skin (that is Photoshopped), the perfect hair (that is Photoshopped) and the slim bodies (that are Photoshopped) and know that they aren't real.  They're not real.  And I think the more women realize this, the more they can learn to see themselves the way they should - as beautiful people who have a lot to offer the world.  It's time to remind girls that they are so much more than the way they look.  Imagine our potential if we were never told, "you'd look better with a little lipstick on."



--

 

info@lyndsaydoyle.ca
@LDoylePhoto

 
Friday, December 11, 2015 8:52PM
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My last scheduled session of the year.  15 more faces to photograph.

Cheryl, Maria, Sarah, Stephanie, Stephanie (2 Stephanies!), Chasity, Lindsay, Shannon, Cynthia, Krista, Andrea, Natalie, Mary, Beth and Dianne...thank you.

15 more women, from every corner of the lifestyle spectrum, came to participate in my final group Stripped! session of the year.  The project is over.  Well, almost.  There will be a final post soon, summing it all up.  I thought long and hard about how I would handle this part of the project, procrastinating (as is my nature) until the very end.  All I know right now, other than the random thoughts and part sentences floating around inside my head, is that it will be simple.  No billboards, no books, no banner on the back of an airplane...just words.  I'm trying to decide if I'll end my year with my final post on this project, or if I'll use it as a kick off to 2016.  Because there's a big difference. 

This time of year holds many meanings for many people.  Holidays, the end of one year, the start of another... For some it's heavy, for some it's light.  For me, it's neither, and it's a bit of both.  I can wrap 2015 up in an adorable little bow and tell you how my life has changed because of you; which is true.  Or I can start 2016 using this project as the inspiration for my amazing year that hasn't yet happened; which will also be true.  Decisions, decisions...

While I think about it and try to string together the beautiful descriptions of you all that live in my head,  I'll leave you with the photos from our November session.  There aren't enough positive adjectives for you all.

 

 

 

Leaving it simple for now, because you all know I'm gonna get gushy in the final post.  Maybe it's the wine talking on this rainy Friday night, but I wish you could feel what I feel.  I'm convinced that if everybody felt the way I did - the way you all have made me feel because of this project - the only problem in the world would be that there's too much love.

Enjoy your holidays, get some rest, tell someone how much they mean to you.

Lyndsay

--

Lyndsay Doyle is a photographer based in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  This project, Stripped!, has been a year-long project photographing women without any makeup, wearing 'regular' clothes, and realizing they are beautiful just as they are.  Lyndsay's project has appeared on television, radio and in print this year.  She can be reached at: info@lyndsaydoyle.ca

 
Wednesday, October 07, 2015 10:06AM
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Session 6 complete.

2 sessions left to go.

53 women photographed (so far). 

Sigh.  Sniff.  High Fives.  All the emotions :)

Let's jump right in to September's session.  Here are seven women who took it all off for me: Caet, Karen, Joanne, Nicole, Jennifer, Coburn, and Terra. 

I love them all.













This project has been my baby for the better part of a year now.  I've been living and breathing it for almost 9 months (insert gestational metaphor here), and it's taken me all this time to discover it's true meaning (for me).  Although I haven't been able to collect all my thoughts just yet, I'm getting closer to being able to create a summary about what this has meant to me, and for me.  

Can it be possible that something can simultaneously end and begin?  Seriously, Jack Handey would be proud of me today.  More to come :)

Need to get caught up on this project?  Here's what has happened so far...

Part 1: http://www.lyndsaydoyle.ca/1-the-past-12-months/stripping-down-a-personal-project-part-1
Part 2: http://www.lyndsaydoyle.ca/1-the-past-12-months/stripped-part-2
Part 3: http://www.lyndsaydoyle.ca/1-the-past-12-months/stripped-part-3
Part 4: http://www.lyndsaydoyle.ca/1-the-past-12-months/stripped-part-4
Part 5: http://www.lyndsaydoyle.ca/1-the-past-12-months/stripped-part-5

More links to check out if you're procrastinating at work today:

Article in the Halifax Citizen: http://halifaxcitizen.ca/2015/07/20/capturing-inner-beauty-photographer-on-a-mission-to-help-women-see-themselves-in-a-new-light/ 

LDP Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LyndsayDoylePhotography

Interview on CBC Radio: http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Canada/NS/Audio/ID/2672549061/

--

Want to get involved by joining in on a session?  There are only 2 left!  If you're between the ages of 25-50, I'd love to hear from you!  Email me at info@lyndsaydoyle.ca and I'll make sure you keep up to date on any future sessions.  If you've emailed me in the past, and haven't been getting my emails - drop me a line again and please accept my apologies.  My organization skills are improving as I go ;)

Don't want to sit for a portrait but want to help?  Here are some things you can do...

- Start telling the women in your life how awesome they are.  Often.
- Share this blog post with someone you know will enjoy reading about this project.
- Have a talk with your children (boys or girls) about gender equality and why it's important.
- Look in the mirror and say, "I love you."
- VOTE.  We have a federal election coming up.  Please vote for a party that supports women's rights.  Women account for over half of the voting population here in Canada.  Think about that for a sec.  We matter.

Until next month,
Lyndsay

 
Saturday, September 26, 2015 6:33PM
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A grown-ups-only trip to NYC.  I don't really think I need to say anymore, do I?!  I'll keep it short...

For five days, we walked, biked, boated, and subway'd our way around Manhattan.  Was it amazing?

I've been to London and Paris.  I've been to Rome and Barcelona and Prague and Budapest and Vienna and Venice.  I've even been to Vegas, Sans Diego and Francisco, Miami, New Orleans.....and some other very cool "big" cities.  First of all, I can't actually believe it's taken so long for me to get my butt to NYC; and second of all, it's simply unlike anything I've ever seen before.

There aren't any sentences I can put together to describe this city.  Before you go, there are some words you'll hear being tossed around by those who've visited:

Big.
Loud.
Fast.
Busy. 
Overwhelming.

And while these words may be accurate, there are also the words that pop into your head after you come home that must be considered.  The ones that float to the surface after you've had time to process everything you've seen and done.  The words that come directly from your heart, and not your brain.  Like:

Safe.
Friendly.
Stimulating.
Light.
Inspiring.

Albeit slightly out of place, I have to add the word "efficient" to this list.  Yup.  I've never seen people work so effectively.  Lineups moving at a rate I've never seen before (in a good way).  Professional, effective, organized, beautiful chaos.  Concise directions and polite control over everything.  I'm still trying to figure out how I can inject a little NYC work ethic into my life - fits my personality perfectly.  No nonsense, straightforward, and just a little weird. 

And while we came home exhausted (like every trip, right?) we loved every minute of our time in NYC.  The people, the food, the BEER!  OMG, the beer!!  And, NYC, my obsession for straight lines thanks you for your perfectly aligned streets and mostly square buildings.  Maybe we're soulmates? 

Here's how last week looked through my eyes (tip of the NYC photograph iceberg that now sits on my hard drive):

 

 

Will I go back?  Of course I will.  There are many, many, MANY museums, galleries, restaurants and performances that are calling my name.  I can practically hear the MOMA yelling at me as I'm typing this - "YOU FORGOT MEEEEEE!!!"  Or maybe it's one of those situations where you purposely leave something behind so you have to go back?  Yup, I think it's true love.

--

Lyndsay Doyle is an avid traveller and photographer based in Nova Scotia, Canada.  As a talented sleeper, this is the first time EVER she's stayed up late enough to photograph a cityscape while on vacation. 

 
Saturday, August 29, 2015 12:16PM
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We're now over halfway through this project.  A whole year of photographing women with no makeup, and we're over halfway through.

I'm proud of myself for sticking with a project for so long.  I'm REALLY proud of all the women who've shown up to make it happen. 

The thing that keeps amazing me is hearing your reasons "why."  Why are you showing up?  I have my reasons for wanting to do this (and there are many), but what I find most interesting is hearing why each person who walks through my door is there, on that day, at that time.  I'm actually planning a blog post to share some of those reasons with you, because I've given each woman an opportunity to tell me, in her own words, why she wanted to participate in this project.  Some of the answers are pretty awesome :)

So, we've completed shooting session 5 of 8 scheduled for the year.  Only three left to go.  Part of me is a little sad that it will be over soon, but I'm also incredibly excited about what we've accomplished.  I'm trying to come up with a great way to wrap the entire project up nicely at the end of the year.  I've got a few ideas floating around in my head, but if you have any, I'd LOVE to hear them!  Just leave a comment below and let me know how you think I should tie everything together.  Book?  Billboard?  Airplane banner?  lol.

Here are: Maureen, Carol C., Carol M., Barbara, Amy, Cindy, Aimee, Meghan, Emily, Victoria, Heather, Chantelle, and Tamara.  13 Beautifully fresh faces.  13 Wonderful personalities.

 

To all these women - thank you, thank you, thank you.  This session was our biggest one yet (13 people - woohoo!)  Looking forward to September :)

Need to get caught up on this project?  These links will help...

Part 1: http://www.lyndsaydoyle.ca/1-the-past-12-months/stripping-down-a-personal-project-part-1
Part 2: http://www.lyndsaydoyle.ca/1-the-past-12-months/stripped-part-2
Part 3: http://www.lyndsaydoyle.ca/1-the-past-12-months/stripped-part-3
Part 4: http://www.lyndsaydoyle.ca/1-the-past-12-months/stripped-part-4


Article in the Halifax Citizen: http://halifaxcitizen.ca/2015/07/20/capturing-inner-beauty-photographer-on-a-mission-to-help-women-see-themselves-in-a-new-light/ 

LDP Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LyndsayDoylePhotography

Interview on CBC Radio: http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Canada/NS/Audio/ID/2672549061/

--

Want to get involved by joining in on a session?  If you're between the ages of 25-50, I'd love to hear from you!  Email me at info@lyndsaydoyle.ca and I'll make sure you keep up to date on any future sessions.  If you've emailed me in the past, and haven't been getting my emails - drop me a line again and please accept my apologies.  My organization skills are improving as I go ;)

Don't want to sit for a portrait but want to help?  Here are some things you can do...

- Start telling the women in your life how awesome they are.  Often.
- Share this blog post with someone you know will enjoy reading about this project.
- Have a talk with your children (boys or girls) about gender equality and why it's important.
- Look in the mirror and say, "I love you."

Until next month,
Lyndsay

--

Lyndsay Doyle is a family photographer based in the Halifax area of Nova Scotia.  This is her first personal project, and it is proving to be more educational to her than all her years of schooling, workshops and technical training combined.

 
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