“There is only one sun. We can’t all claim to only have one way to use the light, but we can REDEFINE how we choose to express it. “
Why are you passionate about photographing women?
10BTP: Well, that’s a big question for me… and it goes way back. ..
I read this quote recently and it brought me to tears.
‘I love the person
because I fought
to become her.’
– kaci diane
… I fought to become HER.
I am PASSIONATE about encouraging women to create space to see themselves as ART through portraiture. Being able to draw out and reflect a beauty that is so much deeper and timeless than makeup and style that we love playing in…. drawing out the SOUL that makes HER irreplaceable.
Becoming a woman, and a strong one, comes with incredible challenge. Or at least it did for me. I struggled as a teen and young adult holding myself against the weight of perfection in academics, volleyball, social life and somewhere along the way, I lost myself. I developed a warped relationship with exercise and food that consumed me.. And as circumstances lead me I was deeply betrayed by someone I called a friend which perpetuated the eating disorder to a state I needed intense medical and psychological help to overcome it…. it took years on the road of recovery that I could write another ; ) book about….I finally made it.. I was finally free from the patterns and self loathing… I was free from even ALL fear around FOOD.. and my BODY and I fought damn hard to get to that place… but I didn’t’ LOVE myself.. I was still quick to fall into comparison, see my flaws magnified and feel ashamed of my past.
Fast forward: I receive my engagement photos from Jennifer Skog, an amazing photographer who I am still ever inspired by, they were the first professional photos of myself that I ever felt beautiful!! The feeling was incredible.. I didn’t know anything like it.. Those images changed the way I saw myself.
Fast forward: Pregnant with my third child, doing a 365 project and taking my first self portraits for the monthly ‘You Today’ prompt. It sparked something, a higher love.. I could love myself because this creation inside of me, Seeing myself and loving it because it was more me in the frame gave me the space to grow in self love.. And then sharing it! And So my photography journey was born .. and ever since I’ve been PASSIONATE about women young and old seeing themselves in a new way and loving it!
How did this project come about? Why did you chose this specific name?
10BTP: It started with self portraiture. Like I mentioned, I’ve been taking self portraits for years, but it wasn’t until I took The Wildheart Course with Candice Zurich, that they became a life force for me. Before, they were strictly maternity documentation, or to be in the frame with the kids.. And I always had this fear of putting myself out there.. I almost hid behind my belly or my kids.. like, who cares about me? During those four weeks i gave myself permission to BE the subject.. And more than growing the skills in light lines, and emotion in self portraiture.. I grew in shamelessly loving myself.. Because why the hell not? When my first set came through editing I hit me.. no one has to care, because I could care less if they do.. I’m doing this for me! I was hooked!! It wasn’t that I loved all of them or they were all amazing.. But i was fascinated with learning more.
This deep seeded part of myself that desperately needed to be seen and cultivated started to grow…. I rose up… I found my photographic voice for parts of myself that I could never articulate.. It became a force to be reckoned with and I had to share it.
I knew I had to try.. I created a separate instagram handle, I put out a ‘model’ call, drafted a questionnaire to find out why these women desired a session like this to create an authentic space for them to get vulnerable and feel empowered…. And I just went for it.
It’s called THE BARE ALL Project. The handle @10_BARE_ALL a spin off of my @10baretoes Photography company. Because we can only truly love ourselves when we can honestly BARE ALL.. peel away the layers .. really see HER. as she is in the deeper places and say yes, this is ME on this phase of my journey and I choose to love her , because I fought hard to become her! No regrets.
Tell us a bit about your photography journey
10BTP: I started out tinkering with my camera for Project 365 with Design Aglow back in 2013.. then, being the oldest of four sisters, two of them being in high school at the time, I was asked to take their senior portraits and it grew.. Their friends, and friends of friends wanted ME to shoot their senior portraits! WHAT?? These sessions were/are more than a portrait session,.. They’re an adventure, and experience. Traveling to cool places, extensive planning and guidance, showering her with encouraging words and attention and putting myself before her being shameless and silly, laughing at myself as I ‘model’. Receiving love notes from parents saying that I captured their daughter.. Not just a portrait, but really captured HER, that girl they raised.. The one they know so well.. It’s an incredible feeling being able to give a family that gift.
Since 2013, I’ve done a lot of senior portraits, lifestyle family work and lately, I’m doing more engagements and weddings alongside these intimate women’s empowerment session that I call the BARE ALL sessions.
What makes these sessions different than your standard Boudoir sessions?
10BTP: Let me begin by saying that I am really into boudoir sessions, I love sexy, and lace, boobs and booty and all the rest of it.. But these are a just a little different.. Or they come from a different place initially anyway.. Wherever the muse takes them is up in the air. They’re less objectifying.. They’re not for HIM, while if there is a him, he will likely love them… but that’s irrelevant because they’re for YOU. They’re about discovering a deeper layer of the girl inside. BAREing ALL to find her.. and deciding to love HER. They’re dynamic.. intimate, emotional, vulnerably sensual…empowering.. Shameless and fun! They’re intense and then lighthearted.. They’re a journey.. Saying YES! I love who I am! My body, my soul, my journey and not taking it all too seriously.
What are the tips you would share with anyone trying to photograph more women? or attempting a personal project like this?
-I’d start with yourself, while we all have a different journey.. . Deep down we are pretty similar in the needs we have as women.. Reflect, ask yourself why you want to photograph women.. What do you hope they see or draw from their images? Journal.. Try it on. Go for it.
-I’d encourage you, if you haven’t, to take self portraits and also try have another photographer take your portraits. Being able to relate to being the ‘model’ and client, you can predict the need for prompting, you can play with different posing and be able to mirror it for them during their session.
-dont’ think too much about it… don’t be crushed if it doesn’t all happen at once.. Just keep going.
– put it out there, ask friends or put out a model call have them sign a release on images so you can share them.. And keep sharing until you can shoot more!
What were the challenges for you in the beginning?
10BTP: Owning It.
Being able to communicate the project specifically to make an agreement with models and then creating opportunities for her to open up .. people know boudoir, but being able to identify the theme before the shoot then going into it with the pep talk .. it helps.
Being brave. As passionately as I feel about this project and photographing women, I still struggle with riding a line… BARE-ing ALL is sometimes really scary, especially when you’re putting yourself out there.. I tend to second guess and deliberate over what to share .. and wonder if I am going too strong or censoring and I think it’s a healthy line to ride.. But a challenging one.
Finding a location. When it’s intimate finding a location can be challenging, and when there’s not a real obvious place that comes to mind I go minimal.. Try a blank space .. or a small nook with great light.. And make it personal for her.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
I’m Brittny Debonis from @10baretoes Photography I am a portrait and wedding photographer in the SF BAY AREA. I’ve been married for 8 years and eventually respond to ‘MOOOOM!’ from my four spunky little kiddos.