As you know, Mary was my second I BELIEVE Project recipient for 2017—you can read about the first recipient, Tessa, HERE.

As I’ve said before, the I BELIEVE Project is my way of giving back to the women in my community by offering a complimentary boudoir or contemporary glamour portrait session to a deserving woman who is dealing/has dealt with some sort of adversity for the chance to feel beautiful and feminine. My gift includes hair/makeup thanks to my lead stylist Nath Mao (in PA) and stylist Rachael Lubach (when in WI), dress rental, and an album.

The Project got the name of “I BELIEVE” because I believe all women should feel beautiful, and I’ve witnessed first hand what a confidence builder and transformation a boudoir or a contemporary glamour portrait session is for women. The goal of the I BELIEVE Project is to help women see themselves as beautiful, inspiring, and powerful.

The recipients are asked to share at least one image from their session and to share their story with my readers, for often times, many of you can relate to their stories.

So, let me tell you a bit about Mary. Mary contacted me in October 2015 inquiring about a boudoir session as a surprise to her high school sweetheart husband, Ben, but life happened for her and we never even got so far as the consult. Fast forward a year, Mary and I crossed paths at an event in Carlisle, where we struck up a conversation about how she shoots exclusively maternity, birth, and newborn photography (check out her website HERE), and we ended up becoming real-life friends over the course of 2016/2017.

I want to mention how talented I feel Mary is as a photographer—and I do not give that compliment lightly, for I’m rather a “photography snob” these days. 🙂 But she truly is talented, and if you’re in the market of needing a photographer who specializes in maternity/birth/newborn photography, please don’t wait to contact her, as she books up quickly.

One day Mary casually mentioned on her Facebook wall that she was finally getting professional help with her anxiety-driven depression, and I knew at that moment I wanted her to be my second Project recipient for this year, because I know a lot of women are facing the same hurdle and I wanted those women to hear Mary’s story and not feel alone.

Mary Before
Mary Before

For Mary, I asked her the standard client interview questions, but thew in questions concerning her anxiety/depression. Please read on…

How long have you been wanting to do a boudoir/contemporary glamour session and what made you decide now was the time to do one? 
YEARS! I first looked at doing a session with Shannon two years ago. Being a photographer myself I know exactly what I’m looking for—Shannon was the only one locally that fit the bill!

Boudoir Shannon Hemauer Mary Ramirez Photographer
Mary: I BELIEVE Project Recipient 2017 | Shannon Hemauer Photography

What made you decide Shannon Hemauer was the photographer to work with to do your boudoir/contemporary glamour session?
Her images speak for themselves! There is NO ONE in our area with the quality of work she produces. Now that I’ve had the full experience too, I’m even more sure she is the #1.

Mary: I BELIEVE Project Recipient 2017 | Shannon Hemauer Photography
Mary: I BELIEVE Project Recipient 2017 | Shannon Hemauer Photography

What was your favorite part out of the entire experience? The planning, the session, the reveal? 
I loved the actual session! It was so much fun to wear all the makeup and dress up. I was so nervous about the posing but she makes it so easy!

What did you think when you saw that first image of yourself?
IS THAT ME?!

Mary: I BELIEVE Project Recipient 2017 | Shannon Hemauer Photography
Mary: I BELIEVE Project Recipient 2017 | Shannon Hemauer Photography

How did shooting this session with Shannon Hemauer change your outlook on yourself? Are you more confident?
I am more confident for sure. I’ve been on a journey of finding my self-love for months and this was so helpful.

Before this experience, did you feel you were photogenic? If no, do you feel you are photogenic now?
Nope, not really. And I am rarely photographed without my kids. I was blown away at how photogenic I actually am!

Mary: I BELIEVE Project Recipient 2017 | Shannon Hemauer Photography
Mary: I BELIEVE Project Recipient 2017 | Shannon Hemauer Photography

Before this experience, what concerns did you have in regards to hiring a photographer?
My biggest concern was finding someone who specializes. I wanted someone who really knew what they were doing, not just doing boudoir because a potential client asked them to shoot a boudoir session.

Were you surprised at how much fun you had planning your session, shooting your session, and seeing your images? 
I won’t say surprised. I KNEW it would be fun.

Mary: I BELIEVE Project Recipient 2017 | Shannon Hemauer Photography
Mary: I BELIEVE Project Recipient 2017 | Shannon Hemauer Photography

Why should other women do a boudoir/contemporary glamour session with Shannon Hemauer Photography?
If you have ever had self-confidence or image issues you should do this. I feel like this made ME see what my husband sees—I am fabulous, beautiful, and confident. This all helped me get to see that.

What is the difference between having anxiety and being a worrier? 
Anxiety is an overwhelming dread you can’t escape, often times with something that otherwise would not be a big deal.

Mary: I BELIEVE Project Recipient 2017 | Shannon Hemauer Photography
Mary: I BELIEVE Project Recipient 2017 | Shannon Hemauer Photography

How long have you struggled with anxiety? 
I have had the phobia of vomiting since I was a child. The real anxiety and mental breakdown happened this past fall and winter.

What made you decide now was the time to seek professional help for the anxiety? 
I wasn’t able to function. Just day-to-day life was so difficult for me. My husband and my sister all but totally took over taking care of my three children. It got to the point that I wasn’t sure I could continue to live with my own thoughts and how I was feeling. I would go weeks without eating a real meal. It was the “rock bottom” feeling that helped me to decide it was time to seek professional help for my anxiety.

Mary: I BELIEVE Project Recipient 2017 | Shannon Hemauer Photography
Mary: I BELIEVE Project Recipient 2017 | Shannon Hemauer Photography

What is the professional help you are receiving? For example, a licensed therapist and medication.
I went to therapy and have been on medication. I started working out regularly and slowly started eating again. I remember about two weeks after starting my medication waking up and not feeling like the world was falling in on me.

What have been the pros to getting help? For example, weight loss because you feel energized now and are moving/eating better?
Not feeling like I cannot live with myself any more is the biggest pro! I started running and getting healthier. I’m happier and can totally function and thrive now. My life has literally been changed.

Boudoir photographer Shannon Hemauer Photography
Mary’s Sneak Peek | Shannon Hemauer Photography

What have been the cons to getting help? For example, you had “Friends” stop talking to you because they didn’t know how to handle the anxiety diagnose? 
I don’t see many cons to this. My friends and family have been so supportive. My medication has some side effects. Luckily the only thing I have really noticed is a slight dizzy feeling from time to time.

What do you want my readers to know that you wished your friends and family had known when you first began to struggle with anxiety?
That I was actually having a problem. I tried for a long time to “ignore” it and pretend I was fine.

A huge thank you goes to lead hair/makeup stylist, Nath Mao, for gifting her time and time for Mary’s session, to Alisha the Assistant for being awesome, and to Mary herself, for being brave and stepping out of her comfort zone.

I’ve selected my two recipients for 2018, so look soon for the announcement!!

Until then,

Shannon



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Shannon Hemauer
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