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What makes a great photographer? Photography that changes lives

One question that I get asked quite commonly is, “What makes a great photographer?”

Yes, it’s the lighting, composition, the pose (how the hands and feet are placed), expression and emotion, location, theme and concept. But above all these things, I really believe personality plays a significant part of being a great photographer. I mean, great personality goes with anything you do in life really. You can be the most technically sound photographer but have the meanest, craziest, insensitive or inconsiderate manner towards a subject, the images that turn out in the end may appear lifeless. You have to be well composed, have a clear head, and ensure your subjects feel your vibe and energy. They need to be comfortable and relaxed subjects, not ones that feel tormented by your constant abrupt directions. Pursed lips and serious frowns aren’t the most flattering look!

Anyway, I recently met the most beautiful and gentle-spirited lady, Raelene who you never have guessed had an inner struggle that have held her captive for so many years. She was plagued with a reproductive syndrome which made her feel ugly, unfeminine, and loathed at the idea of having her photos taken. It was only until her very best friend, Tracy encouraged her to do something nice for herself: to glam up and have timeless images taken.

I felt so privileged knowing Raelene throughout this entire process. It was my duty and responsibility to ensure that Raelene felt incredibly beautiful, feminine and sexy in front of the camera. Little did I comprehend how much a day spent with Raylene had truly changed her life and perspective as a woman. It was then, the penny dropped that being a great photographer, is one that can change lives.

Here are a series of images of Raelene in her element, followed by her touching testimony which she hand written (now typed) and posted to me. It is a must read!

Raelene, you are beautiful inside out and I know these images will remind you what a wonderful human-being you are. Much love and success to you, Karen.

The last image is with her bestie, Tracy.

Thank you Candice Deville for being my incredible partner and vintage glamour hair and make-up stylist for this vintage glamour photography session.

Now here is Raylene’s testimony….


Dear Karen,

I can’t thank you enough for the amazing experience that I had at Finessence Photography. It was one of the best days of my life.

I was diagnosed with a reproductive syndrome at age fifteen. Being told that I had no ovaries immediately made me feel different to my girl friends and other woman in general. I didn’t think that I was worthy of “girlie” things like high heels, make-up and feminine clothes.

For years I thought that I was ugly and avoided having my photo taken by being the one behind the camera. I would be thrilled when a shop assistant would refer to me as “madam”because it meant that they thought of me as a woman.In December 2012 work gave me a $500 gift card for working for he company for twenty five years. I was going to get something practical like a lawn mower.

My colleagues were horrified and told me that I had to get something special just for me.

I remembered that my gorgeous Nan had passes away in April and the fact that there were some nice family photos of her at the funeral there really wasn’t a know out glamorous photo that really captured her. I was saddened deeply that there wasn’t one professional photo of her and decided that I would not let this happen to me.

Some people overcome their fears by sky diving, swimming with sharks or some other activity. I decided to overcome my self loathing, to be able to walk past a mirror and look into it.

I told my best friend Tracy how I felt and after she stopped crying we talked about me having photos taken to lift my spirits.

Every photographer we talked about was so cheap and tacky and just didn’t make me feel that they would be sensitive to my needs.

We did a lot of research on the internet and eventually typed “Glamour Photography”. Finessence Photography came up and within seconds I knew who to call. The photo’s were so beautiful, glamorous and professional.

I rang and spoke to Karen and we arranged to have a meeting before the photo session to make sure that everything went perfectly on the day and that I was completely comfortable.

I walked past the studio door terrified of being inside, foolish of me because as soon as I met Arlene and the beautiful Karen they completely made me feel at home.

Karen spent ages with me asking what kind of photos I wanted done and showing me some of her outstanding work. She listened while I explained about my reproductive syndrome and was so compassionate and understanding. She didn’t even mind when I asked if my friend came along for morale support.

On the days leading up to the shoot I was full of insecurities. I am too ugly for such stunning photos, too old, my teeth aren’t perfectly straight, I wont know how to pose. What if I look at the photos and I don’t like them?

I was so nervous but on the day Karen and Candice made me feel so special and pampered me for the whole day.Candice did an exceptional job on my hair and makeup. You made me look naturally beautiful – not overdone. I truly understand why you are world known, for talented doesn’t begin to describe you. Such an understatement!

You even coaxed me into wearing false eyelashes which were amazing. I never felt beautiful enough.  Karen you talked me through the photo shoot step by step giving me a confidence that I never thought that I would ever have. You are so creative and nothing was too much trouble. Your studio is surrounded by some of the most amazing backdrops, the buildings are incredible. Your attention to detail and your calming nature really was so appreciated.The way that you would stop at nothing to get the perfect photo was incredible. You moved heavy chairs (how as there is nothing of you). and even asked an unsuspecting postman delivering mail to the building we were taking photos in to pose with me. Hysterical when I saw the photos you game me plenty of time to look through them which I needed, because there were so many beautiful photos I needed time to choose. You didn’t force your opinion on me an you certainly weren’t pushy.

My family say that the photos are so me and so beautiful. They are timeless, will never date. Mum even said they are so “Downtown Abbey” which is a huge compliment because it is her favourite show. Heaven help if we call when it is on.

To anyone wanting professional photos taken but are hesitant because they don’t feel young enough or beautiful enough stop making excuses and put themselves in the hands of Finessence Photography. They won’t regret it, they have nothing to loose and everything to gain.

For me I will be more confident, happier and will feel “normal” and beautiful for the first time in my life. I have learned that I don’t have Turners syndrome tattooed on my forehead and my syndrome doesn’t define me.I will wear make-up more often and have my hair and nails done regularly. I will not hide behind the camera but will even one day I swear somehow walk down the catwalk! While I think of promises that I will make to myself I will not hide from mirrors.

My three angels at Finessence how do I thank you for lifting decades of self loathing off my shoulders. A day in your work life and a changing day in mine.

A year of expensive counseling couldn’t have done what you three gems did in one day. Thank you so much for your professionalism and support.

Lots and lots of love.

“A changed Raelene.”


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