A few weeks ago I photographed the beautiful Jessica, mum to gorgeous furbaby Marlow and who is currently transitioning. I haven't photographed a trans woman before so I was super excited to put all the skills I have nurtured into creating some super flattering portraits and showing Jess' beauty to the whole world. We had a little conversation about her journey to find herself, and I think you will all agree not only is she brave and courageous, she is a true beauty and an incredible representation of femininity. I can't thank her enough for trusting me and allowing me to capture her portraits!
Tell me a little about yourself! Where are you from, what do you do for work/hobbies?
My name's Jessica, I'm 29, originally from the Liverpool area and I enjoy everything from running around with my dog to a glass of wine and a snooze. I work as a web developer in Altrincham - something I managed to get into from being self-taught through my other hobby, computers and web design.
When and how did your journey begin?
I've always had a fundamental disconnect with my appearance that I can remember right back to primary school. It manifested itself in varying ways through my teenage years - secret clothes bought from charity shops for example - until it culminated in a wild goth phase at university that I may not yet have fully grown out of. Over the following years through my 20s I realised this was a serious matter causing me daily mental health difficulties so I consulted my GP, was referred and started on the path to rectifying things. That was when the fog that had followed me day to day finally began to lift.
How does it affect you day to day?
I used to really suffer with everyday tasks in public, such as going to work - dealing with girls and women was extremely hard and I ended up in very male-dominated environments as a result such as IT. Going out on the town was nigh on impossible towards the end as I'd be crippled by such misery that I couldn't wear a nice dress and heels that I'd have to crash out early and go home - this even manifested itself at our work's Christmas do one year which was especially nasty.
Now I'm out I'm 'loud and proud', so to speak. I like to think I work my height and long legs and am doing what I can to make up for the shortcomings I can't do anything about. Sitting and moping hasn't helped before and won't help me now. Perhaps in the future this will change and I'll decide to be a bit more stealth about being trans but I think at the moment I'm enjoying my new lease on life a little too much.
Advice to others about to undertake or are at the beginning of a similar journey?
I'll tell you the words I should have heard when I was stood at my front door, cowering about my first time round the block in girl mode, so to speak - just f*cking do it. Nobody gives a toss about you in reality. Sure people might look or say something but so what? You're interesting to them - something unique, something worthy of discussion, something some people, like me, would celebrate! You're not just another stupid stick figure in a Lowry painting so why listen to those who are? Most people you see are wrapped up in their own lives as complex as their own and to them, you're as much of a background character as they are to you.
About your photo session, how was the experience as a whole?
Absolutely second to none. I felt comfortable, at ease and guided the whole time. I was worried I'd need a level of know-how and even maybe make a fool of myself through a lack of experience but that absolutely was not the case.
How do your photographs make you feel?
Amazing! You get so used to seeing yourself in the mirror and picking faults with yourself that you forget that, actually, you are stunning in your own way. Donna's work finds details you've taken for granted and shows them to you in this incredible way that makes you stop and admire them. Then you remember they're yours and that feeling is priceless - for me it was my eyes, but for anyone it could be anything.
What would you say to someone like yourself who was considering a portrait shoot with me?
I've now had a shoot with a so-called 'big brand' studio, and I've had a shoot with Donna and I can honestly say I preferred the latter - it was less rushed, friendlier, less 'formal'... and the results speak for themselves!
What an inspiring story, I can't thank Jessica enough for allowing me to capture her beauty on camera <3