Photographer Cindy Johnson noticed that her clients often had trouble letting go of their own negative self image. So she set out to do something about it. She created an empowering photoshoot using women of all ages and body types, and turned it into a moving video that’s an undeniable hit, with nearly 60,000 views on Facebook, almost 900 shares, and local news attention, too.
Take a look at Cindy’s inspirational video and then check out our interview with her about how and why she created it.
Song: “Across the Skies” by Stanton Lanier
MOIRA: What inspired you to do this project?
CINDY: I was thinking about how thankful I am to have uplifting women in my life. I have seen photo shoots where women have held up signs with negative words on them, but I really wanted to emphasize in my shoot that we don’t need to fight the negative social stigma alone, that we can lift each other up.
MOIRA: How did you find the participants?
CINDY: I have a private group of women I have photographed in the past, there are about 300 women in it. I basically just posted on a Sunday, “Who can show up at my house Wednesday night?” It was pretty spur of the moment. I didn’t want to mold who was in the photoshoot, I just let it come together organically by allowing whoever could show up take part.
MOIRA: Can you tell me a little about the shoot?
CINDY: Right before the shoot, everyone sat in a circle and we went around the room and talked about the journey we have had with our body. I think it was important for them all to realize every single one of us has body issues, even the ones who appear “perfect.” Then I handed them mosquito spray and markers and we headed outside! I really did. I didn’t want to shape the experience too much; I just wanted to stay back and see how it unfolded. I wanted their stories to shine.
MOIRA: What did you learn doing the project?
CINDY: I learned that, as one person, I can’t do all that much to change the world, but by empowering other women, together we can do so much. In the talk before the shoot, several of them told me that, since their individual shoots with me, they have had a more loving relationship with their body. Several said they are now extremely careful never to criticize their body in front of their children. That means so very much to me.
MOIRA: How did the women respond to being part of the project? Did you get any feedback?
CINDY: They all felt very uplifted, empowered, and loved at the end of the shoot. I think they were surprised at how strongly positive their friends’ reactions were to them sharing the shoot. Everyone is so proud of them for being so vulnerable and strong.
MOIRA: Why did you decide to create a video and what has the response been like?
CINDY: I didn’t really start with a vision of a final project. I actually initially shared the images just as a photo album, but I had so much positive feedback and so many questions, I decided to make a video explaining a bit more about the shoot. I take photos. I am not a videographer, and I don’t have the time currently to learn video production techniques. Animoto makes getting my story shared easy.
I knew it would be an empowering experience for the women there, but I was surprised at the number of messages I received from women who were in tears, and they didn’t even know anyone in the video. I love that through the platform of video, I’m able to empower many more women than I can see in person.
Cindy is a boudoir photographer in central Indiana. You can see more of Cindy’s powerful work at her website, cindyjohnsonboudoirphotography.com.