Affinity Photo helps young teens gain self-confidence with their filter-free photoshoots
As teens deal with a world of filters and advertisements and worrying what people think, one photo studio aims to help them see their self-worth.
Brook Lyons is the owner of Affinity Photo Studio and she wanted to a way to show young people what she sees.
“When we’re all always worried about what everybody thinks and how we look and all that stuff, it just destroys joy,” Lyons said. “What’s unique to you is amazing because no one else has that.”
So she and her assistant, Ally Barraza came up with something.
“It’s been really fun to see a lot of these kids come in that do struggle with a lot of their mental health or self-esteem, especially that, we wanted to hit on that really hard,” Barraza said.
They call it, “this is me.”
“We’re just trying to give these guys a little bit of something extra to make them feel stronger, more powerful, all that,” Lyons said.
They bring in some guest speakers to talk about the kinds of things that affect teens.
“Conformity to me is the most irritating thing. Us being us, it what makes us incredible,” Lyons said.
There’s a little pep-talk and then a whole lot of photos. There’s no special makeup, no hairstylists, just pictures.
“If people show a little bit of who they are, everybody wants to have something to do with them,” Lyons said.
“It’s really been fun to see them get comfortable with themselves by the end of it,” Barraza said.
Maybe most interestingly, there’s no photoshop…or editing.
“And so people see these and they’re like, ‘that’s me? What did you do to it?'” Lyons said.
The end result is often unexpected.
“They just make it feel like really comfortable ” Zoie Porter said. “And it’s always just a fun time.”
Zoie Porter and Haidyn Hartman have been through it a few times and they say that looking at themselves from the outside, it can say a lot.
“Sometimes it’s like you see it and it’s like, ‘wow! that’s a really good picture of me and like I really like that.'” Hartman said.
“There’s not like editing or anything or filters, so just like seeing our natural self is really cool,” Porter said.
And to live life with no filter to see through all that other stuff they walk away, with something they maybe didn’t quite have before.
“When they see those images, you can just see they’re going ‘Oh my gosh, I really am okay just as I am,'” Lyons said.
“And build that self-esteem essentially, and in a very safe space,” Barraza said.
Take away those hashtags and you’re left with something big, something really important: self confidence.
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