Do you ever meet someone and kind of take them at face value? Maybe even judge them a little? Or put them into a category of your mental files?
In this digital age we live in, we’re not even often seeing people face to face – our pictures on the Internet, on social media in particular, often paint the picture of who we are. But when was the last time you had an actual portrait taken of yourself? Let alone a photo of just yourself printed, matted, framed and hung? Your wedding probably. Sure, we get pictures taken of our kids – we take pictures of them constantly in fact, but Mom is often behind the camera/phone.
THE CAMERA-PHOBE COMMITMENT
New Year’s Day I got a message from an acquaintance I had met at Harrisburg Chamber function. We sort of knew of one another through social circles. I had seen the photos she had taken of some women I knew and they were stunning. She wanted to start of the New Year on a positive pay-it-forward note and invited me to come to her studio for pampering and a portrait. I was hesitant; I loathe getting my photo taken and claim to be one of the least photogenic people alive (they say being photogenic has something to do with symmetry of the face but I’m pretty sure when seeing a camera pointed at you makes your face twitch and armpits start sweating, it’s just not a natural fit). Skeptically, I said yes.
My stomach was in knots driving to Mechanicsburg to the Bevrore studio. I walked in and there were Jillian Williams, the owner and photographer; Erica Koup who handles the business and marketing; and Ruby Simmers, hair and makeup artist extraordinaire. I had 6 to 8 outfits with me which Jillian promptly took out of my hands and started organizing and making selections of what she thought would photograph best (it was like what I do on fashion shoots but being on the other side of things which was so weird for me!). I was invited to have a seat in Ruby’s chair and she began her magic (again a strange feeling for me in concept but I relaxed right away as we all started chatting). As Jillian and Erica sat joined us and we really got to know each other, I learned about not just a really unique business unlike anything else I’ve seen in the area, I learned about Jillian’s incredible journey to doing what she does.
When I inquired about the expertly designed Bevrore space with it’s plush white fur rugs, deep cerulean and velvet textures that invite you to get comfortable, Jillian shared that in fact, her mother helped her with the design. But this wasn’t just any mother-daughter story. Jillian’s mom is a designer for the stars – with clients like Madonna and Britney Spears. But it wasn’t until she was about 20 that she found this out. Jillian was raised by an adopted family and while attending college at Messiah, her birth mom, who had given her up for adoption at age 16, found her through the Internet and decided to contact her. They now keep a long-distance relationship from LA to PA.
As Jillian began having babies, she evolved a successful newborn photography business, but as her babies grew and the market became over-saturated, she longed for a new challenge. Upon another life change – losing 100 pounds through changing her eating habits and dedicated running – she decided that challenge would be photographing women to really look and feel like the best versions of themselves. Bevrore was born to this mom of 4 with beginnings in her basement and has since moved to the Charter Homes Arcona business development, open now about 6 months.
SECRETS TO SUCCESS
One of the secrets to Bevrore’s success is that Jillian is a pro at posing. She has mastered the art of making women look their best through a series of signature moves which she effortlessly guides women through during her shoots. At times, these poses feel really awkward, but the proof is in the proofs (photo proofs that is).
After the shoot, I was invited back for “the reveal.” Jillian showed a slideshow of my portraits as I sat with her in a posh pair of chairs and then pulled back thick gray velvet curtains to reveal shelves of matted prints of all my portraits where I could choose the ones I liked best. Her enthusiasm for certain shots was contagious and genuine. This sleek dressed professional herself, I learned through our time together during the shoot, was a really cool sort of nerdy tomboy at heart, with a great big passion for making other women feel beautiful – and documenting that through the art of photography.
There’s authentic passion in Ruby’s trade too – between each outfit change, changing makeup and touching up hair – the time and attention to detail in this four hour process is incredible, yet somehow it goes by really fast because it’s like hanging and having fun with your girlfriends, who in fact, by the end become new girlfriends you wanna hang out with again.
Sure, these photos are at-a-glance beautified versions of women hashtagged #BevroreSuperModel, but it’s also about having a professional head shot that presents the best version of yourself rather than a poorly lit square-to-the-camera, stand-against-that-wall-there office shot. It’s about having a portrait of yourself that your children or husband can look back at someday. I mean, let’s face it, no one “sits for portraits” anymore so this is a real rarity. Taking the time to do it is a gift to yourself (or maybe a Valentine’s Day gift from your husband!).
In my job as an editor and writer, I am always searching for people’s stories. Everyone has a story. It can be truly inspiring when you take the time to ask someone questions and get to know the person – and the story – behind the image.