3 Things We Dive Into In This Episode:
How to let go of control and lean into more self-love when photographing yourself.
The steps Sami and I created to help you find purpose in your career.
Sami’s experience on how photos and videos can capture your true essence and how to lean in to it.
Check out the Whole, Full, & Alive’s official trailer to learn more about me and the podcast.
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[05:39] Sami The Photographer
Sami is a business coach, brand designer, and photographer for small women-owned businesses in the health and wellness space.
She came up with her business name, Her Inner Wisdom, while helping a client choose a brand name.
Her Inner Wisdom encourages people to listen to and honor their body and intuition.
Sami has suffered from chronic pain and endometriosis since she was a child. She believes honoring her body is an essential part of her healing process.
Sami: “If you're working in a place that you don't want to work, you're spending time every day in a place that you want to be spending time in, your body listens to that and hears that and says: ‘oh, I can't trust you.’ And it will create these different points of tension in your body.” - Click Here To Tweet This
[10:59] Understanding Your Purpose
I met Sami at an entrepreneur seminar, where we discussed communicating the why behind her company.
Future generations should not have to deal with body shaming, body hatred, or obsession with body shapes.
It’s normal to question your purpose in life.
When you focus on your calling, it helps you get through difficult times and communicate your vision.
The things we are most afraid to share have the most long-term impact and frequently lead to your purpose.
[20:20] Be Vulnerable
Being vulnerable allows you to inspire and connect with people.
Vulnerability will come in waves; you will find ways to share your story.
Our mission connects with our personal story.
While authenticity and vulnerability are important, we must also be intentional.
[26:14] Anchored to Your Purpose
Your life purpose doesn't have to be rooted in your job. You can find it in your connections with others.
Your purpose can go beyond your company's mission and vision.
[29:34] Let Go of Some Control
We frequently judge ourselves in photographs.
We deserve to have images that capture our essence and self-image.
Photos should show how much you are enjoying the moment.
You deserve to let go of control and be true to yourself.
Sami: “You don't have to change anything about yourself to be worthy of capturing you and your truest essence and your joy.” - Click Here To Tweet This
[41:15] On Photos and Videos
Videos capture core moments in life.
Accept and celebrate your body when you take a photo — even if it initially feels awkward.
Allow yourself to truly be seen.
Don’t deny yourself the opportunity to be witnessed by and connected with others.
[46:12] Healing Your Self Image Through Photos
Your environment and history influence how you perceive and accept your body.
Healing through self-photography takes time.
Exposing yourself to people of various shapes, sizes, and orientations will benefit you and your growth.
Caitie: "Our brains are constantly exposed to very similar body shapes, sizes, types, and we do need to rewire our brains to understand that there are so many ways to be a beautiful human." - Click Here To Tweet This
[49:00] Sami’s Routine
Sami likes to start her day with some sunshine and end the day by taking a deep breath of fresh air.
Sami also incorporates taking care of her gut into her routines.
Set aside some time for yourself where and when you can in your day.
[53:34] This Week’s Processing Prompt
Ask yourself: Is there something you feel vulnerable discussing? How does it relate to your life purpose?
Start and end your day by taking a short walk outside.
Take photos to celebrate and accept yourself and your self image.
Ask the people you love what part/s of you they love.
Send love to your body.
Sami Hobbs is a business coach, brand photographer and brand designer based in Sarasota, Florida. In February 2019, she left the corporate world in search of community, connection, and sense of purpose. Soon after, she founded Her Inner Wisdom to help heart-centered healers cultivate clarity in their brand & business, build unwavering confidence in themselves, and ultimately, to lead an unstoppable business rooted in their own intuitive wisdom.
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Sami Hobbs: If you're just rushing through life, if you're not establishing boundaries with people, if you're doing things that you don't want to do, if you're working in a place that you don't want to work, you're spending time everyday in a place that you want to be spending time in, your body listens to that, and hears that, and says, “Oh, I can't trust you.” And it will create these different points of tension in your body.
Caitie Corradino: Welcome to Whole, Full, and Alive. A podcast exploring the art and science of falling in love with your life, with your story, and with who you truly are underneath your titles, your resume, your relationship status, and your bank account. I'm Caitie Corradino, a registered dietician nutritionist, certified fitness and yoga instructor, eating disorder recovery coach, Reiki healer, and founder of Full Soul Nutrition.
But underneath my titles and resume, I’m a big fan of kitchen dance breaks, early mornings, all things topped with truffles, world-traveling, and serendipity. I'm here to share no-bullshit stories and actionable tools to help you feel unshakably worthy. You have everything you need within you to feel whole, full, and alive. Right here, right now. Let's get into it. Hey, welcome back to another episode of Whole, Full, and Alive.
On today's episode, I have another lovely, lovely guest. Her name is Sami Hobbs. She is a photographer and a holistic business coach that is based in Sarasota, Florida. Sami is the second photographer that I have interviewed on this show so far, and I realized that I'm actually having a series of female photographers on the show. There's going to be two more coming up pretty soon.
I'm so excited about this series of female photographers that I'm interviewing, because I want to talk more about helping you heal your relationship with photos of yourself. It's a really sticky thing, and it's something that I noticed a lot of my clients tiptoe around, and it's something that I personally tiptoed around for a really long time.
Because, like healing your relationship with food and healing your relationship with your body, iIn general, healing your relationship with photos of yourself is something that's very nuanced and muddy, and multi-layered, and complex. And it's exhausting sometimes, to explore things like that. It's exhausting to touch the things that are multi-layered and complex.
But even though photos can seem like such a superficial thing, it can be so healing and meaningful to have a better relationship with photos of yourself, to not have to worry about photos of yourself, to not have to stress about the idea of taking photos, especially, if you're a female entrepreneur. But if you're a human in any kind of setting, living any kind of life, it would be nice, right?
To not have to stress about photos of yourself and to allow beautiful memories and your essence and your energy to just be captured through photographs, without it being such a big deal, and that is the major thing that Sami and I are talking about on today's episode. Just this element of letting go of control when it comes to having photos of yourself taken, that's a really big piece of what we're talking about today.
Also, before we get into that, we talk a little bit about defining your “Why,” behind what you do, because Sami is a holistic business coach. So she tells us a little bit more about how she kind of came to be where she is today. She's a very young, female entrepreneur– very young, full-time entrepreneur, and it's very cool. And so, she's going to tell a little bit more about her story with that.
Then, at the end, we're going to talk a little bit more about some simple and tangible wellness practices that you can do to refresh and reset your brain during the day, at the end of the day. This episode definitely has a lot of nuances to it; a few different things that we talked about, but primarily this photos thing, and Sami is the second photographer that I have on the show, so far.
It's really exciting to have this series of female photographers and kind of start digging into the different layers of healing your relationship with photos of yourself, because, again, it's not something that we can heal in one conversation, in one way, with a few bulleted things. It's a complex conversation. So I'm excited that we're keeping it going on today's episode. And without any further ado, let's get into my conversation with Sami Hobbs.
It's Wednesday, October 19, 9 a.m. here in Denver. It's 11 a.m. in Florida, where my guest, Sami Hobbs, is joining me from, today. Sami, thank you so much for being here today.
Sami: Thank you, Caitie. I am so excited to be joining your podcast. Thank you for having me.
Caitie: This is the second time you're joining the podcast, fun fact, because the first time, our audio went absolutely haywire, and so we're doing take two. And this is just one of those moments where we're just trusting that our second conversation was the one that was meant to be published.
Sami: Oh, I love that. Absolutely. Absolutely. And we have– I mean, we just have so many great ideas for what we want to chat about today. I'm so excited to flow with you.
Caitie: Yes. So Sami, please tell everyone, who are you? And before you tell everyone what you do, please tell them who you are.
Sami: Hi, so my name is Sami Hobbs. I am a business coach, brand designer, photographer for small women-owned businesses in the health and wellness space. Through heart-centered brand discovery, photography, and coaching, I help entrepreneurs uncover their deepest essence, create their dream brand, and build a healthful relationship with their business.
I'm located in Sarasota, Florida, and I'm just so passionate about what I do. I've been in this space for several years. I can't wait to walk through what that journey has been like and the lessons that I've carried through into my business, which is called Her Inner Wisdom.
Caitie: What makes you, who you are? How do people know when they're in your energy? What are a few things that are like, intangibly, sort of unique to you as a human? And then also, tell us why your brand, your business is called Her Inner Wisdom.
Sami: Great questions. So I'll address the second one, first. I rebranded from not really having a business name. I didn't have a business name for the first, I'm gonna say, two years that I owned a business. I had Sami Hobbs, LLC, and then, I created Her Inner Wisdom. This name actually came from brand discovery that I was leading, a client, Sara Ball, through. And we had created a list of names that she was interested in pursuing.
She was going through a rebrand at that time, and I had just generated Her Inner Wisdom, kind of came out of nowhere, came out of my intuition, shared that with her. She did not end up going with that brand name, and it sort of struck this– it created the seed in my brain that was like, “Oh, this kind of feels like me. This feels like me, and it describes my journey to this point.”
Because I entered entrepreneurship, because something in me, my wisdom, my intuition, knew that the corporate world and the hustle-and-bustle, and that grind was not meant for me. I was so deeply unhappy when I was in that space, and my nervous system was so dysregulated when I was in the corporate world, and so, there was there was this knowing,
I was like, “Oh, Her Inner Wisdom certainly describes this journey of like coming into myself and discovering how to listen and honor my body, how to listen and honor my intuition.” And it also really was a name rooted in my own health journey, because I've been navigating chronic pain, endometriosis, and chronic pelvic floor conditions from a very young age.
Part of the healing journey is learning how to honor your body, how to create boundaries with yourself and with other people, and the situations that are not supporting you, especially, because stress and tension tends to sit in our pelvic bowl, it sits in our bodies in different places.
If you're just rushing through life, if you're not establishing boundaries with people, if you're doing things that you don't want to do, if you're working in a place that you don't want to work, you're spending time everyday in a place that you want to be spending time in, your body listens to that and hears that and says, “Oh, I can't trust you.” And it will create these different points of tension in your body.
So Her Inner Wisdom kind of came from that full journey, like learning how to listen to myself. So the first question– I love this question, by the way, because I do ask this, and when it comes to my brand clients– my brand design clients and my coaching clients in the business world, I will ask them like, “You know what? What is your magic? What is your medicine?What makes you truly different?”
Because often, it feels like there are so many people doing the same things as us. There are tons of nutritionists, tons of dietitians, tons of business coaches, but each of us have our own secret sauce, we each have this truest essence that really deserves to shine, and it will bring in your dream community, your dream clients, or dream friends.
In terms of my medicine, my magic– gosh. I really to strive to bring a lot of comfort and authenticity into any space that I'm sharing with a client or with friends, with my community. I think that a huge part of my work is by embracing my own goofiness and my own edges and my own story. I invite others to do the same. That's been really present in my photography work because I had my own journey with my body, with my disordered eating, and body dysmorphia.
I was able to bring those lessons into my work, and really, like, truly, deeply hold space for people, and really sit with them, and demonstrate how to how to sit with those emotions. And so, I think it's through that authenticity, through embracing my own self, that I've been able to show others how to do the same.
Caitie: Thank you so much for sharing that. I want to validate that your energy is comfort. Like you, you are a very comforting person. You are kind of like a blanket, like– I feel that way about you. It's something that is unique to you. That is the thing that kind of makes you who you are.
I love what you're saying about how so many people who have this desire to become an entrepreneur or start their own side hustle or just their own creative venture, tend to think, “Well, so many other people are doing this, so why would I do this?” That is, I think, the number one block that I hear. And keeping that in mind, that every single person does bring their own unique energy and essence to the thing that they're doing, that's how you move past that.
I mean, some people– I mean, there's so many dieticians. I could have really easily said, “Why would I become a dietitian? There's so many dietitians. I should just go work in the hospital and get health insurance and whatever.” But there are people who really resonate with the type of nutrition counseling that only I can provide. There are people who don't resonate with the type of nutrition counseling that I can provide.
There are people who resonate with my unique energy, and it wouldn't have been available to them had I been like, “Oh, there's so many other people that are doing this.” And that leads me to wanting to share the story of how you and I first connected. So Sami and I first connected in an entrepreneur, mastermind, course group situation. We had a one-off zoom coffee date on the side. We kind of pulled over and connected separately outside of the group.
I was sharing with Sami about how I was struggling to communicate the “why” behind my business. I was sort of feeling, in that place, of exactly what I just described, like,”Oh, I mean, so many people are eating disorder recovery coaches, so many people are dieticians, so many people are intuitive eating dieticians, and I'm so passionate about this work, and I want to stay in this lane where I am right now.”
“But I'm having a hard time communicating the deepest essence, like the core of why I'm doing what I'm doing.” And in your very calming energy, you didn't even say like, “Oh, I'm gonna coach you right now, you did it.”
Like you were just talking to me, kind of like a friend– you were really just asking me all these really beautiful, pointed, open-ended questions, and helped me arrive at this place where I realized that the reason I do what I do, or one of the deepest reasons why I do what I do, is for future generations. I realized that I'm working with my clients, not only for my clients, I’m working with my clients for their children.
I'm working with the women that I work with for their daughters, for the people who are going to come after them, and who will no longer have to struggle or be exposed to diet culture, and– I could go on for like 2000 years, so I'm like trying to try to wrap it up and be concise.
But I realized through my conversation with you, how passionate I am about healing, body image, and relationship with food, for future generations. And I've always kept that in the back of my mind, every time I start to feel like a little burned out by my business, every time I start to feel like I'm losing touch with the purpose of what I'm doing.
I imagine how powerful it will be when these healed women move through future generations and aren't modeling dieting behavior for the girls who are coming later, and aren't modeling body shame and body hatred and hyper fixation on body shape and size, for future generations. And Sami, I don't know what the fuck you did in that conversation, but you pulled that out of me.
It inspired me to change my whole website and kind of like change the vibe of what I do. I always felt really inspired by that. So I would love for you to speak to that a little bit. How do you help people extract the “why” behind what they do, and stay in touch with it?
Sami: Holy cannoli. Can I– Oh, wow. Can I hire you for market? Like, can you work market my– Oh, my God. I think what's so funny, kind of going back to your question before, around why I feel my own magic, and truest essences, and like, what do I bring to the table when I'm around others– and it in that moment, when you asked that, I was like, “Do I bring anything?” It's just so automatic to question, like, “What do I bring to the table that's different?”
It's sort of, I just sit with it, and then, for a few minutes, I kind of– my comfort level increased with that question. But I think, you're– when you reflect back to me what I was able to do for you throughout this conversation is just really affirming, and I really appreciate hearing that. And I think, that's a huge part of this, right? Like, I'm actively learning in front of your audience, right now, and seeing my own blockage that I have around that, and that's really fascinating.
We're always learning. Just because I'm sitting in front of you as a coach does not mean that I'm like, on some pedestal. I'm still like, “Holy crap, I can help you. And I have a business that literally does that.” So anyway, thank you for reflecting all of that back to me, and I remember that conversation. I remember where I was sitting in my apartment where we had that conversation.
This is a huge part of my work. I think why I love helping women extract that– that “deepest essence,” that core of why they're doing this work, is sort of twofold. I think, when you're tapped into your purpose with that laser focus and with that deep understanding, it helps you sort of move through the really difficult moments, because being a business owner is going to be really hard, and this is exactly what you shared.
Because like, when you sort of have moments of disconnect with your business, it's really helpful to have that purpose and that “why” to anchor onto. So that's one huge reason. I think that the other reason that I think it's so important is– man, understanding your core and your purpose will help you convey what you're doing with your business with so much more clarity.
I think how I do this is, like you said, like asking those deep questions is huge. And what I also love about this is the things that we're most fearful of sharing and things that we're most fearful of really honoring are the very things that will have the most impact. So for you to really sit with that, like, “Hey, I really want to heal generations with this work. I want to have long term impact.”
“I want to see this help the future great granddaughters of my clients.” That might be really scary to kind of embrace that mission, and be like, “Oh, this is not just with me. This is impacting generations beyond me.”
I just think that's so powerful. To get to the how I do this, I think it really is anchored in those questions and just listening with all of my heart. I think that's what it comes down to, and being willing to confront my clients and my community with some of those questions and dig in deep to like, “Why haven't you shared that part of your story?”
“Why haven't you shared that this is a core element of your mission? Why have you been holding on to that information, because it's not going to help people when it's sitting inside of you?”
Caitie: You just hit something really deep for me. When you mentioned the thing that you're fearful to express, sort of, as your purpose or as your mission, is probably the thing that is your purpose and is your mission. The thing that kind of breaks your heart, often, is the thing that is going to drive the “why” behind what you do, whether you're an entrepreneur or you're working for someone else, or whatever.
I guess, when you said that, I sort of realized that one of the most complex, convoluted, and painful, frankly, things in my life has been my relationship with my own mother and my relationship with the generations of women who came before me. And it's something that, although I'm so vulnerable on this podcast, it's something that I still don't talk about too much because I'm still very much navigating my relationship with that.
That thing that I'm always kind of afraid to touch, and afraid to talk about, and somewhat, afraid to admit, in some ways, I think, is something that actually really drives my business. It's something that really motivates and inspires me to hold space for women every single day. Because I know how many women share that experience with me and share that pain with me.
Sami: Thank you for sharing that. It makes so much sense. And I will provide the caveat for people who are listening that it's really important that making– Brene Brown talks about this, too. Being very intentional when you're vulnerable online, because actively healing by way of sharing may not be the right choice for you, depending upon what you're dealing with. And I totally understand because it's the same with my pelvic floor journey.
I just posted a five-star review for my PT, here in Sarasota, who's changed my effing, like I adore her. And it means that I have a more pleasurable and expansive relationship with sex and with my partner and with myself and with life. Like I get to really experience the full spectrum of life after living in pain for so many years.
I posted this whole five-star review with all the walkthroughs, my journey, and then, it's like, the idea of sharing this online is like a little bit more edgy for me, because it's like, “Oh, well, then family and friends and my partner's family, and like, everybody's gonna know. They’re going to hear and they're going to judge and they're going to know that I have sex.” God forbid. Like, “God forbid that that happens.”
I think it's interesting, but if it's meant to be, it will come in waves. And you'll be able to– you'll find new ways of sharing parts of your story, but just be really cognizant that you're not, like, actively oversharing, because you think you have to. Be really cognizant of where you're at, when you're thinking of sharing parts of your story, because often our mission is really tapped. It's really connected to our story, our personal story.
Caitie: Yeah, I appreciate you saying that because, I think, it's a huge problem in the online space right now. So many people share from a place of the open wound versus the healed wound, and it's doing more harm than good. Although, authenticity and honesty and vulnerability are important. It's also so important to be intentional, especially, if you're a leader in a space. Especially, if you are a business owner and entrepreneur and you're the Facebook brand.
It's very important to share from a place of– I mean, I don't want to say completely closed wound, because how– are you just completely ever healed? Like, no. But being intentional about where you share from, and that's why I say, it's something that I haven't talked about too much yet on my podcast, because it's something like– I'm still navigating, and I'm not ready to share about that. I don't really know how I want to share about that.
But that said, it's something that I keep in mind, in a very personal way, when I'm making decisions in my business. It's something that I keep in mind in a really personal way, when I have clients opening up to me about their relationship with the generations of women before them.
I think, that's kind of the wrap up to this portion of our conversation, is like, identifying if you're a business owner, creative, and/or any person that wants to find purpose in your work, you can do that exercise of distilling down your most– your deepest “why” behind what you do, and you can keep that in mind as you're moving throughout your day.
You can write some sort of tangible affirmation around it or some sort of little reminder, and keep it on a post-it on your desk that just reminds you, kind of, why you're doing what you're doing. You don't have to share it. You don't have to tell your boss. You don't have to tell all your clients. You don't have to share what it is.
But if you keep it in mind, it will help you, as you said before. Just do what you're doing with like more clarity and intention easier to make decisions and find language around what you're doing and what you're offering. So I really appreciate that nugget.
Sami: Absolutely. And one final thing on this because I think that's an interesting point, and something I've been leaning into is that, having a vision, having a purpose, having a mission is not only entrepreneurs.
So for anyone that's listening, if you're not necessarily identifying fully as an entrepreneur, or maybe, you have a side hustle, or maybe, you still have a full time job– whatever it may be– you still deserve to have your day anchored in that purpose. And perhaps that's a guidepost or a lighthouse for your decisions moving forward.
Maybe it's an opportunity to reflect on your current environment and ask yourself, “Okay, is the work environment that I'm in reflective of my actual values and my true purpose? And if it's not aligned, are there some choices I need to make in order to move on, and to be able to craft a journey, and a day-to-day, and a life that is rooted in my own purpose and not something else?”
Caitie: I feel like, if you can't leave your job, realistically, or it's something that you don't desire to do because trying to apply for jobs is like, dysregulating for your nervous system at this point in your life for whatever reason, right? Can you make certain choices that allow you to find a sense of purpose within what you're doing?
If for whatever reason, you can't take the financial leap, the logistical leap, the emotional leap to try to transfer jobs– I mean, there's a lot of realistic reasons why a lot of people can't leave full-time jobs. Can you still make a certain set of choices throughout your day that help you anchor into a sense of purposeness. Purposesness? Is that a word?
Sami: Today’s word is, “purposeness.”
Caitie: Just got to find your purposeness.
Sami: I love this. Like, “can you be a catalyst for change in your workplace?”
Caitie: Right. I have worked with– I work with a lot of people, one-on-one, on a daily basis. And I get to know people's lives very intimately, and I am so privileged to be able to do that, and to be able to help people focus on nutrition and health and wellness. And also, just cultivating a sense of internal self-worth.
I have talked to so many young professionals who are unhappy in their workplace, but for various valid reasons, unable to leave their workplace. Who've been able to tap into a sense of finding their “why” throughout the day, and it might have nothing to do with the job itself. It might have to do with your communication and interaction with your co-workers on a daily basis.
It might have to do with whatever you're doing after work. It might have to do with that one person that you interact with when you're walking into the building. You really just don't know, and I think that purpose can extend so much further than just like the mission and vision of your business if you're an entrepreneur, like you can move outside of that, too.
Speaking of mission and vision and purpose and all of that, Sami, one of the things you do is take brand photos for women, and you help women kind of tap into a sense of confidence through photography, a sense of their authenticity, and their energy through taking photos.
Photos are something that I like to talk about a lot on this podcast, because I know so many individuals who tune into this show really struggle with their relationship with photos. So many of us struggle with our relationship with photos of ourselves. And I find that, and I've said this on an episode before, a lot of people tend to fall into like black-and-white and all-or-nothing thinking when it comes to photos of themselves.
A lot of people fall into this category of like, “I hate photos of myself. I don't want to take photos of myself. I will avoid photos of myself.” And sometimes, when you're in recovery from body dysmorphia and disordered eating, you do need to fall into a place where you kind of just don't touch it for a while, but you cannot live there forever.
Because your life deserves to be captured, memories of you deserve to be captured, your essence, and you deserve to be captured in photos, eventually. And also, some people fall into the other end of the spectrum. And there's obsessive photo-taking, obsessive selfie-taking, obsessive face-tuning, constantly trying to capture photos of their bodies.
Using that as a way to source a sense of self-worth, and their self-worth lives in the way they look in photos, and I'm curious about your thoughts on that. What approach do you take to helping women find a sense of confidence in photos that has nothing to do with their body shape or size? And how might you suggest someone, like, step out of those extreme buckets in their relationship with photos of themselves?
Sami: Yeah, absolutely. Something that came up for me as you were explaining these two extremes was the level of control that is executed by way of obsessive selfie-taking, and like, controlling.
It's like, “Okay, only I can control this expression of me, and then, I'll even use apps to kind of adjust that,” or, “I'm so scared that I feel like I need to– like, no one else can take a photo of me,” and that sometimes, the immediate first fear with having a photographer is that someone else is capturing your essence, and there is no control.
That is like a perceived lack of control or loss of control when it comes to that situation. So I think that's a really interesting interpretation of those extremes. With that being said, I have so many women that come to me and they say, “I really– I want to lose weight first, before I take photos,” or “I need to get– I want to adjust this about my body, or do this before we do photos.” And so I hear that so much.
If you've ever thought that, please know that you are so not alone, anyone who's listening. I have worked with women over the past several years of all different body expressions and backgrounds and styles and clothing, and all these different things.
I– and even ages like, I want to talk about that for a second. That's been really interesting in my work, because I've hosted retreats that have been– that have supported women from their 20s to their 60s. So oftentimes, I find that women that come from a different generation, they were fed even more than we were.
Oh, my God, have they've been through the wringer, when it comes to the things that they were compared to, and the expectations around women and their bodies. So to some degree in our generation, I think we've started to see some shifts, and so, holding space for women from different generations. It's a really interesting exercise, right?
The sum total of all of this is that when it comes to my photoshoots, I'm really cognizant that I want this to be an incredibly empowering experience that both hold space for the things that you're carrying into the experience, and also, invites you to see a whole new side to yourself. It's not about seeing yourself as skinnier or smaller, but it's seeing the joy on your face, as you're running through the water at the beach.
It's about seeing the way that the light reflects off of your eyes, and the way that your skin glows, and the way that– your form like, just is so beautiful. And so, at the beginning of all of my shoots, I always do a mindfulness kind of session and do a meditation I invite my clients to kind of drop into their bodies, because I know that photoshoots can be so dysregulating for your nervous system.
It can be really scary to hand over that perceived control to someone else who's really capturing you. And I'll invite them, if it feels accessible, to maybe choose some parts of their body that they really want to pour love into and that they're really excited to embrace and celebrate. And I think the point of all of this is that you don't have to do anything differently to have photoshoot, you don't have to get anything done, you don't have to lose weight.
You don't have to change anything about yourself to be worthy of capturing you and your truest essence and your joy. So especially, if you are a business owner, if you're a coach, like, people just want to see you being happy. If you're someone that handles people's transformations in any sort of capacity, if you're an empowerment coach or a self-love coach or a holistic coach, you're probably handling people's healing journeys and their transformations.
They want to know that joy is so possible, that like, true happiness, and embodiment is so possible. And what I often hear from clients about their experience– and this is so funny– is people will say to me– I'll show them photos, like throughout the session– and they'll say, “That's me?” I'm like, “Yeah, the camera captures what's real. The camera’s capturing exactly what's in front of me, I'm not doing any magic here.”
“This you, just in happy.” So I love seeing that transformation for my clients and giving them a new experience. Especially, if they've worked with photographers before, who didn't really know how to kind of help them feel comfortable, and how to move, and how to just like, kind of go with the flow of the experience, and to come in and show them what this can be.
It gets to be more than a first shoot– it gets to be a real transformation. It gets to be you, like seeing yourself fully for the first time, potentially.
Caitie: I always say empowerment through photos of yourself is not about looking at a photo of yourself and saying, “I look beautiful.” It's about looking at a photo of yourself and saying, “Yeah, that's me. Like, that's me.” It's not it's not about looking at it and saying, “I look perfect. I look fabulous. My body has never looked better.
It's looking at the photo of being like, “That's me. Like, that is me. I feel like I am alive in that photo. I feel like I've been captured in that photo.” When you can get to that place, I feel like that's when you start having a better relationship with photos of yourself. And to circle all the way back to the beginning of what you said, because I think it's such an important part to touch on a little bit more, is this element of control.
You're so right that individuals who fall into the one side of the spectrum where there's obsessive selfie-taking and kind of constantly taking a million photos of yourself, to have different points of comparison, and editing photos, and things like that. That is a control thing. And it can feel really scary to invite a photographer to take photos of you, because now, the photographer is in control, and you're gonna see yourself through their lens now.
I never really thought of it that way. I never really thought of allowing someone else to take photos of you, as an exercise of letting go of control. So many of the individuals that I work with are using eating disorder behaviors, disordered eating behaviors, chronic dieting, as an attempt to source a sense of control, an attempt to source a sense of certainty and safety in a very uncertain and unsafe world.
Photos, it's just another another manifestation of that. If you refuse to let someone else take photos of you, if you refuse to let yourself be captured by another person, if you refuse to hand off the editing to someone else, then yeah, that is a sign that you're trying to source a sense of safety, certainty, control, through photos and that it's not– obviously, it's not really going to give you the safety you're seeking. t's a pseudo safety. It's a pseudo control, it's pseudo certainty.
Sami: Oh, my gosh. Absolutely, absolutely. All of this resonates so much, because I was very much in those places before. And I went through this evolution for many years, and actually, a lot of this was rooted in past generations and rooted in how my mom perceived herself. And so, you share it around family members, I really connect with that.
I had gone through childhood, seen my mom being very picky around things and having disordered eating patterns. And a lot of women in my family had that, and then, of course, that translated into my life. And for a long time, I was really– like, when it came to photo– I was really uncomfortable, deeply uncomfortable with seeing someone else's kind of expression of me.
I was also really obsessive, and editing photos, and just, it's bringing all of that back to kind of to think about it and sit in it for a moment. And I'm so proud of myself that I was able to– over the course of years, and with tons of therapy, like therapy is really important in this. Having support from nutritionists, and dietitians, having support from therapists, like, whatever you need, please reach out for that support.
But I'm really proud that I was able to get to this point, where I just had a photo shoot a few weeks ago, I was in a bathing suit, on the beach, it was a brand shoot. I was like, “What the fuck? I’m about to do this? I'm so excited, I'm going to celebrate my body.”
Same thing in Colombia. I took naked photos on a beach, like, I don't care anymore, I love it. It feels so good to just like to be able to give up control and to let go, and to just go with the experience and go with the flow and celebrate that these photoshoots– the photoshoots are about celebrating your journey at each juncture.
If you've gone through something really big in your life, if you have gone through a really big transformation, or have left a relationship, or left a job, or you're starting somewhere new, or whatever really a big thing is going on, like, that might be a chance to celebrate, like, what are the new parts of you that are coming out through that experience that you get to celebrate through a photoshoot?
Caitie: That you get to use to remember different stages of your life. I struggled so deeply with letting go of control and letting people take photos of me when I was in– I know we're going back right now– but when I was in middle school and early high school, I hated taking photos of myself.
Now, I have zero memories from that time. I have– like everyone had like– it was like that that trend where everyone was posting like photos of themselves in their teenager. I was like, “I don’t really have a lot of photos of myself from like my early teens.”
Because I just– I hid from the camera so much. And I know, that for a lot of people, that extends into later life as well into even more pivotal moments. I mean, like, whatever happened to me when I was 15 was probably not all that significant, but I know, for some people, that extends into college and your late 20s, and–
Sami: Your wedding.
Caitie: Birthday, your wedding, these moments where it can be so precious to have visual memories, and to have that experience of letting go of control and just– and having fun. I mean, there's a reason why Instagram became what it was, right? Like, there's so many problems with it. Now, don't even get me started with filters and the algorithm, and the fact that it's addictive and all of that.
But it started from a place of, “Let's share our lives through photography. Let's create a feed of the little things that happen in our lives, and our food, and our view from our window, and our friend's wedding. Can we create this little vault of memories?” And that's a beautiful thing. I mean, photos are amazing. I mean, they always have been– those have been something that we use, as human beings, to celebrate and capture our lives.
If we can't allow ourselves to let go of control, to just allow ourselves to be photographed, then we miss out on something that's really beautiful.
Sami: Absolutely. And I often– two different things I want to touch on. I think, video is another tool that I use to help people drop-in because, kind of what you said, like these snapshots, they're very– like one second, right?
What I love about video– and I'll often do this at the beginning of the shoot, is take video of the person in front of me, of the client, like getting in touch with their body, or just breathing, or the way that their eyes sparkle as they open their eyelids. Like showing them that it's also about the way that you move. It's about the way that you are in your body. It's more than just that snapshot too.
I find that using videos as a quick tool is really helpful, as well, to show someone just how magnificent I think they are as a human, and I can't remember the other thing that came up.
Caitie: That's okay.
Sami: It's so– I think it's so powerful. Everything that you said.
Caitie: Yeah, I think another point that's important to acknowledge is that, for some people, this is going to be major exposure therapy. So when you first take a video of yourself, or you first have yourself videoed, when you first have photographs taken of you, it might not feel phenomenal the first time. It might not feel great to say, “Yep, that's me.”
But it's important that you look at the photo and say, “Yes, that's me,” that is the first step. Accessing a place of neutrality is the first step. And if you can sit in that neutrality for a little bit, sit in a place of acceptance of your body, of your essence, of who you are, then you eventually can get to a place of celebration and positivity. And maybe, that takes a while. Maybe there's deeper healing.
There's more nuance and complexity that's going to happen in between that place of neutrality and that place of acceptance. Don't forget that. And also, every time you do allow yourself to let go of this element of control, it’s exposure therapy. It's just like when I'm exposing a client to a food that they're afraid of. When someone's afraid to eat pizza, the first time they eat pizza might suck. They might just feel terrified and anxious the first time.
But sitting in that place and making it through, allows them to get to the place where they are able to eventually enjoy pizza, and it's allowed to be a delicious and spontaneous part of life. So this can be exposure therapy, kind of like anything else, and very much like food.
Sami: Absolutely. It's a really great point, and in the context of anyone getting a photoshoot done because maybe, you're a business owner and entrepreneur, if you're fearful of being seen and being heard– it's like you said, it's possible that having a brand photoshoot done is going to feel really scary, and it's also an exercise and being seen.
Each time that you show up online, each time that you talk about your business, like these moments will get easier and easier. And so, I find that, often, the way that someone perceives themselves during a photoshoot, or when we're talking about doing a photoshoot, is probably going to be the same way that you are– basically your online essence will be connected to that.
You're going to be fearful of showing up in a photoshoot in the same way that you're going to be fearful showing up online. And all that's doing is, honestly, hurting you and your community, and quite frankly, your bottomline. The more fearful that you are of showing up and being seen, being heard, you're affecting your business, and kind of hurting your ability to connect with your community and your potential clients, as well.
Caitie: On like a non-entrepreneur note, when you're not allowing yourself to be seen, you're not giving yourself the thing that you crave as a human being. I mean, at the core of everything that we often struggle with, in terms of mental health, it's like, we just have a desire to be seen. We just have a desire to be connected to other people. We have a desire to be understood and recognized.
That's like the most human thing ever. That's one of the things that we absolutely all have in common. We all have a desire, at the end of the day, to be seen, to be understood, to be heard and felt and experienced. You might deny that if you're listening to this, but I know it. I know you have.
Sami: We're sitting here knowing you.
Caitie: It feels– and understood. And by not allowing yourself to be seen, for example, through photos, or a similar type of exposure, right? You're denying yourself that opportunity to be witnessed and feel connected to other people in the way that you just so naturally, deeply desire, as a human being in a human body with human biology.
Sami: Absolutely. I think, one final component of this that's very worthy of being shared is that, depending upon someone's background, they may have really complicated relationships to body image and being seen. Like, if you have immigrant parents– like, I just saw TikTok on this, or a video on this, talking about immigrant parents, and parents from different– or family from different cultural backgrounds,
How this really may complicate your ability to get to a point of body neutrality, body acceptance, body positivity. Like, it's going to be layered, depending upon your background. So it's also very worthy of being addressed. You may have a very different, very complicated, a layered journey to get there, depending upon your background.
Caitie: Yeah, yeah. And that's one of the reasons why it's so important to acknowledge, first of all, the nuance of all of this, right? It's not– we can never have a conversation and solve this on one podcast episode, and create a step-by-step guide for healing relationship with photos of yourself.
That's also a reason why it's important to expose yourself in any way that you can to diverse body shapes and sizes, and demographics, and ages, and abilities, and to make your media feeds diverse. Because how are we expected to heal when everything we're seeing is uniform? We can’t expect our brains to adapt to the idea that it is beautiful and acceptable and normal and natural to exist in a diverse body shape or size if we don't expose ourselves to that.
It's a huge problem. Obviously, the media is incredibly thin-washed, the media is incredibly whitewashed. And so, our brains are constantly exposed to very similar body shapes, sizes, types, and we do need to rewire our brains to understand that there are so many ways to be a beautiful human.
Sami: 7 billion ways to be a beautiful human.
Caitie: Seven– Love that. Love it. So on that note, Sami, can you share with us– I love asking people this because I love routines and rituals, and I also love acknowledging that they don't happen every single day, but when they do, they are really good. What routines and rituals energize you in the morning, and what routines and rituals help you wind down and ground down in the evening?
Sami: Oh, great question. Great, great question. So it looks a little bit different than what we talked about when we talked last time during our first–
Caitie: That’s cool.
Sami: Because I've now done some serious DIY to my boyfriend's patio. So now, which is a really– I think, being outside for me is a really important thing to do both in the morning and at night.
Of course, you can probably talk to this more, and I think you do in your content, but getting that first hit of sunlight in the morning is so important. And I have maintained that throughout all the different places that I've lived, because I've been in New York City, I've been in New England, places where you don't get light for half the year.
I understand that it can be very difficult to kind of keep that up when you're heading into winter, and I truly believe we really get it, but getting that first bit of sunshine in the morning is just to me, pivotal, and then, also, now at night, kind of having a few minutes outside, as well, feels really nice. Just being in fresh air, there's something so resetting about that to me.
The sum total is that now, I have this patio that we've been working on and getting furniture out there and kind of just stay and nap. And so, in the morning, I really love sitting out there, and in the evening, I'm out. I love sitting out there as well. I think– what else in my morning routine? I– man, I love coffee. I'm trying to drink water and eat before having coffee. I really feel like hormonal. Yeah, it's just that hormone reasons more so than anything else.
Like, there's no other reason behind it. It's just maintaining a healthy gut lining. And then, what else in morning routine? Like, sometimes, journaling is a component. Sometimes, just a little bit of breath work. Like a few minutes of breath work can feel really good. And then, in the evening, it's kind of the same thing after work, like finding a few minutes to myself to just breathe through things. Especially, if I have different points of discomfort during the day.
Something I'm practicing is like, sitting with that. And for me, that means just being with it, out on the patio for a few minutes, and like, kind of winding down. I think, especially, like I'm looking at– not looking at– but I am moving in with my boyfriend in a few months. And when you're sharing a space with someone, having that reset time at the end of the day is super important.
Caitie: Yeah, I love the– just the simplicity of fresh air, first thing in the morning and last thing in the day. Sami lives in Florida, so check your Florida privilege, Sami– I do live in Colorado, where it is quite cold at night. But that said, I still actually have been going out at night. Sometimes, if I am at home on a weeknight, especially, like, not going out after work.
If I– I did this last night, I stepped on my balcony at like 9:45pm and just sat there for three minute, and it was so resetting. You're so correct. It is like– just for two seconds. I was just like– even if I just go outside for a moment, let the fresh air hit my face, even if it's 30 degrees and like cuts through my skin, I feel refreshed. Like it definitely, that– it gives a reset to my brain.
It's like, “Okay, I'm shifting into a different, more present energy right now.” Because what I would have been doing if I didn't step outside was just like, I'd be looking at my screen, and just scrolling on TikTok, rolling through my phone. And yeah, it's just– there's something about being outside. Stepping outside, even just for a moment, that helps me kind of reorient into the present. So thanks for sharing that.
I also feel so much better when I get outside first thing in the morning. Oh my gosh. As much as I want to deny it. As much as I want to be like– like this morning, I woke up, and I was like, “I am not going outside. I'm gonna curl up with a cup of coffee for like 15 minutes.” It felt good, but it probably would have felt better if I just forced myself to put some pants on and step out. I know that.
But anyway, I'd love to leave everyone with a processing prompt and an actionable experiment at the end of every episode. Processing problems being something that you can process in a journal, out loud with a friend, with your therapist, however you want to process it. And an actionable experiment being something that you can run in your life, an action you can take to see how it goes.
I'm feeling inspired to say that the processing prompt is actually going to circle us back to the beginning of this episode. I think, something really cool to explore, ask yourself, is there something that you're afraid to touch, afraid to talk about that feels sticky and vulnerable for you when you talk about it? And how might that thing be part of your purpose in life, part of something that gives you a sense of purpose?
An example– I mean, maybe that thing is your relationship to your body, or your relationship to food. Maybe that feels really sticky and vulnerable for you to talk about. Perhaps part of your purpose as a human being is to provide affirmation and comfort for others around their relationship with their body or their relationship with food.
Maybe that thing that feels sticky and tricky for you to talk about, maybe because you understand so deeply what it's like to feel that thing, you're able to provide affirmation and validation for people around that. I know what it's like to feel really, really, really uncomfortable in your own skin. I know what it's like to want to crawl out of your body, to have digestive issues because of binge eating, all of these things.
I feel that because of that, I am able to see the little nuances of what it feels like to struggle with that, and now provide guidance, open-ended questions, affirmation, validation, and that's part of my purpose. And I don't know– see how that lands with you. See what comes up for you when you think about that.
Maybe if you're just someone who has a complicated relationship with your body, you're able to walk into your workplace and compliment five people on their shoes, and their clothes, and the things about their body that they actually do get to have a sense of choice in, and that's part of your purpose. And you're able to recognize the importance of that and do that for people so that we can focus more on our creativity through fashion.
How we do our hair and these things that like, we actually do get to decide about our bodies. Going on a tangent, that's your processing prompt. Actionable experiments, there's a lot of options here. You could just try stepping outside for five seconds first thing in the morning or last thing in the night. Do you have any other ideas for an actionable experiment?
Sami: Oh, that's a great question. I'm trying to think about something that I don't want anything to be triggering or difficult for people in your community, but I'm thinking about how we could relate this to the photo worlds, and like, maybe something there. If there's like a little nugget there of practicing sending love to your body, and like– this was huge for me.
My journey was like finding a way to become more accepting and neutral towards my body.
And that often meant, like, seeing photos of me or seeing photos that I took of myself and being like, “Wow, okay, great. Okay.” That's like you said, like, “That's me.” So again, I don't want things to be triggering for people, but if it's accessible, maybe there's something there that we can do.
Caitie: Yeah, that's beautiful. If it feels accessible to you, consider how you can practice exposure therapy. Exposure to seeing your body for what it is. How would it feel to look in the mirror? Did you just come up with an idea?
Sami: I did. But go ahead.
Caitie: No, no, no, I want to hear what you have to say. I'll finish mine in a moment.
Sami: Well, thank you for the leeway.
Caitie: You’re the guest.
Sami: What I was going to say was, if you have a close friend, if you have a sister, if you have a partner, like someone who you know is going to be just so supportive of you– I can think of like five different people on my brain who are so loving– and I think, it may be really beautiful to ask them to reflect back to you. Like, maybe not even anything about your body, but like, what are the parts of you that they love so deeply?
The things that they see about you that are so like– when you're so lit up by something, when you're so passionate by something or about something, like what are the character traits and the personality traits and the different things about you that make you so special and unique? And maybe some things do have to do with your body or like, whatever.
But I think, focusing also on character traits can be really just like, “Okay, it's not just my body that's moving through this earth. It's my impact. It's my presence, and it's my energy. And those things deserve to be celebrated, too.”
Caitie: Yes, I think it's important that these things don't have anything to do with your body. Although, I do feel like– actually, I've done this before. I've done this exercise before, and I can't remember, I truly cannot remember why I had to do this. I don't know what part of a workshop I was in or something. But I had to ask, like five people in my life, what are the top five things that they love or admire about me most?
None of them said anything related to my body at all. I also had asked my partner at the time, too. And you know, like, they could have said, like, “Your hair. Your eyeballs.” Like they could have said things like that, and none of them said anything like that. And I think that you'd be surprised that, likely, unless they're joking. It's gonna say anything.
Sami: I was gonna say like, my best friend would be like, “It's your fat ass.” Like, she'd be like, “I love your ass.”
Caitie: Yes, exactly, and that's fine. Like, that's fun and beautiful, and we love that, right? But they're probably joking. People are gonna say, like– and I when I did this exercise myself, my friends and my partner and my brother, that I asked, like, they were like, “You're so energized like you never– like your energy is just so palpable.” Like they said– they all said the same things, which was really, really nice.
They talked about my energy and my creativity and my determination. And when you get those responses from people, think about, “How can I capture that in a photo?” Because you can capture that in a photo. That is what you're capturing. That is the, “Yep, that's me.” When I say it's important to look at a photo of yourself and say, “Yep, that's me.”
I don't mean it's important to look at a photo of yourself and say, “Yes, that's my ass. Yes, that's my arm.” Like sure, yes, fine. That's part of body neutrality, is acknowledging and accepting the different parts of your body for what they are, right? Like, I'm not going to pretend I'm like– I don't have a large ass, I just do. It's just a fact. It's just part of my life. I can not wear certain skirts because they– I can't wear skirts at all, actually, in fact, unless it's like a pencil skirt.
That's just a fact. This isn't a neutral thing. But I look at photos and say, “Yeah, that's me, feeling good, feeling happy, feeling inspired.”
Sami: Exactly, exactly. Photos often are like– they represent your essence and your energy and like your relationship to the people in front of you. Like, how much love can you see in that photo? Like, that is so much more powerful than anything about your body, present in that moment. How much love and joy and excitement was present in that moment? That's what we're capturing.
Caitie: Yes. And yeah, and you mentioned this a few times, so I just want to wrap up with this point of like, Sami, a few times, said, sending love to your body. Like, what part of your body needs a little love right now? And I can just– I can palpably feel some of my clients who listen to this podcast, rolling their eyes at that sentiment, and pull over there for a second. What does it mean to send love to a part of your body?
It means, can you maybe put your hand on that part of your body and focus on shifting from the energy of tension to an energy of softness? So can you, if you're feeling so much resistance around your lower belly– Sami mentioned early in the episode, that's where a lot of us hold stress and tension, like in the pelvic floor area, especially for women– Can you put your hand on that part of your body? Feel the tension there?
Okay, tense? I actually feel that right now, at this very moment, so have my hands on that part of my body. Can you take the deepest breath you can possibly take and see? You can intentionally send a little bit of softness to that area.
Letting go of some of the tension doesn't have to be sparkly rainbows, unicorns, and love if that doesn't resonate with you at that moment. But how would it feel for tension in your shoulders? Can you practice shifting from tension to softness?
Sami: Sometimes it’s just moving the needle just a lot. I think we've talked about this in our first recording, but we're not expecting anyone here to move from, like, pretty severe and significant views and trouble with their body to like, “Oh, I love everything about myself.” It's not gonna work like that. But the point is to move from– like, for me, it was to move from total pain, that was my original– like, that was my seven years of my journey was like, distinct and intense pelvic floor pain to actually like moving a little bit.
So we talked a lot in PT about moving from zero to five was like my pain scale, and then, from five to 10 was pleasure. And so, over the course of like, seven months, like I was mostly– went from, zero was like, my most intense pain, to like, “Okay, now things are feeling like a two. Now things are feeling like a four. Now we're feeling like 4.5. We're getting more towards neutral.”
“Okay, wait. So now, I can actually start to invite in some of this like– Oh, wait. What's this sensation? This is kind of cool. Okay, wait, I think this is why people really love sex.” Yeah, like, it was not moving from zero to 10 in 10 minutes. It's been a multi-month journey. And I know, when it comes to body neutrality, body acceptance, it's the same thing.
Don't move from, “I really just– I am so disconnected from my body,” to like, “Oh, everything's great.” No. This is like slow increments over time. So it's the same thing when it comes to this exercise that Caitie just talked about. It's not going to be like, “Oh, total acceptance,” What can you do to kind of move the needle forward just a little bit?
Caitie: Yeah. And through that exposure therapy, just inching your way towards something that feels good and celebratory. And yes, I think it's so important always get the caveat of like, we're never saying, this is going to be wiped away in an instant through a singular photoshoot or two photos taken of yourself. This is a process and journey. Though, the word “journey” is starting to like fall dead to my ears a little bit, sometimes.
Sometimes, I use it as a joke now. I'm like, “Yeah, like, my skincare journey, my hydration journey.” Yeah, I recently discovered that I love tea also, and I'm like now, I'm on a tea journey as well.
Sami: Love that.
Caitie: Wherever you are, I hope that you– the rest of your day is exactly what you need it to be. Sami, thank you so much for being here. And again– and this conversation felt so, so cozy, just like you.
Sami: Oh, thank you so much. I love that. Here to be cozy and comfortable.
Caitie: All right, I will talk to you soon, girl. And if you enjoyed this podcast, please leave a rating or review. Helps us out so much to just get the show out to more people who need to hear it. If there's a little nugget that resonated with you on the show, please share it. Share it with me, email me what resonated with you, and/or tell a friend about it. And we'll see you back here next week.