Tamara - Free Spirit Session

As human beings, we all just want to be seen. We want to be seen, not just looked at. We want to carve a space out in this world that is entirely our own. If we're loud +outgoing when we're amongst people, we talk and talk almost as if we're waiting for someone to truly grasp onto the underlying thoughts that we string between our spoken words. If we're quiet + reserved amongst a group of people, we're silently wishing for someone else's eyes to meet ours and to simply understand the depths of our hearts nestled so far below our quiet exterior. Push play.

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Whether or not we're open to acknowledging it, I do believe that we all crave that honest connection; that moment when we realize that it's okay to hold open the walls of our hearts and slowly let someone else into those spaces that have always ever been reserved for ourselves. Even if we're not able to be vulnerable enough to fully navigate the depths of our souls with a companion just yet, we just want to be given that chance; we want someone to see past the front that we put up, or the masks that we wear, and just give us that sliver of opportunity to start the process of uncovering our truths.

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Last Tuesday I had a Free Spirit session. When I got home from that session, I tried and tried to write, but the following words are all that I could come up with:

"These sessions bring me to tears. I am sitting here, fumbling for words to even begin to iterate what I was fortunate enough to witness during tonight's Free Spirit session. These sessions teach me. These sessions are sometimes too much for my heart to hold. These sessions are often too meaningful to even put into words."

If you're familiar with me + my work + process, you'll know that I try and return images to my couples or wild-hearted ladies as soon as I can following their sessions. Normally with a Free Spirit session, I'll have images back within 48 hours of the session, but these images were different; this session was different. I almost feel as though the contents of these images had to sit on my computer for almost the entirety of this past week just so that I was able to mentally grasp onto them, and process every last detail of that evening. I'm sure to a lot of people, these images are super similar to Free Spirit sessions that I've done in the past, but for some reason, they've latched so strongly onto my heart, and they mean so much more to me than I can put into words.

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Numerous times, I've told these women, my family, or Mark that I don't do anything for these ladies during their sessions; I don't give them any magical techniques, or poses, or ideologies. I don't tell them what to do with their lives, or how to handle an issue, or give them unsolicited advice. I've always believed that they come into these sessions with the mentality of giving to me however much they'd like; of opening up as much or as little as they feel comfortable doing so, and that's what I've learned to appreciate about these interactions, is the uniquity of each women, and allowing them the choice to make these sessions whatever they want them to be.

It wasn't until after my session last Tuesday that I realized something that I hadn't quite grasped before. I may not have a special formula that turns these Free Spirit sessions into something that's never been done before, but I do give these women that sliver of opportunity to truly be seen for who they are. I believe that I make it clear, through this process, as well as my presence, that they are safe to start unraveling the truths of their hearts, and that I will always encourage their vulnerability + embrace the truths that they feel comfortable enough to share. I see you. I believe you. I cherish the person that you are. 

The day before our session, Tamara + I met up for coffee on 17th; we quickly got over our initial introductions and immediately delved into the deeper topics, I shared my purpose as a photographer + human being, and she shared her heart. These initial pre-session meetings are so so crucial to this process, because I was able to learn so much about this incredible person sitting across from me, without the barrier of holding a camera up between us. Even though I also believe that sometimes having that camera separation gives both of us a small sense of ease and comfort, I also believe that having that vulnerable exchange with nothing but our words equally as crucial and beneficial when it comes to sharing our hearts. It was also in our initial gathering that Tamara told me about the skirt that she wanted to bring to the session. Tamara's mother bought this blue + red skirt when she was only 18 years old, at a time in her life when she felt the most free. We spent half of our session the following day in that exact same skirt, and I had the privilege of watching through admiring eyes, as she spun, laughed, and ran through waist high fields of grass; it was the most free spirited moment that I've ever witnessed.

There are more words, there always are. But I'll leave you with the images.

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Tamara, thank you for sharing this night with me. This session was so magical, and I hope that you felt it too. I see you, I believe in the person that you are. Thank you for sharing so many parts of yourself with me. Thank you for letting me into those quiet corners of your mind that not everyone gets the opportunity to venture through. I am inspired by your courage, your overflowing kindness, your grace, your laughter, and your journey. I'm so happy that we met. xxKaihla

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Since the weather is getting colder, this week (and MAYBE next) will be the last two weeks that I'll be shooting Free Spirit sessions outside. After that, we're going to move indoors for the rest of the winter season. If you want to schedule a session or set aside the time to meet up with me to talk more about this + your journey, send me an email hello@kaihlatonai.com and we can set something up! I am also coming to Vancouver at the end of October, and have TWO spots left for indoor Free Spirit sessions on the 28th of October.