Life & Living
Photographer Tanya Mayfield is on a mission to help all women find their Secret Beauty, discovers Elizabeth Parker.
Tanya Mayfield has always loved photography and understands how a great image can capture a story. Portraits have always been her main focus, especially as they can capture such emotion. Eventually her specialism settled on finding the secret beauty within every women through her boudoir photography.
Tanya was born with a deformity in her right leg. Her tibia bone never grew, which resulted in her having to have her right leg amputated below the knee just before she was a year old.
“Growing up was difficult, but I’d like to think I took everything in my stride. I had a loving supportive family, my mum, dad and brother were my rocks and I was lucky enough to have lots of amazing friends who always treated me as an equal.” Tanya explained. “That being said, it’s not until you’re older and now having children of my own that I can really reflect on what I avoided with a brave face… and actually how much I had struggled.”
“I have always tried to appear confident, with a big smile, but of course I did always feel like the ugly duckling amongst my friends. I have always been a little envious of them. How I wished I could look. Unknown to me was that all of my friends, and I would say most women, were feeling the same way with their own insecurities and hangups.”
After having a boudoir photography session herself Tanya thought about taking the leap and creating her business for many years. “I’ve had a shoot and it completely changed the way I saw myself. I mean just to see a picture from another angle rather than front on. A day I will never forget. Just seeing myself in these photos was so empowering.”
From this point on Tanya wanted to recreate the same feeling for other women. Empowering them and helping create a positive and confident body image. Body image and self-esteem directly influence one another.
“I wanted to do it even more, create my own business, have a studio and a dressing room.” Tanya continued. “So I talked and talked about boudoir photography for about five years. I would annoy my friends to pose for me, practicing and learning.
Because I worked full time managing a residential home, alongside working for my husband’s building business and being a mum to two children, it was a challenge to fit in the time to develop my skills further. At first my friends thought I was mad doing the shoots unpaid… but I believe it’s art. I wanted to practice and learn all different body shapes before I put myself out there.”
After a several years honing her skills Tanya took the jump to set up her photography business. “I am still so surprised with the hangups I hear; small eyes, big thighs, wonky nose, no bum, big bum, moles, birthmarks, you name it I’ve heard it all. I always play the leg card back! Then we can laugh about it. In some ways I’m a bit of an Agony Aunt. I always chat with my ladies first. It helps take the edge off before you come along to the shoot.”
Tanya then explained to me what it was like on the day. “It’s much more simple and enjoyable than you think — it’s the whole experience that makes it so amazing — a beautiful private studio/dressing room. It is all about celebrating who you are; hair, makeup, taking time out just for you.”
Tanya continued “Any clothing that makes you feel good, it doesn’t have to be underwear or be exposed – it’s your comfort level. I always think less is more, but whatever you decide I have your back. I will guide my ladies into simple positions that highlight and flatter their best assets on their body shape. The whole experience is tailored to you to ensure you feel comfortable, as well as being happy with the photographs you will cherish for years to come.”
Tanya remembered back to her own shoot several years ago, “Yes it is nerve-racking at first. I can’t lie to you, but that’s good, it means you have excitement in your belly… after 20 minutes you feel much more relaxed. I understand it’s daunting and so hard being so vulnerable. Although if you can overcome that hurdle in front of just one person… just me… if you can put your trust in me, we can work together and I will help guide you to feeling amazing and show you your beauty.”
“We talk a lot, I sure do! We laugh. We have fun. Looking back, you won’t ever regret having a shoot done. It’s one step of learning to love yourself. I think every woman should have one in her lifetime, it’s like a form of therapy. I think I will forever learn in this line of work and forever be able to create more and more beautiful pictures. Every woman is beautiful; its just about having the confidence, and a boudoir shoot is a perfect way to show yourself how beautiful you truly are.”