All too often we tend to support, push, or encourage others to do something, even though we are often reluctant to do certain things ourselves!
I am not saying that we are always like that, but even those who make it their work to help others grow, have things that they, themselves shy away from. We make excuses, and we have our "reasons" . . . but maybe it’s just that we don't think these things through on all of the levels.
What I mean is that maybe we see something and decide right away we don't like it, or that it’s not our style for whatever reason. I am guilty and I didn't even realize that I was doing it!
This was my way of thinking about milk bath sessions! I have never liked them! From the first one I saw, I had decided I was never doing one. Just like that, decision made.
To me they were; Kind of odd, sometimes seeming gaudy, weird in an almost morbid kind of way. To me, milk baths are not normal/natural. When I looked at work that other photographers had created with milk baths, I saw their subjects laying all the way down in the tub clothed (which is odd for a bath - in my mind anyway) with nothing but their face floating in this "milk bath," some flowers, and a few other random body parts peeking through the water, opaque with powdered milk. It was just not me, or rather something I would not feel pleased to have created because it just struck me oddly. I am certainly not saying that there are not people out there who love the creativity of the milk bath sessions and find them very appealing. That is wonderful and we all have different tastes. I am ok with that, I just decided they were not my thing.
Because of my thoughts on milk baths that I has seen, I decided I was totally against them. I not only took them off of my list of things I would like to shoot, but I basically put them on my list of things that I would never shoot!
One thing I hadn’t considered though, was that with milk baths, just as anything else I choose to shoot, hello . . . I would have creative control over all of the details!! And I could consider other ways to do so that I might actually find my resulting work artistic, beautiful and appealing!
That was until Seattle. Here is how it happened…
The elegant but simply decorated room that I had the honor of claiming all to myself had an adjoining, equally elegant bathroom with a bathtub. The bathtub had a gorgeous old fashioned, gold faucet, and a sloping back rest at the opposite end. The bathroom itself was very brightly lit, even at night with the sconces and overhead lighting.
At some point throughout the weekend, someone mentioned that the makeup artist staying with us wanted to do a milk bath shoot in our bathroom. Me, . . . cue eye roll!
As you would probably suspect, I was not having it! I didn't care that the others were going to do it. I figured if that was their thing, then hey, to each his own!
On our last night in Seattle, they were getting the tub ready. I was right there in my room, packing, as I had to catch my ride to the airport at 3am. I was about finished when I decided, “what the hell!” They are setting this all up, they were using some of my favorite fresh flowers (tulips, from Pike's Place Market) in gorgeous colors that complimented our makeup artist’s eyeshadow perfectly. I was right there, all I had to do was grab my camera and dial up the settings I wanted! I figured if I hated them I could just delete them! No harm done. So I pushed myself to try it!
What played out for this session was definitely not what I had in my head! I was very wrong in my close-mindedness! Miss C, the makeup artist, decided to do the shoot nude. Using only her hands to cover, she did not have wardrobe pieces that were going to end up all clingy and wet! It was almost as if someone was pointing out to me that this was how it could be done, if I was willing to give it a shot. The next thing was that she did not lay down in the bath. I loved that! It was more normal to me, like what a bath would be. She did lay against the back rest at one point, but she did not put her head down in the water and float.
I ended up loving how the milk bath session turned out!! It was everything beautiful, elegant and classy! I am not saying that I would want a studio with a bathtub and that I want to be doing milk bath sessions on the regular, but I have changed my tune on what they can be!
It was a wonderful feeling to have pushed myself out of my comfort zone and to have ended up creating something phenomenal! I am so pleased with these considering I thought I was going to hate them!
In the end I can say I will certainly be more open to new ideas when it comes to my work. I will always have some limits because I do have an overall vision of what I want my work to be, but I will look for ways to incorporate my own vision before I completely dismiss a session concept!
I often encourage my clients to “step out of their comfort zone”, but I was very reluctant to try a milk bath photoshoot because of how I had expected it to be. In the end, I loved the results. This example goes to show that, not everything you do will be exactly the same as you anticipated it would be. Don’t be afraid to take a chance, or do something unexpected, it could turn out better than you ever imagined.