By Katie Bowles
If you’ve ever participated in a photo shoot, you know it’s not always a comfortable experience. For many it’s awkward, what with holding unnatural poses, smiling for too long, worrying that you’ll blink … and that’s likely when you’re all dressed up, wearing full makeup.
Now imagine going through the same experience without an ounce of makeup on. It may sound like something only a supermodel could get away with, but Movode Photography’s Mahmoud Islam and Christina D’Anza hope to change all that with their #BeautifulAsYouAre campaign.
At just about one year old, Movode is a relative newcomer in the Northern Virginia photography scene, but #BeautifulAs-YouAre is already making waves. Islam, Movode’s photographer, has 10 years of photography and editing experience, and it shows. The makeup-free photos he takes all have a distinct, smoothly edited (without being too processed) look, while studio manager D’Anza assists with shoots, ensuring clients are comfortable and even enjoying themselves.
The idea for #BeautifulAsYouAre sprang from Islam’s subconscious after he noticed a common trend in headshot photography. “Today, we’re seeing all these hyper-perfect, touched-up images,” he says. “When did people start needing makeup to look OK?”
That thought birthed the campaign, and it’s been going strong, so much so that Islam and D’Anza see no reason to stop. “We may branch out into other campaigns eventually, but for the foreseeable future, we’re continuing with #BeautifulAsYouAre,” D’Anza says. “We wanted Movode to have a mission, and this is one that we’re passionate about … portraits with meaning.”
Thus far, the campaign has done just what Islam and D’Anza hoped. It empowers clients to feel comfortable in their own skin and less dependent on makeup: no more hiding.
Movode client Stephanie Hellwig, who recently booked a #BeautifulAsYouAre shoot, admits that she was initially hesitant to have her picture taken sans makeup. “To be 100 percent honest, I did not want to participate in #BeautifulAsYouAre because I never go out without makeup on,” she says. “The idea was terrifying.” However, she soon found that Islam and D’Anza’s approach to the shoots would easily assuage those fears.
“The experience itself was more than I could have hoped for,” Hellwig explains. “They were so professional … they selected great music to create an atmosphere that helped me relax and at the same time be excited. I felt directed but not over-posed, and I felt natural, not awkward … I felt relaxed and giggly, and I felt like myself.”
Andréa Viza, owner of NoVA lifestyle blog A.Viza Style and recent #BeautifulAsYouAre participant, echoes that sentiment. “Being photographed without makeup on is a scary concept in general, but I loved Christina and Mahmoud’s vision and approach,” she says. “They take the time to get to know you as a person and explain what they are trying to do and how they can mold those two [concepts] together. It really was such a fun and easy experience.”
With such positive reactions, it’s no wonder Movode plans to continue the campaign and continue boosting the self-confidence of its clients. Another happy customer, Shannon Pankow, says that the images mean more because of the campaign. “I surprisingly felt really natural and, believe it or not, beautiful, even with no makeup,” she says. “I have received so many compliments [on the images], which I really take to heart since what they are looking at is truly a picture of me.”