By Kasey Dallman, AKOM Writer
What does it mean to be beautiful? Does it mean sacrificing hours in front of the mirror and burying your skin under layers of makeup? Or how about perfecting the art of Photoshop so you can finally look slimmer in that new profile picture?
Photographer Alyssa Nepper is one of the latest inspirations to show us that being beautiful comes from inside ourselves and in the passions we bring to life. In June 2014, she launched The Exuberant Me, photographing real people in everyday life without makeup and without any retouching!
In an age where media and society can seem quick to settle only for perfection, it is so important for us to take time to reflect on the beauty of our flaws and individuality. In fact, these are the very things that make us interesting and our journeys worth sharing. Amazing Kids! is thrilled that we have another voice telling us it is okay to not look like those muscular boys or slim girls we see in magazines, on TV, or floating around the internet.
We sat down with Alyssa Nepper for an exclusive interview into the inspiration and the journey behind The Exuberant Me, and we can’t wait to shower you with the encouragement and joy Alyssa’s photography will bring you!
Amazing Kids!: How did you get started in photography?
Alyssa Nepper: I have always had an interest in photography. I remember being a little kid and thinking cameras were so cool! You took a picture, took the film to the store, and then you would come back a week later and had pictures to look at! Later on when I was a teenager, my first job was at Sears Portrait Studio. This is when I really became more serious about photography.
AK!: What are your favorite subjects to shoot?
AN: My favorite subjects to photograph are people! It gives me an opportunity to make each individual feel relaxed, comfortable, and truly like themselves. I also really enjoy still life photography (product photography, nature, and splash photography).
AK!: Tell us about The Exuberant Me project.
AN: This project is to highlight real people, real women in every day life! Every shape, size, height, weight, young, old, unique, special, kind, and the list goes on and on! I am highlighting women specifically, because I’ve noticed that society seems to have expectations about how women are supposed to look.
This project emphasizes how important it is to be who you are, and show how beautiful you are inside and out. When photographing these sessions, I have asked my photography clients to not wear make-up, wear simple hairstyles, and to wear clothes they were comfortable and confident in. While photographing these sessions, I presented myself in the same way. I wanted them to feel comfortable. Some of the recent women I have photographed have come from many walks of life, including all ages.
AK!: What inspired The Exuberant Me?
AN: Months ago, I was looking through magazines and looking online for photography ideas. I started to notice a trend about how the media portrayed women. In order to be “accepted” or to be considered “beautiful,” you needed to be a certain body size, and have perfect make-up, perfect clothing, and a perfect life style. Images in magazines had faces with flawless make-up and skin. There were no blemishes, zits, circles under eyes, you name it! Should women really be expected to look like this every day?
I started to think about myself, and how I talk about myself. I’ll be honest — I have to work hard at how I talk to myself. It’s not always easy! My self-talk is not always the most positive. But it’s improving everyday. I have curves, and I have imperfections. And I am also important, and I am beautiful just as I am. My own self-image encouraged me to create this project to help myself and others start changing the way we all think about our bodies in a positive way.
AK!: What is your goal for The Exuberant Me?
AN: My hope is that The Exuberant Me will encourage all women to know that they are beautiful inside and out, and to remember that. I hope that women will connect with what they believe makes them exuberant and celebrate that! As a professional photographer, my goal is to keep capturing honest moments with real people. I would like my photography to reach as many people as possible, and to keep creating positive images.
AK!: What advice do you have for our readers who may struggle with self-confidence and finding their inner beauty?
AN: Know that you are beautiful and that at the end of the day, you aren’t alone! A lot of people struggle with self-confidence and inner beauty. But you have the power to change how you believe in yourself! Keep believing that you are incredible, confident, and strong. Just because a magazine has the “ideal perfect woman,” does not mean that is what you are supposed to be. Know that you are exuberant, and believe in who you are.
Connect with Alyssa and see more images from The Exuberant Me at https://www.facebook.com/pages/A-Nepper-Photography/157371547753637
Photos are courtesy of A. Nepper Photography. The Exuberant Me Project was created by ©Alyssa Nepper/A.Nepper Photography.