brave girl

Cindy in pink, Canon Digital Rebel

This is Cindy.

and she is brave and beautiful.

She emailed me this spring asking about my rates for portrait sessions. I responded, we booked a time, and I asked her some questions about whether it would just be her, what the occasion was, what kind of look she was going for, etc. I was honored that she planned to drive up from Los Angeles to be photographed by me.

I got her permission to share what she said:

“So here’s the deal…it will be just me. I have always hated having my picture taken, and can find beauty in any photograph unless it includes me! I am just emerging from a bit of a funk (read: horribly depressed) and I am now determined to experience life and do the things that scare me and embrace the results, no matter what they may be. I am really trying to get to know myself again and have planned this solo weekend getaway to San Francisco to just nurture myself and explore that girl who got buried by the world’s expectations.”

We had such a great time together that we spent almost the entire day taking photos and driving to beautiful scenic spots in San Francisco. This photo was taken at Fort Point.

I share Cindy’s story because I am moved by her courage, her brave instinct to celebrate herself coming out of the dark, and her willingness to see herself in such a vulnerable way. Maybe it was the timing (I was slowly emerging from my own dark place) but her healing gift to herself healed me a little bit too. That’s what we can do for each other. Being brave isn’t just about you. It’s about all of us.

Thank you Cindy.



  1. denise
    Posted July 12, 2005 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    Congrats to both of you for facing your dark places and conquering them (if you haven’t yet, you will).
    Beautiful photography Andrea (and Cindy!)

  2. Posted July 12, 2005 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    Indeed it is more than just us.
    Thanks for the reminder.

  3. Tine
    Posted July 12, 2005 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    so true. goosebumps all over on me. beautiful…just beautiful.

  4. miss may
    Posted July 12, 2005 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    thank you for sharing and reminding and inspiring. exactly what i needed to brighten this gray day.

  5. Michelle
    Posted July 12, 2005 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    It’s amazing how many truly beautiful women can’t stand looking at themselves in photos (myself included). It makes me very sad and it also makes me very angry at a society that has constructed such a narrow deffinition of beauty. May we all – male and female alike – embrace our beauty and find beauty in everyone we encounter. I want to be a minister of beauty.

  6. Julia
    Posted July 12, 2005 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Andrea…What a delightful and inspiring post today! Cindy is so beautiful and elegant looking! I am so happy for her that she is embracing her beauty and allowing you to be the vehicle to help her do so. How wonderful Andrea, that through your talent & gift for photography, you can facilitate her transformation and new found willingness to see herself as the gorgeous woman she is. HOORAY for both of you!! :)

  7. kelly
    Posted July 12, 2005 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    my god, I was just about to contact you for a portrait sitting…for exactly the same reasons. Bravo to Cindy, she is beautiful!

  8. Posted July 12, 2005 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    brave and beautiful.
    blessings abound.
    to those who search deeply and nurture gently.

  9. Posted July 12, 2005 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    i loved this andrea…. i know how comfortable you can make someone feel in front of the camera, and i know how good you are at assisting others in seeing their own beauty…
    beautiful you , beautiful cindy, beautiful us.

  10. Posted July 12, 2005 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    I can’t tell you how seeing this brightened my day. Perhaps because I can identify with it so strongly.

  11. nina
    Posted July 12, 2005 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    Your last few posts have moved me so much — each one has been just what I needed. Really, it’s as though I’m breathing deeper. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And so on.

  12. t
    Posted July 12, 2005 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    oh boy. lump in throat. wonderful sentiment.

  13. Posted July 12, 2005 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    Andrea~ Your site, your connection with others, has given me some courage to be brave and vulnerable and intuitive. Thank you for sharing Cindy. Thank you for sharing you! ~dps

  14. Tracy
    Posted July 12, 2005 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    You are doing really beautiful and meaningful things in this world…doing your part girl! Thanks for taking us along, it’s a good ride…So grateful for you tonight. Tracy

  15. Posted July 12, 2005 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    Upon entering the site today, I thought, “oh, what a lovely picture of Andrea!” Something about the openness of Cindy’s face, and her sense of casual style and serene look expression, just instantly translated into my impression of you, Andrea!
    I think your time together must have created a spiritual flow between the two of you.
    I wish I had done things like Cindy’s trip and day of “photographic reflection,” along the way. At mid-life, I find the bloom of youth is slightly dimmed and my face doesn’t have the same expression of anticipation that Cindy’s so clearly shows.
    Entering the Superhero Journal is like a daily dose of meditation and serenity. You offer complete strangers your tender concern! Thank you for that.

  16. Posted July 12, 2005 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    What a beautiful story and such a beautiful woman! Yeah to courage!!!!

  17. Alex
    Posted July 12, 2005 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    I just wanted to share with both of you how moved I was by this post. Cindy, thank you for honoring your depression and your reemergence and inspiring the rest of us to do the same. I’m just deeply moved by the whole idea and process of your choice to do this. Best Wishes to you!!!

  18. Posted July 12, 2005 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    Give her our love….she is beautiful and brave, truely!

  19. Jennifer
    Posted July 13, 2005 at 5:18 am | Permalink

    HI, I think Cindy is BEAUTIFUL!!! I hope from this you can see your own beauty!!! Thanks for taking the risk and sharing it with us! :)

  20. Posted July 13, 2005 at 5:56 am | Permalink

    The best companion souls we encounter on our path are those who provide a clear mirror for us. Often when we look in the mirror-whether it’s one of glass or someone else’s eyes-we don’t see what’s actually there. Sometimes our vision can be clouded by what we HEAR…those voices in our head that tell us wrong information…perceptions and expectations, both self- and other-generated, that have no basis in reality. When I look at Cindy’s image, I see a beautiful, strong, powerful woman-someone who felt safe enough in your presence to let her real self shine through. When I first saw her image, my initial thought was, “Oh, another one of Andrea’s ‘comfortable in her own skin, possessing her own power’ friends.” What a gift you have-to allow a total stranger to feel SAFE enough to reveal herself to that degree at a first sitting. It’s a testament to YOUR beauty that you encourage the revelation of your sisters’.

  21. Piper
    Posted July 13, 2005 at 6:01 am | Permalink

    I’m also coming out of a period of darkness. Congratulations to Cindy for making it out and continuing to embrace life. Anyone who has struggled with depression knows how hard it can be to keep putting one foot in front of the other. However, I heard a quote a few years ago that went something like, “As long as there is life, there is hope”. I guess we need to remember during the dark times that as long as we keep going, there will be possibilities for things to get better.

  22. Wendy
    Posted July 13, 2005 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    Thank you… just because.

  23. Posted July 13, 2005 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    Incredible the things that you don’t know about someone just from looking at them. One quick look at Cindy, being as attractive as she is, you’d assume that she all loads of self-confidence and self-acceptance. Good for her and good for you translating her spirit into a picture.
    Keep doing what you do Andrea. There are a world of people whose lives are made better and lighter from your insights. Myself included.

  24. Laura
    Posted July 13, 2005 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    Cindy is just lovely. Her bare feet, her scarf bit sticking out, the green bench, her bravery — all just perfect.
    I’d love to have my photo taken by you someday.

  25. Posted July 13, 2005 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    beautiful post andrea –

  26. Gloria
    Posted July 13, 2005 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Cindy, you have beautiful, deep, mezzzzzzmerizing :) eyes! Thanks for sharing your story!

  27. Gloria
    Posted July 13, 2005 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Cindy, you have beautiful, deep, mezzzzzzmerizing :) eyes! Thanks for sharing your story!

  28. Vivienne
    Posted July 13, 2005 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    Cindy you are BEAUTIFUL!
    Andrea you are amazing for this pic and post. Thank you for this.

  29. Sand
    Posted July 13, 2005 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    It really takes great courage to make a change when you are feeling low, how great that Cindy is nurturing herself and being her own best friend. WE all need to be our own best friends. What a great inspiration the two of you are! Thank you for sharing this story.

  30. Posted July 13, 2005 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    this is inspiring!!!!

  31. dlouise
    Posted July 13, 2005 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    Am I the only one who burst into tears upon reading this? Brava, Cindy.
    “Being brave isn’t just about you. It’s about all of us.” Brava, Andrea.
    So, so, so much gets lost to fear… and to not trusting your/my/our own truth as valid.

  32. Posted July 13, 2005 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    I love how her denim knees look like a blue heart, surrounded by such a happy and delicate pink! The color is wonderful in this shot.
    Thank you for sharing this… it’s very touching.

  33. Posted July 13, 2005 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    Way to go, Cindy. Thank you for sharing yourself with us.
    You are brave and Very Beautiful! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  34. Posted July 13, 2005 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    I ‘second’ all of the other comments. I too, like Cindy have a very hard time being photographed so hearing her story really hit home with me. I have been experimenting lately with self-portraits and have even posted a few sporatically on my site, but I know how hard it is when you don’t feel good about yourself. Andrea, thank you so much for sharing Cindy’s story. What an absolute inspiration!! Both of you!! Bless you.
    Now if I only lived closer to SF so I could purchase a bit of your photographic expertise. :)

  35. Posted July 14, 2005 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    Andrea, I love this photograph of Cindy. I just love it. It looks like Cindy. I feel like I know her from it. I love that she isn’t posing, or putting on a fake smile, she is just being Cindy. Fantastic.
    I think Cindy is so brave, as are you Andrea. When we are honest with ourselves first and can take that a step further and share that dark, hard spot with others we create a space so precious, so safe. We should be able to tell other we hurt, or we need help, or we just don’t know. I think your story, like Cindy’s story must be told. We must share. It’s so wonderful to log on and read that others go through things that your loved ones are going through and know, there is the other side. To read that others get through this. I think sharing our true selves is the most brave and the most beautiful thing a person can do. Thank you Andrea, for always sharing and thank you Cindy, for being so brave. It helps others, it really does.

  36. Jefferson Boucher
    Posted July 14, 2005 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    To Cindy,
    I hope you can take in all the beautiful comments about yourself and own them. To your beauty, and your courage, go boldly forward.

  37. Posted July 14, 2005 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    ok, crying at work yet again andrea. but as usual in a good way. thank you and cindy for your beautiful words, thoughts, spirits and photo!!

  38. jolene
    Posted July 14, 2005 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    for some reason, this picture reminds me of moby’s song “dream about me” and the lyric “colour fills our lives”. cindy looks beautifully determinded to live her life in celebration. nice capture!

  39. chrissy
    Posted July 14, 2005 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    WHAT a striking beauty

  40. Cathleen
    Posted July 14, 2005 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

    What an amazing photograph. Cindy, you are beautiful. I told my brother that right after I first met you. Enjoy the journey finding the girl inside. It is a trip we all should go on on a regular basis. Beautiful!

  41. Posted July 14, 2005 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    damn… great post.

  42. Amanda
    Posted July 14, 2005 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    You are stunning, Cindy. And your story makes you all the more beautiful.
    Thanks for the inspiration!

  43. Posted July 15, 2005 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Thank you to Andrea and everyone out there who has taken this post to heart. You can’t even begin to imagine the strength I feel from all of your support and kind words. What an amazing community of people- I feel truly, truly blessed.

  44. Posted July 15, 2005 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    this woman…is just so SOOO beautiful…..I’m so glad you posted this….how inspiring

  45. denise
    Posted July 15, 2005 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    explore that girl who got buried by the world’s expectations
    wow. amazingly brave & fabulously beautiful

  46. Posted July 16, 2005 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    She is just beautiful.

  47. Jose Lopez
    Posted July 16, 2005 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    Hi….sorry to bother you…i didnt know how to get in contact with you…your photographs are so beautiful! you are really blessed….do you mind if i as what camera you use? Thank you! Hope you have a good day! – Jose

  48. kristen
    Posted July 16, 2005 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

    Cindy IS beautiful!
    This post is, too. I love how you both connected;)

  49. Posted July 17, 2005 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    Seems that so many people I know, including myself, are coming out of the dark lately.
    Maybe we should throw a coming out party.
    Lovely, brave post.
    Lovely, brave girl.

  50. Posted July 17, 2005 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

    wow! i hate being photographed too! it continues
    to amaze me, just how we are really all the same.
    we all hurt, we all have darkness where we emerge from. yet most of the time, we think we are the
    only ones. thanks so much for sharing.
    i love simple photos like this one of cindy.
    you are such a talents

  51. natala
    Posted July 17, 2005 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    this is the most beautiful photo i have ever seen.

  52. Posted July 18, 2005 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    ..GOod things take time! is the sentence that have been in my mind lately… I understand & reflect me in every word of Cindy and yours Andrea ; it gets 2 the point we’ve 2 stop & re-think, re-discover our selves & as well who we are in God, how He created us.. our true heart! We go from one thing to another, trying 2 cope others expectations…& suddenly we find ourselves lost & not happy at all… we wonder why… where’s the simple & happy girl I used 2 know/be!?
    I’ve been through a time like this, it takes time, but it is worth! Funny how I’ve been founding through something I’ve allways like it, but never had taken the time 2 be more into that’s how I got here, I was looking for some way 2 publish photos or 2 finally re-do/update my portfolio.
    Well, continue the GOoD work Andrea,thanks for taking the time 2 capture God’s creation as you do & Cindy do not give up of experience life :), go for it, there is so much we discover when we determine 2 live differently!And specially when we share it with others…

  53. Leslie
    Posted July 18, 2005 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    What a beautiful picture. I have the same fear of self photos so when I do eventually get to San Fran I will be calling ahead to book a session Andrea.

  54. Posted July 20, 2005 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    i was recently asked to take photographs of my friend’s wedding. i did not feel worthy to take pictures of such an event because i feel my photography skills are poor. but my friend really wanted me to and i was “brave” throughout the process. i can’t say im completely thrilled with the results but im glad i tried. just like im sure cindy is glad she made her trip to see you.

  55. jules
    Posted July 24, 2005 at 8:35 pm | Permalink