Kyle is an amazing person and probably one of the bravest women I’ve met. Aside from her colossal smile and often unbreakable spirit, her work as a wedding photographer in Chile is breathtaking. Her photographs always leave me wondering what it is in her brain that allows her to see the world the way she does. Our styles couldn’t be more different, and I couldn’t admire her more for that. Kyle Hepp has a vision, and she’s gonna take over the world with it one day.
When I first wrote about The Bad Side Project, she was one of the first people to say she wanted to participate, an example of that bravery I already mentioned. Since we already had plans to have lunch that week, it made things easier, but it also meant Kyle had about 48 hours to prepare herself mentally for being photographed.
As photographers, we are hyper-critical of the way things look in photographs. We spend much of our day trying to think about what it is our subjects might not like about themselves, and how we can minimize that and make them feel beautiful. Sometimes it’s an obvious thing, like the stress pimple in the middle of their forehead brought on by a week of late nights tying bows around wedding favors. It’s gone in under a second of post processing in lightroom. But sometimes, our subjects have insecurities about themselves that we just can’t see, no matter how we try. I know the truth of this personally. When I first posted about The Bad Side Project, so much of the reaction I got was “You’re crazy, you’re beautiful from all your sides.” Sure, that’s nice to hear, but it doesn’t stop me from seeing my deep set right eye or my off center smile or my crooked nose. I struggle with how I feel about this phenomenon. When Kyle first told me she didn’t like the way she looked in most photographs, I had to stop myself from that initial reaction of “You’re crazy, you’re beautiful from all your sides.” Instead, I think it’s important to acknowledge that while other’s insecurities may not hold water for us personally, that person has been carrying them around with them most of their life, and they’re heavy. Yes, my right eye is deeper set than my left, and yes, my smile is off center, and yes, my nose is crooked, but I’m starting to accept that those flaws don’t make me ugly. It’s part of what makes me beautiful in the eyes of others.
This project isn’t about shooting to erase the flaws we see in ourselves. It’s about trying to celebrate those flaws, and to reframe the way we see them: not as a detriment, but as part of what makes us beautiful. It’s about trying to forget the muscle memory of years of only putting our “good” side toward the camera. It’s about trying to let go. Sure, you may see those flaws for the rest of your life, but hopefully these sessions help people to start to see those flaws as others do, as part of what makes your beautiful.
It’s funny, before photography found me, I was bound for a career in therapy. At one point, during our session, Kyle looked at me and said “This is like therapy.” I guess, in the end, I’ve found a way to do both.
No, I do not normally dress this glamorously for a session, but I took my turn in front of Kyle’s camera that day as well. What’s fair is fair.
Beautiful work, Heather (and Kyle)! I love the smiling ones the best – super pretty. Looking forward to seeing more of this project.
oh you two. every single one is my favorite.
kyle i think this shoot also captures more than one side of you… so compelling. absolutely gorgeous.
Beautifully done! Kyle looks fantastic; her smile, radiant. Love the shot of you two in the reflection.
Kyle is breathtaking!
i love these, amazing. if you ever need another girl, consider my hand raised.
Heather, I’m just now having the time to read this and sit down and write you. First of all, thank you SO MUCH for everything you wrote. And thank you for doing this project. I think it’s important. CPC really made me realize, how many amazing and beautiful women do I know that are way too hard on themselves? My own mom looks like a million bucks and is basically reverse aging, yet every time someone gives her a compliment, she doesn’t believe them, she denies their words. It makes me crazy. Hearing you and Sara and Nessa do the same thing at CPC made me crazy. And made me realize I do the exact same thing. I’m trying so hard to give myself a break. I see the beauty in everybody else, I don’t know why it’s so hard for me to do with myself. But maybe these photos will be the first step. Thank you.
absolutely gorgeous. Both of you.
So beautiful. Everything. Just beautiful.
Welp, these are insanely stunning.
amazing. big fan of you both.
Oh my. No bad side there for sure.
These are so beautiful.
This is beautiful. I love this project of yours Heather! Looking forward to seeing more from it.
What they all said. Kyle has no bad side, nor do you, lady! Love you both xox
Beautiful! her blue eyes are mindblowing.
Very lovely words and images Heather. Love the message you’re delivering with this project – it’s a great one. Good luck with it!
Well dang, I mean does Kyle even have a bad side?! Do you!? No. I declare not.
I love everything about this project. Kyle, you are amazingly beautiful! (on the outside, too)
The two of you are so awesome – i love this project. Absolutely beautiful.
Absolutely gorgeous in every way! What an awesome project. The large vertical shot at bottom is stunning.