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Self Portrait Marathon - Session 1

Updated: Dec 31


When I decided to do this project, I knew there were going to be obstacles. That was kind of the point.


While I was optimistic, I never imaged the good would actually outweigh the bad.


I had my first session of the Self Portrait Marathon this past weekend. It went better than I expected.


Here I will share the good, the bad, & the lessons.


I’ll start with the bad…


It took most of the day. From the time I woke up, got showered, hair & makeup, dressed, setup, multiple changes, it was evening by the time I wrapped. However, as this was the first session, there was a lot of trouble shooting and testing happening. Especially, working in a newly setup space. I plan to streamline a little more to work more efficiently next time.



I am not skilled at doing my own hair and makeup. I don’t know how you ladies do this every day. I’m so not on that level. Foundation has changed, how you apply makeup has changed, & I have so fallen behind in that evolution since high school. It was a struggle. Especially my hair. I was going to go with a beach wave look but I’ll be returning the curling iron a bought for a simpler option. I ended up just blowing out my hair with a round brush and applied hair spray.


For future sessions, not all of them, but a few I really want to bring in professional help with that. The more creatives I can involve in this process, the better.


I did have moments of self-degradation. A part of this project is to get used to being on camera. That includes behind the scenes. There were a few times I looked back at my behind the scenes and went into that negative place. The one where you recognize yet again, “I’m not in my 20’s anymore.”


So here is my pep talk to myself, “Yes, Amanda. You’re not. You’re in a much better place in your life. Your body has been through some things. Everyone can see that your body has been through some things. It has produced life, it’s healed from several traumas, it is the vehicle for the gifts God has placed in you. You have amazing people in your life that depend on you for many different things. The most important is a child & husband who love you. You are better equipped today to meet their needs and add value to their lives than you were in your 20’s. So get over yourself, because you’re important, needed, and beautiful.”


The space was tricky. One of the best things a creative can do is to work with limited resources and master their craft with what they have. Well, I have a small space in my home, that I’ve turned into a studio. Very small, very short, very lived in. It needs some work. I used a single light with a large modifier for a nice, diffused look. It’s my favorite modifier but I’m not going to lie it was a challenge working with 7-foot ceilings. Between the modifier, the backdrop, the props, the tripod, the desk, it feels like walking through a mine field. I am clumsy and dangerous at times, so I tread very softly in this space. I am eager to try different lighting setups in this space. And I’m so grateful I have this chance to get to know my studio through this process and how it functions in a real-world client situation.


Okay, now the good!


I love the final images! I was so surprised that there were so many good, useable images in this round. I had planned to do a series of maybe 3 per session. I culled down to just over 100 images, narrowed that down to 80 something, then 60 something. Out of the 60 something that I am keeping, I edited 21 for a first batch to use for my website and social media.


I had planned on making it a black & white series. One, because I love black & white images. Two, because it fit the shoot and the aesthetic so well. I did a very minimal edit on each just to clean up the background and endless dog hair that ends up on everything in my life. (I love my Rowdi boy).



I left the wrinkles. It’s so weird to watch yourself age. Those didn’t used to be there. I don’t know that I love them, but I’ve come to respect them because I feel like I’ve earned them. The same goes for the gray hairs popping up. I kind of feel like they’re beautiful. I don’t know if this will always be my feeling but for now, it’s where I’m at.


I had so much fun! It was such a girly day. Not a typical day for me. I had planned on wearing a few outfits and ended up wearing something completely different. Things changed through the whole day, and I just went where it took me.


I do worry that because this one went so well, how can it get better? My hope is to improve with each session, but now the pressure feels on because this was a really great experience with a great outcome.


At the end, it was a big time of self-reflection. I am reminded of who God has created me to be. This is how He has created me to look. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Designed as a one-of-a-kind WOMAN!


"Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." - Proverbs 31:30


1 down, 29 more to go! Stay tuned...


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2 Comments


Dipti Desai
Dipti Desai
Nov 16, 2023

Absolutely loved these dear Amanada! So Inspiring! Thank you for sharing 'you'!

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Amanda Van Meter Burch
Amanda Van Meter Burch
Nov 17, 2023
Replying to

Thank you so much, Dipti! Your encouragement means so much!

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