Breaking the Barriers - Women Can Do Anything! | Mildura Intimate Portraiture
JESS Smith is a diamond in the rough - literally.
Currently studying to be a diesel mechanic, Jess, who is from Broken Hill, has always had an interest in fixing things.
She recalls how it landed her in hot water as a child.
“I have always been interested in mechanics for as long as I can remember,” she said.
“I was always pulling apart everything I could get my hands on just to see how it worked."
“I remember I was about 10 or 11, and mum bought this brand new toaster home - but it was one of those fancy ones that made an unusual pattern on the toast when it was cooking."
“It wasn't even 24 hours old and I pulled it apart because I wanted to know how it did it."
“Little did I know the trouble I was in when mum found out.”
The 23-year-old got her introduction to mechanics about five years ago when she had to complete work experience as part of her school studies.
“You got a few things to choose from - things like beauty, construction, hospitality, mechanics or medical,” she said.
“I ended up choosing mechanics and did my work placement at Warrnambool Bus Lines as a mechanic/trade assistant."
“After the two weeks the boss was super happy at how I did things and what I knew, so ended up getting an apprenticeship out of it.”
Jess said she has always enjoyed working on her own cars because she had a passion to learn. She also wanted to prove that she’s not just a pretty face - she knows what she is doing as well.
“There is a lot I like about being a mechanic,” Jess said.
“Each job is different to the last, which is something I really enjoy because it’s not repetitive. Also the people you meet along the way is great."
“Everyone has different knowledge so there will always be someone around to help.”
Of course, being the minority in a male dominated field does have its negatives.
“My main hate, and I use that word strongly, is the amount of sexist people still out there - even in this day and age,” she said.
“As a female mechanic you will meet some people who will belittle you and talk down to you because you are a girl.”
There have even been people requesting Jess didn’t work on their vehicle because she is female and wouldn’t know what to do or make a mistake, but she’s had the last laugh at times, still carrying out the work.
“Ninety-nine percent of mechanics are male and one percent female, but my thoughts on that is that everyone needs to realise and understand that no job has to be gender specific,” she said.
“If you can put your mind to it, ask the right questions and are mentally prepared for the tasks anyone can be the right person for the job."
“There are still a lot of women out there who want to try these kinds of jobs but are afraid and my advice for them is to give it a go.”
While Jess said it’s best not to do any major mechanical repairs to your car if you don’t know what you are doing, there is maintenance you can carry out - and if you are unsure how to do these things, YouTube is always a good source to learn from.
“For me, servicing your car is pretty straight forward; eg lubrication top ups, oil changes as well as adding air to tyres or tyre rotations,” Jess said, “But not everyone knows how to do it."
“I know a lot of men and women who actually don't know the basics on how to do them but there are things you can do to inform yourself and learn how to do the basics."
“You could always get someone who knows how to do it to show you a couple of times and the first time you do it by yourself just get them to stand there and watch.”
She added that she thinks everyone should learn how to change a tyre.
“The worst thing I have come across is people of both genders being stuck in the middle of nowhere and not knowing how to change a tyre,” Jess said.
“Also learning how to tell if your engine is low on oil and radiator fluid - they are the two main things that are required to have a healthy engine."
“Checking your fluids is best to do in the morning before you go for a drive."
“Services are generally every 5000km to 15,000km depending on how old your car is.”
As for indicators that your car needs a trip to the mechanic - she said the following are things to look out for:
Jess said it is always best to get a qualified mechanic to look at your car if you are unsure, as even the smallest things can turn into something major.
“But women need to get out there and try these kinds of things,” she said. “Just because someone says you can't doesn’t mean you can't.
“If you sit there and live your life listening to people that are constantly telling you you can’t, you won't be good at these kinds of jobs to prove them wrong."
“Everyone can do it, it just takes a lot of experience, patience, studying and time, but if you put your mind to it, you will succeed.”
Perry Sandhills Mini Shoots | Mildura Boudoir Photography
With such beautiful outdoor locations available to us year round, why wouldn't you want to get some amazing boudoir photos as the sun was beginning its descent over the desert dunes? The stunning Perry Sandhills in Wentworth was our chosen location for our Sand Dunes Mini Shoot, and the location and these stunning ladies did not disappoint!
Did you have any obstacles or fears about doing this session?
Whitney: Just finding the babysitter!
Jess: My main concern was my self confidence and being able to nail the poses.
Kim: Hell No!
Vee: Not really no.
What made you take the leap of faith to do a boudoir session?
Jess: I was sitting on the fence, watching from the bushes at how amazing it all looked and when I saw that there was an outdoor session at the dunes I leaped! It spoke to my soul!
Kim: I love doing them! The confidence it gives you during and after, the freedom of prancing around naked or in your beautiful underwear!
Vee: I am part of a beautiful and encouraging team so how could I not?!
Whitney: Loved the last one and really liked the outdoors theme.
Did I provide enough pre-session info?
Jess: YES! I loved the Pinterest board!
Vee & Kim: Always do xx
How did you feel BEFORE your session?
Kim: So excited! I had been hanging for this session since Lauren released it. I had so many ideas on my Pinterest Board and purchased my lingerie the day after I registered months ago! (Keen much!?) I had such a clear vision on everything and shared it with Lauren and Vee so they knew where I was coming from.
Jess: Nervous enough to BYO cider and diffuse all the oils on the way there!
Whitney: Nervous and excited
Vee: Excited and so pumped.
How did you like working with my team? Did you love your hair & makeup?
Whitney: The girls were all fantastic and very helpful
Jess: Vee was a magician and I loved the natural look of my hair!
Vee: I love working with your team and always love my hair. Makeup done by Vee, she did great! (lol thats me hehe)
Kim: Vee is da bomb!!! I love that I give her my inspiration and she mixes it with her style to create something that is perfect and unique every time! Get Bold Ladies! She's incredible with colour! I really enjoy my chats with Mairee and she is amazing at creating gorgeous curls and waves for people with hair!
How would you describe the session? (poses, direction, comfort level, thoughts, FEELINGS)
Jess: It was an experience like no other. I was on an absolute high the entire time and the women were all so supportive and encouraging! LOVE LOVE LOVE!
Whitney: Fun! Very comfortable considering it was in the open and really enjoyed the setting
Kim: So much fun! It's great doing a shoot in a small group because everyone is really supportive and we all thrive off each other. Poses definitely test your core strength - at one point I even stopped breathing because I didn't want to lose that arch!
Vee: It was so much fun! Poses were so cool and the environment of being outdoors was so freeing and made it so exciting.
Was the session different than you expected? If so, how?
Vee: It was, I thought I was going to be bothered by sand in my crack and in my hair buuuuut it was honestly the least of my worries. I had so much fun working with Lauren and I loved the outdoors.
Whitney: Having had a shoot before I was better prepared, so it was probably a lot smoother and easier to get into it.
Jess: It was WAY BETTER! I had fears of being intimidated with such natural beauty but it was full of love and laughs!
Kim: It was better than I expected and I expected a LOT!
How did you feel AFTER your session?
Kim: My calf muscles are pretty sore from walking all over those sandhills! But in all honesty, I probably feel more myself than I have in a long time, and was really feeling as confident and empowered and incredible as I did after my very first shoot with Lauren.
Jess: Empowered AF!
How did you feel when you saw your images?
Whitney: I loved them, there were so many that I wanted and I was surprised how many there were considering it was a short session
Jess: Overwhelmed and so in love with my booty! I didn’t know it could be so plump HAHAHA
Kim: I've only seen some on the viewfinder at the shoot so far, but I know they are going to be killer! I can usually wait patiently to see my photos, but I seriously can't wait to see these..... I'm pretty sure I'm going to be broker than broke when I do!
Vee: I loved my images! Lauren never fails to make me smile and feel empowered. The images were truly gorgeous.
Did anything change about the way you see yourself after the session?
Whitney: It renewed the want to accept the things I currently have and not be so negative about changes I have gone through.
Jess: I feel more comfortable in my skin and more free to let loose around my husband.
Vee: After every shoot I do I see myself in a better light then I did previously. I accept who I am and love the body I am in, I still face challenges when I don't feel great BUT I can look back at these photos and just think WOW! That's me, I look amazing and I felt fucking great. This helps that journey continue.
Kim: I realised that I'd been hanging onto something that was dragging me down and holding me back at my last few mini sessions, and in life in general. I just totally let that go and had such a great time! I love my body and what it is capable of, and I love that Lauren captures it in all its glory, and I can truly be myself and it all translates beautifully into the images.
Do you have any advice for women considering doing a boudoir session?
Vee: Please do one. If you are considering but hesitating, reach out to any of the other ladies whom have previously had a boudoir session. I am personally happy to answer any questions to help you take that step forward. Remember that you are amazing, nobody is the same and that's why you are you!
Kim: Just to let go of anything you might be hanging onto. Free your mind and do what feels right and be in the moment! Don't be afraid to ask for something or suggest a pose - there are no silly suggestions! Have fun! Laugh! Try to get rid of those pre-conceived ideas of what you look like. Don't wait to "lose weight, tone up, get a thigh gap" etc... just do it and you will truly love yourself stupid for it and, Trust Me here, You are So Worth It!
Jess: Don’t creep in the bushes! Just do it!
Whitney: Do it, and if you get the chance, do it again! Relax and trust that Lauren will make you look and feel amazing.
Any final thoughts on your session, or anything you'd like other woman to know?
Kim: The sand up all the cracks was so worthwhile! Ladies, jump on an outdoor shoot!!! Honestly, this shoot - although only a mini, really triggered something in me, and I think has been my absolute favorite shoot so far!
Jess: We are all backing you! Your body deserves your love and to capture that on camera is something so special!
Vee: Can I go back in time and do it again? Pleaaaase! I would like you to know that you are not alone in these feelings of nerves, self doubt or a lack of confidence. Those things are normal unfortunately.. But nerves are good! It means you are excited and feeling something about the experience. But you certainly don't need to feel nervous, its amazing. Self doubt and a lack of confidence shouldn't exist, because again you are fucking beautiful! You deserve self love and confidence!
Whitney: Loved the outdoor venue and the pictures I got were awesome! I wasn't sure I would get the same feeling the second time around but I think it was actually even better because I wasn't worried about the nerves or what to expect, so it was much more relaxed and fun.
Meet the Boudie Babes - Vee Finocchiaro | Mildura Boudoir Photography
Vee Finocchiaro is a ball of infectious energy.
You only have to spend a short amount of time with Vee, or read through her encouraging and supportive posts on the Pure Beauty Facebook VIP group, to understand why Lauren decided to have her on her team.
When Vee describes herself as chatty, funny and outgoing, she is spot on.
She brings to the group an extra level of enthusiasm and positivity in her role as Elite Ambassador.
We caught up with Vee (and believe me, it was hard to catch her in one spot) to get an insight into what makes the 24 year old tick:
I’m Virginia or Vee as most people know … obviously!
I am Australian, part aboriginal, Italian and Scottish.
I love Halloween, Makeup, Harry Potter, Singing and many other things.
Pure Beauty: What is your role within our team?
Vee: My role in Pure Beauty is a few things really!
My full time role in Pure Beauty is continuing to empower myself, other women on and offline and other men, children and people in general.
My other roles in Pure Beauty are makeup artistry for the clients who come through Lauren’s door and to be an assistant to Lauren.
Pure Beauty: Talk me through your background in makeup?
Vee: My background and passion in makeup started around six or seven years ago but I have always admired winged liner - it is everything!
My bestie in high school (who is still one of my best friends) actually really got me into it. I learnt a lot from watching her and seeing what she used.
I began loving it after high school and I had a real passion for coloured lipstick. I bought a couple of bold pigmented colours that really stood out.
I basically just did winged liner and bold lips, then I started really showing an interest in becoming a MUA around 2017 and started taking on clients in 2018.
By 2019 I was working and taking on more than I ever imagined and a massive thanks needs to go to Lauren for helping kick starting my makeup career!
Pure Beauty: As a makeup artist, what do you want to achieve for clients before they have a session with Lauren?
Vee: What I aim to achieve with every client is comfort.
I love talking to them, seeing what they are interested in and what they have in their own mind.
I usually chat to them about their shoot, hoping it eases their nerves, then get excited about what we are about to do.
But generally just to get the ladies comfortable and excited!
Pure Beauty: To be involved in such an amazing concept, what does that mean to you?
Vee: It is so amazing because I get to empower myself and others.
I get to be part of a movement and it means everything.
I am able to encourage and pass on beautiful vibes and share my story and be part of others.
Pure Beauty: So be involved in something that is life-changing, how would you describe it?
Vee: It is truly inspirational
I am so honored I can be part of this life changing process.
It can be super confronting toward yourself, knowing how hard you can be on yourself and see what other women are like to themselves.
So seeing women grow and being able to tell them and show them how beautiful they are is just breathtaking and exciting.
Pure Beauty: What would you say your most memorable and powerful moment has been while being involved in Pure Beauty?
Vee: Being a part of an ambassadorship has been powerful in itself.
Every moment I have had with Lauren in Pure Beauty has been powerful and memorable but personally, my own recent photo shoot changed everything.
Pure Beauty: On that, we have chatted about being the scenes, when you aren’t the focus of Lauren’s camera. But what about when you are in-front of the lens - how would you describe how the session makes you feel?
Vee: It is so hard to explain everything you actually feel having your own shoot but here goes!
Everyone is their own worst enemy and critic so I recommend having a shoot more than anything!
Having a shoot made me feel like a beautiful confident woman, and it still does!
It made me emotional, happy and I laughed so much!
It made me feel the best I have ever felt. I now look in the mirror with a smile and I am so fucking happy!
Pure Beauty: What about seeing the absolute magic Lauren creates with her work?
Vee: Seeing the magic Lauren creates is so fucking beautiful!
That woman deserves awards; I tell you what!
It really is like magic, seeing these women walk out differently, or sometimes seeing them in a few weeks or months - they are different women!
Pure Beauty: You are an inspirational and strong woman yourself, but who is the most influential woman in your life and why?
Vee: My mumma!
She has always taught me to be true to myself, kind and honest.
My mum always told me that I was beautiful and to dress how I wanted, and she always said the right and empowering things.
My mum is also the strongest woman I know. I cannot praise that woman enough! She has influenced me in the best ways possible!
I love you Mumma x
Pure Beauty: What about in the public area, who do you look up to most?
Vee: Lauren is definitely one of the females I admire most.
She’s a beautiful woman, boss and friend!
Her work speaks for itself and she is an idol to myself and I am sure many others.
And my friends!
I look up to them because they are also kind hearted and empowering and seeing them strive for their dreams is inspiring as hell!
Meet the Boudie Babes - Kim Long | Mildura Boudoir Photography
CHANCES are around town or through Pure Beauty you have come across Kim Long.
Kim’s one of those people that dabbles in a lot of things. One of those people that you wonder how she has time to do it all. But she does and she does an amazing job; from being an elite ambassador for Pure Beauty, to her full time job in mental health, to volunteering, and of course who can forget - single super mum. Kim’s been with Pure Beauty since the introduction of ambassadors.
On the Facebook groups you’ll always see her name pop up beside comments full of encouragement and wisdom.
But who is Kim? What makes her tick?
She shares the honest and refreshing story of Kim Long and being an Elite Ambassador below:
So, here’s me in a nutshell…. I’m a 47 year old, single mum of two amazing boys, who both drive me nuts, but I would kill for, in the same breath.
I work full time in Mental Health (and love it), but have a habit of over committing and am looking to sink my teeth into some part time study in all of my spare time! Ha!
I was married for 12 years, and I’m now really comfortable being on my own again after my marriage broke down 2 years ago.
I hate baths, actually like long walks, on the beach or wherever! I love Reformer Pilates and practice aerial yoga at home in my aerial hammock.
But who am I as a person?
I struggle with social anxiety and have done for the past five years - which is interesting, considering I ran my own business, was always putting myself out there and attending launches, business events and promotional events, getting up and doing speeches, demonstrations and running events either by myself or with my beautiful clients to help back me up!
I’m always the first to get up and speak publicly (for Lauren), which is why many people are surprised that I struggle with social anxiety!
I am a passionate and caring person and love to give back when and where I can.
I volunteer, and get such a feeling of peace and happiness in doing so, usually to the point where I cry when I’m talking about the charity and what we do!
I am a fierce friend, although I’m useless at ringing people to catch up for a chat!
I always try to self sabotage friendships (thank-you anxiety), but I do eventually manage to talk myself out of it.
I doubt and second guess almost everything I do except for work decisions and modelling for Lauren.
But I’m constantly questioning my worth to other people which is at times really overwhelming.
Even while I’m with my friends I’m still telling myself that they will figure out I’m not worth it and stop keeping me around.
Anxiety really sucks!
I firmly believe in removing the negative and toxic relationships from my life, and living in the now and doing what I enjoy.
Other people will always have a perception of who they think you are, and you will never please everyone, so I don’t push myself on anyone or try to change their opinion of me.
I am a confident person (even with the anxiety), but am useless at making decisions about myself.
I’m fantastic at making decisions for business and steering conversations back on track!
I talk … a LOT! (And write a LOT too!)
I love having time to myself - there is nothing quite as good as losing yourself in a great book.
I have a great imagination and I love acting - a passion I haven’t followed for many a year now, but I love losing myself in a role and being completely swept up into that character.
Pure Beauty: What is your role within Pure Beauty?
Kim: My role as an Elite Ambassador is supporting Lauren in her business in any and every way possible.
This involves promotion, public speaking, sharing my beautiful images, empowering and uplifting our amazing Ambassadors and VIP Group ladies, and realistically ALL women! Talking about Pure Beauty and what it can truly do for anyone having their own shoot, considering a shoot or saving for a shoot. Knowing the business, the products and the packages available and being confident speaking about them to anyone.
I am so passionate about what Lauren does and have supported her and been so excited about this since the very second she told me what she was up to.
I’m a sounding board for Lauren, I offer my input and suggestions about so much. I give her advice, bring her back down to the boring, stable business decisions. I help paint backdrops. I make platters for everything. I drink coffee with her, laugh and play with her kids, try to get everything organised with lists and shopping and get to have beautiful photos taken of me that I get to share everywhere! I also do many of the client blogs for the website.
Pure Beauty: As an ambassador what do you want to achieve for clients before and while they have a session with Lauren?
Kim: I love it when clients come to me asking questions or to confide in me when they are terrified the day before their shoot.
I love being a calming and reassuring person that they feel they can talk to, to support them and help them realise that everything will be perfect at their shoot.
I want the clients to feel confident, but also to know that it is perfectly normal to feel nervous, scared, overwhelmed etc. the day before (because we do all feel that ping of self doubt and nervousness!).
I love helping them to realise that they are so beautiful and they will be treated as the Goddess they are on the day and all those feelings of doubt about themselves will completely vanish.
I am truly honoured that so many wonderful women have asked me questions or trusted me with their worries before their shoot and so very flattered that so many ask me if I can be there for their shoot for moral support.
I also know that they are going to have the very best time on the day, will have a sore face from laughing so much and that they will probably cry at the reveal, seeing themselves the way that everybody else does - truly beautiful and flawless!
Pure Beauty: The Pure Beauty concept, what does that mean to you?
Kim: To me Pure Beauty means to believe in yourself.
To feel uplifted, empowered, comfortable and confident in the skin you’re in.
Pure Beauty helps you see the person that you are - the way that everyone else sees you - with love, beauty and assuredness.
As Margaret Wolfe Hungerford wrote, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
Lauren’s eye (and camera lens) captures both your inner and outer beauty.
Pure Beauty: Lauren is delivering a service to women that can be life-changing. What is it like to be involved in the process of reminding all women how amazing, beautiful and unique they really are?
Kim: I really am honoured to be an Ambassador and beyond flattered that she has kept me on as an Elite Ambassador.
I get very swept up in the emotions that women go through after they have a shoot - seeing how their opinion of themselves changes so much - watching them bloom and shine and their confidence building so much.
Hearing them speak about themselves afterward is such a reward to me, because they are building themselves up every time they talk about their experience, their images and how they view themselves afterward.
It really is a life-changing process, and having gone through it myself I get caught up in the emotions and memories of what it felt like for me.
I do cry a lot!
Pure Beauty: What would you say has been your most memorable and powerful moment while being involved in Pure Beauty?
Kim: I have been lucky enough to experience a few moments but the one I always think of was during the first group ambassador shoot with Vee, Jess, Bella and Kayla.
My marriage had only just broken down, I was really at my lowest emotionally, in self confidence and I was terrified of what was to become of my kids and me with no job, the house to be sold, no income and bills piling up.
Having this mini shoot (with complete strangers) was the only thing I felt I could throw myself into and knew what I was doing!
I was so sad, and it was so hard to hold back the tears and try to hold it together.
I was truly broken and out of that, Lauren got the most incredible photo of me - this is the image that I immediately think of.
It’s powerful, it’s raw, it’s devastatingly beautiful! It reminds me of the fear, loss and sadness of that time, but I also see how far I have come. How strong I am and how I showed my kids that you can overcome anything if you put your mind to it.
Pure Beauty: To those that haven't had a shoot before, how would you describe how the session makes you feel?
Kim: A shoot can give you a different feeling each time.
It can depend on how organised you are feeling, nervousness, confidence - all of these things come into effect!
My very first shoot was amazing. I wasn’t scared or nervous - I was so ready!
I had all of my outfits (and plenty of extras), shoes and accessories.
My Pinterest Board was overflowing with ideas, I was confident, I felt amazing about myself and I wasn’t focused on any areas that weren’t my favorite.
We laughed so much and I was being silly - striking 50’s housewife poses in the kitchen of the B and B!
It definitely helped that I had known Lauren for quite a few years and she had taken many photos of me previously for the Babywearing Group, Breastfeeding Normalisation and Kangatraining.
Needless to say, I was pretty comfortable with her taking pictures of me even if I was in lingerie or almost naked.
My first ambassador shoot was so different - I was so nervous!
I had placed a lot of pressure on myself! I had such a clear vision of what I wanted. My Pinterest Board was overflowing, I had so much lingerie but I felt so disorganised!
Thankfully it doesn’t communicate in any of the photos though, and obviously the stars aligned, and we got up on the roof and out the back of the studio to get the industrial images I really wanted!
My last shoot in the sandhills was different again.
I felt confident, amazing, didn’t care about taking off my bra and throwing it away!
This was by far my absolute favorite shoot and I think that this is purely because I felt more like myself again after such a long road back!
Pure Beauty: How does it feel seeing the absolute magic Lauren creates through her work?
Kim: Lauren is incredible at what she does! She is always studying different poses, trying out different ideas and scouting for locations and props and furniture.
She did so much research about boudoir photography well before she launched her business! She really planned and thought about this in detail.
Lauren can capture the most amazing and beautiful images. She focuses on areas you love about yourself, so that you don’t needlessly focus on areas you may not love about yourself.
She is definitely a very talented photographer with an incredible eye. She will get the absolute best out of you every time and you will actually see the incredible beauty you are!
As well as that, she has scouted the very best high end product and the images just pop on that metallic paper! The products available for your images are really second to none!
Pure Beauty: Who is the most influential woman in your life and why?
Kim: I definitely have a few, but the most influential woman in my life is my amazing bestie Kylie.
This woman is a powerhouse!
Her heart is so huge and she has got me through so very much.
She is truly my rock and I couldn’t survive without her.
I’ve watched her run a national business as if it were her own, while raising three beautiful and incredible children, survive so much and still be there for so many people as their support, mentor and friend.
I look up to this incredible woman and I am so damn proud that she is in my life!
Pure Beauty: Do you have any idols in the public area you look up to and why?
Kim: I follow several Australian women - mainly mums keeping it real.
I do love Laura Mazza - Mum on the Run. Laura keeps it straight up and says it how it is. She is brutal and honest with her journey with motherhood, postnatal depression and anxiety.
And being a mum from Melbourne, I find her honesty and posts to be refreshing and relatable.
Pure Beauty: If you could send one message to all the females out there, what would it be?
Kim: Be kind to yourself!
You truly deserve the world and although you may not really believe that right now it’s true!
Everyone is beautiful, everyone has infinite potential, everyone is unique.
The perceived flaws you think you have, no-one else sees - most likely others see what you think as flawed, as perfect.
Let your inner light shine and do what makes you feel happy.
Book a session with Lauren and see yourself the way you need to see yourself!
Boost that confidence. Love yourself and love the body and skin you are in, because you are exactly as you should be! Perfect. xx
Here you will find my featured babes, #wearepurebeauty , as well as some tips for your boudoir shoot- from lingerie shopping to hair and makeup
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Mildura resident and Photographer, Lauren Southwell launched Pure Beauty in late June, 2018 & is committed to helping woman feel beautiful, sexy and empowered through the art of Boudoir Photography.