VALENTINEâ€™S DAY EDITION February 2017
SOUL&STORY ft. Alexa
est. 2011 Photoshoots Without Makeup Soul&Story believes that natural beauty is worth a photoshoot and that every womanâ€™s story is worth being shared. We create a community of women that build up each other up - and even hold each up other up when the pressures of the world seem overwhelming. We hope you are inspired and filled with encouragement as you read these stories. contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org instagram @soulandstory
In this Soul&Story - Valentine’s Day Edition, we asked Josh and Alexa to write each other a letter. And just like you, this will be their first time reading it.
Dear Josh, It is crazy to think that now four Valentine’s Days have passed since we met. It’s funny because we weren’t looking for each other when we met. Out of funny circumstances and by chance, we became friends, and got to know each other’s personalities, fears, quirks, and hopes and dreams. Who knew you would become someone who would mean so much to me. We don’t have this crazy awesome story of how we met, but I’m so glad you stumbled into my weird little life and that you became a huge part of it. You make me feel beautiful inside and out, safe and treasured, and so very loved. With all the love you pour onto me, I wanted to try and thank you for it all. · Thank you for always holding my hand (literally and figuratively)—I’m clumsy and you always are there to keep me from falling like an idiot in front of everyone. But more importantly, you have held my hand through probably the toughest times of my life so far.
· Thank you for always supporting me—It is so reassuring knowing that you are always there to cheer me on in everything I do. · Thank you for reminding me of God’s love—You never cease to remind me to look to the Lord when things get tough or thank the Lord when things are great. For that, I am most grateful because you love the Lord so much. · Thank you for letting me cry— I cry at literally everything, especially puppies, but you always remind me that the world isn’t falling apart, and always are there to help me back up. · Thank you for being exactly who you are—there are things we both think of annoying about each other, but it doesn’t hide the fact that we love each other for who we are. Your passion for others, kind heart, and contagious smile, to list a few are things I will always be amazed by. You inspire me everyday to be a better version of myself, and I am so thankful for that. You are my partner in crime, my confidant, my obligatory dinner date, but most importantly my best friend. Wherever the road takes us, I am so glad that I got to walk down this road with you this far, and am excited to see where it takes us next! <3
Boyfriend & Photographer. @insta_chanchan My name is Joshua Chan and I co-own a crazy Shiba Inu with my girlfriend. I love anything that has to do with health/fitness, food, and Mother Nature. The smell of coffee and bacon and the sight of a person’s smile is what keeps me going on a daily basis. I’m currently studying for my MCAT so that I can go to “doctor school”. The reason why I bought my first camera was because I really wanted to be able to catch people’s smiles and share their passion with the rest of the world. I truly believe that one smile can change a person’s life and feel that there definitely needs to be more. Lastly, if you were to ask me what my spirit animal was then I would point at my dog :)
Dear Alexa, First off, thank you for waking up early and letting me take photos of you even though the sun never broke through the clouds and because I know how much you “love” early mornings. I definitely know how much this shoot was stressing you out (I too was doubting my abilities) but I hope you enjoy my final product. If I were to say what my favorite thing about you is, I would immediately say your smile. I loved watching you in your creative realm when you were drawing in the sand because that was when you had your biggest smile. Honestly, there were times where I forgot to click the camera to capture the photo because I’ve never seen you smile that big consistently but don’t worry, I took enough photos to get something. I thank you again for letting me take photos of you for this edition of Soul and Story because I do think that this session brought us closer together. Alexa, I want you to know that you are beautiful at all times of the day and even more stunning with a smile. Happy Valentines Day and I shall see you soon with our little cupid, Lani!
Meet Alexa. My life has proven to be so incredibly busy and consumed in studying, so getting to do some of my hobbies during my down time is so precious to me. Because I am always delved into science, during my free time I love to express myself through more artistic outlets whether it is painting, drawing, crafting, or photography. I love all of those things, but my ultimate dream is to pour my love into newborn babies so I am working towards becoming a neonatal nurse.
What was it like to have your boyfriend be the photographer?
*Not a S&S photo Photo Credit: Annette Lee 2016
It was kind of fun actually because we made a date out of it! But more so it was interesting because having him as the photographer let me see how he sees me through the lens, and how it contrasts with how critical I can be of myself sometimes. There were so many photos I was definitely not a fan of, but he went through each one describing what he loves about them. This shoot was so much more than just about bare beauty, but also helped us reflect on our relationship.
One word to describe your Soul&Story experience. Uncomfortable. Right now I feel like I am not where I want to be in life with my own perception of my body. I think that was more uncomfortable for me than not wearing makeup. Always being told I was not skinny enough was definitely ingrained into my mind from a young age… and what’s sad is that it wasn’t just from people close to me. But, I recently decided to take those moments I feel uncomfortable and use it to remind me that I need to love myself and that I am so beautiful in the image of God. During those times I take a moment to stop all the mean thoughts I get so bogged down by and tell myself that I can’t let society’s impossible expectations bring me down. I remind myself that I need to stop being concerned with the standards
others set for me, and instead I need to be confident in my unique beauty. I guess itâ€™s more of a mental moment for me to get out of my own head and keep my chin up. To get to that level of comfort was tough for me in the beginning of the photoshoot. You could see so clearly in the photos in the beginning of the photoshoot that I was uncomfortable and was forcing myself to smile. As the shoot went
on and with the constant love poured onto me from Josh I began to feel beautiful in my own skin. I realized being uncomfortable is okay as it reminds me that I am human and that I can learn to love myself wholeheartedly.
Which photo was your favorite? The one where Iâ€™m drawing in the sand is my favorite, because I was having so much fun at that point. I stopped letting my insecurities get me down and I just let myself enjoy the moment.
What is your ethnicity and how does it define beauty? I am Korean-American. My parents came to America at a young age and have lived in California since. Although they were practically raised in America their entire lives, Korean culture runs deep within them in many ways but they have always told me to love who I am. Beauty defined by culture or society is so fleeting but we are expected to live up to those standards. In Korean culture, what defines beauty is being skinny, having porcelain skin, and double-eyelids or big eyes. I do not match the Korean beauty standards, but I am alright with that because I embrace that I am tan and curvy, and I love my eyes the way they are.
What is your favorite part of your body? My eyes have become my favorite part of my body. You can often tell what I am feeling my looking at my eyes and they also tell a story of my ethnicity. I used to be so self-conscious of them when I was younger. I grew up in a predominantly white community so I felt like I needed to have big blue eyes. I donâ€™t know what I was thinking because I love how my eyes get small when I smile and laugh.
Alexa’s Story. Wow it is so crazy to look back to high school and see how I have grown. In high school, the typical pressures of being pretty and skinny overwhelmed my thoughts. I had such an unhealthy image of what beauty was. I could have spent that time investing in friendships, studying, and being myself. I also think feeling like I had to blend in with my white friends made me lose sight of my roots in being Korean and just being comfortable being myself. By no means was it my friends that made me feel like I needed to “white wash” myself but the influences of society and my own mindset made me think I had to be one or the other. Wearing makeup was a part of me trying to fit in and look prettier. It’s funny though because when I look back, makeup didn’t really do anything to my looks. I just had raccoon eyes from runny mascara and my eyeliner was way too thick. I cringe sometimes thinking that, that was what I thought was beautiful. My mom used to tell me that I was so much more beautiful without makeup or minimal makeup, and still tells me that today. She has been the one to always remind me to
look at my inner beauty because there is no point in being beautiful on the outside if you aren’t beautiful in the inside first. I listened but didn’t truly embrace that saying until college. I have come such a long way since high school with really embracing my beauty no matter what I am going through in life. I can’t say I love where I am or what I look like, but I can say that I am learning to love myself and am not letting my insecurities take over my life. I’m my worst critic and I definitely can be really mean to myself sometimes, but realizing that has helped me to ease up and instead find something I love about myself. In order to let those insecurities go, I do little things to boost my confidence. I have found that just
dressing up for no reason and spending time with friends or finding things that make me laugh make be feel more confident because I let go of my over self awareness and just do what I love to do-- love on others and smile. Iâ€™m still on my journey, but I am learning so much along the way. Having a younger sister that looks up to me, and never wanting her to ever lose an ounce her self-worth or identity in God is what motivates me to be a better me. Without Soul & Story I would have never sat down to reflect on my journey so far and how far I have come.
What do you wish you could tell your highschool self? Embrace yourself for who you are and not what society tells you to be. You are curvy. Don’t get so caught up with the number on the scale because immature guys tell you that you would be prettier if you were skinnier. You can be funny without putting yourself down. Just be weird and funny and stop getting consumed in trying to do what’s “cool.” What the heck is being cool anyways. And most importantly, don’t be so uptight about the importance of college that you forget to invest in the friends who are around you in high school. You don’t want to miss out on the chance of making lifelong friends with amazing people that you can always come home to even after college. Just be yourself, pick up the phone, and make that phone call to hang out. You won’t regret it.
Â©Soul&Story Photography by Josh Chan
Natural beauty is worth a photoshoot and every story is worth being shared.