I have always felt called to create art. To make something from nothing. To see the manifestation of my very soul come into reality. I am drawn to beautiful things. To beautiful simple things, like light and color. Once I called myself a professional artist and photographer, it has been my mission make work that not only pleases my need to create, but also serves others and fulfills a need within the world
I have specialized in women's intimate portraiture—boudoir photography for almost 2 years now and in that time I have photographed many women, all shapes and sizes, from all walks of life. What surprises me still is the transformation. The physical transformation is only a small piece of the larger puzzle that is self-image, self-worth, and leads to self-love and acceptance. The women who step in front of my camera, step into their own courage, allowing themselves to be vulnerable.
They're afraid, have no doubt. They're quite literally scared to death. 75% of people have sex in the dark, so to be honest 75% of the women I photograph aren't even comfortable being seen by their significant other. Let alone a stranger. With a camera. But alas, they are stepping into their own courage, and allowing me to photograph them. Stripped down, not always naked, but intimately in a way they haven't allowed the public to see them.
My clients come to me with a plethora of concerns that ex-lovers and society have deemed imperfections and problem areas. Stretch marks, scars, cellulite, fat rolls, fupas, saggy breasts, bad hair, small butts. Labels from skinny to curvy, fat to plus size and not-photogenic. Literally anything you can think of, these women have expressed as insecurities. Stories we tell oursevles about our own not-enoughness. Stories that other people have told us and that we have internalized for ourselves.
It's incredible that with the vastness of insecurity and doubt that I have anyone to photograph, but next door to fear lives something called courage. When you step into your courage you allow it to grow. This experience of a boudoir photo shoot is freeing. It's healing and transformative. It's literally life changing. That's what I see time and time again with the women I have the honor to photograph. They allow themselves to be vulnerable and allow someone else to see them in that vulnerability. Then not only do they survive, they have physical proof—the art we create, as a lifelong reminder of their courage.
I am a photographer, yes. I am searching for the light and posing a body so the light is flattering, but I'm also searching for the light that shines from within. That is the light that fills a photograph with meaning. My job isn't just to make art, but also to provide women with a safe space to be. Allowing them to tear down walls that are intended to keep us safe, and let their light shine through.
Marcy Harris-Ortiz is a photographer and women's empowerment coach based in Columbus, Ohio. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram under @marcyharrisortizphotog and @thecoteriecolumbus.