Welcome to the Sharon Holy Photography Blog! Sharon Holy is a nationally recognized photographer specializing in High School Senior Portraits in the Chardon, Mentor, Willoughby, Aurora, and surrounding Northeast Ohio areas.

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Project Beauty 2020

Project Beauty, HS Senior Girl
Project Beauty 2020 is a no makeup, no retouching campaign focusing on true, natural beauty. The mission if Project Beauty is to free participants from the idea of perfection, to feel empowered, and most importantly, to feel confident about themselves, embracing the flaws that make them so uniquely beautiful. High school and college students volunteered to participate in make-up free photo shoots. Students were asked to share what true, natural beauty meant to them as well as share stories of struggles they have gone through.

I fell in love with the idea of Project Beauty and helping young adults take a moment to stop and think about what true, natural beauty really is and to help them see it in their own images. As a photographer, too often I see the pressure put on young adults to feel like they have to be perfect and to look or act a certain way in fear of being judged by their peers. Social media has only heightened this pressure by making them apprehensive about sharing images of themselves and making them harshly judge themselves. I wanted to put the power back in their hands.

details on project beauty 2020

Project Beauty 2020 is a collaboration between myself and John Carroll University. Huge thank you to Dr. Tracy Masterson, Associate Professor of Psychology and her colleagues at John Carroll University for embracing this project and helping to spread the mission by sharing it with its students and helping to coordinate its efforts. Proceeds from Project Beauty 2020 will be donated to The Center for Balanced Living. The Center specializes in evidence-based treatment, education and prevention, and research in the area of eating disorders and foster balance in the lives of all persons served.

 

The campaign consisted of  31 high school students and 20 college students. Ages ranged from 14 to 22 years of age. Thomas Nguyen, a Cincinnati photographer, inspired me to create my own Project Beauty campaign after seeing the impact his campaign had on his senior girls. Thomas Ngyuen, in my opinion, is an innovator who inspires me with every image he shares. His creativity has no limits! Thomas and fellow photographer, Sean Brown, generously shared their own campaigns with other photographers around the country and encouraged them to create their own campaigns.

 

EJ Spark wrote and performed a song specifically for and inspired by this campaign, along with fellow artist, Ruby Santiago, and producers & mixers, Omito Beats and Mitchel Madak collaborated and created the song, Superwoman. Superwoman’s lyrics are about being a beautiful, strong woman. Superwoman can be downloaded from all music platforms! Check out EJ Spark’s video about the making of Superwoman here: The Making of Superwoman

 

the participants

Through this campaign, I was able to meet so many incredible young women from all over that I would never have crossed passed with as well as work again with others I’ve worked with before but in a totally different type of shoot. Each of them inspired me with their courage and willingness to share their thoughts on true beauty and/or the struggles they’ve faced. We asked students to share what true, natural beauty meant to them. We asked them to share any struggles they’ve gone through that affected their self esteem. Their stories inspired me. Such raw, honest vulnerability. Without words, their images moved me. They show their strength, courage and beauty!

Images used for this campaign were printed in black and white. Black and white images focus on the subject’s beauty, without the color of their eyes, or hair being a distraction. The simplicity of black and white images allows the shadows and highlights to enhanced the images. You can check out the slideshow of images here: Project Beauty Slideshow

project beauty live

Originally, we had planned an to hold a Project Beauty Art Exhibit. We wanted to fill the room with images of each participant and have guest speakers share their stories. I had to find a creative way to present this event and do justice to the mission of the project and the images of the participants. Unfortunately, to the Covid-19 pandemic and quarantine restricted us from holding this event.

 

With the help of Jamie Greenwolf of John Carroll, we were able to present this information in a webinar format. Three of the participants shared their stories, Lydia Holman, Natalie Larkman and Julia Tousel. Other speakers included Jamie Greenwolf, Cheryl Ryland, CEO The Center for Balanced Living, and Counselor, Jessica Rudd. It is my hope that anyone listening took a moment to stop and think about what true beauty meant to them. Each of us allows social media to effect the way we see ourselves. We end up harshly judging ourselves. The Project Beauty message is good for all young adults to hear. You can watch the replay by clicking here: Project Beauty Live

I still wanted to see these beautiful young women’s images hanging on a wall so I created a Virtual Art Gallery of the images chosen by each participant. You can virtually walk through the Art Exhibit, see the images on the wall. You can click on them for a closer look and to meet the participant through their Project Beauty “why”. Click here to check out the Project Beauty Virtual Art Gallery 

donations

As I stated above, this project is a fundraiser with proceeds going to The Center For Balanced Living. Its mission is raising eating disorder awareness, advocacy, support, and scholarship. Please consider making a tax deductible contribution to this incredible non-profit organization by clicking here: Donations to the Center

more to come

The feedback I received from the participants inspired me. It made me believe that this mission can really make an impact in the lives of young women. Its a way I can use my talents to do good…to give back. My hope is for this to become an annual campaign. If Project Beauty continues to grow each year, we can help spreads the mission to more and more young adults.

 

Thanks again to everyone who had a hand in making Project Beauty 2020 a success.

Here’s a sneak peek of some of the images captured. Be sure to check out the Virtual Art Gallery for all of the images!

March 30, 2020

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