‘Therapy in Motion - Why every woman should own at least one Red Shoe’

On the 1st August I drove over to Chester for a photoshoot. I needed a professional head shot for my new website and my friend gave me Sarah’s number. Sarah and her team of stylists make up ‘Red Shoe’ but this is no ordinary photoshoot. Little did I know when I walked into the studio what a life changing experience this was going to turn in to.

Note I have used the words ‘life changing here’ and I do this deliberately and not for dramatic effect. First I was greeted by Mandy, one of the stylists who work’s alongside Sarah the photographer. Mandy made me a brew then got to work on my locks, enhancing what Muma gave me and taming my unruly curls. Next she set about applying my make-up and lashes.  During these 90 minutes we talked about anything and everything.  She shared some of her own journey and what it meant to her when she became a red shoe girl and stood behind Sarah’s camera.  Mandy also told me a bit about Sarah and some of the things she’d been through. I came to realise I already had a deep affiliation with her even though I had never her met her – we had both lost our life partners in the saddest of circumstances albeit mine was some time ago and hers more recent. I began to realise that this wasn’t going to be your average Wednesday afternoon.

Sarah soon appeared baring much needed cups of steaming coffee. Once Mandy had waved her magic wand we were ready to pick out some outfits from the suitcase I’d dragged in containing most of my wardrobe.  Sarah reassured me more was definitely better than less here and we got busy looking for what would work for the looks I had in mind.  First off Sarah threw me my favourite grey jumper and sat me down in a relaxed chair.  She gave me a lesson on posing and talked about how the camera works. She explained that when we look in the mirror we don’t get a true picture of what the world sees which is why the images would be important later.  ‘I want you to see how beautiful you are to the world’ she said. Wow! Powerful stuff and we hadn’t even got started!  Sarah also suggested that when I look down the lens I should say something in my head which comes from deep within my soul; this would then, she explained, be reflected through my eyes in the pictures, your eyes being the windows to your soul.  I took a deep breath and chose the words that first came to mind; ‘you can do anything, you are amazing.’

We were ready to start. Sarah gently instructed me on how she wanted me to pose, modelling it for me to copy.  Any nerves I had disappeared. For the next hour or so I felt like a film star with changes of outfits, Mandy stepping in to reapply lippy and fix my hair and Sarah encouraging me whilst busily clicking away.  We laughed and we shed tears in equal measures and I came to understand that for every woman that has stood in front of Sarah’s camera there has been a similar story.  Being a red shoe girl is therapy in motion.  Within the walls of the studio old familiar stories are finally brought to an end so the next chapter can begin. New identities are formed; long held negative beliefs are shed off like a heavy worn out coat no longer needed; there is rebirth, renewal, rejuvenation and a reawakening.  Standing behind the lens in the present moment you are able to embrace what is and let go of what was and the beauty from the goddess that resides deep within is allowed to flow out. 

As a therapist I have since reflected deeply on how this comes to be and I conclude that it is Sarah’s unique gift, which is much more than having the ability to take a really good photo.  Both Mandy and Sarah are women of the universe who give of themselves freely.  They have both endured their own pain but exist and want you to see that you exist too, no matter what your story.  Within the safety of the Red Shoe studio there is a unique sisterhood. Sarah holds up her own mirror to you enabling you to begin to see yourself, your true authentic self, the self of old, full of insecurities and doubt is gone.  What remains is the beautifully imperfectly perfect you that you are, inside and out.  As I said – life changing!

I left the studio in glorious sunshine feeling empowered. The best however was yet to come.

2 weeks later I travelled back over to Chester to Red Shoe to view my photos.  I took my 15 year old daughter with me as we were off shopping afterwards.  I was totally blown away by the prints I held in my hands as was my teen who promptly asked for her own shoot for her 16th birthday present next year. As I opened the box containing my photographs there were a few more tears. I questioned ‘is this really me?’  The beautiful truth was staring back at me, no trick of the lights here, me, with all of the everyday stresses and struggles and darkness from my past stripped away. Sarah whispered; ‘Fleur, this is how the world see’s you. I want you to see yourself.’ She promptly left the room whilst I had a little weep and took in that powerful statement!

And now thanks to Sarah and Mandy I can see myself the way I truly am and you know what? ‘I can do anything, I am amazing!’


To be a Red Shoe girl and book your own shoot please see www.redshoemakeovers.com or contact Sarah on 07826 847113

Wilson & Ward Creative