Chelsey’s first sensual session with me.

Let’s show off the real, sensual, natural, you.

Chelsey came to me wanting to do some sensual images. I was honored that she had asked me to help her out in getting new images and was truly excited about the opportunity to work with someone like her.

You see, she is not what some in the market would call “standard.” She is not 5’8 and 100 pounds. She is not Caucasian nor is she a blonde. She is, in fact, perfectly, wonderfully, human.

Now, if you’ve been a regular reader of this page then you know where I stand on what is “beautiful.” To be bluntly honest, I think all women of all sizes, age, shape, ethnicity, et cetera, are beautiful. It is my core belief that everyone is beautiful as they are, right now, and it is my job to bring out that beauty.

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Chelsea playing in the window.

Chelsey is a fantastic example of how natural beauty is being crushed by those that don’t know any better.

She has had some incidents in the past where those issues arose and it didn’t go well for her. Some photographers tried to wedge her into outfits that were far too small for her frame. Of course this resulted in images that were not flattering at all, as you can image. Other photographers did so much editing to the images that what came out at the end didn’t look anything like her at all.

The images she sent to me to show me what she looked like so I could make plans for our session came from those sessions. I immediately noticed that they were far too overly photoshopped. The woman I was seeing in these images resembled nothing like those she had on her personal social media pages. Nothing at all. Gone was the natural beauty and the unique qualities that made her stand out. The soft, exquisite, natural face and form were replaced with harsh lines, overly smoothed skin and overuse of the Liquefy Tool.

Honestly, if I were to go by only what those pictures show, I wouldn’t have recognized her when she knocked on my door the day of our session. What I was looking at was someone else’s idealized versions of what they thought Chelsea should look like. In short, it was heartbreaking.

We, as photographers, wield an immensely powerful tool in our hands. this tool and build someone’s self image up or it an totally devastate it. Chelsey was at a point where she thought the problem was hers and it was getting to her.

Now, I’m not setting myself up as the next Messiah of photography. But I knew I could bring the real Chelsea back and show the world as she is – radiantly beautiful with a smoky under-current of sensual tension. So that became my game plan. Let light and posing bring out what is there. Don’t make her into something she is not. There would be little to no photo-shopping of these images. We discussed this and she agreed to it.

So we began the session. It was no surprise to me that I saw doubt and concern on her face at the beginning. Why not? She’s been down this path before and had expectations of what she was going to get. Pictures, as they say, don’t lie. I was going to change her mind on that score. Pictures don’t lie but bad photographers can and do.

As always, I stop from time to time to show the person what I’m capturing. At first I saw disbelief in her face. As we went on the disbelief melted into confidence and joy. There was no chance of photoshop – what she was seeing was her, totally and naturally.

By the end I had a radiant, confident woman who embraced her curves and expressions. She was fierce. And, as they say, the pictures don’t lie.

Mark Knopp is a Virginia Beach-based portrait photographer covering the Hampton Roads community. Contact him at to book your sensual session today.

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