NYC Portrait Photographer

Katy – Your Body Should Be Your Greatest Lover

Katy Copeland | Your Body Should Be Your Greatest Lover | Passion Projects | Portraits of Women | Dancers | Apollo Fields Wedding Photography | Long Island, NY

Guest blog by Katy Copeland
Photography by Apollo Fields

My body and I used to have a tumultuous relationship. I would judge her and put her down and bully her for not being “correct” and pump her with drugs and alcohol to numb the insecurities and pain. Dancers develop some pretty severe psychoses. You bend and twist and starve and gorge and try to fit molds that are impossible and distorted and therefore wind up living in constant battles of not feeling worthy. At least, this was my experience. My body and I went to war. I disrespected her, treated her like shit, beat her down and was completely shocked that she wasn’t responding with my backwards and materialistic idea of beauty. 

I met Heather during this time. About 5 years ago at a very delicate time when I self-proclaimed myself a feminist and was still wildly threatened by strong, powerful women . Cool… Having recently shaved my head for a performance gig, small parts of me felt liberated, larger parts unsuccessfully were hiding an immense amount of fear and self loathing. I became jealous of her instantly. Heather is confident without boasting. She is beautiful with zero effort. She is smart but not a know-it-all. She exudes grace with no judgement and she is vulgar yet still tasteful. How is that possible? My inner dialogue: “Fuck. I hate her. I want to be her.” It was madening. 

Never did I imagine she would lift me up in times I needed most. Very quickly Heather became my family, my kindred spirit, a precious gem who wiped my tears, held me when I started to crumble, and taught me the true meaning of female friendship. She profoundly changed the way I viewed other women, but more importantly how I viewed myself for the better. Secretly, for better or worse (mostly for worse) I would always compare us. “Us” being all women. Over time, I stopped competing and started cultivating true love with all the women I am lucky enough to know. Heather is a pioneer and champion in my story and I am forever grateful.

So when I read recently that Heather was suffering from an ectopic pregnancy with severe complications my heart shattered. My body ached for her. It was rare that I ever saw her in pain and I felt it in my bones. The female body is magical with incredible vulnerability. Therefore, when our bodies take on trauma we instantly become stronger and grow three sizes compassion, depth and complexity. Our bodies are smarter and more resilient than ever and I am just starting to figure that out.

We set a fresh pasta dinner date (for she is the queen of homemade pasta) after she was post-op and comfortably back home in Long Island. A few days before, we agreed to snap some body shots of me while I was in town. Heather asked for my vision and without hesitation I told her that I was craving photos that are raw, bare, stripped down, unabashed and unapologetic. Like most, admittedly or not, I am constantly struggling to find my authentic self. Battling my bullshit ego and trying to halt myself when I start catering to what others want to see versus what I want to be. After the experience she just had I knew if anyone could help me find authenticity and mind-body connection it would be her.   We would find it in each other.

This galley is what we created. By no means am I healed, or rehabilitated. But I am growing. I am learning. I am connecting deeper every day. My body and I are beginning a new journey. And the little voices inside my head are slowly becoming less of a bully and much more of a best friend. When my inner saboteur starts poking or prodding, I kindly and respectfully ask her to shut the fuck up. I am judging less and loving more and I trust my body will always know what to do. I just have to listen.

“Your body should be your greatest lover
for she is all you have. 
It wasn’t until I started loving her unconditionally 
that she began to respond.” —I wrote that.

They are my favorite two sentences I have ever written. That is the idea I wanted to capture with these photos, and girl… Heather did it in spades.

Alec's Senior Photos in Colorado Springs

Alec’s Senior Photos in CO Springs | Colorado Senior Photography | Apollo Fields

Even though I specialize in weddings, I’ll occasionally take on other types of shoots (seniors, families, maternity, etc) by referrals and whenever I do, I’m so glad to have stepped outside of my specialty and have a chance to play around a bit artistically! Senior sessions are a lot of fun for me because I can remember being a senior in high school and it feeling like such a transitory time in terms of your own identity.

I remember senior year feeling like I was living dual identities. On one hand, I was the big man on campus. I had seniority, which in my boarding school life meant a lot. On the other hand, I was about to go into an unknown and unforgiving adult world with a lot of questions that hadn’t yet been answered. I had applied to a bunch of schools that I wasn’t passionate about, and even though I was accepted into their programs, I had no passion for anything besides art and riding horses.

I decided to pursue riding full time and table college for a semester. All of my friends were off to their freshman years and I deferred all of my acceptances to take some really prestigious riding opportunities. I ended up being the best decision for me in the long run and I wouldn’t change it, but looking back, I didn’t have a firm grip on my identity in my senior year. I never got senior portraits done and honestly, I wish I had. That year for me — even though I didn’t feel anchored — propelled me in a lot of ways and I wish I had pictures to remind me of that time.

I had a great time working with Alec for his senior portraits. He reminded me of myself in my senior year in the sense that he obviously had a lot of drive and willpower. He had applied to all Ivies, including ED for Yale University which he had recently been accepted to. On top of his awesome grades and SAT scores, he is avid clarinetist for his school as well as playing for his school’s varsity lacrosse team. I was able to see how the support from his parents and community was helping drive him in the right directions and it was an honor to be able to photograph this important time in his life.

To set up a senior session, contact Heather today!

Photography: Apollo Fields