Brandi Stage has a message for all women: Even with no makeup and undone hair, you are beautiful.
She makes everyone she shoots at Brandi Stage Portraiture, her namesake photography studio in Bay St. Louis, look like a cover girl. However, she’s the first to say she can’t create anything that’s not already there. To Stage, her subjects are gorgeous when they walk in the door.
“I wanted women to experience the freedom of knowing that they are beautiful simply by being a woman.”
And having grappled with insecurity herself, she knows how hard it can be to recognize your own beauty.
“I also struggled with it when I was younger and didn’t want women living in that place,” she says. “It’s bondage, and I wanted women to experience the freedom of knowing that they are beautiful simply by being a woman.”
From that desire, Stage’s Bold, Beautiful and Perfect project was born. She says the name came from an encounter with Jesus, in which He allowed her to see herself through his eyes.
“I knew then that I was beautiful,” she says. “I became bold, and I was perfect in His eyes.”
BBP’s basic tenet is that beauty doesn’t come in one size or have a particular look — nor does it have to be earned. Women are made in the image of God, and therefore are beautiful. Through the project, Stage creates a dialogue between those needing help with their self-image and those who have overcome their insecurities and are further along in their confidence journey.
Stage is excited about some developments happening with the project, including a book she has planned to widen its reach.
“It will include my favorite image of the ladies and their story,” she says. “We are also going to do a podcast, where I interview the (participants) and others and have conversations that will make listeners laugh, possibly tear up and definitely be inspired!”
The BBP ladies also will be highlighted in a show on Oct. 21 at the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art in Biloxi. To read their stories and insights, visit the project blog site at brandistage.com/blog/.
From her vast experience behind the camera, Stage realizes that sometimes she must create beauty on the outside before her subjects can see it on the inside. To that end, she says, “wardrobe matters.”
Describing her own style, she says, “I’m drawn to elegance and edge. I love gorgeous, natural fabrics. In the warm months, I love cotton, linen and silks, and in the cooler months, I love cashmere, wool and specific linen pieces.” In any season, she adds, great jewelry can elevate any look.
Stage is noticing more casual looks for wardrobe choices, which she attributes to the pandemic and to her studio encouraging women to bring clothes that show who they are.
Making subjects comfortable gives Stage the result she’s aiming for.
“The best expressions captured come when clients are relaxed and enjoying the experience.”