The P.S. I Love You Project - Making Space for Self-Love | Excelsior Portrait Photography

The P.S. I Love You Project is a photography project created by lifestyle photographer, Belen Fleming, with a mission to encourage and inspire an intentional, heart-centered approach to uncovering the many sides of who we are through meaningful portrait sessions as a means of self-compassion and self-care. The P.S. I Love You Project is a tangible way to connect with other women in your community and reconnect with yourself through art, allowing you to see and honor that beautiful light within.


We rise by lifting other women.  Be a part of the movement | Share love.

Join the wait list for a little dose of self-care and a few fun freebies.  My email list is the first to be notified of upcoming sessions and news related to the P.S. I Love You Project.


There’s nothing more daring than showing up, putting ourselves out there and letting ourselves be seen.
— BRENÉ BROWN

When we write love notes to someone else, our words of love and encouragement are often recieved with so much more of an impact than we truly ever know. Why is it so much easier to write kind words to someone else than it is to write them or say them to ourselves?

What words did you need to hear today?  If you were to write an anonymous love note to another woman, what would you say to her? How would you lift her up and hold space for her?

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Did you see it today? The way you stood in the world, with resilience in one hand, and bravery in the other. The way you remained kind in a world that is often not. Darling, it was beautiful...To see you survive it. To SEE YOU at all. I have to ask you to keep going, keep dancing past the shadows while the whole world watches.

Do not
Be afraid
To leave them
In awe.
— Women of the P.S. I Love You Project

In January, I began a personal project for women so that I could do my small part to help foster and strengthen female connections in our community through the medium of personal, meaningful and tangible art.  Having an intentional project holds me accountable and allows me the creative space to dive into the art of capturing a person's essence on portraiture."

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The long, quiet winter gave me the opportunity to spend some quality time staring down the deep lens of another photographer's camera as we practiced our craft on each other to keep our shutter fingers warmed up.  Being in my subject's shoes, I quickly realized that having your portrait taken isn’t the type of luxury you can liken to a day at the spa where you leave feeling immediately refreshed and rejuvenated. Having your portrait taken is more of an emotional luxury. It’s like holding the Goddess pose in Yoga for the length of an entire 4 minute song then having your instructor tell you to dig deeper for 5-4-3-2...

It burns like hell—but the temporary discomfort can create fertile ground for personal transformation and real emotional growth. You know—the good stuff. 

Every time I get in FRONT of the camera, where I am not in control of the image being made, I not only learn more about what the experience feels like for my clients, but I also tend to discover something new about myself. It’s an intense experience to let yourself be seen—it’s empowering and can act as a catalyst to real grounding and change. 

Courage is contagious. Every time we choose courage, we make everyone around us a little better and the world a little braver.
— BRENÉ BROWN

 

A portrait shines a gentle spotlight on your beliefs and fears and on that loud inner critic who passes judgement about what we think and how we feel about ourselves. The experience of seeing ourselves through someone else’s eyes can be a powerful exercise in compassion and acceptance and, like the Goddess pose, it strengthens your core—your confidence—with every click of the shutter.

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I believe we are driven to have portraits taken of ourselves, not only to preserve our legacy for the future and tell our story to the generations after us, but also as an act of self preservation and self love—whether intentional or not. It's a way to affirm our place in the world, to say, "hey--look at me! I'm here.  I'm important. I matter." (insert heart and a two hands in the air emojis).  In the last five years, society has even invented a word that embodies that very same principal — the "selfie." 

The difference though, between a selfie and having your portrait taken (aside from the expensive gear and the professional photographer) is the control you have over the outcome of that picture taking experience and the knowledge that you are in full control of how you'll be seen by the world. If you hate it, you delete it.  It never existed—no one will ever know.  Boy, that powerful seven-letter word always changes the game, doesn't it?

What photographs have always done—whether portrait or selfie—is mark a moment in time.  They remind your future self that you’re making progress in this life, even if it’s just by showing up every day "walkin' along and singin' your song" (thank you Pete the Cat).

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Photographs help us to slow down. 

To reflect.

They show us that we deserve to be seen—without the titles—Mom, CEO, Breadwiner, Bossbabe, Lawyer, President. (See what I just did there?)

Photographs boost our self-esteem and invite others in to our naratives to celebrate what's important to us and who we are.  

They validate us. Both the photograph and the viewer of that image.

You are strong. You are brave. Your voice matters. You are loved.
— Women of the P.S. I Love You Project
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The first group of women to take part in the P.S. I Love You project pretty much left me speechless with their powerful messages of strength and resiliace written in colorful ink on 3 x 5 notecards.  In the matter of hours, the project exceeded my hope for capturing sincere and raw emotion.  These women taught me a lot about my role as a photographer and the importance of being present.  I walked away from that afternoon feeling just as impacted, if not more, as they had been by the thoughtful words that were shared with eachother.  The energy from the sessions rippled subtly through social media, inspiring new works of art, new connections and lots of positive vibes. There was a visible shift inward among the project participants over the weeks that followed the sessions, reinforcing the fact that a simple love note has a very long shelf-life and the experience of being photographed can change how we view ourselves. 

 


Be a part of the movement | Share love

Are you ready for a little dose of self-care and a few fun freebies?  Make space for yourself.  Fill out the form below to be added to the P.S. I Love You wait list.  You'll get my self-care menu download and be the first to know about upcoming P.S. I Love You sessions.