Local photographer finds beauty, healing through pictures

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BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — You’ll typically find Erin Barnard buried behind a camera.

Barnard finds beauty through the lens, focusing on what she calls female-centric portraiture.

“Show me that dimple. There you go!”

Barnard is the owner of The Sesh Portraiture, a female-centric photography company that focuses on capturing a woman’s passions and relaying her message to the world through portraits. 

“They can feel beautiful and pampered and taken care of,” Barnard said. “And in order to get women to come and have that experience for themselves, boudoir was the excuse.” 

For almost seven years, she’s honed her craft of photography as the owner of “The Sesh.” The company has been operating since spring of 2013. 

From stories of women surviving domestic violence and sexual assault, to spotlighting members of the LGBTQ community, Barnard said her work goes beyond just taking pictures. She said she makes it a point to get to know who she’s photographing.

“The purpose of The Sesh now is for women to go online and find someone that they identify with visually or to find a story that they identify with,” she said. 

Barnard said she started to see her photography subjects healing through the lens. It’s a kind of healing Desiree Gensel says is helping her cope with the recent death of her fiancé Charlie.

“[…] This isn’t something necessarily I talk about a lot right now,” Gensel said. “It’s still very fresh, but to have somebody who actually cares and listens to you intensively […] She really wants to listen to me. And […] its very empowering.”

Gensel is the subject of Barnard’s latest photo series entitled “Becoming.” The snapshots bringing life, healing and empowerment to those in front of and behind the lens.

“When I find others becoming empowered, living their story and I find others sharing their story with me, breaking down their personal moments, it makes me want to be more personal with them which builds my confidence that I’m not alone in the things that I’ve walked through,” Barnard said. 

Barnard  is also teaching photography classes and hopes to expand into public speaking and mentoring.

For more information or to see some of Barnard’s work, visit experiencethesesh.com.

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