Why not exist in photos

I have been photographing women for over half a decade. I can now say that I have heard every excuse one can imagine for women not to step in front of the camera. Why not exist in photos.

  • I’m not good enough
  • I don’t look good on camera
  • I need to lose weight before you take photos of me
  • I HATE having my photo taken
  • I look old nowadays…


During the last years photographing women, I discovered some patterns all women have in common before they decide to have their portrait taken. It is always the same and always baffles me. I do understand it, as I am a woman too, and I wish I can make a difference about it. I will discuss it here, because I think women need to get over it.


1.  I need to lose 25 kilos before I can have my portrait shot taken.


I have been saying that since I was 25. Each year I felt I do not look good enough now. I am too chubby to appear in photos. I had an image in my head about how I was supposed to look, based on how I looked at 14. so I always felt I need to lose weight…and guess what, it never happened. I never manage to lose 25 kilos. Why ? Because I draw myself nearly impossible targets to achieve this and then fail and feel miserable about it. If I look back at my photos of me at 25, I think to myself, I was insane back then. There’s no way I did not look beautiful… and still, inside of me, there was always this little voice that said.. “you don’t look good enough”… do you recognise that ?


My solution: I started taking “selfies” when I turned 28. I’ve started a photo journal of myself for myself. I have been taken photos of me every single week… for 2 years. In each photo, I was trying to show myself in a “beautiful light”. So I learned about posing and lighting. I noticed how my mood changed my photos always, so if I was pleased that day, the photos would look more radiant.. This helped me improve the image I had about myself… and then.. even helped me to lose weight. When I did not think as much about the weight, but as how can I look more beautiful in my next photo, I did miraculously lose 8 kilos. Because 8-10 was really more realistic…


2. What can I do with a portrait


Why do I need a portrait, you must wonder yourself as I did for many years. I was taking photos of other people and it never occurred to me that I should get a portrait done too. And then when I did, I realised why. It is such an incredible gift to yourself. To see yourself the way you are. To be able to show the world who you are. To be able to hold yourself in a printed photo and really admire yourself. It is something so powerful, beyond words. It is something that makes you want to appreciate yourself more and be kind to yourself. It is an experience that touches your soul in powerful ways and it changes you. Once you know why you want it, you will surely know what to do with it. Tips here.


3. I am not ready for this 


Imagine yourself travelling to a foreign country by yourself. How does it feel ? Do you like the fact that there is no person to drag you from your path and that you can see whatever you like to see and go wherever you like to go ? Do you feel free to be able to chose what to do next ?

In my photoshoots I strive to give you the same feeling. We are designing this shoot together, but really you are the one in charge of this journey. It is a journey for you to discover yourself.  I am providing the tools you need for you to shine through. The real you will shine trough. The one that you used to be and now you forgot, the goddess you sometimes felt but now not anymore. Discover where you want to go next and let me help you get there.


4.  I’m too old to have my portrait taken
Nearly all women that come to my photoshoots ask me: can you make me look more younger in the photos? Is there some special light that you can use so my wrinkles appear less?

Yes! your inner special light! Age has nothing to do with your inner light. When your inner light shines, wrinkles have nothing on you. You are more than your body, your skin or your wrinkles. You are now more powerful, witty, deserving. I feel in awe of you and you should be too. Let’s show the world how shiny you really are.


5.  I am not pretty enough


I’m not beautiful enough, I’m not pretty, I’m not good looking…. I hear this over and over again…. and yet… you are! I see the beauty in you how you maybe don’t ever see it. When I talk about your passion, I see your face light up; when I talk about your family, I see you sparkling; when I ask you about your loved ones…you shine so bright . So why not shine when I ask you about you? Why not allow me to show you how beautiful you really are, how I see you when I look at you. If I could only show you how you are in front of my camera, you will change the way you look at yourself… and it’s an experience you won’t forget!



6. It’s too expensive


Paying for a professional photographer is too expensive and I can do it myself with my camera. Why would I pay hundreds of euros to a photographer when I can do it myself.

While that is true, why haven’t you done it till now? I am a portrait photographer and still, arranging everything for a professional portrait, getting my hair and makeup done professionally, creating a mood board for the photoshoot, getting clear what I want to show in a portrait to myself and my family and the world, finding the right outfits for it, get rid of the fear of being in front of the camera, stepping outside the character I show to the world and stepping into myself, the real me, the one I’m afraid to show, clicking the camera away 1000 times till you get the right angle, the right light, the right pose, the right mood or the right connection – I know what it takes. Why haven’t I’ve done all these by myself so far ? Because doing it by yourself is hard.

Knowing this, ask yourself, what is the price you would pay to have a portrait of yourself from when you were in your 20s ? what is the price you would pay to have a beautiful portrait with you and your mother. What would you pay to show your children a portrait of yourself in 20 years from now.


Exist in photographs for your children, for yourself for the people that love you.



“This is not only about you. It’s about the person that one day looks back on a photograph in 20 years time and says, look at these photographs, look what we own, this is more priceless than anything my family could ever buy. This is more priceless than anything I could own. That is what I’m making for you. I’m creating timeless, incredible images that people will cherish for the rest of their lives. One day your children will look for photographs of you, what would they have…  you need to have beautiful photographs, you are good enough to exist in photos.  My job as a portrait photographer is to take the most beautiful photograph you have seen of yourself so that you can cherish this for the rest of your life and your children can love it and enjoy it and it would be more meaningful than anything your family would own… and yes it might cost you a few hundred euros, but trust me, the value of what I am creating for you today is far greater than anything you can ever buy.”


…and you….miss… reading this. feeling safe behind your computer. what stops you from having your portrait taken? Why not exist in photos.  Let me know in the comments below.

How do you see yourself ?

How do you see yourself ?

Allison from DailyOutfit has been a long time supporter of me and my business endeavours. She was first a strong believer in me, while I was working at my 123dressme project, and then, when I decided to move on and start this new genre in photography, Glamour Portraits, she became my biggest ambassador and one of my first clients. I feel I am so lucky to have such beautiful humans like her by my side, their support is invaluable. When I grow up, I will return the favour to the universe and support and mentor younger girls, because I really do think these people are godsend. This is what Allison had to say after our session together, it was interesting to me to see how she sees herself and how I see her, depicted in portraits.

“When I said yes, I thought I was doing Cristina a favor.  If she was going in a new direction with her photography, I was going to support her!  I certainly didn’t think I needed this for myself.

What surprised me was how much the session did for me, for my confidence, and for the way I see myself.   Not only were the images she created beautiful, they allowed me to see a whole other side of myself that I thought I knew, but had never really claimed.

Cristina told me it was an experience.  She designed it as an opportunity for any woman to get in touch with her glamorous side.  But, really, I didn’t think that was an issue for me.  I’m a stylist!

I was wrong.

The experience was transformational.

First of all, who knew modeling is so difficult?

It takes concentration, physical stamina and total focus. It’s like yoga, except you also want to look good!

Luckily, Cristina coached me through the whole thing.  I relaxed with her and got into the swing of it.  She’s amazing:  kind and encouraging.

It was unlike any other photo shoot I’ve experienced.

Of course, models and actresses do this all the time — and they don’t get that kind of support.  It’s their job.  It was fascinating to experience the poses and facial expressions they wield for myself.

More importantly, I have a whole other level of respect for it.  We all struggle with expectations of perfection and beauty.  Much of this struggle comes from amazing images like these.

What most of us don’t understand is the preparation and work that goes into creating high fashion images.  Once I experienced it for myself, I immediately understood on a visceral level how these images are created.

And yet, for the first time, these images allowed me to see my body as beautiful.  And seeing is believing.

For example, take a look at this photo to the left.  I look slender and curvy at the same time.  My waist and bust look perfect.  The funny thing is, I know this is the pose.  But, I also know it is actually me.

Not that I’m going to walk around like this; no one could.  But, if this is actually me, what happens to all that struggle with all those expectations?

I can just put those to rest.  Done and sorted!  What a gift.

portrait Cristina Stoian

“Working the camera” is not just a phrase; it’s a skill set. Some of my sisters have teased me (lovingly or not so lovingly, depending on their mood) that I “always” look good in photos. It’s not actually true.But, I did learn early on how to simply look at the camera and smile. It brings your ratio of good shots to bad shots WAY up.

Take the image to the right. I don’t always look this good, but it is totally me. It’s my smile, the photo looks natural — and it is!

This shot has become my new head shot.

It’s on my website banner and in my marketing. It expresses who I am and who I want to be:  for my clients, my friends and myself.  Fun, compassionate AND stylish.

But, it’s not the shot that inspired me the most from this shoot OR the one that taught me the most about myself OR about high fashion.

There are so many elements to women and to beautiful femininity. I am proud to bring it out in my portraits. I work to bring out different sides of people for different purposes, or for different types of women – it really depends on my model. Women are so powerful, dramatic and natural, it all deserves to be seen. I want everyone to be able to see the beautiful, natural, confident woman in us all.

Because taking a high-fashion shot is totally different. It’s actually not about the smile at all.Why do so many famous women look younger than the rest of us?  It’s not just the Botox and air-brushing. In these shots, I’m not making any wrinkles!

IMG_4073Look closely –

the forehead, the mouth, the eyes — and you’ll see my face is totally relaxed.

I look about 20.  But really?  I’m 43 and I’ve had two children!

My daughter said, “Mommy, are these photos of you when you were much younger?”

I laughed and responded, “No, sweetie, this is how I can look right now.  I just have to be very relaxed.”

After I went through the shoot, I felt I had learned so much about myself and fashion, I didn’t even feel the need to see the photos!  The experience itself had had an amazing result.

But, I’m not gonna lie — the reveal was incredible.  I couldn’t believe the images Cristina had created.

Here is, as Oprah says, my best self — beautiful, strong, fabulous, sexy, stylish and confident

This is who I am — in my imagination.

But there I am — in a photograph.

I am so happy I said yes to this shoot.  Turns out?  It was a favor to myself.

Sometimes, it takes courage to step into your own power.

Thanks to Cristina, all I need to do is look at this image to know I already have!”





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It’s Magic

There’s a magic that happens in the studio after the hair and makeup is done and we start shooting. It’s hard to explain it, it’s a connection between me and my model, it’s a click that happens in our eyes, I feel it in my belly and it’s so strong that it gives me energy for the whole shoot. It’s a magic moment that happens around outfit number two, when the client relaxes and starts trusting me completely. I see it over and over again. It’s beautiful and so addictive !

Cristina Stoian Portraits

Cristina Stoian Portraits


One day I decided that I was beautiful, and so I carried out my life as if I was a beautiful girl. I wear colors that I really like, I wear makeup that makes me feel pretty, and it really helps. It doesn’t have anything to do with how the world perceives you. What matters is what you see.

Gabourey Sidibe

Mother and Daughter Day

The mother and daughter relationship is the biggest there is, the biggest bond. It has a powerful connection that goes beyond words and physics.
Scientists say: “Each of us takes in at a cellular level how our mother feels about being female, what she believes about her body, how she takes care of her health, and what she believes is possible in life.” (Dr. Christiane Northrup).


Spending time with your daughter, creating memories together, will impact the rest of your daughter’s life. “I’m a big believer in mother-daughter time,” Anglicare WA’s Jennie Hannan says. “I think we underestimate how important it is for mums and daughters to do things together in those early years. Doing that builds a foundation that will help you get through adolescence.”  (Karen Fingerman)


If there’s something I miss the most while moving to another country to live, is spending quality time with my mother. Even thinking about it now, makes me feel peaceful and full of joy. I can remember her smell and I can feel the way she plays with my hair, the stories she tells me and how mesmerised I am, looking at her. My mum is the most beautiful woman there is, for me.


This is why, this year, launching on Mother’s Day, I have designed a session called the Mother and Daughter Day, which allows you to spend time with your loved one, getting pampered in my studio and creating a memory that lasts a lifetime.  You both come in and get your hair and makeup done, while you chat over coffee and snacks. Then, the photoshoot session starts and you get to be yourself and cuddle, kiss, hug in front of the camera. Mother hugs are the best ! At the end, you will both look so gorgeous, that you will want to go out, dining at your favourite restaurant. The photos of yourself will be printed and presented to you on a wall, like an exposition of yourselves. You get to pick the ones you love, these will stay in your family for 100 years.


Celebrate your relationships. Create memories that will last. Exist in photos for people who love you.
Bookings and enquiries info@cristinastoian.nl



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Printing your photos

I love printing my work. It is another dimension of photography that I was missing before I held a print in my hands. In 2010 my mentor in photography, Paul Butterfield, gave me a present. He printed and matted twenty of my iPhone pics. Right then I realised that a photo is so much more than an image on a screen. When you touch a photo, you start understanding the purpose of it. You feel it. It touches you in a deeper way. Now, I make these prints for people and they will look at these for ever. Start printing your photos. It’s so much more powerful than having it on a folder on the computer.


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“I am a daughter, a sister, a wife and a mother. I AM A WOMAN.

And here I AM, at my 40’s, feeling more FEMALE than ever.
Among many other things, my body has swum for many years, my body has given birth 4 times, and has feed all my children. Yes my body has created 4 children. My mind has not only designed systems, founded my own company, but has dreamt of my life and WHO I wanted to be, as a woman, as a wife and as a MOTHER.

This picture comes as a result of an extraordinary work made by Cristina Stoian Photographer , many other pictures were taken, and I have chosen this one cause it shows me the incredible power of being female. This picture shows me WHO I always dreamt to be, THE WOMAN WHO HAS CREATED HERSELF AND HER WORLD.
Cristina Stoian, the experience you have given to me has gone far beyond any expectation I had. I am profoundly touched. Your work has given me a precious gift, that of seeing me and enjoying who I am, and I have learnt something really beautiful with you, I have learnt to not forget the reason why I wake up every morning, to give the best of me to my daughters, my husband and to all mothers.

Thank you,
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cristina-stoian-lara jade - blog-lara photo by monique shaw

photo by Monique Shaw

Today I met international photographer Lara Jade at Shoot Amsterdam. I was waiting for this event, mainly to see her speak live. She’s a good friend of Sue Bryce, my new role model, so seeing her and talking to her in real life made me feel a bit closer to Sue. :) I told her I am starting Glamour Photography in Amsterdam and she said, “oh yeah, I think it’s a great market here”. She encouraged me to do it.

It was refreshing to see how she was interacting with the model, she is using a familiar special posing language, using her hands and key words, language that I learned as well through doing the CREATIVELIVE courses with Sue.

Her keynote/demo was all about ‘mastering one light’. It was sponsored by  so the stage was decorated with Giant Parabolic reflectors, the one she was using was really huge, a third of the stage. She was controlling the lights via her iPad, with the bronControl app, cool gimmick that raised some eye brows in the audience.

But one thing that stuck to me from everything else that she taught. To her, more important than all the lighting techniques in the world, is the connection with your subject. When you take your time and have have a coffee and a chat with your models before the shoot, connecting on a human level, it makes a huge difference, your portraits will be showing more the emotional side, which is one of Lara’s most compelling quality.

cristina-stoian-blog-lara jade photo by monique shaw

Photo by Monique Shaw

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cristina-stoian- lara jade- blog-lara2photo by monique shaw

Photo by Monique Shaw