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Through Her Lens: Reflections on #TBPSelfCare

August 13, 2015

Get to know some of the women behind the cameras at The Beautiful Project! We asked our contributing photographers for the Self Care exhibit to reflect on their experiences with the women they interviewed and photographed. Today’s reflection is from Elisabeth Michel.

The grand reveal of YOUR self care submissions is almost here!! Stay tuned beautiful people!

What was a favorite moment from your photo shoot?
I can point to various enjoyable moments during my photo shoot with Joy, from her flowing hand gestures while she recounted sidesplitting stories or her quiet focus as she thoughtfully doodled in a notebook. Yet what I remember most vividly is an undeniable sense of peace in the atmosphere. As a photographer, I am not a stranger to looking through the lens and seeing discomfort, impatience, or confusion on the face of my subject. When I looked through my lens at Joy, I saw – and felt – trust. Joy’s peals of laughter constantly filled the air throughout our photo shoot, inspiring and encouraging me while she trusted me to capture the moments unfolding before me. Joy is her namesake, and she continuously radiates beauty and happiness.

What did you learn from this experience?
It is impossible to work with The Beautiful Project and not walk away with life lessons! Aside from having to acknowledge that I do not practice self-care nearly enough, I began to recognize how a lack of self-care negatively affects my productivity and sense of peace. This process also deepened my understanding of the power of teamwork, particularly as I see the fruits of women from around the country who worked together to produce this final product, and it reinforced my awareness of resilience and grace as necessary tools for successful collaboration.


35 Joy_Elisabeth Michel


What is one of your favorite quotes from the interview?
One of my favorite moments during my interview with Joy happened at the end of our conversation. After I thanked her for participating in the project, she then thanked me and said, “I feel so special!” With those four words she summed up what The Beautiful Project has been to me since I encountered the organization in 2010: a medium through which women of all ages can begin (or continue) to recognize and love who they are, at the core. Joy’s statement reinforced my appreciation for participating in a movement that touches people’s hearts and helps them further recognize their value and importance in the world.

How do you practice self-care?
When I (actually) practice self-care, I do so in solitude. I enjoy reading, so I can burrow in my room for hours on end with a good book.  I also love to play the piano, and I use that time to pray, meditate, and just surround myself with music. I usually walk away feeling like a burden that I previously carried no longer weighs me down.


Elisabeth Michel graduated from Duke University in 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy Studies and a Health Policy Certificate. She holds a strong interest in exploring the intersections of visual media and public health. After working since 2013 as a Program Assistant on community health worker initiatives with the Institute for Public Health Innovation in Washington, D.C., this fall Elisabeth will begin a Master of Public Health program at the University of Michigan.

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