Discovering light in the hills of Gold Country

A testimonial of my transformative experience working with ZAMS Photography by Zita

“Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”
– Marianne Williamson

I can count on one hand the number of times in my life where I have felt completely connected to my purpose and wholeheartedly myself. Giving birth to my son, teaching my first yoga class and most recently discovering my inner light with ZAMS Photography – these experiences have each touched my soul – moments where my mind, body and the universe were in perfect alignment.

After a series of traumatic life challenges and heartbreaks, I was feeling disempowered and disconnected from source, uncertain of my place in a world seemingly so full of suffering. I was mindlessly scrolling through Facebook one morning when I came across ZAMS Photography by Zita’s post on a special project honoring women over thirty.

I have been a silent admirer of Zita’s work in the community for several years. She has a unique ability to capture the divine feminine through her photographs, eternal moments captured in time. From my first conversation with Zita I felt an immediate connection and knew I was given a rare opportunity to rediscover myself through this project.

Initially when I signed up, I felt insecurity rise around my aging face and body. The camera would capture all my imperfections, some lines carved out from smiles and laughter, others etched from deep sorrow and sadness. I would be unable to hide all I have put my body through over the years – marathon training, child birth, intense yoga practices – I have pushed my body to its limits. Most damaging to my body have been the unkind thoughts, the false stories we tell ourselves when we feel we are not enough.

In spite of my fears, I moved forward in working with Zita because in my heart I knew this was the path forward. This project was an opportunity to honor my body which has been the vessel through which I have moved through and experienced life.

Zita’s enthusiasm was contagious as we collaborated in phone conversations, a shared Pinterest board and a video chat reviewing outfits and our collective vision for the session. On the day of the photo shoot, as I drove down the windy dirt road to the studio property, I made an agreement with myself to be completely present and allow the day to unfold organically. I set an intention to be authentically myself – confident and vulnerable, playful and free.

When I pulled up to the property, rustic and charming, tucked away in the hills of Gold Country, a sense of calmness washed over me as Zita welcomed me with open arms and a warm smile. We walked up the steps to the private studio and as I entered the chic and cozy space I felt at peace.

Zita in action setting up in her private studio

The makeup artist greeted me with kindness as I sat down and surrendered myself to her expert hands. She went to work highlighting my eyes as the three of us chatted and enjoyed one another’s company. Even though we had work to do, it felt natural and light, as though each of us were fulfilling our individual and collective purpose. It is in these moments when our hearts are open that we discover deeper connection to ourselves and one another through shared work and experience.

Hair and Makeup artist Jenny O. works her magic

The newly painted white floors served as a blank canvas for the photo session. Zita, truly an artist and creator, provided gentle guidance which allowed raw emotion and movement to flow freely from my body like water. I forgot the camera was there and time seemed to slip away as it does when you are completely present in the flow of life.

As dusked approach we moved out to the fields. It was a magical setting. I wore a white lace dress and the sun shone through the golden fields upon us. I felt radiant light shining down, enveloping us with grace and warmth. We ended the session sitting amongst the weeds and wildflowers, sharing our life experiences through laughter and tears.

Two weeks later Zita invited me back for the reveal. I watched the slideshow in awe of how she captured my true essence – ethereal, passionate, and unlimited. The challenge was choosing which pictures to keep, there were so many amazing photos to choose from! What blessings Zita has given me, cherished keepsakes of that day, the connections formed and rediscovering who I am underneath all the masks and insecurities and fears – the divine light that resides within.

Words cannot express fully my gratitude for Zita and all she offers the community. We are each born with special gifts and our work is to discover those gifts. When we are able to express ourselves fully and authentically the experience is nothing short of pure magic.

3 thoughts on “Discovering light in the hills of Gold Country”

  1. Shannon, these pictures are stunning and capture your beauty and strength – inside and out. Thank you for sharing your prelude story. You’re such a lovely person and I’m glad that in the face of life’s challenges, you’ve gifted yourself with grace.


  2. The pictures are amazing! Your story has provided encouragement to continue to explore who I really am. I am trying to trust my path the way I trust my breathing. Many wounds to heal still at 65. Many parts still left to discover. Thank you! Namaste.


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