Gretchen Leachman Portraits Louisville Portrait Photographer Ben Marcum

After Gretchen came back to the studio to see her images, she was kind enough to share her thoughts on her experience of sitting for portraits.


“Every once in awhile, it’s important to step outside yourself, and let someone else show you what others see.”

I work hard to teach my kids that doing something different – trying new things outside your comfort zone – is a good thing. So when Ben Marcum approached me with the opportunity to try his new portrait session service, of course, I said … absolutely not.

The excuses tripped over each other as I thought of why this wasn’t a grand idea: lacrosse fees, tuition, all the payments that involve kids and their activities … not to mention mom taxi duties, running my own business, volunteer commitments – the list is endless. And then there’s the fact I am not a model. My favorite standard outfit is jeans, converse tennis shoes and my Wonder Woman jersey. Hairstyling involves five minutes of effort (ten if I’m really trying) and my makeup skills can be described as – minimalistic. Not exactly the poster child for glamour here.

But the more I thought about it (hey, hairstyling and makeup – by a professional!) – the more I realized that it’s not about perfection. Nor is it about changing the parts of ourselves that make us self-conscious. It’s about flipping through the family photo albums and realizing I’m always the one taking the pictures … instead of being in them. It’s about looking at the vintage portraits in my home of my grandmother and great-grandmother – then realizing the photo that my great- grandchildren will likely see is the one of me after a water ride at Universal Studios.

With that in mind, I said yes – and had the best time! What a luxury to have the fabulous Pam from The Beauty Patrol make me feel like a celebrity for a day (even though I begged her to follow me home to help me out every day.) And after those few initial moments of “deer in headlights” fear – Ben soon had me laughing and forgetting about all the things we tend to worry about.

There is something beautiful about every stage of life. Perfection doesn’t exist. But the smile that lights your face – the expression in your eyes when you laugh … those are the things that matter. Those are the things that the people who love you see and pay attention to. We all have the ability to see the good in others – and yet we are always our own worst critics.
Every once in awhile, it’s important to step outside yourself, and let someone else show you what others see.

“…the smile that lights your face – the expression in your eyes when you laugh … those are the things that matter. “

So, for now, it’s back to my favorite jeans. But now I have something to put with the portraits of my grandmother and great-grandmother. Going back to Ben’s studio to see my portraits revealed was such a surprise … I also learned that I strongly favor one side of my family, and I could name several relatives that I saw in each of the photos. Not only did I get to experience something so fun and different, I found out how much I belong exactly where I am.

And that is the perfect gift.

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3 comments

  • Angela Palmquist November 6, 2017   Reply →

    You’re gorgeous as always, Sweetface! Ben just lets the rest of the world see it:)

  • Mike Clover November 7, 2017   Reply →

    Gretchen is one of those special people that’s gorgeous inside and out. She lights up a room and I’m happy to have worked with her years ago and she still makes me feel like we’re good friends

  • Tom Monarch November 7, 2017   Reply →

    Ben Marcum’s photography is stunningly beautiful. Working with Gretchen is what I would call an easy day at the studio for a photographer. She is light and fun and incredibly funny. Her smile lights up a room and when it comes to beauty; God gave her a triple dose. Ben manages to capture all of that in spades. What the camera does not capture is how truly amazing this woman is inside. An incredible wife and mother, savvy business woman, extraordinarily talented artist, passionately driven and lastly; a dear dear friend who constantly motivates and inspires. And for all appearances, you both had a great day.

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