At a photography conference in Phoenix in 2017, Peachtree City photographer Leticia Andrade listened intently as one of the presenters spoke about the importance of completing personal projects—to satisfy the creative process and to keep from getting bored with the day-to-day work of being a portrait photographer, as can happen over time.
Leticia flew home to Atlanta with a sense of purpose after a week of sharing ideas, new techniques, and inspiration with photographers from all over the country. It happened that she sat next to a fellow photographer on the plane, who had been at the same venue. Leticia and Alisa Divine exchanged thoughts about the conference, how much fun it was and what they had learned, and exchanged business cards, so they could remain in touch.
Upon returning home, Leticia attended an event at local nonprofit Promise Place and heard a woman speak about her life surviving an abusive relationship. Leticia immediately felt an emotional connection to her and thought to herself, “I need to take this woman’s pictures.”
The two scheduled a portrait session, and the woman told Leticia how significant those moments during the session were for her—how empowered and beautiful it made her feel to be seen. “It was a whole transformation of what she looked like,” says Leticia. “Her expression, her body language… I saw how powerful the whole process was.”
Two days later, Leticia received a phone call from Alisa, who had a specific project in mind. Alisa wanted to create a book with photographers from all over the country who would photograph domestic violence survivors. Leticia could not believe the coincidence. She told Alisa about her session earlier that week and sent her the photos she had taken. Her part in this book was “meant to be,” Leticia says. “The truth is that we were in sync; sometimes when you sit next to someone on the plane it can mean nothing.” This was not one of those times.
Leticia used social media to connect with local women who were domestic violence survivors, posting that she was a local photographer working on a special and intimate personal project. The response was immediate and overwhelming. “The women who reached out were ready to tell their stories. Some had never told anyone, even their families. I felt really honored that they trusted me,” Leticia says.
Having photographed three of 21 stories of triumph, Leticia is one of nine photographers featured in Alisa Divine’s book titled #SheWins: Harrowing Stories From Women Who Survived Domestic Violence. Each short story begins with a black and white image capturing the fear and despair of living in a violent relationship and ends with a powerful and colorful portrait of freedom and vivality. “The women in the book all have a new story to tell now about how much this changed their lives, going through the process of telling the story, inspiring others, bringing awareness, and how much power it gave to them.”
Leticia hopes the book will bring more attention to the cause. “The story is so simple, and my hope is that one day, someone will come and think that this is important.”
Leticia has realized what wonderful therapy a photo session can be for every woman. She sees how the portrait experience can change how women feel about themselves. If they’re feeling too heavy or too old, or not good about themselves, a photo session can inspire them and give them strength. Her goal is to use her work to empower women to be their best.
With a hair and makeup artist always on site, business consultations frequently turn into portrait sessions, helping women to feel even more confident about what they look like. Leticia loves helping women to see how beautiful they are and how everyone else sees them. “Everyone who comes to my studio has a story, and they feel comfortable opening up and telling me, even the businesswomen who come and are a little insecure. The whole process, from day one, is to help them except where they are, what they look like, and to realize that they are their own worst critic. That they are the one seeing themselves that way; that’s not how all the people who love them see them. It feels like therapy. A lot of them cry during the consultation because I think they feel a little vulnerable, but at the same time they feel heard. I see the results in every single person that I work with.”
With every client consultation, Leticia creates a mood board. She wants to know what their mission is, what their personality is, or what they want to sell. “I ask them to give me a handful of images that they really love. It helps me to put my style of photography with what they want.”
In her portrait studio, her mission is to help business owners build their brand, creating content for them, and helping with marketing. “I want to continue to empower female business owners and help them feel more confident. So many businesswomen are going back after being a mom for so long and not knowing where they really fit in this world where there is so much image out there.”
Leticia can relate. Originally from Brazil, Leticia has been a Peachtree City resident for seven years and loves the community she has chosen to raise her two children, Olivia, 10, and Felipe, 16. Her parents still live in Brazil and the family visits twice per year, keeping fluent in their native language by speaking only Portugese at home.
“I feel very at home in Peachtree City. It’s a great community for me and my kids.”