about mark

mark laurie

Mark offered the first nude & boudoir photography studio in Calgary and remains the best. His imaginative portraits expand beyond the typical “lingerie and satin sheets” boudoir. Mark’s creatively passionate presentation of women has earned him the honour of being the most awarded photographer in his niche in Canada. Possibly North America.


Perception of Beauty

Perception of Beauty

Describing beauty is a slippery slope, not a singular or universal ideal. 

It is markedly different from nation to nation and even over our history. 

The phrase “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”, penned in Margaret Wolfe Hungerford’s 1878 novel, best embraces this diversity. 

The ancient Greeks described it as the harmony between all the body parts and the whole. 

I resonate with philosopher Plato’s refined insight that beauty is the harmonious combination of bodily, moral, and spiritual virtues and that genuine beauty is pure when integrity and character are exhibited. 

We most often see that revealed as authentic confidence. 

As a boudoir photographer, women come to me looking for more than a skin-deep portrayal. We wrap that with who they are and their inner beauty, too. 

A psychiatrist’s study found how each of us sees things is how we believe everyone sees things. If we see someone as beautiful, our belief is it is evident to everyone.

Yet, it is not. I have a client whose first husband talked badly and often of his perceived faults in her body and personality. Her current fiancé sees her as an idol icon on both counts, usually expressing herself in action and words. She is now re-perceiving her own value and beauty.

Her book of boudoir photos helped her to see herself as he does. It eliminated her perception disconnect from the ingrained view of the first husband to the more accurate view of her new lover.  

Leafing through her book, she admits she looks beautiful, which shifts her perspective of herself. 

Max Planck shared his insight: “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” It’s a bit cryptic, I know. It can translate to when you see an image of yourself as beautiful; it will change how you now see yourself. You essentially change before your eyes. 

There is an unsettling transition moment as you give up one long-held viewpoint as you align with a new one. 

I’ve witnessed many of those “Oh, wow” moments during a boudoir session. It is remarkable to see how body postures change, tone of voice changes, and confidence becomes evident. 

This whole process shows us that the definition of beauty not only changes over time and over countries, but it also changes with our experiences. 

I am always amazed at how fluid it is.

I have noticed that personal confidence flavours people’s perception of beauty. A confident woman enhances how others see her beauty.

I love finding that angle, the stray shaft of light landing on her cheekbones, when her eyelids flutter open for my lens, the instant when she is perfect. When the image captures her perception of beauty when she fully sees herself, it is magical for me. 

Consider how you came to define beauty. How was your standard shaped?

Here are some thoughts.

“If only our eyes saw souls instead of bodies, how very different our ideals of beauty would be.” Unknown

“It’s not what you look at that matters; it’s what you see.” Henry Thoreau

I think Salma Hayek went deep with her insight. “People often say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I say that the most liberating thing about beauty is realizing that you are the beholder. This empowers us to find beauty in places others have not dared to look, including inside ourselves.”

I love the simple insight quotes can give us. 

For example, Conrad Hall shared, “There is no real beauty without some slight imperfection. There is beauty and humility in imperfection. Perfection itself is imperfection.”

It is interesting how many women coming in for nudes want their childbirth tummy scars highlighted. They remind them of the most powerful moment in their lives, the creation of their perfect child. 

That is why nudes are so powerful. They are honest; there is nothing to hide behind. A woman is totally, perfectly revealed. The purest form of that is body sculptures. The face and personality are mostly left out. 

Light and camera angles create shapes and curves, finding the essential heart of the figure. At times, the body will express its attitude and character. 

I always tell my clients that only photographers take bad pictures, never the subject. You can’t see what the photographer sees. You assume when they click the shutter, they have decided the image came together—the light, pose, backgrounds, everything is right. So, when it is bad, it is always the photographer’s fault. 

But when an image sings, it is always because of the subject, because of her. What happens is when the photographer truly has it all looking great. When the image is taken, she does something: she drops her barriers, smiles, winks, or turns slightly. 


She probably is not even aware of it.

That is when she lets herself out and trusts herself and the photographer. What is being captured is that indefinable thing.  

And that is all her. 

That is when she frees her beauty for the camera. It is an experience she repeats, often, usually, without being aware, long after the camera is gone. 

Finding and feeling her beauty amplifies her confidence. For some, the needle moves a lot; it is a life-changing leap. For others, it is a slight shift; for them, it may have an even more dramatic impact. They are already near the top of their game, where differences and success are measured more minutely. 

I guess the perception of beauty is best done personally, with little concern for the trend of the moment or someone else’s perception. Or what may be considered universal beauty. We know how diverse that is. 

The nude or boudoir photography experience should bring clarity. 

The optometrist’s lens calibrator is an excellent analogy to end this with. It’s that odd device you stare through as the doctor switches lenses. “Is this better or this?” “Try this; which is better now?”  Then suddenly, snap, it’s in focus. 

But it does not hold. As we age, it changes, but we still find that focus sweet spot if we go looking.

We are all trying to find the lens, the perception, that shows us our beauty. As we age, becoming wiser, perhaps, our perception changes, and we see it differently—perhaps like an old friend. 

We find our light, our beauty, is not on a slippery slope at all; it is not even elusive. 

It is just there, waiting for us to see our beauty on our terms. 

I am always thrilled when I am essentially, and literally, the lens that snaps their beauty into focus for them.