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Women Who Went for It! is a bi-weekly podcast, hosted by Career Change Agent, Sara McArdle. The show features inspiring chats with successful industry changers who share how they found the clarity, courage and motivation to step into a deeper vocation and a life of meaning and fulfillment. We hope you'll see just how many before you have GONE for it—and they're eternally grateful that they took the risk!

Jul 8, 2018

Women Who Went for It Podcast: Judy Lee of Judy Lee Photography
In this episode, Sara talks with Judy Lee about her journey from research and program evaluation at a university to transformative women's portrait photography. After agonizing struggles with fertility, pregnancy loss and parenting a grief-stricken adopted son, Judy felt heartbroken and numb. Then, she encountered a woman's portrait photographer, and that experience changed the trajectory of her life. Now, Judy helps women see beyond the critical voices in their heads to their true essence and beauty—both inside and out. Judy opened a portrait studio in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, Washington in late March of 2018.
Sara and Judy discuss:
  • How they know each other
  • Sara's interview with Chelsea Behrens in Episode 002
  • Chelsea's Rise to the Occasion Facebook Group
  • Sara's interview with Michelle Wong in Episode 014
  • WomanSpeak
  • Judy studying race & class inequality and statistics in graduate school
  • Planning to become a university professor
  • Leaving school
  • Working at a university on teacher and student education in mathematics and science for under-performing schools
  • Getting too comfortable in her role
  • Struggling with infertility and pregnancy loss
  • Adopting and becoming a stay-at-home mom
  • Getting too comfortable again
  • Adopting her second son and the profound grief he experienced, post-adoption
  • Feeling broken
  • Discovering her eye for photography
  • Starting a family photography business because people asked her to
  • Suffering from impostor syndrome
  • A compelling question from a good friend
  • Meeting a women's portrait photographer, Sue Bryce, at a convention
  • Seeing Sue's photographs and recognizing immediately that's what she was meant to do
  • Something awakening in her
  • Setting up a home studio and taking classes
  • Women's responses to her photographs of them
  • Capturing a woman's true essence
  • Being terrified to talk about her business
  • Her calling being stronger than her fear
  • Separating the essential self from the stories we tell ourselves about who we are
  • Our emotional armor, fear and scarcity thinking
  • Judy giving her clients permission to be vulnerable through her own vulnerability
  • How she recognized her true "calling" vs. something else she was temporarily interested in
  • Going with her gut and following her intuition
  • Embracing the unknown
  • The belief that everyone has a purpose
  • Seeing one's own value and worth
  • The idea of traditional "success"
  • Judy's advice for others who think it's too late in life to make a big change
  • The danger of rigidly defining who we we are and what we're "supposed" to do
  • The illusive feeling of being "ready" for change
  • Opening her studio
  • Continuing to push herself
  • Messages she got about career from her very traditional Korean family
  • How her old career prepared her for her new one
  • Recources:
  • Judy's advice for those worried about finances during career transition
  • Her unique process of transformative women's portrait photography:
    • Each woman choosing to be seen
    • Receiving mentoring with Judy
    • Pre-photo shoot interview on video
    • Simple makeup, clothing and backdrops
    • The photo shoot (where the magic happens!)
    • "Reveal Day"
    • Post-photo shoot interview and reflections on video
    • Archival photos that will last 200 years
  • Even the most "traditionally beautiful" women disliking photos of themselves
  • The power of vulnerability
  • Judy's regular "Coffee with Intention" events at her studio
Judy's full bio:
Judy Lee is a transformative portrait photographer who shows women their true selves so they can live with more authenticity, intention and purpose. She's spent most of her life struggling with self-worth and the feeling of "not enough." She always held on to the stories and beliefs she told herself about being shy, not smart enough and having no voice. While her career trajectory started in research and program evaluation at the university level, motherhood led her to discover she had an eye for photography, which evolved into a family photography business. While she enjoyed it, she struggled with impostor syndrome and never took her business seriously. Then, she adopted her second son as a toddler, and he cried with grief for over two years. This left her feeling completely lost and broken, feeling numb to herself and the world. Everything changed when she discovered women's portraiture. She realized it was her calling, and it stirred something in her. Her calling became stronger than her fear and it sent her on a journey to reconnect with herself. She took off all her emotional armor, shed her old beliefs and found her voice. She was finally able to see herself for the woman she truly is. Her personal journey helped her realize her purpose was to empower other women to do the same. She wants women to see themselves—their true selves—and realize the woman they aspire to be is already in them, just as she did for herself. She had to first learn to value herself and know her inherent self-worth, and that had to come from within. Judy opened a portrait studio in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, Washington in late March of 2018.
Connect with Judy: