In lieu of the approaching holidays, I suggested to my immediate family that we take advantage of all the ‘together time’ and get some professional shots. I mean, come on! 1) When loved ones get together, it should be documented somehow. 2) We have super expensive, professional photography equipment at our disposal [my husband owns a photography business that I sometimes join him in], 3) professional photography is fucking expensive, so the fact that it is free in this case is really seriously awesome, and 4) By those facts alone we should be doing this several times a year as the kids seem to change by the month! I could continue with defending my rationale here, but I that’s not the part of this situation that needs help. That part rests solely on the ridiculous ideal that one has to look a certain way to be worthy of being photographed.
Yes, I’m referring to the never-ending list of “I’m too fat/ugly/etc.” comments that inevitably get thrown around by at least one person whenever photos are mentioned. I grew up hearing this along with other disparaging body-comments, and as someone who is married/sometimes shooting partner to a professional photographer, you can imagine what we hear.
So to anyone who has ever used their negative opinion of their appearance as an excuse to avoid a photo-op [whether it be someone with their iPhone or a professional shoot], I’m going to lay a few things out for you:
Yes, you’re wrong. Regardless of how you’ve decided to feel about yourself, photos don’t give a shit. And quite frankly, what are you so afraid of? For people who see you on a regular basis [and care about you, by the way!] to see that same you frozen in a photo? We are so fortunate to have the technology to quickly [not to mention digitally] capture great times, milestones, friends, family, etc.. So let me say it again: YOU’RE WRONG! Your opinion is subjective, and does not dictate your value and eligibility to be in a photo. So get over it!
YOU ARE LOVED!
Chances are, the subject of photography came up because someone wants you in a photo. Whether you caught them mid-snap on their cellphone or they’re trying to schedule a date for a professional shoot, it means the same thing: they love you enough to want to remember you in a particular moment. Feel special! Feel loved!
IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT YOU!
YEP. Hard fact. On a long enough timeline, all that will be left of you is photos, digital/audio recordings, etc.. Call me crazy, but I don’t think viewing visual archives of loved ones and events is going to lose its appeal. Just because YOU don’t want to see yourself, doesn’t mean anyone else feels that way! Not to mention, they probably have similar insecurities. The nature of being in front of a camera isn’t the norm for most people. It’s okay to feel weird or awkward, but do you really want that to exclude you from key moments and events? Well too bad if you answered yes, because [see above].
FIND YOUR FUCKING CONFIDENCE!
Do you want to know what the most beautiful thing is in a photo? The natural glow of someone who feels good inside-out. No, this does not mean you have to magically overcome all your insecurities, but you will need to take the time to work on what works for you. Here are some things that have personally worked for me, my clients, friends, etc..:
- Style yourself in a way that makes you feel your best. Is there a certain shirt/shoe/shade of lipstick that always makes you feel good about yourself? WEAR IT! You deserve to feel good about yourself, not to mention represent your own personal brand and style. Believe me — when someone feels good about themselves and is comfortable, it shows through in photos. All the photoshop in the world can’t fake confidence! If there is a particular theme of the set [i.e. everybody wear blue, etc..], take what you like about your favorite clothing/makeup/hair styles and apply it accordingly. For example, if there’s a color at play, I’m always going to wear the darkest version of it I can get away with because I feel most confident in black/neutral clothing.
- Find your angles/faces. This is a trick that every artist I know [including our own photographers] swears by when it comes to photos. It sounds silly [and you will likely feel silly], but it works. I’m often called out on my signature 3/4 smile from my right side [you’ll start to notice it now if you haven’t yet], but it works and I’m not changing it! Learn what works and what doesn’t. I went through a phase where I would only do a close-mouthed smile. I have no idea why I started doing that, but one day I realized how much an open grin elongated my naturally round face. The same goes for body posture, etc.. I’m the type that never knows what to do with my hands. Posing in the mirror by yourself doesn’t really help this, but being more aware of what my hands are doing in photos does tend to help. Remember, even Kate Moss can get a double-chin at the wrong angle. This is always an advantage you have when working with a professional who is well versed in proper use of angles.
- Choose a reputable photographer. Obviously, you aren’t always going to be in control of this — especially if you’re the subject of a relative’s amateur phone or tablet endeavors — but you can put your best ‘face’ forward, per my advice above. If you are in the position to give a say in a professional photographer, look at their portfolio! Even better, do you know someone who has recently had a shoot? Ask them how they felt during. Just as it’s important for you to feel good about yourself going into this, you should also feel good around the person[s] taking the photos. A good photographer should be patient, kind, and all-around empathetic to how nerve-wracking and awkward it usually is to be in front of a camera. In my personal opinion, clients should feel like rockstars during a session. Don’t settle for less!
Lastly, if nothing else about this entry convinces you bite the bullet, I want to remind you that we truly have no guarantees to our days on this earth. Just as the saying goes to always say ‘I love you’ and to never go to bed angry, it goes double with photography. The second-last time I saw my cousin, we were at the zoo. I wanted to be in a photo with her, but I avoided it because I felt like it was a dorky request. Do you know how many times I have mourned the absence of that photo, along with the many other opportunities we had over the years? I truly have no idea why we never felt the need to be in photos together, but I know I’d give a lot to magically have some from our adult years together.
I hate to leave this post on a melancholy note, so I’m going to end with one of my favorite family photos to date [c] loft3 photography
There I am, less than a week after giving birth [story to follow as we approach the big 2 for P&J!]. My body was still super swelled from being on fluids for so days and recovering from the birthing process. Just peep those tired, sparkling eyes, and the tattered black leggings because they were one of the few things I could wear comfortably. [Bonus points to my photographer, who even captured a shot or two of my swollen feet and legs because she knew that would eventually be something I’d like to look back on.] But what will truly stand the test of time is that I’m surrounded by my beautiful, perfect family. I will forever be able to share this moment — even well after my time here is up. This kind of authenticity doesn’t change like stories often do over time. This is real, and this is why you need to stop shying away from preserving your own special memories! My challenge for you is to make more of an effort to find comfort in the capture, and even more-so, to love yourself enough to know how much worth it holds.