As I've spent time this week reflecting on the past year I've scribbled down a lot of thoughts. My blog posts are always a result of quiet reflection (which is sometimes hard to come by), and they always start out on a sheet of paper. I really envy anyone who can sit and rip out an amazing blog post straight from their brain to the computer screen. it seems most can do this. I'm just slow I guess. So here's my last post for this year, from heart (and my sheet of paper), to you.
I've learned an awful lot this year about women and how the way we feel about ourselves dictates our actions. As I continue to get better about being candid and transparent in my business, I've forced myself in front of the camera a few times this year, and those were great learning experiences. I've learned so much from my lovely clients as I listened to each of them express their feelings on being photographed. There are several recurring themes I've picked up on in all these conversations. From these I sat down and scribbled out the 5 most important reasons to exist in a portrait. I am coaching myself on these things just as I am encouraging all of you. This isn't a sales pitch. This is life, and I feel this is tremendously important information that comes from the roots of why we refuse to run toward the camera.
TOP FIVE REASONS TO EXIST IN A PORTRAIT IN 2016
5. Because you think you're not photogenic. A photographer and educator I follow on Instagram recently posted her own quote, "It's not the camera that adds 10 pounds, it's the photographer". The majority of women who contact me about a photo shoot say they are not photogenic. The truth is it isn't your job to make yourself look amazing in a photograph. It's my job. I have learned the skills to control the factors that determine the way you will look in a portrait - the lighting, the posing, your facial expression, the wardrobe. As a portrait photographer I take full responsibility for creating the most beautiful images you've ever seen of yourself. I've spent countless hours studying and practicing getting everything just right. All you need to do is show up. This is my job. Let me do the work.
4. Because you're NEVER going to be perfect. The most common excuse I give myself and that I also hear from others is "I need to lose a few pounds first". The thing is...there will never be a perfect TIME, and we will never find ourselves in the right CONDITION physically, emotionally, spiritually to intentionally put ourselves in front of the camera. Even though I really wasn't happy with myself in many ways when I did my last shoot, I am so thankful I have those images. Days that we put off existing in photographs turn to weeks, then years, and suddenly we realize that entire chapters of our lives have opened and closed without creating any meaningful remembrances of ourselves as we were then. As my favorite photographer Sue says, "Don't wait until you're perfect. You never will be."
3. Because it will change the way you see yourself. The most rewarding experiences I've had as a photographer this year were showing breathtaking portraits of themselves to my most apprehensive clients. Sometimes women come to me wanting to do something sexy as a gift for their husbands or partners, but really not feeling so sexy. I admire these women so much for going completely out of their comfort zone to do something special for a loved one, and it's truly amazing to show one of these women an image SHE finds beautiful. There is nothing like the joy in that moment, when you truly BELIEVE you are beautiful. You see yourself in a completely different light, and as a result your self image is altered and elevated. Being vulnerable enough to allow someone to really capture your beauty, your true spirit, takes guts. But I've learned this year that everything worthwhile I achieved required me leaving my comfort zone. Exist in a portrait. You really will see yourself differently.
2. People love you, damn it. If you're often putting yourself at the bottom of your list like I am, it's difficult to see this one as important. But it's #2 on my list, so it must be. You are loved. There are people in your life who really want to capture you for all time. Your children, your partner, your parents, they deserve a beautiful image of you. Not to be all gloom and doom and God forbid anything should happen to me or any of you, but I don't want to be remembered in iPhone snapshots. I want my kids to have a canvas, or something in a gorgeous frame - something that will be large and in charge or at least stand the test of time, so when I'm drooling in a wheelchair 60 years from now my kids can show their kids what I looked like with teeth and hair. We are loved. We deserve to be cherished and remembered in photographs (and not just selfies)...which brings me to my next and final point.
1. Because you deserve it. For some of us this is nearly impossible to see. I mean this point in two ways. You are worth the portrait experience, and you are worth the images themselves. The champagne, the professional hair and makeup, the shopping you get to do for the perfect outfit to wear for your shoot, a few hours of enjoying a team of people solely dedicated to your enjoyment. It's all well deserved. Now the portraits, they are the gold at the end of the rainbow. Owning and displaying your portraits is your opportunity to give an incredible gift to yourself and those who love you. One dear client who has been through an incredible weight loss journey told me she loved to have her portraits hanging on her wall so that every time she looked at them she would be reminded that she is the person who exists now and not the person she used to be. While I am still working up the guts to order a large canvas of myself for our house, I do love to see the portraits my husband has proudly displayed in our bedroom. They really do serve as great reminders that I am beautiful and loved, especially when I feel ugly and unworthy. We deserve to exist in images WE love, images WE want our grandchildren to look upon when we are gone or we certainly no longer resemble the people we are now. We are worth more than iPhone snapshots, more than a family photo where at least the kids are looking at the camera but we...well at least we're completely dressed. I'll say it one more time. You DESERVE a portrait of yourself that you ADORE.
Ok guys. That's all I've got for 2015. I am so very thankful for each of you, for every beautiful soul I've been privileged to know and photograph this year. I love following each of you on social media and I am so excited for what 2016 holds for all our lives. Thank you for your support, for your friendship and encouragement. Love to you all. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!