As a photographer I am always looking to capture people in their best light. Knowing how to pose them and how to make them laugh and how to create an image of themselves that they will really love. That's the clincher really... creating an image that people like of themselves. You see, we are all our own worst critic. When I sit with my clients during their image reveals, it's always amazing to see just what people pick out in an image to make them not like the way they look.
Images that look beautiful to anyone else, we can all pick out that one tiny imperfection that we don't like of ourselves and sadly, that is all we see.
So, it's always such a pleasure to have clients rave over their photos. Rave about how much they love them and how they look... as it's so hard to look at ourselves and just accept our beauty as it is.
Which brings me to the original reason of this post. Embracing my own image as it is, and not dissecting the image while only focusing on my flaws... flaws it's likely only I see regularly. It's time I embrace the real me as well.
Last week I got some new flash triggers (which are devices that let me control a flash that is across the room without having it connected via cord). I'll be honest I'm a bit of a gear nerd, so I was playing with the triggers and their new functions for about an hour. It was late at night, and the rest of the house was asleep, so after I got tired of using my daughters stuffed monkey as my subject, I decided to play by taking some selfies.
I took about 30 images, playing with the light and changing things around to see just what this new gear could do, and since I was taking selfies, there were a fair share of out of focus shots, but I landed with a handful I was okay with.
Most of the others, I was prey to my own insecurities of what I didn't like about myself that made me shy away.
I have bags under my eyes....
I have a double chin...
I should put my hair down... I'm prettier with my my hair down...
Wow, check out all those fly away hairs.
All those thoughts went through my head before I stopped, closed my eyes and refocused my thought process.
I schooled myself to look at my photos and see the good things that everyone else sees. Not the bags or the chin or some fly away hairs but the entire person staring back at me in these photos.
I found that overall I liked what I was seeing. And I took a minute to breathe that acceptance in... and then, without even blinking, I went in and retouched the photo. Check out the irony in that sentence.
I told myself I accepted what I saw and that I loved what I saw, then I went in and removed the bags from under my eyes, softened my skin a little and tamed the fly aways.
The exact things I thought I just accepted, I then went and removed from the photo... and don't get me wrong I like the photo, but it isn't really a true embrace of myself.
I couldn't believe the thing I pride myself of being able to show my clients, is that they are beautiful as they are.... and I wasn't at the moment buying what I was selling.
That's ironic, and shows just how hard it is to see yourself as others see you. To see the beauty and the personality in your own image, and not the 3 or 4 flaws that you really don't like about yourself.
Which for me are instantly my under eye bags, my double chin tendency and the fly aways that are always surrounding my head.
So, I forced myself to step back and look at the images again, and see if I can find some images that I liked as me. And I found these two.
And I embraced how real they are. How ME they are.
My hair is back in a hair tie which it is about 90% of the time.
I have bags under my eyes, because I run a successful business all by myself and spend as much time as I can with my 4 yo and 1.5 yo kids. Time where they exhaust me, but I love every moment as I know these moments a numbered. And spending such time with my kids makes me work into the early hours of the morning. Two things I wouldn't give up for the world, but do leave a mark on me.
The fly away hairs. As much as I tame and gel and try and remove, they are here to stay. It's part of who I am, and that's not changing unless I shave my head.
The double chin is gone, because let's be real... I don't have one, I just tend to pull my head back when I am photographed and give myself one. I used some of my own skills on myself and got rid of the one thing I know is not real in the photos...
And I love my expression and my freckles in these two photos. Both are about as me as it gets.
I found this unexpected little experiment eye opening. I am someone who is generally pretty happy with myself. But even with liking myself, I still zoomed in on all the things I don't like, and focused only on that. Why do we do this to ourselves??
I am always amazed at how I can take an image I am so very proud of, that shows people being beautiful and themselves, and I love it when clients love it just like I do. But sometimes there is some small thing in the photo that makes the client look at themselves different than how they are in their minds eye, and it's hard for them to embrace that difference.
It's hard for everyone, myself included. But I encourage us all to stop, breathe and look at images of ourselves like other people see them. Not full of flaws and flyaway hairs, but of the beautiful person you are and the personality within. Because at the end of the day, that's what matters.