I believe that life is here to be celebrated, and having photos of ourselves – on our own or with our loved ones – is just one important way we should be doing it. But for many of us, mostly women, the process of having photos taken is not always easy. Sadly, our self-doubts and critical thoughts often don’t allow us to enjoy the process or the result.
Michelle came to me over a year ago wanting some images for her business (you can see more of the photos we captured here), and it would be an understatement to say that she wasn’t looking forward to any part of the process. She made mention on numerous occasions prior to our session together that she didn’t like photos of herself and was extremely nervous. Sound familiar? Well guess what? Michelle overcame her fears, still managed to have fun on the day despite her nerves, and ended up with some great images that she has been able to use since on her website and for other purposes. Hooray!!!
A few weeks ago I asked Michelle if she would mind sharing her experience and also her thoughts on self-love with us here. My hope is that if, like her, you don’t enjoy having your photo taken, reading about her experience may help you overcome any doubts you have about getting in front of the camera. Because it IS possible to enjoy both the experience and the result! I promise.
Loving Your Authentic Self by Michelle Marie McGrath
We are all familiar with the increasing use of words such as ‘authentic’, ‘genuine’, ‘vulnerable’ and other variations on that theme. If you are considering having professional photos taken, whether to capture a special moment of celebration in your family, or to represent your brand, it’s likely that one of these words will arise. Why are you having photographs taken? What is the underlying feeling or message that you would like to convey? Do you want them to represent your authentic self?
My childhood was documented by a typical, snap-happy, loving Mum who took millions of photos of me (or maybe it just felt like it), much to my embarrassment. I’ve often wondered if this is the reason that I’m extremely self-conscious in front of the camera. Photo fatigue? It was a long-standing joke that I always closed my eyes, appeared to be drunk (even whilst sober) and was mysteriously joined by a family of double chins to ‘ruin’ photos.
To cut a long story short, like many self-critical women, I’ve always been unhappy with photos of myself. Far too often, we fall into that deadly disease of comparing and focus on what we perceive as ‘not good enough’. We often see ourselves through a more judgemental lens than others. Have you ever looked back at photos of yourself from when you were younger and wondered ‘what was I worried about? I look fine.’ Yet you can remember being self-critical at the time and not being completely happy with how you looked.
When it came to the time when I could no longer put off having photos taken for my website, I really agonised about it. I worried about spending money and then not being happy with the end result. The irony is not lost on me. My business, Sacred Self is all about promoting self-love and self-acceptance and so I needed to be congruent and convey this in my photographs. I asked around for recommendations and checked out so many photos. One lovely lady, Julie Parker, of Beautiful You, had photographs that I felt really reflected her authenticity (there’s that word again!). I loved Julie’s photos and to me, they really captured her warm, loving personality. I check out some of Fi’s other work and loved it. My trip to Melbourne was booked!
I work for myself in a creative capacity making organic aromatherapy products and so I wanted my images to be informal, rather than posed photographs in a studio setting. As I live in jeans and tshirts, it would have been a mismatch to have a formal, corporate style. We decided to have candid shots in a natural setting at the beach. Port Melbourne was the ideal location one late afternoon, prior to sunset with all those flattering pink and blue hues. Prior to the shoot I discussed in depth with Fi what colours to wear that complemented my branding and also how we would capture my products.
As I promote the importance of self-love (you teach what you most need to learn), I also felt it would be ridiculous to present myself with 20 years erased off my face in Photoshop. Whilst I understand that photos will be edited to a degree, I wanted to ensure I did actually look like me and not a dramatically younger, enhanced version. I feel very strongly about being real – otherwise how can anyone relate or feel they can trust me? As you can see from my photo here, my laughter lines are very apparent. Why would I want those memories to be completely erased? This is me.
We have all met people who look so different to the photo on their website. I’ve always had an aversion to those ‘glamour shot’ photos, where there is a fuzzy haze and they look like an actress on the set of an 80’s TV soap opera. Whilst I can understand that some people may be drawn to it for a bit of a fun, it may not be the best way to present yourself if you want to be taken seriously. Again, it comes back to what your intention is for having a photo shoot.
Having photos taken can be a nerve wracking experience but also a very empowering one. I found Fi very easy to work with as she was so relaxed and put me immediately at ease. It’s also a great opportunity to spoil yourself and have your hair and makeup done professionally and treat it like the special occasion that it is! I had never had my makeup done before and I feel it really made a difference.
Every day is a reason to celebrate your life. So don’t wait for the ‘right time’ as now is the only time that is guaranteed. You are gorgeous as you are, right now. There is no-one like you with your unique beauty and gifts. Be kind to yourself and when you feel the urge to put yourself down ask ‘is this how I’d speak to a friend?’ That can be an eye-opening question to ask yourself. Life passes us by so quickly and photographs are one of the few memorable ways that we can capture those special milestones. Learn to love yourself as you are and allow others to see the authentic you.
Michelle Marie McGrath, Lovepreneur at Sacred Self
So what do you think? Are you someone that doesn’t like having photos taken? Did you relate to Michelle’s experience? Are you a mum putting off having that family portrait session that’s way overdue, or are you a businesswoman avoiding much-needed photos for your blog or biz? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below! I think Michelle makes so many wonderful points here, but if there’s one thing you take away from her post, take away that it IS possible to work past your fears. And you know what? It’s okay to be nervous. It’s okay not to like every image of yourself – I sure don’t when I look at photos taken of me. But are self-doubts and concerns about how we look a good reason to miss out on wonderful images that celebrate you, your life, your business, your family? I don’t think so. Because Michelle’s spot on when she says you will look back and wonder what you were so worried about…
If you think you are ready to book in either a Biz Profile session or a Family Portrait session, I’d love to hear from you on email or you can give me a call at anytime on 0407 366 801. I’m always happy to chat and can answer any questions you may have!