To the Woman Hiding from the Camera, Let’s Have a Chat

To the Woman Hiding from the Camera, Let’s Have a Chat

I see you. The one who steps out of the way every time you see a camera.

You don’t want to be seen…for a variety of reasons.

“I’m not photogenic.”
“I don’t like the way I look.”
“I’m too fat.”
“I’m too old.”
“I don’t like myself.”
“No one needs to see me.”

Whatever the reason may be, you believe something about yourself. It’s a fundamental belief that is not just about having your picture taken. What’s really going on in your mind?

I don’t want to be seen.
I don’t need to be seen.
I don’t deserve to be seen.
I’m not important.

This undeserving feeling many women experience is exactly the reason why I think every woman should have her portrait taken. It’s a declaration to the world, but more importantly to herself, that she exists. That she deserves to be seen. How do I know this? Because I am that woman and I have felt all those things. She is the woman whose portrait I want to take. I want to see her standing before a wall of images of herself and see for the first time. To be overcome and overwhelmed, to truly see herself and realize that she is beautiful. Are you that woman? If you are, I am sure you have objections. Let’s go through them.

It seems selfish/narcissistic/unnecessary to have portraits of myself.

When we have our picture taken, it’s not about now or today. It’s about tomorrow. Pictures are meant to preserve a moment in time so that we can revisit them tomorrow. They are ultimately not for you. They are for your friends, your family and future generations. What do you want future generations to see when they look at your picture? When they look into your eyes for clues to the kind of person you were? Who do you want them to see? Do you want them to see your fake ‘camera smile’ or something more? Do you want them to look at your picture, into your eyes, and feel something and connect? A successful portrait session aims to capture the essence of who you are so that your image engages and moves the viewer.

Aside from this reason, what is wrong with being ‘selfish?’ If you identify with what I’ve said so far, I guarantee that you are one of the least selfish people around. You give and give and put others first. You’re a dedicated mom, wife, friend, or daughter. What is wrong with declaring for once that you matter? That you are important? That you, for once, deserve to do something important for yourself? That you deserve to be seen? Having your portrait taken is a form of self care and it isn’t a luxury. It’s a necessity because taking care of yourself enables you to take care of others better.

“An empty lantern provides no light.
Self-care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly.”

I’m not photogenic or I don’t like the way I look.

When do you end up in pictures? Usually in a dimly or poorly lit space taken with a camera phone. Or midday outdoors with the sun leaving blotchy highlights on your face and dark circles under your eyes. Or at the most unflattering angles with your best fake camera smile. It’s not your fault. A skilled portrait photographer photographs you from many different angles to find your best ones. She positions your head just so and shoots you in flattering light. She gets you to engage with her, to trust her so that your authentic self shines through. A makeup artist evens out your skin tone and bring out your best features and natural beauty. Then the images are individually edited and retouched to minimize minor imperfections while preserving beautiful skin texture and well earned lines.

I need to lose a little weight first.

Not many of us are at our ideal weight. You don’t like your body. You’re too short. You’re too tall. You’re not curvy enough. You’re too curvy. Your legs aren’t long enough. Did you know the focal length your photographer shoots at affects how your face or body appears? Shorter focal lengths like 35mm make bodies and faces look slimmer. There are also tricks to angling your body and head to take advantage of certain focal lengths and to either lengthen or shorten our necks, legs, arms, etc. A skilled portrait photographer knows these tricks and can make you look your best. Watch this 6-second video to see how this male’s face changes based purely on focal length adjustment.

It’s too expensive. I can’t afford it.

How much do you spend on buying coffee a year? How about drinks with your dinner? How often do you replace your phone, laptop, television? There is one thing all of these purchases have in common. They are temporary. They won’t last but a few minutes, a few hours, a few years at most. When you have your portrait taken, you are documenting your existence for generations to come. Archival prints will outlive you and will last a century or more if properly stored. Having your portrait made is an investment. How much is feeling like you matter, feeling beautiful, feeling like you’re truly being seen worth to you? One day, when you’re no longer around, that portrait will be looked at or maybe hung on a wall by future generations. It is one of the most valuable thing you can leave behind because when you are gone, your loved ones will want to see you to remember what you looked like…to remember who you were. What does being remembered mean to you? I challenge you to sit for me. Allow me to show you the beautiful person you are because I believe all women are beautiful.

YOU MATTER.

I hope that you make a commitment to have your portrait taken or to have your picture taken with your family. It is a valuable gift that you can give to yourself and to future generations. Let’s rethink those statements from the beginning.

“I’m not photogenic.”  “I look great in pictures.”
“I don’t like the way I look.”  “I am beautiful.”
“I’m too fat.”  “I look great as I am.”
“I’m too old.”  “I still matter.”
“I don’t like myself.”  “I like myself.”
“No one needs to see me.”  “I deserve to be seen.”

And remember, next time someone aims a camera at you, remind yourself that YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL AND YOU DESERVE TO BE SEEN.