When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Who do you see? Do you see someone confident, happy, or accomplished? Or do you see a tired mom or wife? Do you notice all the extra weight around the waist, the baggy, dark circles under your eyes or all the new coarse white hairs sprouting from your head? We women are hyper-critical of ourselves. We hold ourselves to impossible standards as women. This standard is magnified when we see ourselves in pictures. We notice all the things that are ‘wrong’ with us but what are we really seeing? When we look at our pictures, we are not just seeing the physical features. The pictures, instead, are a reflection of how we feel about ourselves.

Many of us women find ourselves a little…lost…as we age. It is probably just one of the symptoms of aging especially in middle age. “I used to be ……. when I was younger.” I’m sure all of us can fill in that blank and remember what we used to be like. When I reflect on my younger self, I remember being fearless, motivated and passionate about life. I was confident in my 20s and if there was something I wanted, I went after it without obsessing about the various outcomes or possible failures. For me, as I’m sure is the case for many others, I lost this connection with myself more when I became a mother.

When we become mothers, we are charged with taking care of a life that completely depends on us for its survival. Taking a shower, being able to use the bathroom alone, finishing a hot cup of coffee, or going on a quick errand become luxuries. Our parenting is under a microscope and it seems no matter which parenting path we choose, there is someone there to criticize us. With all this pressure and preoccupation with taking care of others, we sometimes end up losing touch with ourselves and forget who we are.

“With all this pressure and preoccupation with taking care of others, we sometimes end up losing touch with ourselves and forget who we are.”

Maybe you aren’t a mom but this resonates with you. Maybe you were never truly in touch with yourself ever because of the circumstances of your life. Whatever the reason may be, I believe having your portrait taken can be a transformative experience and can be an important step towards finding that connection with yourself.

The goal isn’t just to take a ‘pretty’ picture of someone. As cliché as it sounds, the goal is to capture a woman’s soul—to get to the heart of who she really is. Being able to see yourself this way—to see the different sides of you, to see something in a picture that reminds you of when you were young or of who you were before you got married and had kids can change your perspective. It can be a reminder that you are not just a mom and wife but that you matter. It can give you confidence and it can be empowering. I tell every woman I photograph to frame a picture of herself and put it in her room where she will see it every day. It’s not for her husband, kids or anybody else but just for her so that she can remember who she is.