Some people seem to have been born with a knack for taking photos. I’m referring to those few who seem to come alive when having their picture taken. For the rest of us- myself included, it’s the exact opposite - just knowing that a camera is pointing in our direction is enough to instill fear and anxiety deep within us. What’s the secret? In fact, is there a secret at all?
An Emotional Connection
Having your picture taken is like saying to the world: “This is me - flaws and all”. What a scary concept, right? After all, everyone seems to edit and over edit there photos these days- its not just supermodels having their images photoshopped to near-perfection. So what chance does that leave the rest of us mere mortals? Something I’ve picked up as a photographer is that many people don’t feel that they’re worth having their photo taken. Sure, we all take the odd selfie on a night out but professional photos? No way!
We’re filled with an innate sense of dread at the mere thought! I feel like this anxiety has worsened now that our phone cameras have built-in beauty filters. Our perception of reality has somehow shifted - and it makes sense. In a world saturated with perfect imagery being projected on us daily through social media, it’s understandable that we feel like everything in our lives - us included - is sub par and somehow unworthy.
Change the Narrative
Today, I want to tell you that yes, your story deserves to be told. You are worthy and no, it has nothing to do with the way that you look. If you are self-conscious about posing for a photo, try shifting your mindset slightly. In a world obsessed with the exterior, I want to challenge you to look a little deeper. Think about your life as a whole and what really make you joyful. Surely it is so much more than just the outside over polished image that you project onto the world.
On the contrary. Your life is made up of real people- with the same insecurities as you. When you look back on your life someday, will you remember the over edited selfie, or your child "cheesing" her face off just for the camera? No, you will remember the half-finished nursery that didn’t get completed because you where too busy being a parent, or your son whose knees were constantly covered in bruises and scratches from falling down all the time. What are the photos you will want to remember on your 50th wedding anniversary? The perfectly imperfect amazing life you have lead, or the synthetic selfies and posed images that fill up our phones on a daily basis?
Don’t Underestimate Nostalgia
There’s a certain emotional connection that we have towards photos. Think about your future self - sitting on a rocking chair, paging through a photo album from your younger years. Which photos will mean the most to you? Most likely, you will relate more to the photos of yourself laughing, pulling funny faces and joking around with loved ones.
I often hear people saying that they feel self-involved and narcissistic for wanting a photo session once a year. I ask them: why? As the years progress, so the things in your life are constantly changing and developing too. You personally change and so does your marriage. Children grow visibly older and houses come and go. Remember, this is your life and the only shot you will ever get at it. Does it really matter what somebody thinks about you trying to preserve your own personal memories? Those everyday moments that pass by so quickly are yours to keep - no-one else’s. And yes, someday you will long for the good old days. My point is this: your life deserves to be honoured and documented. I believe that life - with each passing milestone, every heartache and all triumphs no matter how insignificant they may seem - should be remembered. We’re worth it!
Impromptu is Better
As a photographer, I try to create natural scenarios that make each person in the shot feel at their most comfortable. Maybe this means photographing children in their playroom at home or running outside in the garden.
At the end of the day, it has little to do with the activity or the location that you’re set in. It truly comes down to the engagement and genuine emotion that can be felt through the images. So what if there are toys strewn around everywhere, or the dog is being his usual unruly self? That’s your real life and deserves to be celebrated and remembered in its most authentic state.
The same applies to pictures you want to show your children some day. They are the starring roles in these snaps, after all. I bet you won’t be showing them your filtered, over-posed selfies! They’ll be natural, spontaneous in-the-moment shots - an impromptu picture of your husband's sexy stubble, your son lining all of his dinosaurs up before he proceeds to kick them over, or your daughter creating a magnificent work of art. These are irreplaceable moments that will hold a special place in your heart forever thanks to your photos.
Documenting Life as It Happens
One of the real benefits that has emerged from social media has been an appreciation for capturing life’s special moments. For all the naysayers out there (and yes, I agree with them sometimes), photo-sharing apps like Instagram and Facebook have inspired us to find the beauty in everyday life and preserve them for posterity. If I had one piece of advice to share, it would be to start documenting small moments in your life as they happen. I once read a quote that goes something like: “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”
With this in mind, I’d like to encourage everyone out there to forget about any rules, boundaries or the opinion of others. Take photos simply for the enjoyment of it and to store your memories in visual form. These images will eventually become the memories that you get to pass down to your children someday. Trust me - your future self will thank you!