Behind the Photo: Choosing to See Beauty

The other day, I went out into the pathway behind my house in my red boots to take a photo.

I shot a whole variety of photos within a few minutes, with people walking by on the sidewalk behind the path.  When I finished, I checked out the collection as a whole.  Some were blurry, some too close, and a lot of them made me smile.

The above one was my favourite.

But there was a moment where it could have gone the other way.

I wanted to share this photo with you and tell you a little bit about the story behind it.  The story that could have been and the one that I chose.

You see, the original photo didn’t look like the one above.  It is this:

A sideways angle, a flowy shirt and a happy belly (that just had some dairy which it doesn’t digest well and gets bloated) and simply the shape of my body, led to a photo that could have easily been deleted if I focused only on the not so flattering parts.  I actually feel more comfortable in my body than ever these days and am not ashamed of my curves, but it is still vulnerable to share this photo.

Because it is vulnerable taking self-portraits.

Its vulnerable seeing ourselves in photos.

Its vulnerable being human beings for goodness sakes!

But, one of the skills self-portrait photography has taught me is that I always have a choice.  I have a choice to take more photos until I get the one I feel good about.  I have the choice to transform a photo by cropping it creating the result of a photo that holds positive energy for me, rather than negative.

Do we want to focus in on seeing the negative, or do we want to transform it into something that makes us feel sassy, even beautiful?  Because the cropped version of this photo absolutely makes me feel that way.

I normally don’t share photos that are outtakes like this, but I wanted to as I feel like the story behind the photo could be useful if you’re wanting to take self-portraits but feeling vulnerable about it.

Or in case you have a photo you might have written off because of part of it, that you transform and re-write into a new story with by cropping it.

Or in case you’re craving to join me for the next session of Be Your Own Beloved or Beloved Beginnings, I wanted to share this story with you.

If you have a photo that you’ve taken where cropping transformed a negative story into a positive one (or a time in life, when a choice you made had that effect), I’d love to hear your story!


  • GenniferSeptember 6, 2012 - 5:44 pm

    I love this!!! Thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • MichelleSeptember 6, 2012 - 5:56 pm

    Your honesty inspires me!ReplyCancel

  • Lelainia LloydSeptember 6, 2012 - 6:13 pm

    Very courageous of you to share that photo Viv. I know how hard that must have been. It doesn’t mean you aren’t beautiful-YOU ARE! I love how you chose the part that made you feel good.

    When I was a kid, I would hate it when it would be “take a photo of all the grandkids” time. I always felt like the ugly duckling, mainly because I had a parent and step parent who made me feel unworthy. I’d run and hide under a bed, or lock myself in the bathroom and refuse to come out. The adults would get mad and try to drag me out. Sometimes they won, sometimes not. Either way, I hated having my picture taken and it made me feel so miserable.

    What I loved about taking your self-portrait classes is that I was able to explore photographing myself in a way that felt very non-threatening. I actually LIKED photos of myself, for the first time in my life. It allowed me to tell the story who I am authentically, in a way that nobody else could. It was very empowering.

    It’s an interesting thing to be able to capture in photos, the way you see yourself on the inside. Remarkable, really. I am grateful that I’ve had the chance to experience this.ReplyCancel

  • ToniSeptember 6, 2012 - 7:00 pm

    You are right; both portraits are beautiful. What’s inspiring is that you see that. And holy incredible boots!ReplyCancel

  • kathiSeptember 6, 2012 - 8:38 pm


    you have no idea how much your insight and authenticity has given me the strength and courage to do just the same. not only in my photography, but in my day to day life. thank you for having the honesty to just be you, wonderful you!

    i L O V E the red boots, but i love the black skirt, blousy stripped shirt and lovely curves of yours too.

    your student,


  • JenniferSeptember 6, 2012 - 9:15 pm

    I love this photo, and I adore the fact that you shared both versions of it with us. Your bravery and honesty are amazing and admirable. You’ve helped me and so many other women see ourselves in a new light. Xoxo.ReplyCancel

  • MegSeptember 7, 2012 - 1:00 am

    Good on you for sharing both those selfies! Self-portraiture really is a way of allowing us to see our beauty. You unlocked that in me with your wonderful YAYOM course! That e-course really is a gift ! Meg xx (And those red boots are just too cute for words)ReplyCancel

  • JenniferSeptember 7, 2012 - 4:52 am

    Oh dear Viv….thank you for sharing this. Thank you for being brave and showing us the before of the photo. I love the story you have told here and the lesson that I have deeply learned. I know I am quick to delete photos of myself that I do not like. All it takes is a little bit of love and a new persepctive and you have a beautiful photo. So lovely. Thank you for Y.O.U.ReplyCancel

  • LynnSeptember 7, 2012 - 6:52 am

    Viv, such incredible pictures and as always such honesty. I love that you have the power to show a shot you otherwise wouldn’t have, thank you. Thank you also for the freedom to allow ourselves to crop our shots so they reflect us as we would like to be seen, our essential truth or aspect.ReplyCancel

  • PaulaSeptember 7, 2012 - 8:53 am

    You are amazing and so inspiring! Thank you for sharing! You are incredible!ReplyCancel

  • urban muserSeptember 7, 2012 - 5:19 pm

    you’re an inspiration! gorgeous post, gorgeous you.ReplyCancel

  • KristaSeptember 7, 2012 - 7:21 pm

    Vivienne, this is so beautiful. Your strength and courage are incredible to me. You have touched me so deeply through your YAYOM courses.

    I read this post, and the words rang so true. I’ve been through it all. Step by step. Eventually the notion of control takes over, and the ability to see beyond what we dislike is empowering. The things we love about ourselves shine through.

    Viv, I can never thank you enough for what your courses gave me. Confidence, and an incredible sense of self.ReplyCancel

  • deb taylorSeptember 7, 2012 - 7:34 pm


    I am forever changed as a photographer because of your e-courses.
    I am forever grateful to you for your brave, bold, honest bad-ass-self…and killer red boots.ReplyCancel

  • Holly DeanSeptember 8, 2012 - 8:29 am

    Thank you, Viv, for so beautifully sharing your innermost feelings. I am also feeling more comfortable in my body these days, but still struggle with my body image. I look forward to learning to see with new eyes in YAYOM!ReplyCancel

  • Gina JohnsonSeptember 10, 2012 - 1:08 am

    Thank You. Just the words I needed to hear today…..Thank You!ReplyCancel

  • CatherineSeptember 11, 2012 - 12:39 am

    Love the boots…all those buttons!!!
    You have definitely helped me in how I think about myself and prompted me to be more creative.I actually have photos of me that I like!!Thank you xReplyCancel

  • Zena (healingmoments)September 11, 2012 - 10:48 am

    Oh… thanks for sharing this inspiring post, I needed to read something like this today. Wonderful boots and wonderful photoReplyCancel

  • Britta GlassSeptember 11, 2012 - 5:50 pm

    this is just what i need to see and hear today. thank you for reminding me that i have a choice. thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Gina Willner-PardoSeptember 15, 2012 - 6:42 pm

    this is beautiful, and really helpful to me as a new photographer. thank you so much, vivienne.ReplyCancel

  • laura gaffkeSeptember 24, 2012 - 8:02 pm

    Very inspiring!ReplyCancel

  • […] of the process of learning to see your own beauty though photography and your response to this post where I shared the story behind a new photo and how I chose to transform it rather than delete […]ReplyCancel

  • keishuaOctober 9, 2012 - 7:58 am

    this post is so honest and inspiring. thank you.ReplyCancel

  • […] been known to take a lot of photos nearby home.  For example the one I tell the story about in this post is taken in a small lane way right behind my house, but there is a fence blocking me from my […]ReplyCancel

  • LindyMay 9, 2015 - 10:53 pm

    thank you for leading by example…by showing how we have choices…by being your own beloved so that I am reminded how to be my own.ReplyCancel