“I’m always behind the lens, but never in front of it.”
“There are no photos of me amongst all the photos of my family.”
“You wouldn’t know I existed if you looked at the photos I take”.
Every time I end up chatting about my work and sharing that I help women see themselves with kindness through their own camera, this is what I hear. Along with the belief that they aren’t photogenic or they’ve never seen a photo of themselves they like.
I hear it every session of Be Your Own Beloved too, from probably over half of the women who take it. That this is the first time that so many women have been in photos in years, let alone take the photo of themselves by themselves.
So many of us are missing from the visual story of our lives.
We delete ourselves out of them because we don’t like photos of ourselves or we don’t let ourselves be in them at all.
But the problem is, by deleting ourselves out of the story of ours lives in our photos we are writing a new story. One we likely don’t even realize we are doing. We are writing a story that tells the outside world, or family, or friends, that we don’t feel worthy of being seen.
Because we are shown a visual story all around us, airbrushed and photoshopped and we believe that story, and that ours will never look like that.
And it won’t because those visual reresentations aren’t real. But we have a real, truthful brave narrative to tell, don’t we.
It’s not that life needs to be constantly photographed or captured in pixels, but so many of us are capturing our lives in photos and conciously leaving ourselves out of it. Because we don’t want to be captured in a way that we aren’t comfortable with. I so know that experience. Yet by making that choice we don’t give ourselves the chance to be in our story at all and to indeed take photos we do feel good about.
I know that is the story I was creating for a long time. I didn’t like any photos of myself and only saw my body in them. Not my vibrant spirit, not my laughter, not the story of the day I was having or what important thing just happened. I only saw the size of my thighs, belly rolls and double chin.
That is the story I was chosing to see.
I was living a narrative of unworthiness that I didn’t feel like I asked for, but felt weighted down by none the less.
Yet it was the only story I knew how to tell about how I saw myself in photos as an adult and how would I know to do it any other way?
Until life stopped me in my tracks in the form of a depression and when I emerged from the other side of it, I knew that I couldn’t keep living entangled in those stories of self-hate anymore.
I didn’t know how to change it, but I knew that I needed to start following the breadcrumbs of intuition that were telling me to pick up a camera (even though I had no interest in photography before). I knew I needed to get into the photo, even just my hand reaching in to touch a flower or my feet amongst the fall leaves.
I’m still following the breadcrumbs of taking one photo after another, and while I didn’t know where it was all going to lead, it indeed led me back to myself. Not only that but I now have this visual landscape of photos that tell that story. I have a visual story to look back on that allows me to see the emergence of a woman that has travelled a path from self-hate to self-love. And I know that I have the map back to myself should I get that lost again.
It is not vain to want to tell your story or to be a part of the story of your life, not just behind the camera. It was a lifeline for me, when I most needed it.
I wanted to tell you this today in case you’re doing just that.
Deleting yourself out of the visual story of our life.
Taking a self-portrait or selfie is so much more than just having a new social media image. When we can think of it as telling our story, taking selfies take on a whole new energy. It becomes less about our physicality and so much more about just letting ourselves have a voice again.
I love being able to see how through just one month of class with Be Your Own Beloved we rewrite that story, to hear that voice they didn’t know they could have through taking photos.
It becomes not about trying to get the perfect photo of ourselves but to instead, reinsert ourselves into the visual narrative of our lives.
I see it with people’s blogs or businesses too. We delete ourselves out of the story we are telling. Sure, we might be telling it in words but using other people’s photos or sharing a photo that masks what we look like.
I think is the thing I most want to share with people about taking self-portraits is that we aren’t trying to get a perfect shot. We are just choosing, day by day, to be a part of the story of our lives be it our hands reaching in, our toes, a photo with a dear friend.
We are just choosing a new story and making a concious choice to tell it.
Are you missing from the visual story of your life?
What narrative are you conciously or subconciously telling?
I wanted to share a bit more about the two offerings I have right now for helping people step into the visual story of their lives.
Be Your Own Beloved is a 28 day class inviting you to create a new habit (as they say it takes 28 days) of seeing yourself with kindness through your camera. It is a guided journey with daily simple activities that invite you back into the story of your life. You don’t need to have any photographic experience to take it (I mean that) and iPhones or any type of camera are welcome. It is a supportive community experience that has been profoundly transformative for women around the world (while at the same time being a whole lot of fun).
How to Rock a Selfie Photo Shoot is a brand new 4 week class in which I’m sharing my experience as a portrait photographer to invite you to gift yourself with your own photo shoot experience. We ease towards it though, taking simple gentle photos throughout class and end with a rockin’ photo shoot that will help you cultivate the story of you to share in your life, your blog or your business. While it will be oh so helpful for creative entreprenurs, you don’t need to be one to join in! It embodies the same self-compassion as Be Your Own Beloved but with completely different activities!
Come join me for one of these classes and invite yourself back into the visual narrative of your life.