Untitled“I haven’t been in a photo for years.”

“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.

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Want to know more about what happens behind the scenes of a Selfie Photo Shoot?

I’ve shared a some behind the scenes before like this one where I share all the outtakes of a photo shoot but in this case I really wanted to tell you  a bit about finding a location for a selfie photo shoot.

I know it’s easy to see a photo someone takes and assume it was simple and easy.  Or that in order to you to make that happen you’d have to go to that perfect spot, on a really good hair day in that outfit that you have yet to find, on a day you really feel good about your body. Then it becomes one of those things on our list of someday…right?

It’s easy to think that everyone is finding these dreamy locations right? But we aren’t. Most of us are making the most of the places we can find and are just going for it.  Thats truly the difference in between someone with a camera full of awesome photos they took for their business or blog and those who don’t!

So here’s a bit of the behind the scenes about how I make this one work for me!  But first, let’s break it down.

It looks serene doesn’t it?  Like I’m in a forest way out in the country.

You’re hearing birds chirping and the wind blowing through the trees, right?

Not so much.

Here’s the truth.

I ride my bike out to this spot and park it, seeing what exact spot seems right on this day.  To the right of me in the photo is a small creek with this trail built beside it.  It’s lovely and thankfully not so picturesque that this is a really busy spot.  To my left is a small patch of forest.  While its lush enough to be a backdrop for photos, for much of it I can see through to the gigantic office buildings on the other side.

Behind me, and at the other end of the path are two very busy roads. So I don’t hear any bird chirping or wind blowing.  It’s beeping of horns, car doors slamming in the office parking lots just past the forest.

While it is a generally quiet path, every 5 minutes or so someone comes by running or taking a walk on their lunch.  They generally don’t ask too many questions, but it isn’t completely quiet.  There is also a path along the other side of the creek but I often forget that it is there until someone is walking by on the other side, with me in full view jumping and twirling in front of my camera!

But it’s a place I can get to, on my bike that while it may not be perfect, or as serene as it looks…it doesn’t need to be the perfect spot to be a great place to rock a selfie photo shoot.

Why? Because  if we wait for a place that is ‘perfect’ or totally serene…we’ll keep putting this off until ‘someday’ but really the imperfectly awesome location might be exactly what we need to take those photos that will help us rock our blog our business!

I hope this might make you look around you a bit differently and spot some selfie photo shoots you might otherwise overlook!

P.S. If you didn’t get your 72 Hours to Gather Your Superpowers Bundle?  It’s not too late to in on this amazing offer!

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Oh my gosh. I’m so excited to share this with you!  I’m part of a pretty epic 72 hour sale hosted by the amazing Andrea Scher of Superhero Life.  I know this is going to be a pretty life-changing collection of books, classes & resources!

As part of the sale, I’m offering the Beloved Camera E-Book. This juicy 60 page E-Book is a powerful guide to learning about your DSLR. Not only that but it invites you to explore feeling empowered to take photos both of yourself and the world around you.  For so many of us, the technical side of photography feels intimidating but in this E-Book Vivienne shares her playful approach to learning photography & taking self-portraits and guides you to learn about your camera experientially through fun activities.  Be prepared to fall head over heels in love with photography once you dig into this book! 

The Bundle Includes:

1. Vivienne McMaster: Your Beloved Camera E-book (Value $49)
2. Marianne Elliott: 10 Big Ideas for Putting Courage to Action (Value $49)
3. Kelly Rae Roberts: Flying Lessons: Tips + Tricks to Help Your Creative Business Soar (Value $140)
4. Jen Louden: The Satisfaction Finder (Value $42)
5. Lacy Young: Sweet Surrender: A 10 Day Sugar Detox (Value $47)
6. Karen Walrond: Field Notes: A Concise Guide to Finding Your Life’s Light (Value $10)
7. Pixie Campbell: Boundaries Bootcamp (Value $59)
8. Mati Rose McDonough: Daring Adventures in Collage: Self-Guided course (Value $199)
9. Andrea Scher: Treasure Hunt: Collecting Color (Value $49)
10. Anna Guest-Jelley: Permission to Curve: E-book + Video LIbrary (Value $97)
11. Laurie Wagner: 27 Powers Writing Prompts (Value $27)
12. Susannah Conway: The Sacred Alone (Value $75)

I know…an epic collection of resources isn’t it! Go get yours!

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Their camera is aimed at me.

Be it a total stranger, a family member or a portrait photograher, the same thing happens for me.  I feel awkward and outside of my skin.  I feel like I need to pose.  So I stay as still as I can and wait for it to be over.

 

But when my camera is aimed at myself it is different.

I set it down and while I push the timer button or get ready to press my remote, I take a second to do a little silly dance to shake out the nerves. I adjust my clothing and then move in a way that feels like me.  I press the button and settle into the experience.  I may close my eyes and move or look right into the camera.

I am in my own body, not outside of myself.

I am in control, not out of control.

I am the narrator, not just the subject.

I am embodied, at home and enjoying the experience.

And the photo shows it.

 

So does the one that someone else has taken.  I can see my stress, thoughts of ‘What are they going to do with this photo’ and I didn’t take a moment at all to check in with my body and I can see it in my body language. Sound familiar?

I know this isn’t just my own experience.  Except I think it is easy to think that because it is so vulnerable to be in front of someone else’s camera, that aiming our own camera at ourselves would be even more scary. 

The more I’ve been using self-portraiture as tool for healing, the more I find that I can remember to take a second while they are getting ready to take the photo to just notice my feet on the ground and take a deep breath.   Often that is enough to change the experience of being photographed and put me at ease again.

The difference between the two does feel like it is about power. 

That somehow when someone else is holding the camera we hand our power over to them.

Yet that is the same reason why taking the camera into our own hands and taking a photo can be so empowering.  It is a reclamation of personal power.

I see it so often in Be Your Own Beloved when the participants get to that one activity which for them flips that switch and they realize they are indeed in control of how they see themselves. I can see that embodiment and reclamation of personal power start to appear in their photos.  They stand taller, they get braver and I start to see more of them appear in their photos, without apology.

Now, I do want to share that most portrait photographers I know…you can absolutely see in their photos that they put the client at ease, that they are deeply aware of this power and create a space where the client feels deeply safe.

I guess the thing I want to really share is that we can also create that experience for ourselves too. We can create that sacred space with our own camera too.

I want this for you, for me, for all of us.

Let’s transform the experience of being photographed from a place of fear or discomfort to a place of playfulness and openness, starting by doing this for ourselves!

We’re going to be exploring this in How to Rock a Selfie Photo Shoot starts soon, October 6th!  The next session of Be Your Own Beloved starts November 1st!  If you have any questions about which class would be the best fit for you, don’t hesitate to use the contact form and connect with me!

Nextbyobeloved

 

 

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One of my favourite photo tools these days is indeed my iPhone and I was THRILLED to see that with the new phone the iPhone 6 coming out today there was going to be a self-timer added to the camera. While I’d love to get it someday, I still have a lot of time on my plan for this iPhone 5 I was extra excited to find out yesterday that the timer was a part of the new upgrade in the operating system too.

So of course I had to do it right away.

As a self-portrait teacher & taker, a timer is pivotal. Especially in the way I like to take selfies which is to put down the camera and step into the frame. I’ve been singing the praises of the Gorillacam App for years now and still will probably use the App more than this timer but I’m so thrilled to now have both.

For those of you who use Google or Windows phones…you’re lucky ’cause you’ve had a timer on your phone since the beginning. More than that, these phones also seem to have a burst mode (which the iPhone upgrade is lacking and why I will still mostly be using the Gorillacam App still). If you see a burst mode option, try it!  What that means is that it can take a whole bunch of photos one after another. This is so wonderful when you are stepping into the frame as you don’t need to run back and forth pressing the shutter each time!

So let’s talk about the iPhone!  While these new features are pretty simple to use, I thought I’d share this here because, well….Apple doesn’t give you too much instruction on where new things are.  While that’s okay because it is pretty intuitive to use, I found that many folks didn’t know the features I mentioned in the 10 Ways to take Better iPhone Photos post so I thought I might share a bit about this cool new way to use our iPhones for selfies.

You’ll find the timer at the top of the screen when you enter your camera (the basic camera on the phone, not through an App) right beside the Flash, HDR and where you turn the camera from front facing to back facing. They have 2 options for us, a 3 second timer and a 10 second timer.  Even with Gorillacam I love using a 10 second timer.  It’s just enough time to get into the frame!

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In terms of the timer itself, one feature I really like which isn’t the case when using an App is that the flash on the back of your camera flashes to count down. Of course this is different if you are using the front facing camera, but in that case you’ll be able to see numbers pop up on the screen to count down!  Good on ya Apple for doing that!

As I’ve been using my phone for selfies, I’ve really come to realize that the camera on the back of the phone is much higher quality than the front facing one (where you can see yourself on the screen). So I almost always use that lens for taking selfies even though I can’t see myself on the screen. Being able to see yourself on the screen is great, and I recommend starting off using the timer that way but maybe flipping it around if you really love what you are getting so you can get some higher quality ones too (especially if you are noticing some graininess).

One place this upgrade is lacking though is with a burst mode. I mean, why add a timer without the ability to take more than one photo at once? It seems like that is indeed coming with the iPhone 6. I’m sure it was something they could have added to this upgrade but instead have it something you need to get the new phone for. Alas…that just means I’ll be getting more use out of the Gorillcam App as you can get it to take how ever many photos you’d like (up to 60 photos).

There are also a couple more new features on this ios8 upgrade that affect our cameras and I’m excited about them both.  One is that there is now a favourite button at the bottom of the screen when you are looking at each individual photo. I can’t tell you how many times I scroll and scroll for ages to find one certain photo.  So this will be such a great way to have one folder of the images we are most likely to want to refer to. The favourites end up in a favourite folder that you’ll see when you click on your camera roll.

The other feature is the deleted photos folder! It’s gonna be a lifesaver. Even today after I took the photos for this post I accidentally pressed the delete button when trying to send myself these photos and was mighty grateful to be able to go back and retrieve them!

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I’ve been excited for the timer to become a new feature not just for my own use. I think a lot about selfies and both their history and their future (I can’t help it…I’m obsessed with the ways that selfies can be a tool to see ourselves with kindness). I have a big hope that people will experiment with the timer more and selfie culture will shift a bit more away from arms length and get us into the frame more. I truly believe that is where so much more of our healing of how we see ourselves can happen. I know the selfie trends have been in reflection of the developments in our gear (like when the front facing camera came and selfies took off because of it) so we’ll just have to wait and see what effect this has!

One more thing…if you do try using your timer today, I also wanted to share this post from the archives with you as it is one of my favourite self-compassion tools that makes using the timer even more fun!  I dare you to give it a try and if you do, use the #beyourownbeloved hashtag to share it with us!

Nextbyobeloved

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  • I’m so saving this posting for when I get my first iphone…the New iphone 6!! Thank you!ReplyCancel

    • ooooh…that is SO exciting! You’ll have even more features than I shared here! I’m super excited for you!ReplyCancel

  • But iPhone has a burst mode, since iOS 7, actually. Just press and hold photo button and you have burst mode. :-)ReplyCancel

    • Oh, nevermind. I’ve read your post one more time and I think that you meant a burst mode with self timer. What can I say, I’m blond. :-)ReplyCancel

      • No worries!
        Yes indeed…it does have a burst mode when we are taking photos in general but not with our timer. But it sounds like it will be added soon!ReplyCancel