If you’ve been hanging out here with me for a while or join me on Instagram you’ve probably seen dozens of photos over the years where I’ve done this exact move.
When I find a quiet space to take a self-portrait it’s my go-to move, and while it’s ridiculously fun (as I’m sure you can tell by the fact I’m smiling in these shots) there’s a deeper meaning behind it for me.
When I started on my own personal self-portrait journey 10 years ago, I was just emerging from a depression. I had some realizations of the ways I was existing in my life that were keeping me small and deeply draining me. I was burning out and had to learn how to stop putting everyone else before myself.
During this low time one thing that happened was I started to notice the way people took up space. Now, by no means do I mean physically. It was about how we energetically claimed space. I felt like it became my own personal research project for quite a while, observing on the bus, in the city, gardeners at the local community garden, people at events.
Up to this point, I had tried to keep myself small energetically. To not try and annoy the people around me. But it wasn’t in my nature, just circumstance. I move my hands a lot when I talk, I can’t sit still.
I don’t know if anyone’s nature is the definition of ‘perfect’. I think we’re all trying to fit ourselves into a really small box.
But I had done it for a long time and I was exhausted.
I wanted to find out how I moved again, what my ‘nature’ was.
So I started asking myself questions inspired by what I had noticed about people claiming space. Sometimes it seemed like it was something learned or assumed, other times something reclaimed, a confidence, an empowered state of being.
I wanted to find my way to the later. Where I lived more unapologetically (rather than profusely apologetically). Where I didn’t come home after a day with people and question every word I said and have a constant vulnerability hangover. Where I didn’t question my right to space.
But I didn’t want to fit myself into another box either. For me this wasn’t about ‘perfection’. It was about connection. To be centred in myself again and in some ways for the first time.
These questions seemed like the answer and continue to be:
How would I move if for a moment, I forgot how one is ‘supposed’ to be?
What would happen if I didn’t contain my joy, myself?
What does confidence mean to me?
Of course, my claiming space didn’t start like this, it really began with the tips of my toes and hands into the frame, claiming space with each photo. But when I started using the timer and stepping into the frame of a photo, especially when I’d find those quiet moments where it felt like no one could see me, where I could really dance like no one was watching, this is what I did.
And from the first time I did it, it felt invigorating and also like I’d found something that felt like me. That felt like the way that I’m supposed to move.
It felt expansive and at times was literally me claiming as much space as physically possible.
I’m also claiming space for joy.
For choosing how my body gets to move.
For choosing how I want to see and communicate with my body (and choosing a compassionate voice).
It is also a reclaiming. After feeling like a turtle hiding in her shell for a long time, finally finding her confidence to shed that hiding place and exist in the world without apology, I needed to remind myself of that right to claim space. So that’s why you see this pose so often, even all these years later.
It might look like a fun whimsical pose to do in a photo, but like with all of my whimsical photos, there is a deeper meaning behind it. It’s boldness is in response to feeling the opposite way. It’s playfulness is in response to how incredibly un-playful it is to try and exist for other people’s expectations.
There is another element to this claiming space too. It’s not just the photo itself but the act of taking it. Experiencing the fear or nervousness that comes and doing it anyways. That is the act of claiming space whether it’s your feet in the frame or your whole body.
That’s what changed me, that act of cultivating resilience. The more I pushed through that fear though the camera, the more I rooted back into my own personal power.
And that is what we’re digging into in the upcoming Claiming Space class. We’re going to get brave in our photos but not just to get bold images, but to cultivate that personal resilience, to get to walk away with photos that remind you of that “Wow…I did something I hadn’t believed I could” moment.
Come join me for Claiming Space. We get started oh so soon!