Every once in awhile we are gifted one of those moments, those moments when something so obvious finally clicks in our head. “LIGHT BULB!” (said in my best Gru voice) This past weekend, while cleaning out my basement, I realized that I had box, upon box, upon box of family photos. Albums stuffed full of family portraits and snapshots. Not posed photos, just shots of regular ordinary days and moments. Maybe a bigger life event thrown in here or there, like a birthday or a new baby, but mostly just life. Funny thing about all those shots, no one edited them or photoshopped them, or deleted them before they had a chance to be seen. Photo upon photo of me as a child, my mom at the age I am now, all of my family members sitting there in those boxes looking back at me from the beauty of film. They are not hiding from the camera, or stretching out their neck to avoid the sagging neck skin, no, just smiles and real expressions. Then I started to think about the shots of me the past 5 years. There aren’t many. Why? Mostly because I am the one holding the camera. I am in control of not only what gets shot, but what remains and what is uploaded. Even if there is a shot taken of me, I have the option to hit that ever tempting delete button at all times. Herein may lie the true gift of film, there was no delete button! No one was turning their camera around and previewing their images then choosing what was kept and what was not. Now hear me out, I love digital, I love playing with my images, composing shots, clicking away to my heart’s content. I would not trade that, but what if the control that provides me ultimately keeps me from having images of myself? What will my kids have when they are my age I am now? They will have bazillion photos of themselves, yes definitely taking care of that, but what will they have of me, and us together, if I continue to delete them? I have all the excuses, “I look fat (I have been overweight most of my adult life so obviously I am not changing that overnight). This shot shows my double chin. Ugh look at those crows feet! My skin is showing its age and years of sun worshipping. The greys are taking over my scalp.” blah. blah. blah. BORING. Do my kids care about all those excuses? Do they look at me with the same critical eye I am obviously applying to myself? Of course not. Aren’t I teaching them that beauty comes in all shapes sizes colors and ages, yet somehow not applying those lessons to images of my own self? Guilty as charged.
SO what do I do about it? I need to change, and I have been on this path searching for the beauty of me. Not about the pretty, all about the proof. The proof of my life. The ME in our moments. I want my children to look back and have proof of this me now, and the me tomorrow, and the me 5 years from now.
Yesterday we went to the beach. I had my camera along, clicking away at my kids. They were flying kites, running in the sand, feeding the seagulls and I was watching them and documenting it all. I wanted proof that I was there too so I shot my feet in the sand next to my youngest’s feet. Later that afternoon as I was watching them run, I turned the camera around and clicked the image above. Just me, off center, slightly out of frame, soaking in the sun, crows feet and grey hairs representing. Content, present, alive, me, now. Not for pretty, just for proof.
Does this speak to you? Do you feel like you too hide or delete too much of YOU from your images? Fellow shutter sister Meredith Winn and I are launching our very first 6 week e-course in self portraiture next Monday April 23rd. Click on over to NOW YOU to read more about our upcoming class. Perhaps this is a journey you are ready to leap into too.
Today I challenge you, I want to see your proof. I do not want you to stress over editing or composing. I just want you to hold your camera in your hands, turn it around and focus on the beauty of you. Click! Don’t delete it. Upload and share your image with me please. You are worthy. You are here. You deserve to be seen just as you are right now in this moment.