In our first round of Picture Life week in January, I noticed how many of you commented on the fact that you really didn’t like taking selfies or including photos with you as the subject. I can so relate with all of you; but, over the years my thoughts about being in photos have changed. I’m hoping that through this blog you’ll understand why my thinking has changed and I hope you will see why it’s important to put yourself in your photos as you move forward with your 365.
It’s no secret that I have struggled with weight and body image my whole life. I have struggled with self confidence and hated seeing myself in photos. I can be overly critical when I see a photo of myself. All I would see are my flaws. I never saw the big positive smile on my face. I saw everything negative. I truly believe that is why I originally turned to photography. I figured if I grabbed a camera I could hide behind it. If I took all the photos I could avoid being in any of them. Does this resonate with any of you? I saw beauty all around me, but that beauty didn’t include me so I felt that behind the camera is where I belonged. I know that sounds harsh, but that’s how I felt.
I still struggle with body image and self confidence. and I’m still overly critical of myself in photos, however, I have learned how important it is for me to put myself in front of the camera. There are a number of reasons for this, which I am going to share with you. I hope you will give these reasons some thought and ponder if there just might be some truth in what I’m saying.
I read a blog a number of years ago that really spoke to me. It changed everything. The premise was that your family wants to see you in photos. It may be the only memories they have of you at some point and they’ll want to have photos of you. They won’t be looking at your double chin, or the extra roll in your middle, they’ll be looking at you and how happy you are. They’ll feel the love you have given them and they’ll smile. They will be able to look back and think of you with love. There will be no comments such as "look how big mom, aunt, friend, etc., was," or "look at all those wrinkles she has." They will see your beauty. And if you are not in the photos, they will miss you. They will have no concrete memories of you. They love you, simple as that.
Your daughter may look at a photo of the two of you at the mall from a few years ago and she will be taken back to that time. She will smile and remember what a great day it was and how much she enjoyed spending time with you. We all know how important is to create memories with those we love. It’s also important to capture those memories and that’s the gift we have. It’s also important to put yourself in those photos so you become part of those memories. I captured every moment with my family from behind the camera. Every trip and every special holiday, I pulled out the camera. I don’t have many photos from those time where I am in the actual photo. My family won’t remember me being there when they look at these photos. They will know that I took them but when they think of that Christmas, they may not remember me being there. They may not remember how happy they made me. How sad is that? This is what really hit home for me. I want my family to remember me, remember how happy they made me. I want them to remember all the time we spent together. I want them to see how much I enjoyed our time together and how much I loved spending time with them. I want them to see me. All of me! They will remember what I looked like. A photo won't change that but they won't care. They loved me for me and I know how important it is to capture these times with all of us in the photos.
I recently took my four nieces and my sister-in-law on a once in a lifetime trip to Italy. I had the best time with them and we made memories that we will remember forever. I wanted to spend my time and money on them while I was alive. I wanted to make memories that will last a very long time, long after I’m gone that’s for sure. I want them to remember this trip with fondness. I want them to look back at the photos and be transported back to that time and place at any moment. I also want to ensure they remember me and the time we spent together and how happy I was throughout this whole trip. I’m still uncomfortable being in front of the camera, but I made it my goal to ensure I was in those photos. I want them to remember me every time they thought back on this trip. I made sure we took a group selfie every place we visited. It became our thing. We tried to find the best spot each day for our selfie. I made a photobook for each of them when I got back home and I made sure I picked photos with me in them. When they look at the photobook all the memories will flood back and I know they will remember me and will smile.
My grandson and I have a special bond. We spend a lot of time together and I cherish every moment I can spend with him. I also take a lot of photos of him. I have been taking a photo a day since he was born and I have made it my goal to make sure I include at least one photo of him each month. This way he will be able to see himself grow up through my photos. I make sure to include myself in many of those photos too. I love him to bits and I want him to always know that. I want him to see how happy he makes me. After I’m gone, I want him to look back at these photos of me and remember that special bond we had. He will see how much I smiled when he was around. He won’t care what I looked like. He’ll only care about how the photo makes him feel. He’ll feel the love we shared.
I do a lot of traveling and of course, I take a lot of photos. My friends would comment, “looks like you’re having a great time, why aren’t you in any of these photos”? I learned that putting myself in photos allowed me to experience my surroundings and immerse myself in my environment. It gave me proof that I was there. Anyone looking at the photo will know how much I’m enjoying my trip. When I look back at my trip I will remember being there and will know how happy I was at that moment. Is there any better souvenir of your trip?
It can be confidence boost!
The more photos you take, the less critical you’ll become. You’ll learn how to pose yourself to put your best face forward. Practice taking those selfies with your phone. Find which angles work best for you. Figure out how to hold your phone to capture the best shot. The more you take photos of yourself the easier it will be to overlook the imperfections. We all have them. You’ll learn to see yourself as others see you. You’ll see your beauty. It will also give you the chance to document yourself through the years. You’ll document where you were, what you were doing and you’ll see how you’ve changed. And you’ll see how much you smiled!
As you look at your photos, instead of looking at your flaws, look at the connections you made with with the people and places around you and how you felt instead. Look at this from your family's point of view, from the perspectives of those who love you. Remember, they love you just the way you are and they will look at photos of you with that same love. You should do the same. Make those memories so that you can leave those memories for your family and friends. Allow them to smile when they look at photos and think of you. Let those memories of you come flooding back!