A couple months ago I watched a tutorial, Bumps to Babies, on creativeLIVE, featuring Sue Bryce and Kelly Brown. During the classes, Sue spoke passionately to the photographers watching and said something that really struck a chord with me. I had to look up her blog to help remind me of this quote exactly (I didn’t want to misquote her). It’s inspirational. She said: “Exist in Photographs for your family, to see yourself and to accept all you are.”
This is Sue’s mission: To help women around the world begin to love themselves for who they are RIGHT NOW. No matter if your skin is not Photoshop smooth, forget about your waistline, don’t waste time worrying about those roots showing or the virtually unnoticeable stain on the back of your shirt. These things do not comprise who you are. They do not tell the whole story of you. Your family loves you because of the things you are for them; the things that will carry on for generations because you showed them how to have faith, trust, and hope. You taught them to work hard and be honest (even when it hurts), and to have compassion for everyone. You taught them the importance of loving unconditionally. These things have the power to change the world and you passed them on to those who have been watching you simply by living the lessons you may have never realized you were teaching. These are the foundation of who you are and these are the reasons so many people love and accept you. It’s time for you to begin loving and accepting all of you, too.
Sue suggests that one great way to start doing that is to Exist in Photographs. You don’t have to hire the most expensive photographer available in your neck of the woods to exist in photographs. But when you spy a camera aimed your direction, look up and smile brightly. Don’t look away, or duck down behind someone, or hide your face behind your hand. Not to discount the value of having professional images created, your loved ones will cherish these candid images as much as (or probably more than) a perfectly lit, well posed, & photoshopped portrait of you because these are pictures of you living out your life.
God has been doing a lot of work on me, really, for far too long. I’m just that bull-headed (I think it runs in the family, though, so at least I come by that trait honest). Hopefully you read Sue’s blog post I linked to above (and if not, here it is again 🙂). It is her endearing story of how she developed her philosophy of (and campaign for) “Exist in Photographs.” I would like to share with you what I got out of what she said both on creativeLIVE and in her blog post.
I remember, in high school, going through old family photo albums with my cousins during Family reunions, Thanksgiving Feasts, and Christmas. Many of my cousins’ faces showed up repeatedly in the albums collected by my grandparents, but, ‘mysteriously,’ my face was a rare find. I have always been entirely too self-conscious; nearly to the point of paralysis. I didn’t (and still usually don’t) feel comfortable in my own skin. So I usually tried to hide if I glimpsed a camera pointed in my direction.
Hearing these things from Sue primed me for the small group my husband and I joined this ‘semester’ at church. Through challenges faced as a result of the Bumps to Babies class and my small group, I can feel my self-confidence beginning to bud, just a little. And this photo challenge, too, has encouraged me to remain in practice but to step out of my comfort zone. So I decided to do a self portrait. We were challenged to create Rembrandt’s Triangle using no more than soft window light. I took two, one shortly after waking up and the other later in the day, out an’ about:
Of course, I showed ‘em to my family. My daughter said I was really pretty. My son said, “Mom! You’re so beautiful!” (God bless my babies! I love them so much.) Honestly, I didn’t like the pictures because they were pictures of me and I saw everything I hated about the way I look. But with my children’s response, and my husband’s response, and everything leading up to this challenge, encouraging me to realize and accept that I am more than what I look like, I began to see them differently. I began to see them as beautiful.
I have seen some of the most beautiful women complain about their looks. Women I looked at and thought, “I wish I looked like her.” Ironically, it always upset me inside that these women appeared to have no idea of their beauty. But their loved ones know their beauty, outside & in, and they love them JUST. THE. WAY. THEY. ARE. Sue’s message seems to be: Exist in Photographs, Women, for the sake of those who love you. They will not remember you the way you want look, they will remember you the way you look right now (and they love you the way you look right now) and that fits with the character they know you to possess. That hit home for me because I realized I was not existing in photographs for my family merely because I didn’t recognize my own beauty.
Ladies, it’s time to Exist in Photographs. Maybe this can be the starting place for you to begin loving yourself unconditionally.
*On a side note, Men, I have been hearing stories of men who have not been very supportive when their lady does want to have pictures made. Remember, whether she realizes it or not, a lot of her self-worth is staked on the way you treat her and the things that matter to her. Encourage her to feel as beautiful as she is by willingly and joyfully going along with her to the photo shoot; she does a lot of not-so-fun-for-her-stuff for you. It will make her feel loved. And your photographer will appreciate your good attitude, too.