With almost half of a decade of marriage under my belt and some wildly talented photographers in my social circle, one might think that I have dozens of stunning photographs of my husband and I, but, for reasons I’m about to share, that’s not the case. (Not yet, anyway.)
Let's talk about some of the more common excuses that we all, myself included, may find ourselves using when it comes to documenting the beauty of our lives.
1. “I’ll schedule it once I (insert statement about unnecessary self improvement here)."
"I'm waiting until I lose that 7 pounds. I want my bangs to grow past this awkward stage. My teeth aren't white enough. I really need to tone up."
I'm going to be really honest here, brutally honest actually, and I might get some pushback on this but it needs to be said.
Just stop it. Yes, that's right. STOP IT!
I don't always love everything about myself either. Some days are worse than others. Some days the negative self talk is brutal, and no matter what I do or try to practice, those thoughts just sneak in from time to time. One day I might feel GREAT: my hair is perfect, those jeans fit just right and I am on top of the world, but the next? Ha. Who knows..
My eyes are too narrow.
Those extra pounds turned into the shadow of a second chin overnight.
How long has that wrinkle been there?
My arms aren't toned.
Is THAT what I look like from that angle?
What shape is this?! Why didn't anyone tell me that this shirt makes me look like a potato neglected too long in the pantry.
What is this magical makeup routine everyone around me seems to have implemented to create the illusion of insanely perfect cheek bones.
Oh, and I hate my smile.
You get the gist.
Negative, I know, but let's not misinterpret this. I’m not waking up every morning saying horrible things to myself about my appearance, in fact, I take great strides to not dwell on these thoughts. It isn't my job to be pretty, and more importantly, when I really think about it, I don't actually care (at least I don't want to care) what someone else's definition of pretty is. It's not my job to wake up every day and try to shove myself into the shadow of perfection that has been imprinted on me over the course of my entire life through advertising and the media. It isn’t my job to live up to these standards and it is certainly not my priority. Okay okay, let me get back on track before this becomes a post on feminism (although, would you really be mad?).
So why do I sometimes feel a ping of physical pain in my gut when I catch a glimpse of a snapshot where I don't look “my best?” Well, I really can't answer that, perhaps its because I'm human. Perhaps it's a hint of guilt for choosing to have that glass of Pinot Noir last night instead of hitting the gym (actually, strike that, I’ll never, ever, regret that decision). Maybe it’s because no matter what I believe and know to be rational the negative thoughts just linger sometimes. I love who I have become, I appreciate my integrity, creativity, drive, my capacity for change, for love, but sometimes it can still feel impossible not to carry the weight of what you’ve been taught to compare yourself to.
But here’s the thing. When you push that all aside, when you stand in the center of a world that boasts such outrageous beauty standards and you realize that you are enough, that you are freaking marvelous, inside and out. That’s when true change happens.
See this photo? This was the result of an afternoon self portrait session that came of me trying to take my own advice and get in front of the lens more often. When I downloaded the images I immediately flagged every single one of them as “rejected,” planning to permanently delete them because I genuinely loathed the way that I looked. I’m not sure what distracted me that afternoon, but I’m glad that it did, because when I stepped away and returned I had a new perspective.
I didn’t look at this photo and see it as a thousand imperfections. I looked at this and I saw it for exactly what it was. What it is.
This moment captured here, I have felt nothing better in this entire world than this: those arms around me, it's my favorite feeling, and luckily for me, it's a frequent one. I am adored. I love another human being more than I ever thought it possible to love. My heart is full. I am overflowing with joy. This photograph is as treasured by me now as the emotion I felt when it was captured. I am so fiercely in love with this man and with the way that he loves me that I just want to shout it from the rooftops. If this is what that looks like, honestly, that's okay with me. It's more than okay actually, it's incredible. My life is freaking beautiful. I am beautiful.
So let's just recap here: Who you are in this very moment is enough. You are perfect. And even if you don’t agree with that yet, you’ll learn to, because to be honest, who you are right now is who you are right now. Maybe you'll change a little in a few weeks, maybe you won't, but this is who you are right now. This is the version of you that your husband adores, this is the you that your children admire, that they depend on, it's a version that they love and it’s one that they’ll remember, so you ought to learn to love it to. Love this stage of your beautiful existence enough to preserve it, document it so that your children and the people who love you can hold on to these moments and find peace in them for years to come. Document it so that you can look back and see how beautiful this life really is, how beautiful you really are.
2. “I just don't have the time.”
If you find the right photographer, that's a non issue. Seriously. We know that your time is precious, we also know that time is so incredibly fleeting, and we really want to help you preserve some of the amazing moments you’re living right now. The right photographer will handle everything for you and answer your questions before you even ask them. The only real time investment to you will be prepping your outfits and the time you spend at the session (that is, unless you’re traveling to a far off destination for the shoot, in which case, who didn’t invite me?!).
While we’re on the topic of time and the lack of, let's get real for a minute, we all have the same amount of hours in our day.
We make time for what matters to us. If you’ve been putting off booking that session ask yourself why. Are you feeling like documenting this stage of your life isn’t a big priority? If so, jump down to reason number 3 and we’ll untangle that mistruth together.
3. “ There's nothing special going on right now.”
Not true. Not even a little. Life can be pretty awesome and sometimes pretty rough, but it's all worth holding onto. Savor those moments.
Eating pizza in your underwear surrounded by a mountain of boxes in your first home. Rainy days spent exploring the city. The love that helped you through the tough moments. The way your babies fit perfectly on your lap, that missing tooth he came home from first grade with.
The time goes too quickly and in my opinion, it's the little moments and the day to day details that seem to be the most fleeting. Those are what I strive to preserve and that’s why I want you to document them.
4. “We don't like being in front of the camera.”
“We're so awkward. I don't know what to do with my hands. My significant other refuses. I'll be focused too much on how I look.”
No. Stop it, just stop it. Again, this comes down to finding the right photographer for you. Guess what? I'm awkward too, incredibly and ridiculously awkward actually. Recently, as I was walking into a restaurant to treat myself to a glass of wine and a meal, my purse got caught on the door handle and every single thing inside spilled out all over the sidewalk and, and yes, people saw. Once, when I was eleven, I skated at full speed straight into the men's room at the local skating rink because I wasn't coordinated enough to stop, everyone saw that too. You get the point. If I'm that awkward in my daily life, you can imagine how I am in front of a camera, but that’s where the right photographer thing comes into play. When you have the right fit for you, it all works out.
When you arrive at your session with me I’m not just standing behind my camera waiting for you to turn into Tyra Banks. In fact, I don’t expect my clients to do anything at all. That's my job. I will direct you, give you prompts, ease your nerves and guide the entire thing. You'll have so much fun you might even forget I'm there for a minute. Couples have been known to leave our sessions feeling like they did after their first date; filled with butterflies and love and reminiscing on an evening full of laughter and connection.
It's not awkward, I got you, I promise.
5. “My fiancé/husband/boyfriend doesn't want to.”
Yes, actually, he does. He just doesn't know that yet. No worries, pass over the phone, l’ll take it from here:
Here's why you actually do want to have a photo session with her, like, you really want to. You can't freaking wait:
The session planning. She's going to be really excited, thrilled actually, and you know you love seeing her beaming with happiness, even if it means she asks you your opinion on seven different dresses.
The session itself. This one’s pretty basic. You're going to laugh, your going to cozy up to each other, and there will be a great deal of kissing, I mean a lot. If we’re outside there might be some running, maybe some spinning, some dancing too, if that’s your thing of course. Each of my sessions caters directly to your unique vibe. If you're really chill people who just wanna hang, perhaps you'll just sit on the sand all wrapped up together whispering sweet nothings and enjoying the sun at your backs. Are you full of energy? Cool, maybe you’ll dance around, chase each other toward the tide, tell some jokes, be inappropriate, by all means pay no mind to me. The one constant though is connection. There’ll be a ton of connection; those moments where time seems to stop and you remember why you fell in love to begin with. You might even fall in love all over again.
- The photos. Need I say more? You’ll get to hold and touch and treasure albums and prints filled with reminders of how loved you are and how deep your capacity for love runs. The smiles, the quiet moments, the wind in her hair, the adoration in your eyes. Can you really put a price on that? I think not.
I'm certainly guilty of using these excuses in the past and because of it, the first four years of my marriage aren't documented like I'd love them to be. Intimate photographs of Sam and I don't cover the walls of our home, but I'm working on it, truly. There are already plans in the works for sessions with some of my favorite photographers in these next few months. This time of our lives is SO worthy of documenting and certainly worth the investment, even if I feel a little nervous about being on the other side of the camera. What's stopping you?