I’ve debated several times on whether or not to write this post. The title sets up an expectation of a negative rant–which in the long run is NOT my intention!
There are so many incredible things about photography–which I believe is why so many people are drawn to it–you have the magic ability to capture memories, freeze time, preserve beauty, and the most important element of all–I believe–is the ability to help people see themselves as they really are. Beautiful. Loved. And important.
But what happens when that DOESN’T happen?
When instead, they see the distorted self image that they have created in their own minds? We, of course, are our own worst critics and are hyper conscious of our perceived flaws, (often oblivious to the rest of the world).
There is a lot that the photographer can do to help people look and feel their best.
- Knowledge about flattering poses that help subjects look and feel comfortable and natural
- Genuine compliments and enthusiasm about how great people look and how well the session is progressing
- Knowledge of lighting and camera technics, can all contribute to a more flattering image
- Great composition and creativity can draw attention to the subject in such a way that they can honestly look at themselves in a whole new way than they ever have before… which helps assist in them discovering how we see them (which is sometimes far more flattering than how they see themselves).
One of the greatest feelings I enjoy while photographing, is the experience of capturing an incredible image of someone and rushing up to share it with them on the back of my screen. I LOVE to see their look of surprise, and then watch this almost sacred realization they have as they actually see themselves as beautiful! There’s a quiet confidence that comes after that moment and the rest of the shoot progresses really well.
Oh how I wish that could happen for everyone! One of the worst feelings I find in photography, is when I have an incredible image, and the subject still doesn’t see themselves in reality. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does my heart just aches. I’m really happy to say, that in over four years of shooting, I have had very minimal “photoshop” requests. You know, those annoying requests that detail desires of “make me look 20 lbs lighter, thin my legs and hips, turn my hair blonde and make me taller”. But the extremely rare occasion the request pops up, I have cause to shake my fist and curse our media pop culture influence on warped images of beauty.
Perhaps this is why I am so incredibly drawn to Dove’s campaign for Real Beauty. I saw this video a few years ago, but the message is still incredibly powerful. I so want to be part of the Self Esteem workshops they have.
Please share your thoughts!
(Google Reader followers… you might have to click to the blog to view this. Its worth traveling over for! )
Brooke Snow is a Lifestyle photographer in Cache Valley, Utah. She recently learned how to yodel so she could perform upbeat polka songs in the kitchen for the baby boy she is smitten with. Her delightful husband sings bass and does a great oom pah line to accompany the yodel chorus. She wrote an opera once, and dabbles in cowboy poetry.