Almost all of my clients have one apprehension or another about being photographed. I don’t blame them. Being photographed can be a very vulnerable experience. After photographing Amy Kessel last week and watching her transform throughout the photo session, I asked if she would write about her experience. Thankfully, she obliged! Here are her words. Photos taken by yours truly. Thank you, Amy, for sharing your experience so honestly and for letting your beautiful self be seen.
In the back of my mind I’m thinking ,“Photographs don’t lie”. So along with the excitement I feel as I pack for the big photo shoot with Darrah, I carry along a bit of dread at what might be revealed in the shots she takes of me.
Maybe they’ll show that I’m a fraud. Folks will see that I’m really not very compelling. I’m awkward, and goofy. Shallow.
Oh, and of course they’ll show my physical imperfections to the whole (virtual) world. All of them.
On the flip side, I’m hopeful. This is a chance for me to be seen, to be understood, to connect. I want new photographs for my website as a way for people to get a solid sense of me, and of what it’s like to be on the other side of a conversation with me.
I want my essence to come through the images. Yup, that. It’s a tall order, maybe, but definitely possible. And I want it.
As we sip tea and say our hellos, I feel the mishmash of emotions flooding over me. The first few times she picks up her camera, I freeze. I paste on an expression I have trotted out dutifully since I was a little girl. I’m stiff. I think “Damn, that must have looked awful” and other mean thoughts about myself. I begin to sweat.
Then Darrah asks me how I feel in front of the camera, and I tell her. And she puts down the camera and says, “Me too.”
It seems that many of us want to be seen as we truly are, and are equally afraid that the camera will capture instead what we throw in the way; our doubts, insecurities, and flaws. Many of us find being photographed really, really hard.
Darrah lets me know I’m not alone in this. And this makes a huge difference.
As we take photographs in the dazzling sunshine, I realize how grateful I am that I’ve chosen this woman as my ally. She can do this. She will use her magical gifts to capture what makes me “me”, and I don’t have to sweat it. I don’t have to try. In fact, the less I try the more likely she’ll get the images we want.
I simply show up as myself. Exposed, truthful, unguarded. And the day turns out to be a blast.
We giggle, we share ideas, we talk about my work and her baby. We play in a field of tall grass and I twirl around until I’m dizzy. It is far from what I had expected in terms of a photo shoot; at one point I realize that I haven’t done my fake smile all day. I’m relieved.
At the end of the session, driving away, I’m thinking about how great photographs aren’t about physical beauty or even artful composition. To me, a successful image is one where the person being photographed allowed herself to be vulnerable; she allowed her essence to be revealed to the camera.
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Amy Kessel is a certified life coach, mama and yogini devoted to helping women unfurl into their authentic selves.
Learn more about her work at www.amykessel.com.