Darrah Parker » Slice of Life Photography

“i’m not photogenic” & other thoughts on the fear of photography epidemic

I was a very shy child. I wasn’t like other kids in my school. I wasn’t blonde. I wasn’t skinny. I developed hips earlier than most of the other girls (or at least it felt that way) and along with that, came a new awareness of just how different I was. There were days that I wanted to curl up in a ball or put on an invisibility cloke.

At the age of nine, I started attending theatre classes and my world opened up. My confidence grew and I learned that I had a voice. I would stand on stage and all of my insecurities washed away as I poured myself into a role I was playing or a song I was singing. 

Even in those early years when I was painfully shy, something happened when a camera was pulled out. I loved the spotlight. It felt similar to being on stage. I was able to show another side of me – perhaps the side I liked the best. I would turn on the charm and pose for the camera and once again, my insecurities would melt away. 

Yet something happened as I got older. I still mug for the camera (whenever I’m not the one behind it), but when I look at the photos afterwards, I cringe a little. My eyes go right to my “flaws” instead of what I like about myself. I am starting to see the lines around my eyes, the few extra pounds here or there, and don’t get me started on adult acne! (Sidenote: Why didn’t they warn us about that? Wrinkles AND acne? Oh, the humanity!)

So I totally get it when someone says to me that they hate having their picture taken or that they are unphotogenic. http://bnroptions.top I get it. But I’m starting to realize that this whole fear of photography epidemic runs much deeper than just not liking to have someone snap a photo.

Since I am a photographer and I am always encouraging people to embrace their lives the way they are, I had to investigate. Not only does my livelihood depend on it, but this has become a mission. home loan providers nz I want to know where this deep-rooted feeling comes from and I want people to see just how spectacular they are.

So I decided to do an informal, unscientific survey. Last week, I posed the following question on Twitter, Facebook, and to my current Slice of Life Project students: 

personal loans in colorado springs “If you do NOT like having your photo taken, I want to know why! I’m doing a little research & would love your input.”

The response was so overwhelming. People had strong opinions on the matter and often hadn’t thought about why. They had visceral reactions like, “I HATE having my photo taken”, but didn’t have anything to back it up. So together, we dug a little deeper and started to uncover where this feeling came from.

http://andrewsleigh.com/pn/6/101.html loan company in midland texas Here are some of the responses http://www.brandspark.ca/pd/230/4021.html online loans instant cash *:

“I hate having my picture taken, because I feel sometimes the picture does not capture who I am.”

“Hate it. Makes me feel awful. A LOT of pressure when I was little to be “perfect, beautiful, etc.” Everything scrutinized. :(“

“I’m not very photogenic.”

“I used to love having my pic taken but ageing has changed that. For about 7 yrs now all I see are the flaws and the ‘old’! :(“

“because the camera fails to reflect my true beauty.”

“I am uncomfortable ‘posing'”

“I don’t like to look at myself. I’ve never seen a photograph of myself after early childhood that I haven’t thought was really ugly.”

“I hate having my photo taken…I hate catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror and so on. Any time I look at a picture all I do is pick myself apart — I’m too ugly, my face is too fat, my hair is a mess…I never think it looks like me, etc. I don’t know, I guess what I see in pics and the mirror isn’t congruent with my own mental picture or something.”

“I get nervous about how to stand, especially what to do with my arms.”

“i have always disliked being photographed. there is something very vulnerable in being “captured” in time forever.”

“I think for the most part I have a pretty good self image, and pictures highlight all the “flaws” I can look past day to day. When they are captured on film, they are forever.”

“I don’t like having my photograph taken as I have absolutely no self confidence so I look at every flaw and absolutely HATE what I see! I can’t look at a photo as a reminder of a moment, I see it as a picture of all my flaws!”

Every time I received a new response, my heartstrings were tugged a little more. Clearly, many of us have internalized something about the way we look to the point that having our photos taken can be uncomfortable, even painful.

personal loans with low interest It seems to me the explanation for this can be narrowed down to these reasons bank gold loan interest calculator india **:

  1. There are stories we are telling ourselves about the way we think we look or the way we wish we looked.
  2. We are grasping on to the way we used to look and trying desperately to avoid aging, growing, and changing (things that are going to happen whether we like it or not.)
  3. We are afraid that by having our photo taken, our “flaws” are going to be captured permanently and we assume that’s all anyone is going to see when they look at our photos.
  4. We don’t know what to do with our arms or legs and feel uncomfortable posing or smiling. 

http://www.ecoshelta.com/pd/233/4126.html loans in colorado All of these reasons can be linked to one reason: that we have a definition of what beauty is (often an unrealistic one) and we don’t think we fit that definition.

This got me thinking. Maybe we’ve got this all wrong. Maybe our idea of what beauty is is upside down and backwards. If we all think that beauty is something other than us, then we’ll never be enough. We will always be disappointed when we look in the mirror or at a photo of ourselves. What if, when we look at photos of ourselves, we are looking for the wrong things? It seems that so many people are looking for surface beauty when in fact, we should be looking for the things that make us unique. We are focusing on our imperfections instead of focusing on the big picture. And the big picture happens to be beautiful.

http://www.bpuholdings.com/po/164/2865.html mudra loan application form in telugu pdf This has got to change.

We all think we’re different and that our imperfections are worse than everyone else’s, but what if we accepted the fact that we’re all human? We all have imperfections (heck, I just admitted that I have the wrinkle/acne double whammy). The amazing thing is that our bodies are working. They’re doing their jobs. They are amazing and we are amazing – just the way we are.

I have so much to say about this subject that I will surely share with you in the coming weeks and months. I have a feeling that this is just the beginning of this conversation and that it will take time to wade through the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. But I think the conversation needs to start, don’t you?

Today, I’m teaming up with Roots of She to tackle this sensitive subject. We’re peeling back the layers of what it means to be beautiful, embracing our own imperfections, and learning to be kind to ourselves. http://danielgarofali.com/pj/27/ commercial mortgage loans and commercial mortgage-backed securities Let’s put a photo of ourselves in the dictionary next the the word “beauty.” Of course, that’ll mean having your photo taken, but don’t you worry. I’ll be here to hold your hand through it and tell you how fantastically wondrous you are – just the way you are. Because you are, you know.

mortgage loan officer jobs phoenix Come join the conversation.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

*These are just a few of the responses. I copied and pasted each response into a Word document and filled four pages with people’s responses – all negative self-talk. I then went on to ask my friends in the weboverse if they could tell me the qualities they liked most about themselves and wished would be reflected and photos. The response? Deafening quiet. If this doesn’t say something about our collective self esteem, I don’t know what does.

**I am of the opinion that a good photographer will help you step out of your story and into your magnificence and that it is not your responsibility to know where to put your arms or how to find your light. Just sayin’.

show hide 15 comments

Jackie - February 4, 2011 - 4:42 pm

I love this Darrah!! Such beautiful thoughts – we are all beautiful in our own way, whether we see it or not. I don't like having my picture taken because I never feel like it looks like me. I don't always like what I see in the mirror…I'm hard on myself, but in the last 2 weeks, since I have been dealing with a family crisis around having to put my grandma in a nursing care facility, I see something new in the mirror. I'm an only child and the only one who can deal with the whole situation, so what I'm seeing now – is someone stronger and braver than she was just two weeks ago. So, at the end of the day, maybe it's not about how we look, but what we can do that makes us beautiful.

shawna - February 4, 2011 - 4:45 pm

thanks for doing this survey, darrah. very insightful. i hope to be part of the change! ps. i think if you ask the beauty question on a different day completely you could draw out some great answers. once we start thinking about our insecurities, we get stuck in them.

lauren martin gauthier - February 4, 2011 - 4:55 pm

"I want people to see just how spectacular they are."

Me too….ME TOO! That is exactly what I want to do, through the lens of my camera and otherwise! As such, I've had some ideas percolating over the past few months that I'm hoping to bring to life soon…Ideas for helping people (women & girls, in particular) to see and to know and to embrace and BE PROUD OF their unique, inimitable beauty. It does feel like fighting an uphill battle though, with the double whammy that popular media has dealt to womens' self image and (false) image/perception of others…

I feel like I am constantly trying to 'walk the line' in my photo editing- highlighting existing beauty…not spackling away all sense of what a person really looks like, until they're plastic and "magazine perfect"…y'know??

Another great post, Darrah!

Corinna - February 4, 2011 - 5:52 pm

This is a wonderful post. Really lovely to hear you working out your thoughts about this. I have found myself shooting more portraits lately and recently realized that despite my own misgivings about having my picture taken, it was time to shoot myself. One evening I got out the shutter remote, set the camera on the tripod, and tried to look straight at it and find some equanimity about being on the side of the lens where I'm less comfortable. I hope it's an exercise that will make me a better photographer:
http://www.birdwannawhistle.com/blog/2011/1/13/turnabout.html

Auntly H - February 4, 2011 - 7:04 pm

One of my favorite bits of Ani DiFranco lyrics comes from Evolve: "it took me too long to realize/that I don't take good pictures/cuz i have the kind of beauty that moves."

The more I look at portraits (of others) online, though, I find that photography can capture that kind of beauty. Maybe not all of it at once, but much. There are even current photos of me that I like (taken by those who love me most), but I still cringe when a camera gets pointed my direction. I don't know if I'll ever get over the apprehension.

LaLa - February 4, 2011 - 8:36 pm

I've been thinking about this a lot. About what makes people chose photos as their fb picture. Is it that they are surrounded by their loving family? That they look like they are having fun?
I like to look pretty in pictures. I'm not gonna lie. Yesterday I looked at a photo taken of me last week and thought, "wow I do have big full lips. Nice!"
But I don't think that about my FAVORITE pictures.

I really really love a picture of me when I look tuned into the people around me in photos, when I am not selfish or posing or mugging but loving my husband, genuinely laughing at my friend's jokes. I like the look of joy in pictures. It's then that I can look past my double chin, the smudged mascara, the awkward head tilt and think "OH this is the GOOD LIFE."

I absolutely understand the responses. I feel the same way, although I think I'm gorgeous and have a fantastic body, but whenever I see pictures of myself I cringe. I used to spend time UN-tagging myself from Facebook photos and now just avoid other cameras so I don't have to bother.

Each week in February, I'm going to do a self portrait of myself, starting this weekend, and I'm hoping to actually continue this through the year, but we'll see. I did a practice run last month and I was happy with what I saw. The first pictures of myself that I've liked in a long time.

Great post! Stay dry this weekend πŸ™‚

Delin - February 5, 2011 - 12:31 am

Wow. Great topic – and a universal one as well. I can certainly relate. I've always preferred portraits of myself, as well as others, when the subject is unaware that they're being photographed. I've never really cared for posed shots of anyone because, to me, more than anything, the self-consciousness of the individual comes through, rather than losing the self in the moment. It's impossible to be aware of being photographed without being conscious of your expression or appearance. My favorite shots of myself, as well as others, are when I'm absorbed in thought, doing something, or interacting with someone else. I think that's when the real person, rather than the self-aware persona, is revealed to the lens – and you get a true slice of that person's life – more of who they are rather than who they want you to see.
By the way, you have really beautiful eyes!

Stephanie Proffitt - February 5, 2011 - 2:35 am

This is a topic near and dear to my heart…I am one of those who responded about why I don't like photographs of myself, in fact, there are years of my life and of my children's lives where there are no photos of me. My absence from our photographic family history speaks volumes.

To this day I get anxious whenever there is a camera near me, let alone pointed in my direction. I can count on one hand the number of pictures of me that have been taken that I've liked…EVER. I prefer to avoid pictures because when I'm forced to see them they bring me to a place of self criticism, embarrassment and shame – and that's a place I prefer not to be.

I've done a lot of personal work this past year, and I'm hoping that some day I will work up the courage to have my picture taken and look at it with love, kindness and acceptance instead of judgement.

Here's to some day… πŸ™‚

keishua - February 5, 2011 - 8:52 pm

This post really hit close to the bone for me. I finally posted a photo of myself on twitter and I almost died of shame. Luckily some kind soul told me how much she appreciated the photo. I feel like I have layers of this yuckiness about how I look(even if I feel that I look ok). I feel that others will think I look better than I do. Which insane sounding as I write this. I know that my heart needs a lot of healing in this area. Like you, I felt I looked different than the others girls in h.s. and that was reinforced by a group of meanies. I did not realize the pain I was carrying but I do know that I have avoided posting in facial shots of myself. this post has really got me thinking. That you for sharing it.

urban muser - February 6, 2011 - 1:31 pm

i love this post darrah. it really made me think.

andrea corradini - February 6, 2011 - 4:27 pm

really nice post.

Krista - February 6, 2011 - 8:55 pm

Very though provoking subject Darrah. I had a picture taken of myself – a rare one – while I was visiting my Omi yesterday. I didn't do it because I wanted a shot of myself – in fact I don't really like the picture of me – I had it taken because it was important to have a shot of me with Omi.

Now, the funny thing is I think she looks beautiful in the pictures I took, but like most of us, she thinks she looks horrible.

Yvonne - February 7, 2011 - 5:02 am

Beautiful post! It's amazing how most of us feel the same about having our picture taken, and sad, too. I was thinking a little about it; I think part of the reason why I feel uncomfortable with my own 'image' is that I'm not really used to seeing myself as a body and a face. I am what's in my head & heart, most of the time, apart from fleeting looks in the mirror… I blogged about it here http://muddleonthrough.blogspot.com/2011/02/self.htm
along with self-portraits (aaah!). Confronting and disconcerting! Thanks for making me think!

Carolyn Cornell Holland - September 14, 2011 - 2:46 am

Very nice post. You've done something I might do if I am researching information, which I am doing on fear of being photographed. Thanks! Carolyn Cornell Holland

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