“Don’t take my picture,” in the tone of a stern mother, followed by a shielded elbow, similar to a football move and reminiscent of an 80’s arm workout, the mother of five darted from the room. “Can you edit my big arms… I love my wedding photos but I just don’t like me,” say too many newly married and beautiful brides. “Stand up straight. Smile softer,” says the CEO mother to her blossoming little girl of a soon to be woman. “I can take all the help I can get,” says the gracefully aging grandmother.
Do these quotes feel familiar or reminiscent of a not so far off past or much too present reality? Strangely I’m familiar with this behavior and usually I fire back with a large smile and a “Well… I’m here to take photos so you’ll just have to get used to me.” I genuinely mean it in the nicest way and in the most “Please love yourself, please don’t say that about yourself, and please just let me in sort of way.” I’m not sure of the age when women (men too) start disliking themselves but I am hoping my two little girls never go through that stage. Can you imagine the power you would have if you never self hated and instead recognized your uniquenesses as strengths and attributes?
A photo can capture the beauty of a soul especially when we get past ourselves.
The maternity photo I never posted because my butt looked too big. Looking back on my pregnancy I wish I would have worried less about how much weight I was gaining and more about how amazing it was that I was growing a human being inside of my body.
I definitely had my own demons to face as a chubby kid and a girl who always stood on the back bleacher for school photos. However with age, maturity, and a lot of insight from the Bible I actually started to see myself differently and thankfully feel a lot more confident in myself even two kids later and without my collegiate athlete body. When my mother pipes in saying, “Are you reaaally going to eat that?” I no longer feel bad and self conscience, but sorry for the pressure she continues to feel, by society, and the b**** of insecurity (B.O.I.) I always thought that in high school you would just reach a magic age or position (dating, married, with children, college grad, etc.) where you didn’t care what others thought of you and you would just feel awesome. I’ve come to realize that no magic age is required to beat the B.O.I instead it is self love and worth in something greater, which for me is my faith, that best defeats this poisonous mindset.
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight- 1 Peter 3:3-4 NIV
I’m not sure if the “I hate photos & I’m not photogenic” thing spurs from messy hair days as much as self deprecation but I am determined to tell the B.O.I. to get the heck out of my life, my daughters, and the lives of countless others. Having two little girls has made me passionate about putting the ultimate kabosh on self hate words like fat & ugly . It has also convicted me of those “sny-whispered-little-eye-rolls” that so many of us pass onto innocent strangers.
I never thought photography would teach me so much about my clients and reveal so much about their insecurity, passion, heartache, and inner strength. However over the years I notice that I am not in the business of photographing smiles but in the business of capturing souls. I have a project in mind that would photograph women in all of their uniqueness and ideally highlight the one “flaw” that they have wrestled with most in their life. If you have something like this, whether large or small, I would love to hear your story and have you be a part of my project starting in February. I leave you with this last quote and hope that you pursue genuine beauty today in the ordinary lives that we Live, Love, & Capture.
The essence of vulnerability is the most strong and beautiful moments captured
P.C. Erika McCauley
The day my dad walked me down the aisle and knew he was not only giving me away to the man I loved but to his fight of pancreatic cancer. It was the day I felt him say goodbye in his vulnerable soul. I’ll forever remember the warm sting of his tears as he was coached to walk me down that grassy aisle.