Who’s responsible for the confidence captured by the camera?
Is it the photographer? To make the subject relaxed with soft direction and affirming praises. To reassure their presence and beauty is more than enough to get the desired shot.
Or is it the subject? To stand in front of the camera alive with vulnerability, fully grounded in who they are and no doubt in the mind of their ability to photograph well.
I suppose this question is a play on what came first, the chicken or the egg.
Some will say the subject, others may say the photographer. Some may say both. But who is more correct isn’t as important as the bigger question at hand.
Why do so many of us lack self-confidence while photographed?
Self-Confidence Requires No Permission
When it comes to getting in front of a camera. I’ve heard a lot of excuses.
“You'll have to do a lot of editing to make this look beautiful enough” - teases the 63-year-old struggling to value the new definition of beauty she is settling into with the gained wrinkles and gray hairs.
“I’m not ready for the camera yet.” - the recently new mom says as she tries to hide from the camera and the shame of the not yet lost baby weight she so assuredly thought she would have shed by now.
“I’m not that photogenic, I could never look like that!” - the young woman says to herself as she scrolls through her IG feed doubting she could ever look that attractive.
It’s true, being photographed requires confidence. But the confidence in ourselves does not come from attaining what is picture-perfect. It’s not something that someone gives us permission to have. You’ll miss out on so much if that’s what you’re waiting for. Rather, confidence is something we have when we decide to claim it not because we’ve earned it but simply cause it’s our right to have it.
The woman in front of the camera must be confident in herself. Independent from how the world defines what is beautiful or what is not. Confident in the way her body curves, the gray hairs that may show, and the wrinkles that form from joyful smile lines. Confident through the scars, the parts that fold and sag. Simply loving the body in all its forms, changes, and seasons.
No photographer can fulfill that contentment and love for you. Maybe for a moment, a stunning shot will boost your confidence, but it won’t last. No form of editing or poses will make a mindset that matters. We are responsible for ourselves to love ourselves in all its forms. And it’s such a rewarding place to be when we experience unshakable confidence within the bodies we belong to.
The Beauty of Confidence
Do you want to know a secret about this photo of me?
I’m wearing shorts I had to go up in a size
I felt bloated
I feel very self-conscious about my cellulite
I stared in the mirror wishing my body looked like something else just hours before
But I still showed up to camera.
There are things I want to improve about my body. How it looks and how it feels. But I have learned something recently.
My unconditional love and gratitude for my body is not dependent on how it looks or feels. Let me repeat that loud for those in the back. Your body, just how it is, amidst the perceived flaws, demands your adoration and words of love TODAY. Not tomorrow when you lose the next pound. Not 30 days from now after your new diet. Not a year from now when you finally feel worthy enough to wear that new swimsuit in public. You know, the one with the tags still on it.
We can’t make assumptions of people, justify their confidence is capable than our own. Or polarize the magic of portraiture. That beautiful photography is only for perceived ‘beautiful people’. For celebrities. Or young people. Those with fit bodies. Fill in the blank with any false excuse you may believe.
But being photographed is for all people. All bodies.
Getting photos taken of yourself, and loving yourself in them. Capturing confidence and beauty. I believe is something everyone should experience.
How to Build Your Confidence Today
1) Daily affirmations: Say the hard things you are struggling with when it comes to how you feel about your body. Then solve that doubt with the truth. Say it to yourself first thing in the morning. Write it down and put it where you’ll see it. On your ceiling when you’re lying awake in bed overwhelmed with your doubts. On the mirror when you’re tempted to see the worst parts instead of your best. Or make it your phone/computer background. Daily say your affirmations. Every day until you BELIEVE IT.
2) Share your doubts with someone you trust: Ask them to help you in seeing what’s true and beautiful about you. Invite them to share in the affirmations with you. It takes a village and sometimes we need to get honest not only with ourselves but with those in our tribe to really overcome the obstacles we’re held back by. Take your friendships to a deeper level and help each other see your values and beauty.
3) Stop taking selfies: Selfies can have a way of warping how we see and value our beauty and worth. You need to build a foundation that is secure and unshakable, independent from fickle perceptions. Stop participating in the thing that is enabling too much negative power over your thoughts.
4) Let go of the photo control: Living in a digital world gives us instant access to photos. This allows us to not only see it immediately after it’s taken but to then take another and another and another till we get just the right one. But next time someone takes a photo of you, don’t ask to see it. Maybe it ends up being poor lighting, not the best angle, or not your favorite smile. Become okay with poor pictures of you. It’s just one picture, not the FULL picture of who you are.
5) Book a portrait session: Take your confidence full circle. Apply these tips for 30 days, and then reward yourself with a photo session! I can’t think of a better way to jump-start your confidence and see it applied to your life. See how far you can go. Overcome the self-doubt. Don’t miss out on experiencing beautiful photos because of fear anymore.