Everywhere that I go – I always try to strike up a conversation with a stranger. (My husband
hates loves when I do this!) Whether it’s in line at Wendy’s or the person checking out my groceries… I think it’s fun to not be so robotic about going about my day… and… you never know who you’re going to meet, right?
Recently, I randomly met someone who eventually discovered that I was a photographer. When we started talking about the type of photography that I do, she immediately told me how “un-photogenic” she was, and how she “hates” having her picture taken and how she always takes pictures of her grandkids but never likes to be in them because she doesn’t like the way she looks.
And I was immediately heartbroken. Here sat this pretty, middle-aged woman with a great smile, who was incredibly kind, had a great hairstyle and a sweet personality… who was telling me these things about herself.
It killed me to know that she was so hard on herself for no reason… but more importantly… I hated to know that she was not giving herself AND her grandchildren that frozen memory to be able to look at for years to come. And when I said that to her, I could tell that she had never thought of it that way but just had this insecurity that we all have a little bit of inside of us. I walked out of our conversation telling her that I hope we crossed paths again when I had my camera so I could photograph her, SHOW her how gorgeous she was… so that she would never miss an opportunity to be in a photograph with her family again.
Her story is unfortunately NOT a unique one. All of us look in the mirror and the smallest part of our brain analyzes how we look and tells us that we could look better, be thinner or have whiter teeth. Take away the mirror and insert a photographer with her big, bad DSLR camera … and people’s insecurities INSTANTLY come out and start telling me what I’m going to have to photoshop, or what angles to photograph them at.
And listen… I GET IT. Everyone wants to look their best, and I’m not here to say there’s something wrong with that. I’m VERY conscious of that with the way that I photograph. And, personally, I’m no different… I am one thousand percent guilty of taking a self photo of my husband and I, deleting it and taking another because I didn’t like the way I looked in that particular picture. (Don’t look at me like that! You all know you do it too!)
But one thing that I will NEVER do is DENY being in a photograph with my husband, my daughter, my family or my friends because I’m afraid of not looking good. I am not willing to risk the opportunity of being part of a timeless photograph because I had no makeup on, I didn’t have my contacts in or that my hair was in a messy ponytail (or that I just gave birth to a human being the day before and LOOKED like it!!)
BECAUSE IT’S NOT WORTH IT TO MISS THE MOMENT.
It’s not worth it because life (and photography, actually) isn’t ALL about looks. It’s about moments. It’s about our families. It’s about love. And memories. And our relationships. And being able to pass all of that on to our children so THEY can relive our memories too.
I always think “What if MY Mom didn’t get in any pictures with me when I was a kid because she was afraid she didn’t look good enough?”
Well I know “what”…
I would miss the chance to look at pictures and ask her to tell me the story of what was going on in that exact moment. Or miss the opportunity to see the absolute JOY and LOVE in her eyes as she played with us on a beach on vacation. Or look at those images now and hope that I am half the mother that she was (and is)
The bottom line is this… we can’t let this world that causes us all to be so self-judgmental to take away things that are as important as memories… ESPECIALLY when it comes to our kids. Why? Because when they look back on images of us… they won’t care what we look like…. they won’t care what outfit we had on or how many times we’ve been photographed in it… they won’t care if we didn’t “do” our hair that day.
But you know what they WILL care about? If they don’t have those pictures with us.
So let’s not take that away from them, and instead… remember that in their eyes, we ALWAYS look good… as long as we’re right next to them.
March 6, 2013 at 7:36 PM
You continue to touch my heart and rattle my cage with your notes. You are so amazing!
March 6, 2013 at 9:32 PM
You are too nice, Beth! Thank you so much for the kind words AND for taking the time to read!
March 6, 2013 at 11:25 PM
I am soooooooo bummed that I have NO pictures of me growing up with my parents……..and my siblings……cue the tears…..but so true Brea!!!!
March 7, 2013 at 9:44 AM
That breaks my heart to Lis… because now that I think of it, I have never really seen “baby” or “kid” pics of my dad. Did she not take them or did they disappear?
March 7, 2013 at 8:42 AM
well written friend. Now I don’t feel so bad about snapping away like I do!! (Mine are the, delete, I didn’t like that one, try again, ones, but hey, someone’s gotta do it haha)
another great blog, as always!
March 7, 2013 at 9:46 AM
Thanks so much friend!
March 7, 2013 at 10:17 AM
Such an important lesson! Beautiful post, Brea!
March 7, 2013 at 10:53 AM
Thanks so much, Brea!
March 7, 2013 at 2:14 PM
Thank you for this perpective, brea. I sadly admit that I have avoided pictures countless times because of not being “photogenic “. However, having read what you wrote I will be more inclined to pick up my babies and get in the picture with them instead of hiding behind the lense. I would hate for them to not be able to have picture to look back at and see how much I adore them. You’re a beautiful and poignant writer!
March 7, 2013 at 3:29 PM
Oh Kate! You have no idea how much I love hearing this. It’s exactly what I hoped readers would get out of it. In the world of social media, we’re all worried that any picture of ourselves will wind up on Facebook with us looking like “crap!” instead of looking at it as another piece to add to the family archive for our kids to have forever. I’m so glad you read 🙂 🙂 Thanks for your kind words!
March 7, 2013 at 4:51 PM
It’s so true Brea! And we are blessed to have so many great photos you have taken of us regardless of how we look in them! Thanks for blogging, love reading it! You are going to have to take a trip out here to get some more shots for me 😉
March 13, 2013 at 3:16 PM
All I can say is WOW! What an awesome, inspiring, honest, humbling (shall I go on?) post!
March 13, 2013 at 3:41 PM
Thank you Cindy! I’VE personally been humbled by the way this has impacted people. Crazy how we all struggle with the same things.
October 10, 2013 at 5:56 PM
You made Me realize not to be to critical of how I look. To be honest the pictures You took of us are awesome! I have to say though, the first thing out of my mouth to Marlene was how fat I looked, and that made me wish that I was thinner. I can’t help how I look right,now and I accept that. That is the reality. What You wrote showed all pictures are important, and the reality is this is how I look to Joshua, and this is how in reality I look in His eyes. So these are the pictures He will have to cherish when I am gone someday. Maybe if I ever lose weight, You will have to take more pictures. Thank You again for being so awesome,and making Me see pictures for what they are really meant to be for.
October 10, 2013 at 11:28 PM
Brea- this is exactly what I think I needed to hear (read) before our time with you in November! I have not worried at all about my 3 munchkins … I know they will be great- I am even not stressing about my husband- who I don’t think we have one single caught in the moment smile photo of- I know you will get that! I have been stressing/ being hard on myself that I am going to be the one that isn’t happy- not because you won’t be great but because in my head I am going to be worried about the baby weight that is still hanging around and the potential double chin! How crazy of me! My husband lives me and thinks I am beautiful and my kids never want to stop hugging me! Why on earth would I feel this way? Enough is enough! I am going to stop worrying and stressing and start getting excited about the moments you will capture!