For those who hate having their picture taken…

I’m going to take a rare break for a moment from posting about dogs, so that I can share something personal.  This post is for all of those people who, like myself, hate having their photo taken because they don’t feel thin/pretty/young/whatever enough…

As someone who has struggled with my weight and my self-image, it suits me just fine to be the one *behind* the camera rather than in front of it.  Yet I don’t hesitate to encourage others, quite sincerely, to take the plunge and have photos taken of them.  I assure them, again quite sincerely, that they are beautiful, interesting subjects, fine *just the way they are*.  Yet I can’t seem to apply the same feeling to myself.  Meanwhile, my dogs are getting older.  My father is getting older.  My niece and nephew are getting older.  And I don’t have many, or in some cases *any* photos of us together from the last few years.  I’ve been waiting until I lost another 30 pounds (even though I already lost more than 50).  Or until <fill in the blank>.

Well, I decided that I have to stop waiting.  Stop waiting to live my life, to be happy, to enjoy my experiences and relationships and moments.

So on a recent outing to the river with my dogs on a gorgeous, mild, winter day, I handed the camera to a friend and said four very scary words: “Please take my picture.”  Because even though I was covered in dirt and dog hair, even though I had been wearing a hat all day (bad hair day!), and even though I didn’t feel even remotely thin, I felt HAPPY.  I had been spending a wonderful afternoon with my dogs and my friend, romping, laughing, soaking up the sunshine, sitting under a tree, etc.  It seemed wrong to let that day go without a photo by which to remember it.

When I got home and looked at the photos from the day, I realized that the ones of me weren’t so bad.  That although I’m not thin, and I have wrinkles and age spots, and my face is asymmetrical, and so on — my eyes were shining, my smile was real, and the photos helped me remember what a great day — what a great LIFE — I had, and how lucky I am to have my dogs and to be able to spend my time with them.  I also saw another photographer’s blog post (see here) on the very same topic, and it gave me the final push of courage I needed to post my own experience.  I hope that my post gives someone else that little bit of motivation they need to stop being so self-critical and to let go and enjoy having their photo taken.

me and my dogs

Me and my dogs feeling happy  (Photo taken by Traci Matkoski — thank you, Traci!)

  • John - That’s a great shot! You look happy to have the photo taken, and just radiant in general. I’m rather self conscious myself, but stil enjoy the photographs documenting my life. Fortunately I’m learning to tense up less often and smile more. Thanks for the inspiration. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Denise Spielman - You look marvelous, a happy person always looks good. Glad you took the plunge!ReplyCancel

  • cindy smith - That is a beautiful picture of you. I have always been the same there do not exist many pictures of me which is sad because I have two beautiful children and have many pictures of them. I have always been the one taking the pictures. I have gained and lost many pounds over my life, and even in the fit times I have
    never been happy with the way I look. Thanks for a great thought provoking post. I hope I can take the plunge as you did. You look great and very happy.ReplyCancel

    • sierraluna - Thank you, Cindy. I hope you do take the plunge! It will be important to your kids to have pictures with you. Our friends and family see us through the lens of the feelings they have for us, so we are always beautiful to them, no matter how we self-criticize. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Kelly - Firstly, you look awesome in that photo! But more importantly I’m so happy you now have a wonderful shot of the three of you and that you were brave enough to write about it. Sending hugs from the other side of the world.ReplyCancel

  • amy backas - Gorgeous photo of you Eden! And Thank you for being brave enough to tackle this project and issue. I feel THE EXACT SAME WAY about my self image, getting my photo taken etc, etc and you’re an inspiration. For real.
    I’m so exhausted of feeling like I have to look like the young thin perfect beautiful woman that this culture demands of us. And well, I guess it’s up to us to change that. No more shame!
    Would love to see MORE pics of you on your website and facebook in the future!
    xoxo ~AmyReplyCancel

    • sierraluna - Amy, I’m surprised to hear you say that. I think of you as being such a strong, self-confident — and GORGEOUS — woman, and I never would have guessed you felt the same way. I guess none of us are alone in our doubts and fears; we just feel as if we are. That’s why I wanted to share my experience, to put it out there in the world, in the hopes that other people might think to do the same.ReplyCancel

  • Gina von Damm Bogart - I look forward to seeing more wonderful photos of you and your dogs. You are a beautiful person inside and out and it shines through your words and your photos (both the ones you take and the ones you are in). I was like you about having my photo taken for a long time. In my case it was more about shyness than body image, but I got to a point in my life where I just said to myself, “why, what’s the point of hiding?”ReplyCancel

  • sierraluna - I never expected the kind of affirmation and touching messages I’ve been getting, both privately and publicly. Thank you everyone for being so supportive!

    I just heard from someone who was inspired to take photos with her terminally ill pet; it brought tears to my eyes.

    And remember, one of the nice things about having photos done is that a good photographer will help bring out the very BEST parts of you: the emotions and relationships and quirks and lovable “flaws” that make you interesting and unique. And through gentle editing, they can highlight physical features that will help tell that story. A good photo can even help us see ourselves a tiny bit closer to how others see us. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Devan Baty - Your face is positively glowing in this picture–and what a beautiful smile you have! I hope that you will share more pictures of yourself being yourself and doing what you do. A picture of a genuinely happy person being in the moment is a lovely thing.ReplyCancel

  • Susan - Eden, I love that photo of you. I am Samson’s mom. I do not care for having my photo taken. Age, weight, whatever. There is certainly a vanity about me that I am not proud of. I photograph my son constantly. And the truth is that later on his life he will be looking for photos of me with him. Thank you for starting this internal conversation for me. Maybe you can take photos of the three of us?

    I always thought you lovely inside and out.

    SusanReplyCancel

  • Holly Morrison - Three beautiful females…remember the Velveteen Rabbit. And what a wonderful photograph,Eden. So happy to hear you took the leap. What a great payoff for being brave!ReplyCancel

  • sierraluna - Susan, you are such a striking, attractive person, and a dedicated mom; I hope we can get some family photos done because I think both you and your son will be able to look back on them fondly.

    Holly, thank you for your supportive words — and I love the Velveteen Rabbit story! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Erica - Came for the puppy pics, then saw this post. I’ve always hated having my photo taken, and I also hate taking photos of people – because no one ever really wants it done. Don’t know why we’re so hard on ourselves about self-image, but it’s a sad statement of society. You and I are both old enough to know better, Eden, yet seems we both still fall into that trap. Your photo is beautiful! Heck, even your dogs are both smiling – how great is that?! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Kristen Schalkoord - This actually brought tears to my eyes. I too struggle with self confidence. I am 23 years old and I am seeing someone twice a week to try to help me feel good about myself. Logically you can tell yourself that you are smart and beautiful but it doesn’t make the feeling go away. I’ve struggled in school, taking bad grades because I was too afraid to get in front of the class and I’ve struggled with making friends but dogs have always been the one thing that makes me feel strong.

    The more I continue to read and find out, the more I see what an awesome person you are and that I would be lucky to meet you and learn from you!

    Thank you for putting yourself out there and allowing me to put myself out there!ReplyCancel

  • sierraluna - Kristen, thank you for writing and sharing your experience. You are not alone! Keep reaching out and trying and doing what you need to in order to build your confidence.

    I recently saw a wonderful video of a TED talk that I found very inspiring and HELPFUL in a very specific way for folks like us. Here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ks-_Mh1QhMc Watch it all the way through to the end; it will make you get teary-eyed, but it will also help you.ReplyCancel

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