There is one MUST HAVE portrait when it comes to every high school senior that I photograph. It’s not the perfect headshot, and it’s not the one of her standing in a meadow at sunset. It’s not the classic smile, the thoughtful soul, it’s not the senior looking out towards her future.
BUT… knowing this, I know that I have to warn mom long before the session takes place. And I also know that I have to be prepared to talk her down from protests and anxiety, from all the “Oh no, I don’t want to be in any of the photos. I just want ones of her.” I need to let mom know why this is my MUST HAVE portrait, and why she’ll thank me for it someday- IF I do it correctly (and I always do). ;)
Let me share with you why we moms (and I say WE, because I am guilty of this, too) need to step out from behind the camera and join our daughters in front of it. I’ll also share some tips on HOW to do this, but let’s start with WHY.
One of my favorite things to do when I go home to visit my parents, is to pour over old photos with them. I love seeing photos of both my mom and my dad as children, but I also love seeing them as I remember them from my own childhood. I love seeing my mom rocking her 80’s style! And my mom was gorgeous! (still is, if you ask me) There are photos of her with my brother and me, photos of her laughing while my dad tried to steal kisses, and even a photo of her STRESSED OUT because I think the basement was flooding. (yeah, what was my dad thinking taking that???)
These photos are my memory. They will stay with me long after my parents are gone, and they will stay with my kids long after I’m gone.
So what about me? As a mom, how can I deprive my children of the memory of their mother, simply because I’m a little insecure about my aging midsection, or my grays, or whatever. The days are passing, and so are our memories. Giving up my insecurities and letting myself be photographed allows my kids the joy of remembering me- and the joy of telling their own kids and grandkids about me. (It should be noted that my grandmother was gorgeous, too. I know this because I have the photographs!)
My daughter is a smart cookie. I’m guessing yours is, too. So why do we think we’re pulling one over on them when we express our self-criticism in front of them, and then expect them to learn self-love and acceptance? Just what exactly do we think we’re teaching them when we demonstrate such disapproval of ourselves?
Despite what I may think about myself, I’m pretty sure that my daughter thinks I’m beautiful. I think that has more to do with the love that she feels from me than anything else. I’m actually guessing she doesn’t know when I’m gaining weight or losing it, when I’m in need of a root touch up, and when I’m having a stress break out. But she knows when I’m smiling, feeling good, and loving myself. I KNOW that she knows that.
So guess what, ladies? I’ve got to do that more! WE’VE got to do that more! And that means laughing off some insecurity and getting in front of the camera. Show her how it’s done. Show her what it means to love herself. Be an example for her.
So yes, our daughters need the example of self-love. They need role models in us, and that is a great reason on its own to step out from behind that camera and get in front of it.
But it’s not enough. WE need the example too. We can’t just be doing this for our daughters. We need to be doing it for ourselves. We ARE beautiful. Even now, at age… 29 plus a few. We are worthy of self love at age 10, at age 27, and at age 45. And every age before, in between, and after. If we don’t love ourselves, how are we going to show others how to love us? And how are we going to show our daughters how worthy they are?
This is about more than just them. It’s not just for their sake. It’s for ours too.
So, there you have it. A few vital reasons WHY we need to be OK with having our photos taken.
But, wouldn’t it be great if I could offer you a few HOWs, too? I mean, really. What kind of photographer would I be if I couldn’t offer my ladies a few tricks on how to feel more confident and comfortable doing what I’m asking them to do?
As every good woman knows, things are always a little less scary when we do it with a friend. Photos are no different. So start with a few photos with your girl. She’s probably the one girl you feel most comfortable being yourself around, the one who you can laugh with, or get silly with.
I know that everywhere we look, people are posting their photos to social media. But who says we have to share our photos? Start privately, until you get more comfortable with having your photos taking. Wait until you’re comfortable with posing, or lighting, or your smile.
No one needs to see your photos- outside your family, that is. Remember that we need to get in front of the camera to make memories for our families. So let your family in on the photos. But leave Facebook out of it.
Now what could really help you feel better in front of the camera is maybe some kind of collection of tricks or tips. And wouldn’t you know it, that’s just what I’ve created for you!
We owe it to our families to leave a legacy through photos. We owe it to our daughters to be an example of the strong, beautiful women we know they can be. And we owe it to ourselves to remember how beautiful and worthy we actually are.
Worthy of a beautiful portrait, taken with our beautiful daughter. The MUST HAVE of every great portrait session.