Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Get over yourself!

I took some photos of a mother and daughter. The daughter has cerebral palsy. The first thing the mother said (and I knew she would!) when she looked at the photos was “Oh look at my chin!” “Get over yourself” I said as kindly as I could...”these photos are about you and your daughter and your relationship. Look beyond your chin and see what is happening in the photos. Look at the love and the interaction between you.

Over the years as a portrait photographer who doesn’t use flash, lights or retouching, I have had to deal with this situation quite often.

“Look beyond what you first see and what you know you don’t like about yourself”
I know I have said this for 40 years since I started doing portrait photography. 15 years ago I saw a picture of myself and hated it because in my view I looked pinched and serious and I hated my nose! It was only when a friend said she loved it and made me look at it - (this pre-digital photo of me) and said “hold ‘her’ in your hand and tell me who you see” , that I knew this was my real selfand I saw someone I liked. This moment led me to the work I have been doing since and that I call ‘photoVoyage’ - a journey of self discovery using portrait photos.

Portraiture can be hit and miss, children can misbehave, as can adults, and expectations need to be managed at times. Families often want to see their 'perfect' families - and that is not always possible…

These are photos that people have at first not liked - for various reasons. I like them all and tried to help the subjects look beyond their first critical reaction. All of them agreed to let me share their photos on my blog, so they must have got over themselves at some point!

So I hereby urge you all to do the same when you see photos of yourself that you don't initially like, maybe for reasons you aren't sure of. 
   Look beyond - at the moment, at who you are, what there is to love about you…and say
                                                HERE I AM. THIS IS ME and I'M OK

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