THE IMPORTANCE OF SELF-PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY.
Updated: May 22
Last week I asked the question on my Instagram stories, “What holds you back from creating self-portraits?”. The answers filled me with so much emotion and empathy. The responses ranged from practical to unsure, but the overwhelming majority of responses were filled with worry about body image and fear of judgement. Today I'm sharing each of the answers, along with my thoughts on the things that hold you back from taking self-portraits.
I don't have a nice background or white walls, to take self portraits.
LH: I find that if you just start with the space you have available to you (indoors or outside) you'll find favorite nooks and crannies for your self-portraits. When new members join the Self-Portrait Studio, I always advise them to keep the setting simple in the beginning. Let themselves be the center of the image and not worry too much about staging or wardrobe when you are trying to learn to juggle the camera timer and tripod while ensuring you are in frame.
One you get comfortable with the self-portrait set up it is fun to be inspired by a few photos from your mood board, plan an outfit, and hang a curtain as a backdrop. Rest assured those ideas will come in time. I have a 4 x 7 piece of plywood painted black on one side and pale pink on the other that I slide around the house for my portraits. I also have quick sessions snapped when the light was just right and the house wasn't tidy. Self-portraits are about self reflection and honesty. It's okay to show your reality, people will be able to see their own experience in it and connect with you.
I don’t have the time.
LH: Time, feeling overwhelmed, not sure where to start...these are reasonable challenges. As someone one reminded me, we make time for what is important. Seeing yourself in a new way is important. Do you not have the time or is there something else holding you back? The images here took 20 minutes in total and they’re a true reflection of who I was at that moment. That's what it's all about. That's the magic. What If you made your self-portraits a true reflection of you, your life, your parenthood journey, and your creative process? What if you removed the pressure for them to be perfect or gallery worthy? What if you just started? They are a creative outlet. So get up, get off your phone, and spend 5 minutes creating. It doesn’t matter if it's not perfect, you have plenty of time to try again.
I worry people will think I'm full of myself.
LH: I have a few things to say here. 1. Does that matter? 2. Do you think artists who do self-portraits are full of themselves or do you secretly admire where they are on their journey? Do you wonder what it might be like to be in your own portraits? 3. Isn’t self love the goal here? 4. You’re creating for you, not anyone else.
What will others think? What will my Mom say?
LH: They’ll think you’re brave and creative, all good things. If they aren't supportive we can't change that. Ultimately this is your journey not theirs. We can only control what we do and think. I also don’t know your mother, but as a mother myself, I would be so proud of my son for celebrating himself in this way. I would join him! Accountability partners are always a good idea.
I don't know how to pose myself or what looks good on camera.
LH: This is always a challenge. However, it will get easier the more you practice! If you’re going for a photojournalistic approach, then lean into whatever you are doing - breastfeeding, painting, contemplating your next meal Fully engross yourself. We love to use a bluetooth remote clicker so we can completely relax into the setting and stay seated while taking photos.
I feel fat and what if my neighbors see me?
LH: Self-Portrait Studio members feel this way for about 4 weeks then they are over it because they know how they will feel when the self-portrait session is over. The glow. Let your neighbors see you glow. I used to have a negative body image, I was never the right size, the right height... Practicing self-portraits has helped me heal from years of body image trauma because I can finally see all of myself without shame. I feel so much empathy and kindness for the person I am now and the insecure woman I was before. As for the neighbor, probably be the highlight of their week. And if they come and talk to you, just say you’re creating. I bet Picasso had some nosey neighbors but still created... Take a deep breath and go for it.
I don't know where to begin.
LH: This one is easy. Join us in the Self Portrait Studio. We are a community of women exactly like you. We are starting our self-portrait journeys together, supporting one another, offering words of encouragement, and creating together.
Using my own story as inspiration is what brings me the deepest healing of my self-perception. You can also do this by journaling or meditating, but for me it will always be self portraits. Self portraits challenged how I view my body, my face, my purpose. They unraveled my perceptions of worth, and called me home to the reality of who I truly am. I find that when I’m busy and haven’t had time to create, I begin to feel burnout creeping in.
Time spent creating for the camera is my happy place.
If you'd rather start on your own, begin with something simple to convey how you’re feeling. Visit our portrait challenge Pinterest boards for ideas. Don’t forget to tag @thegoldenbrandco and #thegoldenbrandco to have your work featured.
I hate how I look in photos.
LH: That's what this work is all about, truly seeing yourself in a different light. Self portraits taught me how to care for myself. They taught me I was worth caring for. We are only truly ourselves for that last three seconds before we school our faces to look in the mirror. Self Portraiture has been part of my healing journey for the last three years. You never forget the first time you truly see yourself in a photograph. What once began as a secret self-portrait journey with a tripod and my iPhone has transformed into a return to self-kindness and acceptance with all parts of myself finally at ease. They have also given me community, friendships, and creative growth. They have allowed me to become an educator, and mentor, and have been a highlight of my journey so far. I will never stop reaching for them when I need reconnection
Me. I hold myself back.
LH: 1. Self portrait photography don’t have to include your face. Some of my favorite images are of interesting crops or the back of someone's body.
2. We believe with every ounce of our being that you must look within in order to express yourself freely outwardly. You must separate every thread of your being, learn who you are, who you want to be, and free yourself from complications, in order to truly see yourself as we do. 3. It's time to meet yourself, as you truly are. You are wonderful!
I know others will judge me.
LH: Sharing photos of ourselves will never be perceived in the perfect light by most, but being understood by all is not the point. There is a power that comes with being seen and heard by YOU…for you. There is a force that is created when you find a form of artistic expression that rises above popular opinion and connects to what moves you, and only you. The power of being seen and heard is real. Whatever way you find to express that, is part of what you are meant to do. Don’t allow anyone’s opinions to stop you. You will never be judged harshly by anyone who is fully content with their own life. Remember that.
I'm not pretty or photogenic.
LH: Do people truly love you for the way you look? Do you truly love people for the way they look? Do you not connect with people or form relationships because of how they look? No, and if they do, it’s not worth your time and energy pursuing that relationship.
I’m sending love and warmth and a big hug to everyone who answered that they feel too ugly, fat, don’t like how they look, etc. It’s really hard to see our inner and outer beauty of ourselves when the world can be so focused on looking a certain way. But you are loved for who you are, not what you look like. If you can see the beauty in people, someone is seeing the beauty in you too.
To learn more about working with the Goldenbrand for your next project, click here.
Here are a few more posts you might love: