This is Me. Sometimes photography takes a lot of bravery. Non more so than when you take part in a project that involves taking self portraits. Like many photographers I am a million times more comfortable behind the lens. Like many women I see my own flaws all too clearly and have the voices of others chipping at my self confidence and worth. And like many mothers I try my best walk tall and be proud of my imperfections, to be the example I wish to be to try to ensure that my daughters don’t ever grow up with negative self image, but my gosh, it’s all so hard sometimes. Society airbrushes to perfection, and markets to body size and plays on self doubt incessantly. It tells us that youth is good, and ageing is to be hidden rather than celebrated. But all the more reason why learning to be comfortable with yourself, in your own skin, with the lines that show a life lived is important, really, really damned important.
At photoshoots I often tell the Mum I want her to choose her outfit first, so that she feels comfortable – because when Mum feels good the family are much more likely to fall in step with her. I tell Mums I want to capture them, and their relationships with their loved ones because they are the centre of the family – sure the kids are cute, but (and with no discredit to the role of other co-parents) so frequently Mum is at the helm of the family ship, she invests herself so emotionally in everything her family does and what she does matters, hugely.
And so, when ClickPro started running it’s monthly themes, and it was announced that the first one was “This is Me” a project aimed at getting we photographers in the frame, difficult as it was I knew I had to at least try and capture a few. It was a crazy month, some travels – flying from Mexico to the UK, to India, then cross country travels through India and moving into a new home, but I managed a few… and here they are…. THIS. IS. ME! Imperfections, aging lines, self doubt, un-retouched hair frizzy in the humidity, sleep deprivation, and all…..
I’d like to think that I’ll take more photos with myself in them from now on – that I’ll embrace this form of self expression but we’ll see – in the meantime I’m grateful to even have these…. and for the push that being a member of ClickPro gave me,
PS January 2019: I’m updating this post to add some inspirations and resources:
Melissa Bissell is absolutely incredible – I didn’t know her personally to start with, but she was one of the August project leaders, and watching her embrace self portraiture over the course of a year was a beautiful revelation to me, and she was the one who really inspired me to embrace this project – you can see a couple of her blog posts here and here, but she also made a wonderful slideshow of the best of her year which I can’t find shared publicly, but was wonderful.
Another amazing artist who inspires me with her magical self portraits is Jyotsna Bhamidipati. She also wonderful at getting her kids, especially her youngest, in the frame with her – I adore the way she captures moments of peace in the madness of motherhood.
Channel French wrote this super useful tutorial on self portraits and one look at her blog and you’ll see that she is a master of self expression – her “Top 9” is regularly made up of self portraits and she shares some wonderful tips and ideas on creativity over there too. She was also a finalist in the Self Portraits category of the VOICE competition this year.
And last but not least this lady… Diana Hagues is an amazing supporter and encourager within the industry. And she was another finalist in the Self Portrait category of the VOICE awards with one of her photos – she took part in a full year of them last year and you can see a slideshow of her favourites as well as find some links to other useful resources on her blog. She is a true gem.
And if you want to become a member of ClickPro click on this picture and follow the link. It’s an incredible organisation of women photographers from the world over and I’m proud to be a member.