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April Showers

Hello and welcome to what is traditionally thought of as a rainy month – I have no idea why April is singled out and people mutter, ‘April showers’ when it rains, because it’s fair to say we have a steady supply of rain from October to May.

I, for one, am a big fan of April. It usually holds Easter and that means not only chocolate but also an escape to France with the family. We have a caravan over there and the packing up, choosing of seats in the family truck and drive down to the ferry is all part of the fun. Even with my own dad, hubby’s dad, two teenagers and the large, bouncy, slightly nutty dog. Then it’s an overnight crossing, followed by another 4 hours until we arrive.

You would, dear reader, be forgiven for muttering that this sounds like no start to a holiday at all, but we love it and as you can imagine there is plenty of time for lots of chatter, singing, sleeping (not the driver), eating, playing cards and general family time.

But first…

Last month, I delved a little bit into mindfulness, stress and ways to combat and cope…

This month, I want to explore why, for so many people being in front of a camera is something that they really do not like.

I’m also going to take a moment to offer some advice regarding this issue, which for many people (me included) causes them to step away from the front of the camera and settle themselves behind the lens.

So, grab a mug of something soothing and join me for a heads-up as to how you, and maybe people you know, can find the inner pride to stand up, smile and embrace their fabulousness and get themselves in front of a camera and onto some wonderful photographs.

Why do we hate being photographed?

Our world is literally dominated by images. Social media channels like Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat constantly yell at us, force feeding their ideas of perfection onto society. Bombarded with images of slim (some would say thin) models, it is hardly surprising that many are left questioning their own body image, which can result in crippling anxiety, low self-esteem and zero confidence.

The result – they are tentative, uncomfortable and worried in front of the camera.

I have met many people on my journey as a photographer who are like this – indeed, I count myself amongst them. Being on photographs was something I rarely did – I was always shooting the family and friends at gatherings and events. It was just the norm and what a perfect way to avoid being on photographs when you are indeed the photographer!

Photos by Andrew Griffiths

I started to question my own reasons and, yes, body image, crippling anxiety and low self-esteem were traits that I too had.

After meeting so many people who shared this – and when I say, ‘so many,’ I would say that overall, more than 80% tell me that they dislike having their photo taken. Some people actually apologise that I have to take their photograph, because ‘I never look nice on a photograph.’

In fact, while this is a regular response, for many others they actually don’t like the image staring back at them. It is almost as if they don’t recognise the face in the picture.

I get so many of this type of response that I thought I’d have a little read and try to understand why there are so many people who dislike themselves in photographs.

It’s the blumin mirror’s fault!

While there is no doubt that the marketing machine has a lot to do with our self-esteem etc, there is also the alarming fact that what we see in the mirror is not actually how we look!

Yes, I know that sounds weird, but think about it. A mirror image is a reversal of our face and is not how the rest of the world sees us. Bizarrely, this means that we are not that familiar with how our own faces actually look and because our faces are not symmetrical this adds to the confusion when we look at photographs.

Confused yet?

Think of it this way – when you look in the mirror you are actually gazing at a flipped image of yourself, so when you look at a photograph which is not flipped, then it can all look a tad peculiar.

Thankfully, that version is how everyone else sees you – and if asked then they would ALL agree that that is the best possible you and you are simply perfect – just the way you are!

So, the next time you are about to hit delete on a photograph, take a moment and pause. Step away from that image and let it be for a while – a day, week or even years. We rarely look back on pictures of ourselves with dislike – accepting that that was a moment in time and the image in front of you will also become that one day. A moment in time. There to show we existed, that we mattered and that we were loved.

Your family will want to look back in the future, so please don’t deny them that.

In other news…

I mentioned last month that I had sought some advice re mindful techniques and that I was, initially imagining chanting, smelly sticks that leave ash everywhere and getting stuck in some crazed yoga position.

Well, I can report that, while I have yet to light a joss stick or an actual yoga class, I have had some success with breathing technics and being more mindful.

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