When I first started my hair and makeup business, I realized I needed some new photos of myself for my website. The old snapshot a friend took in beauty school was not cutting it anymore, and it didn’t even look like me.
I had 2 different photographer friends take photos of me. They were both super talented women, but for some reason before each shoot, I didn’t prepare myself. I didn’t put together outfits I loved and felt good in, I just threw together a few things from my closet. And I didn’t spend time on my hair and makeup. I did it pretty quick, and just did my usual every day look. In fact, the first shoot was right after I had worked all day, so I was feeling pretty tired and my makeup and hair was not fresh at all.
I was resisting the idea of having my photo taken, so I put off thinking about it until the day of the shoot. And then I didn't put any effort or preparation into them at all.
I felt really nervous before each shoot, and especially during. I wasn’t feeling good about myself and how I looked. And I felt like I couldn’t relax into myself.
When I got the photos back I didn’t like them. And it had nothing to do with the photographers, they both did beautiful jobs. I didn’t like how I looked in them. I over analyzed how my body looked, how my smile looked, and how I thought I looked fat. I hated the outfits I was wearing, and I thought my hair and makeup looked drab.
I was spending so much time picking apart how I looked that I couldn’t even appreciate how beautiful the photos actually were.
As a hair and makeup artist, I’ve worked with so many women on photoshoots they’ve done for their business or themselves.
I hear from many of them how they don’t think they’re photogenic or look good in photos. Or how they wish they could’ve lost 10 more pounds before the shoot. I hear them apologize for their features, or that they don’t have fuller hair, or a smaller nose, or bigger lips. It breaks my heart to hear women apologize for their looks. And I’ve also been there so I get it. I hated how I looked in photos and never wanted to be in front of the camera.
Then a few years ago I started working with Wendy Yalom, an amazing personal branding photographer. And at the end of every shoot, I would hear her tell her clients about appreciative looking. Appreciative looking is when you look at your photos and you look for the things that you appreciate about yourself, rather than looking for what you don’t like. And when you focus on what you appreciate, you begin to love yourself in photos, and in turn love yourself.
I was blown away when I heard this, and when I saw how the women’s energy would shift from fear of not looking good to being excited to see themselves in their photos. And this was before they had even seen one image from their shoot!
I’m sure you can imagine how excited they were once they did receive their photos, and it wasn’t just because Wendy is an awesome photographer. It was because they set themselves up to view their photos in a positive light, and it helped them to see all the things that made them who they are. And all those things are what makes them beautiful.
So instead of focusing on how your hips look too big, or your smile is crooked, think to yourself, “Wow, I look amazing! Look how curvy my body looks, and look how unique my smile is! And I love how happy and authentic I look in these photos!”
You’ll be feeling differently about yourself, and about being seen in photos in the future. And I’ll bet you’ll even be looking forward to your next photo shoot!
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. What are your fears around being seen in photos or doing a photo shoot? What can you appreciate about yourself when you see photos of you? I can't wait to hear from you.