Overcoming Camera Shyness

This is a continuation of my last blog post, in which
I talked about how people—wonderful, talented, gorgeous people—almost always
froze up when it came to getting in front of the camera. If you haven’t read
that post yet, I highly recommend reading it in conjunction with this one.

As promised, this blog is going to talk about my
journey with getting comfortable with getting my picture taken. That means there will be old, random pictures mixed in. No, I’m not embarassed. Yes, they are silly. Isn’t it awesome how far phone cameras have come?

I never really cared about getting my photo taken, one
way or another, until I was in my 20s. I remember being young playing model for
my sister with her camera. I remember smiling when told every school picture
day. I remember being told to look or stand over there and did so, then went
back to reading or playing or whatever I did as a kid.

I got my first camera at Christmas 2005. It was a
Kodak easy share point and shoot with a few different modes and a little print
stand that connected to the computer. It was so awesome, and I took it with me
everywhere. Still, even with a camera everywhere, I never felt awkward in front
of it when I took self-portraits or someone stole it to take pictures of me.

It wasn’t until later in life, after I had gone
through several changes, that the camera shyness came. Looking back, it was
clear that the camera shyness was coming from my stress and declining health.

It got to the point that even doing a headshot (which,
believe it or not, I used to want to be an actress) was torture. I had anxiety
about how I presented myself (clothing, how I spoke, how I stood, was even worried
that my existence was a burden on people so how dare I be noticed) and that
made anyone taking pictures absolutely someone to be feared.

Does any of that sound familiar?

Photo Credit Rachel Slate

Photo Credit Rachel Slate

Photo Credit Jennifer Hodges

But, after awhile, I forced myself to be in the
picture. Because I was so tired and sad of feeling left out, ignored. I hated
having to hide when the camera came out at parties or on outings, and I wanted
to feel happy and welcomed again.

Step 1: Don’t run away, mentally or physically, when
the camera comes out. Whether it’s a cell phone or a point and shoot or a full-on
camera, just hold your ground. A camera is not a judgement.

Step 2. Take control. Some people have a fall back
pose or expression they know they feel comfortable with. For me, I took it the
other way. I didn’t feel comfortable at all, and I figured if I was going to be
awkward, I might as well make people laugh. So I would make silly faces in all
my pictures. Mean mugs, or funny faces, or exaggerate my features. I tried to
make it fun instead of being scared.

Step 3. Fall in love with yourself. There is a quote
that says “Want to know what someone loves? Look at what they photograph.” If
someone pulls out a camera and you’re in the frame, it’s because they find joy
in you.

I don’t photograph well without a lot of effort, and some days I cringe at
myself in pictures, but most of the time I look at pictures and think, “Oh,
that was a good day.” or “I really miss that hair/outfit/place.” Looking at
myself through someone else’s eyes, or even through my own kinder eyes, changed
my perspective on me.

I know this sounds so sappy, but sometimes reality is
sappy, so stay with me.

How often do you hear variations of “Oh, you need to
change your perspective?” or “Think outside the box?”

This is especially true when it comes to self-esteem. Everyone
wants to feel valued, to feel seen, to feel special. And it’s not always easy
in a world that can easily be uncaring, competitive, hard. There are bright
spots, yes, but so many people constantly struggle with if they are doing enough,
doing it right, doing it well, and that transforms into a “Am I enough? Am I
worth it?”

YES. You are. Just as you are. There’s always the
ability to do more, do better, but start with learning to love yourself in your
present state, in your past state, and know that no matter what, you are a work
of art in this exact moment.

I love portraiture. I love showing people an outside view,
free of all their experiences, negative self-talk, and opinions that have solidified
as fact due to time. I love that moment when people see the best in themselves
and just start grinning.

A picture says a thousand words. I hope they make you

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