In a women’s photography group that I’m a part of, we were recently encouraged to share images that represented what we’ve learned and how we’ve grown as photographers during our journey. I think the photos from this mountain family session in Crested Butte, Colorado represent some of my best work and clearly show that I have learned a lot in my short career. A lot of ladies posted “then and now” photos that represented their obvious growth and development as artists – I was too nervous to do this because some of those “then” photographs of mine are just… wow. And not wow in a good way. Haha.
This online discussion got me thinking though, and one of the things I’ve definitely learned is that we are our own worst critics. I cringe at some of my early photographs because I see so much that’s wrong with them. But the thing is, I know that my clients still have these photos hanging in their homes and see only what is lovely about them.
I continue to be a critic of myself despite my growth as a photographer. I know, somewhere inside of me, that I’m good at this… but the self doubt and criticism is almost always there anyway. Yet, there are SO many people who love my work and believe in me as an artist.
Another thing I’ve learned: As MOMS we are so critical of ourselves. From the mom guilt that comes along with one of those days where we’re just exhausted and short on patience and *maybe* leave the cartoons on for an hour longer than we think we should. To the responsibility we take on when our kid hits another in the head with a plastic golf club or pees in the beautiful stream at the Botanic Gardens as if everything our kids do is our fault (yes, both of these things have happened to me, haha).
And that self-criticism shows up SO MUCH when it comes to the way we think we look. I have had a really hard time with this after baby number two – I don’t look like I used to, my body and weight has changed, and I definitely worry that my days of living a double-chin-free-life are just dead and gone. This warped view of how we look comes up a lot when photographing families, new moms, and even brides. We all have something we don’t like about ourselves, we all focus on THE THING that we see in every photo THAT NO ONE ELSE SEES.
I hear it so much – and I vow to my clients that I will use flattering light, flattering poses, and flattering camera angles to help ease those fears.
But here’s the deal. First of all, ladies. YOU LOOK AWESOME. You really do. I have no frame of reference, so maybe your thighs are bigger than they used to be, or maybe you can’t wear tight shirts anymore, and there’s a chance you have more wrinkles and gray hair than before having kids (I mean, right?!? Kids!!) But you look beautiful. The most beautiful thing you can wear is those fabulous kids, and there’s nothing more lovely than a momma hugging on her babies, laughing at their silliness, kissing their cheeks. Nothing. It makes me tear up just thinking about it. The way that you look at that child of yours, the amount of love that you contain in your heart, it is breathtakingly beautiful and awe inspiring.
One last thing that I’ve learned, as a photographer and a mom myself, is this: getting IN the photos with your kids is so much more important that taking photos of your kids. The photographs of your children are for you. But the photographs you have taken of YOU with your children – those are for your kids. Those will be their favorite photos. Those images will be what they hold on to and cherish and keep close to them. And I promise, they won’t be like, “I love this picture of me and my mom from when I was four, all except I feel like she could have lost a little weight before the photo shoot. See? Don’t you think her calves look a little thick?”
My point? We are such critics of ourselves in so many areas of our lives and I feel like that keeps us from taking risks… putting ourselves out there, professionally, artistically, socially, emotionally… and the risk of getting in front of the camera to be in photos with our kids.
But you tell me, do these photos convince you that it’s worth it? And seriously, how gorgeous is this momma and her sweet family?