We live in a strange society when it comes to self image. We are constantly bombarded with ideals of beauty. We are constantly 'told' how we should look, how we should present ourselves, how we should fit into certain boxes. And yet, most of us adults feel really shy and insecure about our own appearance. We often feel like we don't meet the expectations, like if we are missing something. But who has those expectations that we think we are not meeting? Do our loved ones wish us to be any different than what we really are? My guess is that no, they don't. If somebody loves you, they love how you look. They love the special way you smile. How you look at them. The details. Everything that makes you, you.
That's one of the things I love about being a portrait photographer. I look at faces and I study them. The more I look the more I am drawn into them, the more I want to discover their different angles and expressions. The more I want to find the soul behind those eyes. The spirit that comes with that face and body. And on doing so, I want to show people how they look through my eyes. But funny enough, even though selfies are such a big thing nowadays, we find the notion of paying for a photo session for ourselves a bit funny. A bit too daring maybe. Some of us might even find it a bit self indulgent. And I wonder why! I really wonder why... I think it's a wonderful thing to put yourself in front of the camera. It's not self indulgent at all, but it certainly takes a lot of courage to do so!
When I first launched this challenge of my Facebook page, the challenge that led to the project now called 'The Beauty in You'' ,Kayleigh was the first person to answer to it. She had had a family session with me a couple of years ago, and she commented on my post saying she wanted to 'step out of her comfort zone'' and gain more confidence. And I instantly knew she would be on my list! How could I not choose someone who wants to 'step out of their comfort zone'? Someone who doesn't feel comfortable in front of a camera, and does it just to challenge that. Someone who has the guts to look their own beauty in the eye?
And look at her beauty!
It's a very vulnerable position to be behind the camera. As a photographer I often do self portraits, but it was only when I started swapping sessions with other photographer friends and standing in front of a camera, being photographed by somebody else, that I understood just how much. But like everything that makes you vulnerable, it is also very empowering! It's a way of looking the world, and more importantly yourself, in the eye and say ''Here I am! This is who I am and I value myself enough to put myself in this position!''
Kayleigh said that ,like most adults, she is not used to standing in front of the camera, but she wanted to challenge herself. She even suggested each person in this project could choose a body part they particularly liked and she chose her eyes. I absolutely loved that idea and I loved even more the fact that she was able to tell me what she loved more about herself! And I think we can all understand why she loves her eyes:
When this project first started coming together I had a few comments along the lines of 'I am no model'. And my first thought to this was that I want no models. Nobody needs to be a model to be showed their own beauty through photography. Nobody needs to be a model to have their beauty celebrated. Better yet, we are, in fact, all potential models. We all should stand one day in front of a camera and have gorgeous images taken of us. More than once, several times through out lives. Beauty is in fact in the eyes of the beholder and I truly wish more of us could see our own selves with kinder eyes. I wish more of us could realize we don't need to be anything more than what we already are. I wish more of us could take the step Kayleigh took and show their beauty to the world. To our own selves. To our loved ones. To our future selves. To our loved ones future selves. Can you imagine how dearly Kayleigh's daughter will look back on these images? How proud she'll be of her mummy?
I was surprised by how well Kayleigh adjust to being in front of the camera. I absolutely love the strength in her eyes, her spontaneous laugh, her feminine and elegant gestures.