Are you camera shy? Do you raise your hand to block friends and family from taking your photo? Do you turn your head away during group photos? Do you simply refuse to be photographed? For a lot of you I imagine the answer is yes. The question is why. Sadly too many of us struggle with image issues. We simply aren’t happy with the way we look right now and we tell ourselves that we will get in the picture “the next time” when we’ve lost some weight, toned up, etc. I’m here to tell you why you should SMILE the next time the camera focuses on you.
As many of you know, I love making scrapbooks. After the recent passing of my dad, I decided to begin a scrapbook that focused on all the people I’ve loved and lost. At first I thought this would be the easiest album to create – after all I have hundreds of photos. When I took a closer look at the photos; however, there was one thing that jumped out at me. While there were loads of photos to sort through, most of subjects in the photos were of children – my kids, my nieces and nephews, cousins, even myself and my brother as children. Unfortunately the photos of my loved ones taken during their adulthood were much more elusive. Sure there were the obligatory “portraits” but not nearly enough candid shots.
I can remember days when both of my parents asked me not to take their photo because they didn’t like the way they looked. My beloved Aunt was the same way. Being the persistent gal that I am, I would often badger them just enough to let me take one or two photos. They weren’t too happy about it and often asked me not to show them to anyone else. Sadly all three of them have passed away. I am thankful for the few photos that I do have. I know that they were afraid that future generations would see their photos and think “Wow, she was really fat then” or “Geez, he really let himself go” but the reality is that all WE (the survivors) see are their beautiful smiles, the twinkle in their eyes, and their love of life. For them and too many others I’ve loved in my life, “the next time” to take that photo never happened. None of us truly knows if there will ever be a next time, and certainly “the next time” can’t re-create the same moment in time.
Believe me when I tell you that no one is examining photos of you the way you think. The people who love you see your spirit, your sense of humor, your compassion – in essence they see your soul. When someone wants to take your photo, it’s not meant to embarrass you but rather to celebrate you.
I used to be camera shy myself many years ago. I loved taking photos and it was also my excuse for not having to be in the photos -- especially when my weight was at its worst (I've yo-yo'd for years!). Then one day I was working on a project that had me looking for photos taken during a "heavier period" in my life. I was sad to find few photos to choose from and even more surprised that the photos I did find didn't seem so AWFUL anymore. I was reminded of some really fun times and the fact that I was heavier ... well, I was. So what? It was at that moment that I started handing the camera over to others so that I could be "captured" on film once again!
Everyone I know loves to look at photos of others. Whether in a scrapbook, an album, a shoebox, or digitally on the internet, we feel more connected to our friends and loved ones when we can peek into their lives and share their happiness. Staying out of the picture simply denies them this opportunity.
I would hate for any one of you to be left out. Let your friends and family celebrate your life WITH you and ensure that future generations won’t ever forget you. So the next time you see the camera pointing your way, keep in mind that it’s really a compliment. It’s someone’s way of saying “You’re important to me.” Don’t forget to say cheese!
REMEMBER: TODAY IS A GIFT. THAT’S WHY THEY CALL IT THE PRESENT!
(I'm glad I handed my camera over to a friend so that this moment in time could be captured. I might not have LOVED the way I looked that day, but there is no doubt that I LOVE this photo and how I feel when I look at it!)