Friday, December 17, 2010

Why Self Portraits?

This week I had two different conversations with friends about self portraits. The questions were both the same: "why do I take pictures of myself?" I get the feeling that most people who aren't into photography think it's some sort of vanity project when in reality it actually has nothing to do with vanity or being vain. I thought I would blog a post about what I see as the benefits of self portraiture and why I choose to express myself this way.

Besides the obvious reasons of expressing myself as an artist and documenting a moment in my life, taking self portraits is a lesson in self-love and self-acceptance. We are bombarded with images of what society deems to be perfection but there is no such thing. Especially true for women, we are made to feel "less than" by commercial and print ads telling us that we will never be beautiful enough, tall enough or thin enough to walk the runway at a Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. We look in the mirror and see our flaws. My hips carry too much fat, my age spots are getting darker, a new wrinkle has shown up below my lip. 

Taking self portraits is a fun and silly thing. Running back and forth to the camera, trying to get the focus where you want it, working different poses, smiles, funny faces. You notice your boob hanging out or your underwear showing. You giggle at yourself. For a few minutes, your inner child comes out to play as you pose like your favorite movie star or model. Then, when you look back at your self portraits, you see the little adventure you took yourself on in order to achieve the image. Your not looking at your crooked smile or lazy eye. You don't notice the laugh lines or those extra holiday pounds. You see YOU. The unique, beautiful, fun, silly YOU. And you realize I am enough

You can take your image into a free program like Picnik or even Photoshop and make art out of your self portrait. Change the tones, make it high key, low key, turn it to black and white. Blur out your wonky bits and if that wrinkle really bugs you, then go ahead and erase it. It's not about the end result, but about the journey you took to get there. And Photoshop is healthier and cheaper than plastic surgery. ;)

I encourage all of you who read this post to take a self portrait. If you've never taken one before, the first one is a little scary but once you post it, you will discover that others don't see the flaws that you see and that you are most likely too hard on yourself. As you begin to lose the fears, the walls come down and you become open to self acceptance, to self love. And that is a precious gift to yourself. 

*my little journey for these self portraits included taking about 20 shots with the word JOY backwards before I realized it and nearly bringing the tree down as I tripped over the light cord. That's what I see when I look at silly, clumsy self...but, I love her anyways. :)


Carol aka Church of One said...

And much YOJ to you too during this holiday season!


heavenly~flower said...

And I love you too sweetness!! Thank you for encouraging me to take's made a big difference in the way I look at myself now. xoxo

Mom said...

And Mommy and Daddy will always love you no matter how you look or how old you are and Congraulations on being an Auntie again! Love the pics so send them so I can get them printed for grandma.

Nichole Renee said...

I love this post! And I hate self-portraits...but you've encouraged me to try again and not to be so serious next time!

(And yours are wonderful, by the way!)

Laura said...

Carol: Your comment made me smile! :)
Lei: Your self portraits are great! Keep up the wonderful work!
Mom: Thanks Mom! Okay..will try to remember to print the pics for you!
Nichole: YES! You must take have kind of with your cold toesies when your socks were missing. :) That's a start!

Lita said...

What a fantabulous post! I wholeheartedly agree about it being a project toward self-love and appreciation =) And like you said, the process itself is so fun, to where you get to run back and forth and laugh at yourself, at your outtakes, etc. lol =)

Laura said...

Thanks Lita love! Some of my favorite selfies are the ones where we were together! Here's to many more in 2011!

Alex said...

This post really hit home. Thank you for the insight. I have never been one to take self portraits or even be in a group photo. As I am older and showing those "signs of age"I regret not having photos of my youth. I am planning on snapping away in 2011.

Laura said...

Yes! You really should snap away in 2011! Don't worry too much about those signs of aging..we all have them. To defeat the critic within us just takes mind over matter! :)