Here’s something I’ve noticed: almost everyone I photograph shares the same insecurities. They laugh nervously and half-jokingly ask if I can Photoshop out their double chins, extra pounds, and blemishes. But by the end of their photo sessions, they no longer think about those things. Instead, they allow their beauty to shine. And lucky for me, I’m there to witness this transformation. Every time I see it happen, I confirm that photography is not just about pretty pictures. It’s about allowing ourselves to be seen in all of our imperfect glory. And THAT is beautiful.
I’ll be honest with you, though. Despite my confidence in what I believe beauty is, I still struggle with it myself. I guess it’s true what they say – the thing we teach, the thing we write about, is the thing we are working on ourselves. That certainly is true for me when it comes to accepting myself and all of my imperfections. But in an effort to practice what I preach, I continue to turn the camera on myself.
I could just photograph the moments when I’m pulled together – made up, polished, every hair in place – but that doesn’t happen very often these days. I could wait until I’ve lost the baby weight or until my pre-pregnancy jeans fit me, but doing that would dismiss the person I am now. Instead, I want to honor her – just like I honor my clients. When I look at them, I see their beauty right away. So every chance I get, I turn the camera on myself. There’s no reason that the rules I apply to others shouldn’t apply to myself.
Here’s what I know to be true: I know that beauty is not about a number on a scale. It’s not about perfect skin or skinny jeans. And it’s not about looking the way I looked before (before marriage, before pregnancy, before college, before weight gain, before aging, before LIFE.) I can’t turn back the clock. I have earned the laugh lines, the worry lines, the creases, and the soft spots. And so I pick up my camera and photograph all of it – the darkness and light, the joy and exhaustion, the here and the now – and I see that I AM BEAUTY.
And so are you.
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How do you define beauty? When you think about the people you know and love, what qualities do you find most beautiful in them? (I suspect that most of them aren’t physical qualities.) What are YOUR most beautiful qualities? Share in the comments or share your photos in the Chickadee Road Flickr group.
Darrah is a photographer, writer, and new mama. Armed with her camera, she is on a constant search for joy in everyday Slices of Life and magic in simple moments. She specializes in photographing babies, families, and artists of all types and is the creator of the popular e-course, the Slice of Life Project. She enjoys spending time giggling with her baby girl, wandering Seattle’s farmer’s markets with her hubby, and sipping lattes – always with a camera close at hand!
More of Darrah’s thoughts on beauty and the healing power of photography: