Dear bride-to-be, please stop hating pictures of yourself
Charlie / 17 May 2016
I came across the most heartfelt post from a wedding photographer to her brides-to-be, which sends such an important message that I think many women need to hear ahead of their wedding day. Written by Julie Anne Images, one of our TNWC Recommended Suppliers, this letter of sorts is entitled “Dear Bride-to-be, please stop hating photos of yourself.”
As I share this, I am acutely aware that I am still one of those women who like to check photos on the camera when my husband has taken them, or cringe and want to untag myself from Facebook photos shared by friends. I am still learning, dear friends, to relinquish this urge, not only for myself but now because I have a daughter of my own. I don’t want her to grow up with these insecurities, and so I think must first be kind to ourselves (easier said than done I know).
Wedding day appearance anxieties
I must say, the one day where I really felt free of any of those feelings was my own wedding day. Both my husband and I do not like being the centre of attention and I was filled with horror at the idea of having cameras pointed at us all day. But when it came to the day itself, I didn’t think about it one bit, I let the pure happiness of the day wash over me and I never once thought about how my hair looked or whether someone was capturing ‘bad’ pictures of me. I hope if you too have anxieties about being photographed on your wedding day, that you can feel as free as I did.
With kind permission we are sharing Julie Anne’s message with you all. Over to Julie…
Dear Bride-to-be, please stop hating pictures of yourself
…I’m the same, and I think I’ve worked it out. So often, we don’t enjoy looking at photos of ourselves because we’re used to getting ready in front of a mirror. Here’s the science bit: Our faces aren’t symmetrical and when we see them flipped as a mirror-image in a photograph, it takes us by surprise. Not to mention the fact that we each have either a left or right dominant eye for vision – add this into the mix with an asymmetrical face seen the other-way-round from the view we’re used to in the mirror, and it’s no wonder we often take a dislike to our appearance in a photograph.
And so we find ways to curate what we look like. We take selfies slightly from above so our eyes look bigger and our chins disappear – and how any mirror selfies do you see, posted publicly because as a reflected image those are the features, the view, the wielder of the phone-camera is used to? We’re not familiar with the full-length or side-on perspective. We criticise the aspects of our looks that in themselves are the very family resemblances that the gene pool passed on from those we love (I have my dad’s earlobes, my mum’s freckles and build, and I never got my teeth fixed…).
People are precious
We’re unhappy with our weight (my philosophy: life is short and food is tasty). When I look at my friends, I see their full range of facial expressions and everything that makes them the person whose company I enjoy; the same goes for them when they look at me. But then, we allow ourselves only a very few acceptable ‘photo faces’, overthinking what our mouth/teeth/eyes look like when someone is grabbing a picture. If they happen to catch one of our many other familiar-to-them expressions in between, we’re quick to untag or delete…
“People are precious” – this is the phrase my mind settles upon and keeps me focused when I’m working. It reminds me of what is most important – the bonds that we have with one another, with our special people, with the ones who we love and who love us in return.
Why are we so quick to self-criticize?
Recently I’ve been taking some head shots of couples to be displayed on a notice board. The men, I’ve observed, on the whole are happy if they manage to avoid blinking. The women, however (with only a few exceptions) want to check the camera screen and see what they look like, which they then pass comment on. Who did this to us as women?!! Who made us feel less than adequate about our own appearances that others are fond of, yet we can’t grow to love? Why are we so quick to self-criticize? Why, when someone compliments us, do we retort with the sort of words that brush it off and dismiss it? (I did this yesterday – Friend: “I love your hair!” / Me: “Thanks, but they cut it too short”). And worse – is this the model we want to set for our little girls?
How your husband looks at you
We’ve gone too far with curating what we look like. We’re too quick to delete. Our friends, loved ones, close family, observe us all the time and see every face we make, every mood. They don’t love you less because when you laugh you look a bit like your mum. They LOVE YOU MORE. Of course, I absolutely promise – just as it’s something that now comes naturally to me – to always be looking for the best angles, the most flattering light…
But oh, bride-to-be, I can’t wait to show you how your new husband looks at you, how he was scared that everyone could see the thumping heart he was sure would beat right out of his chest. The greatest gift I could offer is to let you see – in photographs of your parents, your friends – how much they all relish your company; how they watch you with a pride that’s been fermented together with all your shared memories; and even more, to see yourself honestly, soul-shining-through as they see you – valued, loved. Whatever face you’re making.
A huge thank you to Julie Anne Images for letting us repost this beautiful heartfelt blog post. I hope that many of you reading this will find comfort in her words and allow yourself to relax (at least a little more) for your wedding photographs, in fact any photo.
Images: Julie Anne Images
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