Let’s Talk Camera Confidence

Let’s talk camera confidence.  Or confidence in general.  

Getting in front of the camera can be terrifying. I see it day in and out, being behind the camera and being an artist.  Being a girl, a woman.  Being a human being.  I realllly get it.  Like on a deep, personal level.  I’ve been on stages, in spotlights, in front of cameras and behind them.  I have experienced a gamut of “looks,” so to speak…phases in my younger life, characters I’ve tried on.  Consistency (while key) was not my friend for a long time and I still struggle with it in certain areas of my life.  In my teens and twenties I was preppy, I was a Woodstock wannabe. I was a lacrosse player.  I was a field hockey player.  I was a rebel.  I was your best friend.  I was the theater girl.   I was the girl who would never steal your man.  I was a doormat.  I was a punk.  I went through like a two day goth period (it wasn’t pretty.  My friend tried to dye my hair black and I had too much hair and not enough dye…I ended up looking like a leopard and having to pay $300 to get it undone).  I tried to be the smart girl, the edgy girl, the bad girl, the good girl.  I’ve literally been every size from a 4 to a 20.  I’ve been most of the semi-natural looking hair colors.  I wore glasses.  I I was the girl who was 5’8” in fifth grade and kept growing until I hit 5’11” at age 16.** (** see below for more tangental anecdotes)

First people told me to lose weight, then gain it, then lose it again.  They told me I’d be cuter as a blonde.  Was I a natural redhead?  They asked me why I didn’t have a Southern accent.  Wasn’t I from the South?  You’re hilarious. People don’t like funny people, though.  Then they told me I should just build muscle, but not too much. They told me to hide.  They told me to strut my stuff.  Be confident.  They told me to model.  They told me to use my brain and study English or go into real estate, maybe.  Find a man.  Find a woman? A cat?  A plant?   Find someone to love.  They told me I should be famous.**  They told me I should pinch my pennies, count my lucky stars and get a real, dependable job.  They told me I shouldn’t have such self-esteem.  Or low self-esteem.  They told me to wear bigger clothes, tighter clothes, no clothes.  Stripes don’t look good.  Wear all black; it’s slimming.  Don’t wear all black..are you going to a funeral?  Just stop eating.  Why don’t you ever eat?  You’d be pretty if you wore makeup.  Why do you wear all that stuff on your face?  

The funniest part is I RARELY RECALL ASKING FOR ANY OF THIS UNSOLICITED ADVICE.  

I’ve over-eaten, under-eaten to the point of literally black-out fainting because I had no nutrients in my body, over-exercised to the point of being unhealthy, and also been depressed and sedentary, barely getting out of bed.  I’ve had horrible acne breakouts with super pale skin to boot.  I’ve had times of baby smooth and lovely skin and been super tan and freckled.  I’ve missed a patch while shaving my legs.  I’ve forgotten to wax.  I’ve worn my shirt backwards accidentally.  And I’ve worked in lots of industries, lived in quite a few places and heard LOTS of comments about myself (physically and otherwise), to my face AND behind my back.  (It’s amazing that people don’t think, or simply don’t care, that you hear them when they’re like less then 5 feet away from you. Ammirite?)

I don’t write this because it’s particularly beneficial to me or therapeutic.  If anything it’s just fodder for more online bullying or trolling.   I just want people to know–as a photographer, a woman, a friend, a nanny, a educator, an artist, an academic, and just a basically decent human that wants people to know this–that it doesn’t matter how confident, beautiful, thin, curvy, stacked, built, intelligent, quick, loved, loving, content, hilarious, or talented you are…we, as humans (and especially as women), can pick out alllll our flaws (internal and external) and then magnify and harp on them them, 100 times over. We are our own worst critics and sometimes we allow these critics into our lives and let them take up space in our heads without paying rent. 

[Sometimes this can be a good thing.  It can push you to be better.]

Sometimes this self-awareness is a genuine benefit and allows you to address your issues in a healthy manner, head on, and come out the other side a better person.  However, it’s when we don’t address these issues and just continue to hate on ourselves and each other and not do anything about what we don’t like, it’s then –that we are caught in a vicious, dark cycle of self-hatred, which is essentially extreme narcissism flipped on it’s head (after all, the Greek Narcissus killed himself because he couldn’t stop staring at his own reflection).  We become obsessed with being “other” rather than embracing the “true” best version of ourselves as we were made.  And this sucks.  It really really sucks.  It leads to more domino cycles of bullying, nasty comments, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, PTSD, and health issues like morbid obesity, OCD or anorexia nervosa (which are all so similar in internal symptoms, but present themselves very differently externally).   

Ask anyone who has modeled or acted professionally (I’m raising my hand but you can’t see it because it’s not something I fully own up to, still, to this day) or done anything where their literal monetary net worth (paycheck) is dependent on how they appear to a certain group of few people with their own fetishes and ideals of beauty, talent and competence.  Think about how much it can hurt to be told to lose 3 pounds to get a job, or take singing lessons when you’re really just singing in the car for fun, or maybe a few more math courses because you momentarily forgot what 5x5 was, or to be physically compared in a half-naked lineup to a slew of other men and women.  Then imagine you’re a 5 year old little girl or boy or a teenager with raging hormones being fed these false ideals sub-consciously, through hearing adults talk about other adults, or watching ads or movies, or sometimes being straight up bullied by your own “friends” and family members.  These people tell you all that matters is that you make money.  All that matters is that you get a filthy rich and attractive wife/husband.  All that matters is that you don’t let anyone take your money.  They tell you all that matters is you drive the latest vehicle.  All that matters is that you are not fat.  All that matters is that the opposite sex sees you as attractive.  All that matters is you are good at math.  All that matters is that you get a “real job.”  All that matters is that you pray to their same God.  This is what people consistently internalize and play out, that all this matters.   All that matters, all that matters, all that matters, all that matters….all this does not matter in the end.

The diet culture and the beauty industry and the self-help industry and the auto industry and therapy industry and alll the fucking industries make millllllions of dollars of profit off your low self esteem because they tell you that you need fuller lips, wider hips, no—wait, smaller hips, tiny waist…a smaller ass is in season…no ….ummmmm, wait…the Kardashians and JLo made big booties big again for this decade…so Brazilian butt lifts, implants, bigger eyes.. also “exotic eyes”, a certain shape eyebrow etc, etc, etc.  You get my point. 

Don’t other people define your worth or your brand of inner and outer beauty, especially from a physical perspective.  These things change over time on an individual level and a mass level.  Fads come and go.  Remember the Victorian bustle silhouette?    Body trends don’t last anyhow. What lasts is being healthy, loving yourself healthy self-confidence, self-care and commitment to oneself and others and your community/loved ones.  A desire to do and be your best as a whole, integrated and well-adjusted human being, not your thinnest or prettiest, handsomest or most talented, or richest or fastest runner or swimmer–whatever your things are.  While offering yourself and your talents to the world as a gift is amazing, PLEASE don’t wait to be “perfect” to do this and to show up.  Just show up.  You’ll waste years of time hiding in your own insecurities.  I know I have.  Your kids don’t care if you have a little love handle.  They want to be loved.  Your husband doesn’t care if you have a zit on your face, they love you for what you mean and are to them.  Your boss doesn’t care if you have grey hair or straight hair or curly hair.  And if these people do overly care about these things and verbalize them constantly to you and others, ask yourself why you let them.  Why are they in your life at all?

So, I suppose my long, tangental story has a moral.  Kind of.  

Please take the risk to let yourself and others see your unique inner and outer beauty and even highlight it. Whether it’s a photographer, a boyfriend/girlfriend, your kiddo, a friend or a total stranger who sees you for who you are, it’s a risk worth taking. TAKE THE FUCKING COMPLIMENT.  LET YOURSELF BE SEEN.  To be seen and heard for who you truly are (and can’t always see) is always worth it. I promise. 

Oh, and also fuck perfect.









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