permission to be yourself

WARNING: Very wordy post ahead. Grab your coffee and get comfy.

My lovely assistant and second shooter Jessie came out with me the other day to do a real deal photo shoot of yours truly. It had been a very very long time since I was on the other side of the camera so it was time. It felt nothing short of very weird. I am not used to it at all and it reminded me that most of my clients probably are not used to it either. I think that as a photographer I can forget how strange and awkward my clients might feel while I am photographing them. Since having this experience, I think it has made me a better photographer and I also learned something about myself that I want to change.

While looking through the images that she captured I would immediately think something negative about myself. I didn't do it on purpose.....it just sort of happened. It felt natural just as breathing does. All of these thoughts and more ran through my head when I sized myself up: your face is too small for those huge ears, nice bags under your eyes Shannon, you seriously have no butt, your legs are too skinny, people are going to think your ridiculous, you kind of look like a monkey when you laugh......seriously the list could go on and on and on. Keep in mind that I had my clothes on in these photos. Just imagine all the awful thoughts I could throw upon myself if I was naked.

These thoughts need to stop. We all do it don't we? We need to stop beating ourselves up. I tell my clients to do this all of the time. I need to practice what I preach. So what if I have chicken legs and big ears. My girlfriends with the nicest bums (yes, I just said bum) always complain about how big they are. The grass is always greener on the other side and we ALL want what we don't have. WE are God's handiwork. He created everyone uniquely beautiful. We should be thankful for that.

I am challenging myself today to retrain my brain. I want to be okay in my own flawed skin. The next time I see myself in the mirror or in a photo, I will do everything in my power to stop the barfing on myself and think of something good. You should try it too. Compliment yourself. Seriously. It will feel ridiculous at first but let's do it together. Tell me what happens. You have PERMISSION to be yourself and to be beautiful JUST THE WAY YOU ARE!

When I first saw these photos, I felt so dumb. I was worried about showing them to anyone because I was worried they would think I was nuts. Now, they are my favorites. l love them because I feel that they absolutely show who I am. The truth is this: I am a little nuts and I am okay with that.

Jessie made me feel comfortable enough to be myself in front of the camera. She gave me permission to just be me and  to be silly. That is the mark of a truly gifted photographer. So, Thanks girl for capturing the real me and not telling me how big my ears are. ;)