It is time that we, as women and girls, regain our sense of value and worth. And how does that happen? It begins with living an authentic and vulnerable life that is true to us and no one else. The masks of people pleasing and conformity come off. Insecurities and shame stop making their home in our hearts. And we choose living instead of surviving.
But how does that affect photography? I believe it plays a part in us finding our God-given identity and that can be on display in our photographs.
Photography has been cheapened by selfies and Instagram filters. What is true about a person is only a half truth when the image has been manipulated beyond what it originally was. Today most girls and women do not know who they are. Followers, likes, retweets- all of these lead us down the path of comparison, which is the ultimate thief of identity.
Real, raw, engaging photography with girls and women involves time and relationship. It’s not about snapping pictures that are trendy and editing them in whatever filter is the flavor of the month. It is about capturing the soul of a person. Staying true to who they are. How they appear through the lens should tell their story.
We don’t get these photos during a 30 minute mini session among the pumpkins in the patch or sitting on the same settee in the field that every other photographer has done for Christmas cards. This is something different. Transformative. Life giving.
A survivor of domestic violence might want a photo shoot showing her scars and her eyes might be saying that she is only beginning to heal. That’s brave. Another person may have just gotten engaged and wants to show her deep joy and excitement. That’s beautiful. Someone else might want to show her new gained confidence in being comfortable in her own skin. That’s powerful.
A photograph will not change a person but what if it is the start of something? Or is a continuation of her journey? The hope is that she will look at herself in the photo and it will ignite something in her that only she will understand. A new found strength. A new look at her beauty. A confidence because she feels the photos honor who she really is. Even though a photo is a small piece of her journey, it can be a time of discovery and empowerment.
There is no posing or formula or manual that shows anyone how to take a beautiful picture. The picture develops itself. As a photographer if we are fully engaged with the person in front of us we will capture them. We will get beyond the insecurities and the shame and dig deeper into the soul. This can happen with a 12-year-old or 102-year-old. It’s the same concept but plays out very differently in all people.
I won’t be the photographer who just snaps pictures to make a living. I have to be true to my understanding of the power in a photograph. A true photograph takes time and energy and engagement. It must just happen. Trying to force it doesn’t work. Just the right equipment definitely doesn’t work. F stops and all that other stuff won’t do it. We need to be emotionally whole and available to draw it out of other people. We can’t give what we don’t have.
All of the girls in these photos are known to me. I have photographed them free of charge over the years because I believe in the power of photography to show a girl her inner strength and beauty.