I see the walls women – tall, shirt, thin, curvy – put up between themselves and the rest of the world in regards to their looks. When I raise my camera their heads go down, their hands go up and I start with the begging and the the joking. Most of the time it works, probably because I’ve been clowning my way through the previous hour and they’re starting to get comfortable with me, but something inside me hurts a little because I know exactly how they feel and I want to do anything to make that feeling go AWAY.
I know that everything they hate about themselves is rolling around in their head and they’re trying desperately to figure out a way to hide all the things they hate about their body. They’re remember every insult, real or remembered from childhood, they’re remembering every well-intentioned piece of advice they’ve heard from mothers, grandmothers, friends about how to minimize the width of their waist or their double chin or how they should turn to make their nose less prominent.
And I have to go to work, fighting through all of that stuff the get to their core, the bring out the woman that’s been laughing with me for the past 45 minutes while she got ready, to find that sparkle in her eye and her beautiful, mega-watt smile, to take the photos that will make her see the beauty she really is.
I am not the best photographer in the world, but I work EVERY DAY to perfect my skills so that I can make the women’s experience of having their photo taken one of joy and happiness. It is my JOB to give them photographs that they can look at in the future and SEE what their loved ones see, see the beauty that they bury beneath all those terrible lies they’ve been told by themselves and by others. It’s my job to give them MEMORIES, wonderful memories, not only for themselves but for their loved ones.