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How to Manage Self-Image Struggles For Your Photography Session

Like so many other women, my self-image struggles and insecurity surrounding my body began really early in life. I have been critical of my appearance for as long as I can remember, and I am my own worst critic.

I know I’m not alone in this. And sometimes our own self-doubt manifests in ways that really end up hurting us, such as avoiding the camera. We step out of a photo being taken or think we’ll schedule our next family photo session when our bodies are a little more to our liking. We choose to be behind the camera instead, always snapping pictures of our camera. And when we do this, we deprive our children and ourselves of proof that we were there. Of proof that we loved them. Of evidence of all the little things we do–the way we read them stories in bed or gently stroke their head. These moments matter, and I hate to think that our own insecurities deprive us of capturing these moments we will treasure for the rest of our lives.

So here are my strategies for being kind to ourselves and practical ways to manage our own self-image struggles.

Choose a Photographer You Trust

I really, really believe in this one. As someone who also struggles with accepting my own body, I can tell you the biggest mistakes I’ve made with photography is hiring photographers based on price or convenience over the relationship and trust I have built with them. Recently I had a session with a photographer I really invested in, and

Look at a photographer’s portfolio before you book them. Did you know you can ask to see a gallery that includes a body that looks like yours? If you have concerns, anxieties, etc., you also should share them with your photographer. See how they respond. If they’re not empathetic or understanding, it might not be the best match for you.

Dress Yourself First and Choose What Makes You Feel Confident

This is the biggest reason I decided to make styling assistance and access to a client closet as part of my client experience (you can read more about that here). After investing in a session, it can feel challenging to continue to invest in a dress that will really make you feel confident and beautiful. So I’ve filled my client closet with dresses that are handmade, beautiful, and size-inclusive.

Please don’t try to diet before a session. Your images are going to capture how much you love your children, how beautiful you are, how wonderfully unique your family is. Your size has literally nothing to do with that. And one reason I’ve chosen highly adjustable dresses for my closet is that the size of your body will not impact what you can or can not wear for your session.

Be Gentle With Yourself

As much work we can do before the session to prepare, also know it is normal to have anxiety about being in front of the camera, and you may experience a multitude of feelings viewing your images.

Some principles I think are important to hold onto as you schedule your session, and I hope they can guide you in the way you experience feelings about your session:

  • Remember the way you feel about pictures of yourself from the past. Maybe you had really challenging feelings about yourself in old photos, but now you look back and see yourself with kinder eyes. You’re going to feel the same about the photos of today.
  • The words we say about ourself will one day be echoed in the heads of our kiddos. Even if we’re struggling, saying something positive about ourselves can change the trajectory of our child’s life.
  • Name the feelings you’re experiencing. Fear, anxiety, shame. The more we recognize them, the more power we have over these really challenging emotions.

I’m so grateful for all the clients who entrust me with the vulnerable experience of being in front of the camera. It is something you will never regret, and your children will hold onto these images forever and be grateful for your vulnerability.

The Journal