This is a Blog-Post About Keeping it Real
I’m embarking on a new way of doing things, and as part of this I plan to start communicating more with all of you, bringing you hints and tips for taking better photographs, tales from my daily goings-on, juggling small people with a busy work life and also sharing some of my own family’s art/craft/adventure successes and failures. (sign up to my newsletter here!)
I’ve been challenged on a personal level recently about being real. The quality that I most value is integrity, and
in today’s fast-paced social media world, there is so much pressure to present ourselves in a certain way online and in our businesses. Those of you who know me may know that I have had a few rough-patches in life, battling both physical and mental illness. Managing these kinds of hidden illnesses is not helped by the shiny, pinterest perfect lives presented by so many via social media.
I want to keep it REAL! I want to be on the right team - the team that is gradually daring to speak out against the tide of messages screaming “you must look this way” and “you must be able to balance work and life and kids and do it all immaculately or you are a failure”. I want to be one of the small voices who is unafraid to say;
'You know what? THIS is how it is for me today. It’s messy, it’s busy, It’s imperfect but I am being myself to the best of my ability, and that is what counts.'
I feel that this is especially important when working in photography. What kind of message do I want my kids to grow up with? “You are not good enough as you are. You, and your life, need airbrushing”. Absolutely not! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the odd bit of skin smoothing to get rid of a scratch, or cloning out a monster spot, or even more heavy processing in order to create a piece of art that conveys a certain mood or a deeper truth, BUT I want my children to know that they are perfect just as they are. How can they internalise this message if they see me trying to make my life/my body look like something it isn’t? If they see that I’ll gladly share the happy, rosy parts of our lives but neglect or even hide the hard parts? This isn’t just about pretending we don’t have a double chin when we erupt in raucous laughter (we all do - it’s fine, and natural, and beautiful!). This is about my children - your children - knowing that it is OK to not feel ok. It is OK to have a bad day/month/year and to need a little (or a lot of) help and support to get through sometimes. It’s WONDERFUL that our bodies are all different shapes and sizes...
...Be open, be real, be healthy… talk about it!
So, to round up my message today, I leave you with these two illustrations. When I take photographs, I notice the way that the light falls and I use that to capture moments in an artistic and flattering way. I may even use a touch of photoshop to remove some dribble, or a nasty spot, or make a tiny adjustment that I could have just as easily achieved with a slightly different angle of light. What I will not do is make someone look like somebody else. I won’t make you 3 sizes smaller or larger or 20 years younger! This is for the sake of the next generation. I want them to know in their innermost being that they are ACCEPTED just the way they are. They can’t believe this if we are bombarding them with the message that WE are not fine as we are. I want the grandkids to look back at photographs in years to come, and see what myself and my husband were really like, not what we thought we wanted to look like. In the future when my children are facing difficulties (health issues, body issues, stress, depression, relationships… anything!), any struggle that life throws their way - I want my children to know that their Mum went through a phase of being a little bit larger and she didn’t doctor her photographs to hide it. She went through a tough time with her health after giving birth, and wasn’t afraid to talk about it. I want them to know that it’s OK - that we went through it too, that they are normal and accepted, and that they can address their struggles without fear or being rejected.
Secondly (almost as a mirror of my thoughts on photographs) in the same way that I use the way that light falls to create a flattering photo, I may also be selective in the way that I present my struggles and hardships with you. I may turn certain aspects of myself to the ‘light’ and share them openly though my blog. There may be other things that I speak less of that only come up from time to time, but I will not hide. I am not going to photoshop my life - make myself in to someone else - in order to be accepted. A few people (who keep in touch mainly via social media and we rarely meet face to face) have said to me recently that I come across as ‘one of those people who does it all’ and ‘always doing amazing things with the kids’. I never, ever want anyone to look at my facebook feed and feel guilty, because of what I appear to be achieving. I want to keep it REAL! Those who see me regularly face to face will know that our life is messy, at times chaotic and bloomin’ hard work! I want my online presence to reflect reality. In a forum of professional photographers, I was recently encouraged to hide the fact that I am diabetic, to not speak of my past mental and physical illnesses, because after all - it might put clients off. They told me to share a link to a diabetes charity if I want to do my bit, without any reference to myself and with strong words of caution. I heeded their advice, but something didn’t sit quite right. I’m currently embarking on a training program with the Female Photographer Association, and I began to feel so inspired, uplifted and released by the honesty of other members - letting their true selves shine through their businesses.
It’s OK to be you! I am going to start demonstrating this by living it out. It’s ok to be me, too.
Enjoy your day people,
Be yourself, you are worth it!
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