Leaving a legacy. What is yours? Exploring the #existinphotos movement – and what it means for you, your loved ones, AND portrait photography.
There’s a movement happening, started by photographer Sue Bryce, to get us to understand the importance of being photographed. The #existinphotos hashtag is more than just a hashtag. It’s calling us to quell our fears, step into the limelight, and celebrate unashamedly. It’s beseeching us to consider what we leave our loved ones. And most importantly, it’s telling us to stop making excuses.
Knowing that we can all relate, I decided to make a small series of posts on this concept.
Symptom number 1 that you need to allow yourself to #existinphotos is that you hide from cameras. So many of us do this, right? Someone grabs their phone at a party and you duck into the next room. If there’s a group photo, you’re usually somewhere in the back. And getting photos taken of yourself intentionally? No way.
But cameras are everywhere, now that we keep them in our pockets all the time. Smartphones have made memories easier to document and more accessible. Not only that, but social media – namely Instagram and Facebook – have changed the landscape of our lives, probably permanently. Selfies, lunch, pets, friends, sunsets: these are the small frames that we use to share who we are. It’s brought a whole new life to the saying, “The best camera is the one you have with you.”
Not only is it a positive thing to share who you are (on whatever platform you choose, whether it’s Instagram or a coffee table photo album) – CELEBRATING who you are is also important.
To be specific, celebrating yourself AS YOU ARE right now is important.
Allowing yourself to exist in photos, though, is about more than you. What photographs do is document the NOW for the FUTURE. And there’s so much wrapped up in that little sentence!
Every portion of your life deserves recognition. The way you look in that bombshell dress you wore to your husband’s company Christmas party deserves to be documented! My rule of thumb is to think ahead to when I’m 95 years old (if I am that lucky) and to imagine the photos I would love to pull from a box and thumb through. My favorite milestones are in that box – but so are the portraits of me just being me at 16, at 25, at 40, at 52. Looking my best, appreciating my face and my body for carrying me through the world.
You deserve to have beautiful photographs – so do your loved ones. Some of my favorite things are the boxes of photos I have rifled through when visiting my grandparents or my aunts.
My mother passed away when I was a toddler. I have a few scant memories of spending time with her, but almost all I know about her has come from photographs. Can you imagine what I might be missing if she had ducked into the next room at a party or hidden her face each time someone lifted a camera to show her sitting with her daughter on her knee?
This is why I do what I do, truly.
I say all of this, but I still struggle to embody the #existinphotos idea. I haven’t booked a shoot for myself or Soner and I together in the entire time we’ve been married (hey, 5 years is a long time)! I’ve been able to keep a successful self portrait project going for almost 2 years, so I credit myself for that.
Informal photographs are a start. Be in them. Take more of them with your loved ones. I’ll be sharing more later about the professional portrait and shedding that fear.
You deserve this.