Imagine this: you have passed on from this life and your sons and daughters are gathering up photos to share with your friends & family. They are searching for pictures that captured the love that your family shared. They are looking for photos of adventures and great memories. They find image after image of the kids having fun, some of dad hanging out with them in the pool or posing at the park with his arm around them. But there’s one problem.
You’re the invisible mom. They struggle to find pictures of you. Why? Because every time a camera was brought out, you didn’t want to see a picture of yourself so you darted out of the frame. You were at a point where you felt uncomfortable in your own skin, so maybe you even hid behind the camera or volunteered to take the picture each time. You didn’t want to be in front of the lens until you “lost that twenty pounds” so you stepped inside to get something for the baby. But, let’s be honest, sometimes losing that twenty pounds doesn’t happen for a while. It’s a continual goal, but we don’t always achieve the goals we have in mind as fast as we’d like to. It’s not a criticism, its just life!! Real life! I know people who have not had family portraits for 5 years because they are still waiting to “lose that twenty pounds.”
I totally get it. There have been times in my life when I felt uncomfortable in my own skin & needed to make some changes. Plus it doesn’t help that I have a tendency to be the most awkward person in the picture! Even though I’m a photographer, I’m not one of those awesome natural posers who looks great in every photo.
If this strikes a chord with you, may I just encourage you to move beyond your feelings in this moment? Think further into the future. Think about your kids. They don’t care how skinny or fat you are! You’re their mom and they love you–not for what you look like, but because you’re their mom! They love you for what’s inside. They’re not judging you on your weight or shape. We judge ourselves much harder than they do. As they grow up, your kids will cherish the pictures that show them sitting in your lap, your look of love and pride with their chubby little fingers around you. They will want to see pictures of the wonderful things you did together and say “Remember when we did this?” You are building a visual history for them through your images and in the end, they will definitely want you to be a part of it, no matter how you see yourself!
Now, since you’re going to be appearing in pictures more often, 😉 here are three quick tips for looking your best in photos. We use these tips all the time in professional photography and so can you. These are completely untouched and unedited iPhone images..just like in real life!
1) Don’t be closer to the camera than everyone else. If you can, go cheek to cheek in a picture so that you’re the same distance from the camera or stand in a straight line instead of a U formation. Especially with smart phones! The distortion is awful!
Caption: I asked my daughter sitting next to me to take the picture. Being closer to the camera than the other ladies makes me appear much larger than them. Notice the size of my arm compared to theirs.
Caption: Try to get cheek to cheek when taking a picture so that you are all in the same plane.
2) Don’t show the widest part of your body to the camera. In the first picture above, I am leaning far over to my left to be in the picture and exposing the widest part of my body to the camera. Don’t do this! Bodies facing straight towards the camera don’t look their best. Find your most flattering look by rotating your shoulders slightly (about 45 degrees) and resting your weight on your back foot.
3) Take pictures from an angle where you are looking up. Never let someone take your picture when you are looking down—not even selfies! This includes kids or people who are sitting down to take your picture as you’re standing. Looking down is guaranteed to make you look your worst. Why? Because when we look down, gravity works against you by adding extra chins and weight to the face! Let gravity work for you by getting down lower than the camera and looking up! It smoothes out the neck and face. Kids want to take your pic? No problem…just squat down! You’ll thank me for this one later.
Caption: This is so much better! Holding the camera up a tiny bit forced us to look up, giving us more definition through the face. Isn’t she beautiful at 85??!
Don’t wait momma. Don’t wait until you’re “perfect” to capture those memories. You never will be. And if you were, how long could you maintain it and how much pressure would you be under to keep it that way? Don’t let your fears & insecurities rob you AND your kids! Now is the time. Have fun, play, make memories! Be present in the visual history of your family! Don’t be the invisible mom!
I would love to hear & see your stories about how you are fighting to become a “VISIBLE mom.” Follow me on IG at @juleshammy or FB at Damion Hamilton Photographer and tag your picture with #VISIBLEmom so we can see your visual history in action!