This week’s blog is by Co-Women member and Personal Brand and Event photographer Sophie Sheinwald, who’s sharing some insights on the phenomena of being photographed.
Being photographed, love it or hate it, today in business we all need photos for our marketing. Yet the very idea of being photographed itself, can create some very interesting phenomena in us weird and wonderful humans.
In early 2022 I started an investigation into the discomfort many of us feel in front of the camera lens. I had many gorgeously deep conversations with people, many of whom work in a therapeutic field. In amongst these people who participated were a number of fellow Co-Women members also. My questions got me into some deep, goose-pimply, wise and in some cases, magical conversations! This sharing of thoughts lead me into the shadows and out into the light. It was humbling.
What I learned took me a while to absorb and I share some findings here.
The power of photography most definitely has the ability to connect us, to the degree that we feel photos probably more than we see them! A powerful photograph is one that resonates through the lens - it almost touches us.
Through these conversations I’ve realised how it’s an honour to be in a position to observe others and capture their visual story. It can be such a personal experience as there is this honestly that can come through that is somewhat vulnerable and inexplicably human.
As a photographer you really get the most special viewpoint.
I now estimate that more than 80% of people I photograph say that they are uncomfortable about the idea of being photographed, and claim, “I’m not photogenic.” or, “I’m going to be your worst client as I hate photos of me!”. For years I’d push on through this phenomena, until I decided to inspect it.
Through these findings, I discovered a dichotomy; people truly want to connect with their audience through photography, but when the camera lens appears, a phycological trigger kicks in.
I came to realise that vulnerability has a naked authenticity, where the person in front of the camera can let go of their guard and be themselves. This is the point of true connection. However it is this guard of protection that is a most fascinating beast.
From what I came to see, there is an interplay between a social veneer that gives us a feeling of safety of being someone else, and then there can be this emergence of painful emotions like shame, embarrassment and fear. Yet central to these ‘protective’ layers hide this very unique individual; this person who enjoys creating and running their business and making connections.
What a gorgeous paradox to witness. On the one hand, with guard up, such scary vulnerable feelings show up to the world through a simple photo session. And on the other hand, it is possible to capture an authentic vulnerability that is honest, courageous and incredibly beautiful.
Shining through the lens
As a photographer it’s my job to make clients feel comfortable in front of the camera. However, I realise now, that I am being let into a very private space, not just a physical space but a mental and even spiritual space. Not only am I capturing the exterior qualities of that individual with lighting that supports them in an environment that relates to their business, but I am helping them light up from the inside - and that is the most beautiful and photogenic part.
Like a good communication, being photographed professionally can be extraordinarily therapeutic. You push through those barriers of discomfort and you can allow the person to come through them. A person may feel nervous and uncomfortable beforehand but it can be a transformative, as how they feel afterwards can be a kind of beautiful release.
So not only is it a business transaction, to receive a service and product to use for marketing, but it’s something that helps a person shine out and say, “I’m here, and I do this shit, so let’s connect!”
I am very grateful for being a member of this incredibly supportive and varied group of women who are growing in number. Thank you to those who participated and shared there thoughts with me, you helped give me insight.
If you need to update your photos or you’ve never been professionally photographed, let’s chat a little and let me help you shine through the lens.
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