Even photographers need to be photographed and recently I had my turn to be the subject and be viewed through another’s camera lens. I choose my photographer after photographing her because we hit it off. But I also chose Marsha because I love her style. She loves working outside in natural light with simple equipment. This is my style too.
In addition I wanted a good photographer who would keep me looking like me.
There is an immense amount of freedom in working with someone who knows and supports you in not hiding your age. I loved the opportunity to experience what my subjects do. Putting myself in the hands of a talented artist requires trust. And I choose well.
I definitely had anxiety about letting the world see me at 62. The reality is I have wrinkles on my neck and lines around my eyes and hell, wouldn’t it be nice to weigh five pounds less?
The beauty is that after photographing over 25 women over the age of 50, I am well aware that my insecurities are pretty universal. Every woman I’ve worked with had some variation on this theme. I am not alone.
It was important to me to show up and be seen as I am, not as a heavily photoshopped model.
The opportunity to be seen by another female photographer and relax into myself helped me see how affirming a portrait session can be. How disarming it is to see our own faces up close as they really are and yet what a wonderful feeling it is to sink into acceptance. To say, “I love this picture!” and look past our perceived imperfections.
My body is the shell for who I am. Sometimes this shell is unwieldy and disappointing, but because of it I get to inhabit this universe.
After our photo shoot, I broke a tooth, found out I needed a uterine biopsy and had badly inflamed gums around a dental implant. This came on the heels of a badly infected bee sting that required steroids and antibiotics as well as one of the worst allergy attacks I’ve had in some time. I felt a bit overwhelmed.
My shell was letting me down.
Or was it?
I mean, when I met with Marsha to review my portraits, I saw a woman who was 62, yes, but I also saw a woman who had joy in her heart. Who was having a damn good time having her picture taken!
When I photograph women over 50, I don’t see the things they are worried about. I want to be sensitive to those things, but I honestly don’t see the same things.
We can be so hard on ourselves.
We don’t see our own beauty.
Yet when we work with an artist who wants to know what we are all about, we give ourselves an opportunity to see past the perceived imperfections of our bodies. We get to see inside our own souls.