3 Things Taking Self-Portraits Taught Me

A year ago, if you scrolled through my Instagram feed, you probably wouldn’t have seen much of my face. There may have been a snapshot here or there, but trust me when I say, it was rare to see anything but client work and a sprinkling of personal work. I had believed this lie that I was serving my ideal client in the best way possible by ONLY showing them the types of photos and moments that I could capture during a session.

But even bigger than that, the real underlying reason for never jumping in front of the camera was because the thought of putting myself in front of my own camera was nerve-wracking. I wasn’t confident in how I looked, I was afraid of what other people would think, and I mean, did I even know how to do this whole self-portrait thing?? To put it simply, it crossed an invisible vulnerability line and I wasn’t ready to take that leap.

self portrait at window - things taking self portraits taught me - Nicole Guido

But then I started watching my fellow incredibly talented artists post these beautiful, timeless, and creative portraits of themselves and I found myself in awe. In awe of their beauty and confidence in a vulnerable moment (because let me tell you, no matter how many times you jump in front of your camera, I think there will always be a small twinge of self-consciousness). In awe of the way they showed up. For themselves, their families (because, hi, it’s important for us, the photographer, to create a visual legacy too!), their online community.

What was holding me back? Nobody but myself. Isn’t it funny how we self-sabotage ourselves and convince ourselves that we’re not worthy?

I decided to break the barrier, cross the vulnerability line, and give it a whirl. I took a few self-portraits and then I shared them every so often in my feed. And at the end of 2018, I was invited to join a very talented group of ladies for a Sunday night self-portrait loop in Instagram. I was humbled and grateful, and slightly intimidated. I mean, the caliber of self-portraits and art in that group is off the charts because they’re incredible artists.

But joining that group has been a learning experience to say the least. Here are 3 things I’ve learned from taking more self-portraits.

Self-portraits put a face to the name

Want to know something interesting? Pictures that have my face in them are often the most liked on any of my social media outlets. And I’m not saying that to brag – far from it. I’m pointing this out because I started to question why. I think the answer is this: when you see the people behind the art, it gives the viewer a personal connection. It puts a face to the name. For so long, I got caught in the cycle of hiding behind my art. I wasn’t sure that I had anything important to say and I didn’t want to come across… vain. But honestly, when I see other friends pop into their feed, I’m delighted (and vain isn’t even a word that I would use to describe their portraits) and I’m quick to heart because I feel like I get to know them a little more.

self portrait in the snow - things taking self portraits taught me - Nicole Guidothings taking self portraits taught me - Nicole Guido

Self-portraits push my creativity

In the very beginning of my self-portrait journey, I started with very basic portraits of myself – me against a solid backdrop. And those are some of my favorite photos. But around Christmas last year, I decided to start trying new things with my portraits. In my self-portrait loop, every other week is a different theme. I’ve started to push myself to think outside the box for those themes. Some would fail and never see the light of day. But others would turn out. I think I’ve just learned that it can’t hurt to try and in order to learn and grow we must try things out of our comfort zone!

bookface self portrait - things taking self portraits taught me - Nicole Guidorainbow self portrait - things taking self portraits taught me - Nicole Guidoblind shadows self portrait - things taking self portraits taught me - Nicole Guido

Self-portraits build confidence

This is the #1 thing that I’ve learned by taking more self-portraits. For a really long time, I was nervous to be in front of the camera. I didn’t know what to do – with my hands, with my body, do I fake smile, fake laugh? What do I wear? Help! Seriously, those were thoughts that crossed my mind. At some point, I just decided to go for it. I pushed the nerves out of my head, clicked the remote and hoped for the best. And the more I do it, the less nervous I am about how it will turn out or how it’s received. Because it’s art.

Nowadays, Sunday portraits are, like, a thing in my house. Hubby knows it’s self-portrait day. He actually makes a really good stand-in for focusing – ha! If you’ve been thinking about trying out self-portraits, I’d encourage you to do it! If you’re a photographer, or a mom, you know that a lot our time is spent behind the lens and once in awhile, it’s important to get in the frame.

Through the month of May, I’ll be challenging myself to taking daily self-portraits. I’ll be posting over on Instagram and you should join me by tagging your photos with #getintheframemay! Let’s hold each other accountable. If you’re in, can you do me a favor and leave a note below so I can cheer you on??

Christmas self portrait - things taking self portraits taught me - Nicole Guidofreelensed self portrait - things taking self portraits taught me - Nicole Guido


 

Fayetteville NC Photographer - Nicole Guido
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