Growing w/ Grace

Getting photographed requires vulnerability


For the last four years I have fallen in love with hearing the quick shutter speed go off while looking through the viewfinder of a camera. I have fallen in love with capturing facial expressions, lines that appear from smiles and tears that come from an abundance of laughter. 

Through this “love journey” I have had with photography over the years, I have not only learned a lot about myself, but what it’s like to be on the other side of the camera. Being photographed requires so much vulnerability.

I have been pondering this idea for about the last year or so, and I figure there is no better time to talk about it then right around fall senior session time. When the leaves begin to change and you have to frantically look for an outfit with your mom last minute, and it just adds to the list of things to do. 

I think my original realization of this concept began when I got acne around two years ago. The thought of having to take a headshot for an editorial on The Journal followed with heaps of anxiety and uneasiness. Or, family pictures suddenly became so much more than a few clicks of a button and then it was over. Then, it followed with endless intrusive thoughts on what that lens might’ve found that I was trying to hide.

But, it wasn’t until I started doing more photo sessions that I truly realized I had very little respect for my subjects in how much faith they were entrusting me with to take their picture. Just as I was an insecure subject, I didn’t connect the two ideas of me possibly putting someone else in that position. How much vulnerability was required for them to let me stick a camera in their face and then look at those photos for hours when editing them. 

Signing up to get your photos taken by a professional, or getting a senior session done is more than getting back a few photos after doing an hour long session. It is paying someone to take pictures of you, and look so intimately at your face and make any adjustments necessary. 

And to some this isn’t intimidating at all. This is an ever-so-simple idea that is just part of a process to create something larger than them, something captivating. But to others it creates an insurmountable amount of emotions that are attached.

The vulnerability this requires from the subject can ultimately amplify insecurity, like mentioned previously. When the one being photographed lacks inner confidence or has built-up physical self doubt, which is very common amongst teens, it can make the idea of being photographed just that more daunting. 

And although the vulnerability required from the subject can be unavoidable, sometimes the most beautiful things come from vulnerability. Although there is a risk factor that you won’t like what you see in the photos, there is also a great possibility that these could be moments you’ll want to cherish forever. 

Along with the fact that you could be representing things others struggle with, and then creating a safe space for them to embrace something that they were once insecure about too. Vulnerability, although scary, can be one of the most beautiful features of life. 

So now when I think about getting my photo taken, I will remember that the vulnerability I feel inside can be the birthplace of invention and creativity. That although it won’t be easy, it will be an opportunity I need to seize in order to discover something greater than myself. These senior pictures or Letter from the Editor headshots are now an opportunity, not a defeating responsibility.