A Message to the Portrait Photographers

Apr 9, 2018

Missy Mwac

We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

A Message to the Portrait Photographers

Apr 9, 2018

Missy Mwac

We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

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She came in for her senior session. Her hair was a mess of tangled waves, unruly and uncooperative. Her face was covered with freckles and dotted with acne. She wasn’t model proportions and the clothing she wore required careful adjustment to keep it from bunching up in places.

She was sweet and shy, a girl not used to attention being focused on herself. But 10 minutes into her session, the shyness wore off, leaving behind a girl full of life and laughter. The session ended, she came back for her screening and the order went into production.

Several weeks later, she came back in with her mom to pick up her Senior album. It was filled with her favorites from the session. She was visibly anxious. I removed the album from the box and placed it in her hands. She opened the book, and as she slowly turned the pages, she wasn’t smiling. Quite the opposite actually…she began to cry. Each page seemed to bring a new quiet tear.

 

I was horrified. I was used to images being met with smiles and joy…what had gone wrong? My stomach felt like I had swallowed a chunk of ice.

 

I said nothing and watched as she continued to go through the album. And then, upon turning the very last page, she looked up at her mom, blue eyes shining with tears, and said the words I will never forget:

“I really AM pretty.”

And that, right there, is why we do what we do.

 

See, my portrait photography friends,

You do not cure cancer.

You don’t have the power to stop the path of a tornado or make rain fall on a land covered in drought.

 

You take pictures of people.

And although you aren’t performing surgery or landing a spaceship on a comet

You still have a gift to share.

And that gift affects lives.

 

For in front of your cameras stand people

And people, well, they often wear masks disguised as a smile

And beneath those smiles are the hidden things

The unspoken insecurities:

“I’m fat”

“I’m ugly”

“I’m not worthy to have my picture taken.”

“I’m going to hate these.”

 

You won’t know this, of course

Because most won’t share it

I mean, who can blame them?

But rest assured those feelings are there

More often than not

And they bounce around in the minds of those you’d least expect.

 

It is your job to create images that silence those fearsImages that prove those fears unfoundedImages that shout louder than the lies our insecurities whisper

Images that say:

“You are perfect.”

“You are beautiful.”

“You are deserving of attention.”

 

Your gift, dear portrait photographers, may not save lives

But never doubt its importance.

About the Author

Lynn Cartia (AKA Missy Mwac) is a photographer/eater of bacon/drinker of vodka and a guide through the murky waters of professional photography. You can follow her social media links here: FacebookTumblr. This article is also published here and shared with permission.

 

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8 responses to “A Message to the Portrait Photographers”

  1. Burt Johnson Avatar
    Burt Johnson

    Wow…! I am not a professional, so rarely get the chance to see what you just did. However, ever so often, I get praise back from someone that I know was shy and has a low opinion of themselves. And yes, that is the greatest gift I can receive.

  2. Ivor Lee Avatar
    Ivor Lee

    The other day a client gave me the nicest compliment. She was on a family vacation, her face a little sunburnt and her outfit and hair a bit of a mess. But we did a session anyway, and she said that her photos made her feel prettier than on her wedding day. I was shocked like you and I realized too, that our job is to bring our the best in our subjects, and to make them feel like they ARE something special.

  3. Catherine Merrill Avatar
    Catherine Merrill

    What a beautiful lesson.

  4. lewisfrancis Avatar
    lewisfrancis

    I’d love to have seen the photos but understand why that wouldn’t be a great idea. Warmed my heart — thanks. And fwiw I’ve always loved freckles.

  5. Joshua Bane Avatar
    Joshua Bane

    So good! Thanks for sharing this! ?

  6. Wilmer Valencia Avatar
    Wilmer Valencia

    This was incredible. I never thought about how my photography would effect others. I was always selfish in the sense that I worried about how my shots looked without caring if the model or customer would like them or not, since the photos were for my own personal use.

  7. Renlish Avatar
    Renlish

    The process of turning someone from shy lady, who thinks she’s nothing special to look at, into absolute diva is why I take pictures. There is no better feeling in the world than showing them the back of your camera three shots in just so they can see what you see, without the post-processing that they think will inevitably come with producing the photographs. Right there… I live for that moment.

  8. Shai Yammanee Avatar
    Shai Yammanee

    That was a beautiful story.
    Thank you for sharing it.