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you’re prettier than you think

So, as a photographer, one of the most important things to me, when taking someone's picture, is to capture the person genuinely, and beautifully.  But it's hard.  Because people are so self-conscious. About their scratches and scars and ears.  And it's just plain difficult to relax sometimes.  I get it.  I'm one of those, too.  I have a disproportionate nose, skinny arms, two eyes that are completely different shapes, and an on-again-off-again double chin (depending on my trimester in pregnancy, or the number of months following).  

You'll remember I went to Nashville a while ago.  I stayed with my best friend's parents – a dear couple I lived with for over two years in college.  I sat down for breakfast with Jim, chit-chatted a bit, and brought out my new camera (oh, yeah, I got a new camera).  He's a bit of a photographer himself so I let him play.

Now, mind you, I'd had little sleep and no shower, and for some reason I'm going through some adult acne phase.  So the pictures were terrible, right?  Yes.  And no.

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Well, yes, because I basically look terrible and greasy grody.  But in the end, no.  When Jim flipped through the pictures his eyes lit up and he was absolutely tickled.  "Ah, these are cute!" (Jim, a bigshot VP at a Fortune 10 Company almost squealed).  And I can see why.

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For one, I was careful to take my own advice and relax as he snapped away.  And for another, I was careful to not pick myself apart.  These pictures are me.  Really me.  There are zits here.  And a straying bra strap.  And hair that needs serious help.  But  these are genuine expressions and it shines through.  And Jim, who loves me and has known me since I was seventeen, looked at these pictures and saw the beautiful me he knows.  No, he didn't say all that.  But I recognized a familiar mix of pride and delight as he scrolled through the images he'd taken.

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I am all-too familiar with people picking apart a beautiful photo of themselves because there is some phantom acne, or squishy part, or one ear is more red than the other.  In some cases, folks start the picking apart ritual before they've even been photographed. 

Do yourself and the photographer a favor: stop it.  You look great. 

And when you do get a chance to shower, and put on a decent shirt, and then choose to RELAX and get over whatever injustice you think you've been physically dealt, you get some really great photos:

[Photos set up and edited by me, but taken by my dear friend Melissa Wells, who did a great job]
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I am not photogenic, and I was careful to not edit any of the photos in this post too much.  Only slight contrast was added for color.  And if you pick them apart you can see wrinkles and veins and stray hair.  Whatever.  Who cares?  I didn't. 

You shouldn't either.

Lucy - You are lovely. . . .

Mom - One of your best posts ever, in my ever-so-humble opinion. Well said. (Oh… and I need a copy of that very last photo with no watermark on it for my office, pretty please?)

Leslie - thanks for this post. it’s so true and i have to admit that i’m one of those people that’s always thinking and i see the results in the photos and i’m not usually happy with them. the ones where i look best are the ones where someone had just caught me before i can think too much. i’ve been mentally working on that one but it’s hard.
thanks for sharing all the pics of yourself. i think they’re all beautiful.
what kind of camera did you get? i know you had bought a rebel a year or so ago.

Lisa Martin - you are beautiful. how ironic that you mentioned this. I found a 3 year old pic of me in a bikini! when I’d be really working hard for months to look good for a beach trip. Up until the other day I never thought I looked good. But I saw that picture and said I look GOOD.
And so do you, you look GREAT! can I steal your blog title, it’s perfect.

LauraJ - beautiful post!!

Andrea - I think you are gorgeous. And wise. And your daughters are going to grow up healthy with your great role model to imitate.
And I need to know… NEED TO KNOW where you got your jeans. Because I love them :)
-Andrea

Julie L. - Those pics turned out great, you look beautiful! Very brave, I hate having my picture taken!!! I would also love to know where you got those jeans…and your adorable shoes:)?

Crystal - The jeans are from PoppyPIA. I think it’s a regional store. I also love Francesca’s. Both are very affordable but set up like boutiques. The shoes are from Charlotte Russe (also an excellent place for jeans with stretch). Charlotte Russe, Forever 21…they’re all obNOXious stores but if you have a few minutes without the kids and have the patience to dig you can find some neat things. You just have to see past the daisy dukes and stuff in hot pink and large-scale houndstooth.

Bianca - Beautiful post! Beautiful pictures! You are better than me – I really hate self portraits and I don’t ever really put pictures of me on my blog. More power to ya, women!

angie weldon - you are quite dashing my dear. it’s really something special to capture the realness of someone…and these pics show just that!
i tried to email you directly, to no avail. so this will have to do!
i have followed your blog for some time, and i am always inspired by your life and stories. i’m sure that many others are also.
that is why i write.
my husband and i are the parents of 2 awesome little boys. in addition to these little guys, we have always dreamed of adopting our daughter from china, a place we have spend much time as english teachers, and even lived there as missionaries shortly after we were married.
all this to say, we are starting our adoption fundraising with a raffle (for a new nintendo wii!) and i have been writing to some of the bloggers that i admire, asking for help in spreading the word by posting a short post about our story.
if this isn’t something you are interested in, no problem. i figured there is no harm in asking, right?
we have gotten such an amazing response in 2 days…over 1/2 of our goal of $1500 is met! i feel so humbled and covered by love…it’s a great thing to see a dream happening right before your eyes!
anyway. sorry for the world’s longest comment :)
thanks for listening. if you have a moment, check out our story.
http://www.clintandangieweldon.blogspot.com
blessings to you and your family!
angie

Kim - Brava, darling.

Dawn - Beautiful!

Giftofgreen - You are absolutely adorable and your smile is the best! Great post.

angie - Nice photos. So, what’s the new camera!

MCH - Crystal’s shots are awesome!! So professional and you do well too!

sewperstitious - How beautiful are these pictures…!

Kristen - Can you please share what type of camera you got? You looks great and great advice!
kristen

Leslie - those are awesome pictures!!! it is so great that you can take your own advice and then pass it on to the rest of us like that. thanks

Katrina - I think you are very Beautiful!
I have the the same wedge shoes with the buckle but in Ivory! Good taste :)

Crystal - The camera: I am now the very proud owner of a 5DMarkII. It was pricey, but as full-frames go it was the best option. If you are looking for a full frame, another choice is the 5D – the older version of this camera. I chose the newest because I would eventually want it anyway, and because the technology is newer – including its high ISO capability.
If anyone is looking to take a step up from a Rebel, another option many folks take is the 50D. But, personally, I wanted a full frame.

Amber - This is a sweet post. Thanks for sharing…and being vulnerable. Love that you got in front of the camera for those last shots! They are great! Bet your hubby loves them.

girl from Hong Kong - i think u are pretty.. would like to call it 書卷氣 in Chinese. scholarly, wise..well, unable to translate it exactly. in fact, when i first saw your photo, something struck me that you looked a bit like Asian.
your story with your sister always touches me.
i also want to take self-portraits (before i grow old : ). The photos you post are exactly the type that i want. too bad is that i dunno how to find such a photographer. Before i even hv the wish to fly abroad when i saw some excellent photos posted by foreign bloggers ^^

mens health - I just don’t see how the right solution can be so tightly disciplined to a dollar figure. By all means, recognize that a problem has a cost attached to it, and therefore the solution must be limited by that financial context.