Self Care: 7 Tips from a Photographer to Help You Become Your Favorite Human
The mission: Get in front of the camera in a safe, comfortable, relaxing setting. The goal: Stop being so hard on yourself.
1. Face facts, for once in your life.
As much as you try, you will never, ever fully see your own face directly through your own eyes.
Do you ever find yourself asking questions like: How did I end up here on this yoga mat, in a floor length dress, hiding behind a potted aloe plant?
Am I the only one?
Anything can happen when the camera is rolling, so to speak. You start to discover things about yourself that you never noticed before. Like, hey, I might have a thing for feet. (Toes are just so cute, aren't they? Again—just me?) And oh, my face is not symmetrical. At. All. What if I put this plant in front of it?
Next question: Why am I not completely perfect in every way, and really actually, I completely suck? And finally: Who the hello am I anyway, and why should you care about any of this?
Aaaand…the other thing that can happen when you start observing yourself through the lens of a camera is the realization that the camera has its own story to tell and there is no one truth.
So just know your uniqueness is beautiful in and of itself. The varied angles are what make you multidimensional with many facets of discovery and levels of light and dark. Your differences are part of what make you interesting. Your stories, the ones you choose to tell, are what help you connect and engage and make you relatable.
2. Make space. Defy physics.
If you build it, you will chill.
Context is everything. Or maybe, perception is everything. Location, something, something sounds familiar too…In any case, when you want to feel good, it only makes sense to set a scene where good feelings want to come hang out and stay a while.
My good feelings, in particular, really dig uncluttered open areas that are soft, cozy and color coordinated. Bonus points for green plants, light breezes, cute shoes and fizzy drinks.
So, okay, it does take moderate effort to pull it together, and I confess I don't always go the extra inch when it's just me and I just want to fix the chipped polish I've been attempting to ignore for weeks (months?) on end. But I would surely do so for someone important to me who deserves love and attention. Wouldn't you?
In my opinion, and hopefully yours, we all deserve love and attention. So why not extend it to ourselves and be our own heroes?
2. Take time. Just take it.
Now for the hardest part—do nothing.
Once you have your happy place set up just the way you like it, like I know you will, take all the time you need to take it all in and remember the many reasons why you deserve star treatment, especially from yourself—the one person most equipped to know what that might even mean for you.
Start from the ground up, with those strong, amazing tootsies that support you and get you where you need to go.
Speaking of strong feet, here's a fun thing to try that may affirm just how much get-up-and-go they really have. Next time you walk up a flight of stairs, don't just use the ball of your foot (and momentum) to hop from step to step. Put your heal down first, making sure you place the entire foot flat on the step before lifting your other foot to the next step. This shifts the weight distribution from your feet to your legs and butt and, for me anyway, makes it more difficult.
"Way to go feet, we appreciate you!" —Sincerely, Your Quadriceps.
3. Flatter yourself. I mean it.
In a sea of choices, be the you you choose to see.
When in doubt about what to wear or do or be, choose the thing that makes you smile most. Feel good, be good, do good. See how this works?
If you're anything like me, you suffer from bouts of decision paralysis. It doesn't help when there's only a tiny difference between options. Specifically, Essie nail polish has a line of ballet themed pale pinks with names such as "satin slipper" and "make the cut" ranging in hues from silky champagne to nude greige—their descriptions, not mine.
After about a half hour (possibly longer) of deliberation in the store trying to figure out if I should match my skin tone or complement it, I went with "wearing hue" which I think does neither. But I love it anyway.
4. Know your worth. (Hint, it's more than a penny.)
Your favorite human most likely knows their value and isn't afraid to cash in.
Let me just say, I'm a professional photographer, not a Nailist. A nihilist at times, maybe. Point being, don't look too close. Just take the results of my DIY mani-pedi from a big-picture-view and it'll be fine.
The other point I want to make is to just go for it. Isn't that what your favorite human would do? Whatever it is, they would go do the thing and not second guess if it was the just-right-perfect decision forever and ever amen. Am I right?
So if, instead of back-deck DIYing, you prefer 4-star spa time in Paris, for example, then do that. I'd be happy to tag along to take photos either way (wink, wink, nudge, nudge.)
5. Enjoy being you. Who else is going to do it?
Multiple Choice Pop Quiz:
You just finished doing something nice for yourself, now what do you do? A) Nothing, I've done enough B) Work 80 hours non-stop to make up for lost time C) Wonder what might go wrong now D) Congratulate myself with more kindness
Answer when you get a chance. No rush.
But while you're at it, just do me a little favor and wrap yourself up in a little ball and squeeze.
6. Shake what your garden gave you.
When you got it, flaunt it. When you don't got it, go easy on yourself and flaunt something else.
Now, back to that potted aloe plant.
Beautiful uniqueness and accepting of differences aside, sometimes you gotta go with what works. During a photo session it might mean showcasing a particularly spectacular attribute (like pretty fingers and toes, or killer yoga shoulders) or picking up a prop that helps demonstrate your intended message. Props for the props.
It's all part of knowing and accepting your many facets. Remember those? Not always an easy thing to do, but always possible.
This aloe lives in my kitchen and reminds me of the innate health and wellness within us all. It protects my skin and soothes my many mosquito bites and occasional burns. Seemed like the perfect partner in crime for my mani-shenanigans and just happened to be there when I needed something pretty to hold. Respect.
7. Let the rest go. The end.
How do you like you now?
To sum it all up…I'm human, you're human, I'm assuming. We might not be perfect but we can be beautiful and wonderful and kind, not only for those other human people roaming around the world, but also for the puddle of imperfection we eventually find ourselves immersed in.
The reflection may ripple and warp and there may be mud. But if we quit throwing it and relax into the madness, it's possible we may find our best ally and favorite human right there with us—holding space for our nonsense and smiling, through it all, on the inside.