As a photographer I love to capture a person’s essence when I photograph them. No, I’m not a professional photographer, but it’s been a lifelong passion, and getting a really great shot of someone isn’t always easy. Most portraits I capture are spontaneous moments when someone is engaged in something they enjoy, or talking and laughing with friends. My favorite thing is to take pictures of people when they’re just being themselves. And sometimes this is best done from a short distance away using a zoom lens, like at my Dad’s birthday parties back in the day. (And never done without a person’s consent – I’m not a creep).
At one of his later birthday parties, when he couldn’t get around very well, Dad asked me to take pictures of everyone – something he normally did. I was in heaven. The tricky part, which wasn’t too hard because everyone there was relaxed and were longtime friends, was when I’d approach a small group in conversation and cheerfully butt in to ask for a photo for the birthday boy. Everyone was happy to oblige.
When Little Man was indeed little, all my photos of him were candid. With his language delays I never prompted him to “say cheese” for the camera. I waited until he was intently playing with his toys or was having fun outside. It didn’t matter to me whether he was looking into the lens or not, smiling or pensive. And he didn’t seem to mind.
I’ll never forget when he was in preschool just shy of three years old, and the school photographer obviously had little experience photographing toddlers because she sat Little Man in a cute kid’s chair with a few props surrounding him and told him to smile. He sat there confused. The more confused he was, the more she and everyone around tried to get him to smile.
Before too long he noticed the prop tricycle and with zero impulse control reached a foot out toward the tricycle. In a flash he decided to go for a ride and started pedaling away. I jumped in front of him grabbing the handle bars, and while laughingly telling him it wasn’t a trike for riding, pushed him back in place and jumped out of the way of the flash. With a huge grin on his face, Little Man’s joy was quickly captured by the photographer.
It was easy to photograph my son when he was little. When we had playdates with friends I’d sometimes bring my camera and snap a few pictures while the kids played. But when it came to taking pictures of my friends, they tended to not want their picture taken. There was always an excuse of either looking too fat, or not looking pretty enough or dressed well enough. And I’ll admit that because I was much heavier when I had Little Man than I’d been a few years prior, I didn’t really want my picture taken either.
But after hearing stories of people who’d lost Mom and had no pictures of her because she was always the one behind the camera, I got brave and got in front of the camera. He’s one of my favorites from a few years ago.
Over the course of learning about myself and other sensitive people through my healing journey, I’ve noticed when people are particularly sensitive (and often that directly correlates to having anxiety) they have a tough time staring down the barrel of a camera lens. And it’s not uncommon for them to have difficulty looking people in the eye; doubly so for strangers.
A friend I’d hang out with when our kids were very young, had tremendous anxiety. She thought medication might help her, but there was such shame in the family that she dabbled with supplements but sadly never got any medication. She also hated having her picture taken. She couldn’t handle looking into the lens and most pictures showed her intense discomfort and anxiety. I think maybe once I was able to capture her when she was actually happy and relaxed, but it was probably when she was watching her girls.
Many gifted healers, people who are able to feel subtle energy are highly sensitive and often live with anxiety. Especially those who haven’t worked on themselves very much. But when they’re in their element, doing healing work, the anxiety disappears.
Several years ago I met and had sessions with a very talented Pranic healer. He’d worked diligently to hone his healing abilities and it showed. Unfortunately, he hadn’t spent an equal amount of time working on himself, and when he wasn’t doing healing work it showed too.
One day, because I was so grateful to him and the work he’d done on me, and I noticed his portrait on his website was very out of date, I offered to take his photo so he could update the website. But when I was with him for our portrait session, when he had to look into the lens his personality completely changed to that of a very uncomfortable little boy. He couldn’t relax and smile. With a friend’s help, she got him to smile and I captured a decent photo. But sadly, he never updated his website.
One of the most challenging things a person can do, and especially so for someone who is very sensitive, is to look in a mirror and say, “I love you. I truly and wholly love and accept you.” When I tried to do this years ago, the first thing I noticed was an inner voice answering back, “Bull shit.” Every time I tried to use affirmations I heard the same inner voice.
The eyes are not only the window to our soul, but the window to our inner child. And looking into another person’s eyes or staring down the barrel of a camera lens is just like looking into a mirror. Whatever’s inside you comes out. Whatever you feel about yourself, you’ll see in another.
When you take away all the distractions, all the noise, and it’s just you, how are you doing? If you were to look at yourself in the mirror, what sort of messages do you hear? Are you looking good or are you critical of yourself? Do you love yourself despite your flaws or are you able to appreciate how well your body carries you day after day, year after year? I’ll admit that it’s been a process for me. And healing work has made a big difference. Ok, a huge difference.
The girl who grew up with a brick wall around her heart a mile thick and blocks of shame cemented onto her shoulders, has been whittling it away. And assisted by Kundalini energy, it’s more like things are being chain-sawed away in big chunks. Today when I look in a mirror, my inner child knows she’s amazing, strong, and courageous. She knows she’s doing the best she can. And she even knows she’s divine, as do I. And so can you. Healing works.