Most women that sign up for the course do so because they have negative body and self esteem issues that they are trying desperately to conquer through the help of Vivienne's gentle guiding hand and self-portraiture photography. This is not the reason that I signed up for the class. Over the past two years I have done a ton of self-image work with the help of my personal trainer, and honestly I feel pretty about where I stand. There are always the little things that plague every woman; I would love to lose ten pounds along with most of the female population. I wish my hair would grow faster due to a correcting, super short hair cut I got in September to get rid of layers that are very bad for curly hair. Currently my hair seems to be growing at the pace of a snail, and every six weeks when I go, my stylist seems to cut more off than she leaves. We are still trying to get the shortest layer caught up with the rest of them. Aside from those little things I am in a good place.
So if I didn't take Vivienne's class for self-image help, why did I take it. I needed a new photographic challenge. I needed to do something that was completely different and that would push me out of my comfort zone. February was a long, cold, snowy month here in Michigan. I had been working diligently on my new photography project "A Year Beside the Water" since the beginning of January, but honestly I was getting very tired of snow and ice being my only subjects in the photos. I needed a new and exciting subject, and I guess that new and exciting subject was going to be me. Adding myself to photos of ice and snow would definitely make them more visually interesting.
Vivienne started us off slow and gentle, encouraging us to take a photo of our first step in the self-portraiture journey on Day One. From there we slowly progressed until we were willing to put our faces in the frame and then eventually our whole body, that task being the hardest for some of us. I am not new to self-portraiture. I took a couple of on-line classes a few years ago but I never seemed to progress beyond photos of my feet and the way lower half of my body.
In Vivienne's class all that changed. Within the first week I was putting my face in the frame, even if it was uncomfortably placed there.
After that first week though, after getting those head shots done, I fell head-over-heels in love with the creative process of self-portraiture. Everyday for 28 days Vivienne would send a creative self-portraiture prompt to my email inbox and my creative mind would immediately start churning out ideas. What could I do for that prompt that was fun, funny or different.
My favorite prompt was "focus and blur". This is a technique that I will use many times over the coming days, months and years. I had an idea to use these shoes and this skirt for a shot, but it wasn't until the focus and blur prompt that the shot became crystal clear. I still want to tweak this one a little but overall I am very happy with how it turned out.
Self-portraiture work has greatly enhanced my photography skills. It forces me to find the best light, the right angles, sharp focus, but it has also made me think to put on foundation before I go out of the house, to wear some of the cute clothes in my closet, to actually style my hair into more than the scrunched curls look. It forces me to practice and to be patient, to problem solve and come up with creative solutions. I learned to enjoy the process and to have fun. For all my work I have collected some pretty good photos of myself. Photos that I can use to add to my blog, update my social media profile pictures and to share with class in our Flickr group.
Even though class is over, my self-potraiture work has only begun. I love being able to finally include myself in my stories. The human element speaks volumes.
I have a long list of creative self-portraiture shots that I want to tackle over the coming months.
I would highly encourage anyone interested in self-portraiture or someone who needs to work on some self love to check out Vivienne's class. The next round starts June 1st. You will be greatly blessed by the openness of the other class participants, and by starting to see yourself with love. Or like me, find all those things plus a great creative challenge that will carry on long past your time in class, and you will finally start including yourself in your story.