Something really special starts to happen when you see confidence growing in somebody.
This is a reflection from my last Senior Photography session in Downtown Roanoke – It is pretty typical to hear from our clients how uncomfortable they are in front of the camera. They sometimes start to go into detail about all the little things they wish they could hide, but typically they just get very quiet and retreat within themselves.
This is especially true with our 16 – 18 year old clients. Parents are amazed at how their daughter can take selfie after selfie, but suddenly freeze up in front of someone else’s camera. But I have spent ALOT of time with teenagers and I’m starting to learn why. Unlike their phones full of filters and carefully posed pictures, they can’t control what images I shoot, or how I shoot them. They are at the mercy of my lens and whatever unflattering angle they fear I may photograph. They know that looking the pictures I take will show them how others see them and they start to think, what if I’m not good enough? In front of my camera, they are vulnerable – and that is a sacred place. Because of this, I have the amazing responsibility of helping people see themselves in a way they never have before.
During a session, it can take a little time to start getting our clients to open up, but eventually we start to see the smiles get a little wider. Shoulders will start relax a little, and eyes will begin to brighten. If I try hard enough, nervous laughter becomes a belly laugh and in those moments something special happens.
Typically, it is a no-no for photographers to show clients their photos in camera, but I like to break that rule. I will give him or her a sneak peak. This is my favorite moment, because now, they see what I see. I watch their confidence begin to grow and it happens. They bloom. I will look over and watch mom or dad, and they have tears in their eyes. They haven’t seen their child smile like this in a long time. Now I know the real fun can begin.
When I get asked why I love photography, this is why. It has the power to transform someone’s perspective. It is has the power to show a timid, sixteen year-old she is more beautiful than she can imagine. I love watching my clients bloom.
This was much of my experience with Haley. We spent one evening last fall in Downtown Roanoke with her and her mother. We started at the walkway between Downtown and the Hotel Roanoke. From there we snuck into a few alleyways along the railroad tracks. We walked down Campbell Ave. to one of our favorite spots in front of the graffiti wall and ended our afternoon at Elmwood Park. Somewhere between that wall and the park is where she bloomed. Her confidence grew and her photographs got better and better. I can’t wait to do this again!