“The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life. “
Let me ask you something…Do you exist in pictures for and with your family? Your friends? When was the last time you had a real image taken? Not one someone snapped with their cell phone, but a REAL image. Don’t get me wrong, some of my favorite images are taken with a cell phone. In fact, on the Meet the Photographer page on my website, there is a picture of my husband and I that was taken at the Mountain State Fair by a friend in the car behind us.
On a side note, the story behind it is funny. I am deathly afraid of heights! Seriously! I even have vertigo going up two steps on a ladder. This summer was a huge accomplishment for me as I managed to not only climb UP 8 feet into scaffolding, but STAY UP there to paint for a mural. At any rate, in the image it seems as though I am resting my head comfortably on my husband’s shoulder “Awww lovey dovey moment”! WRONG! I was holding on to the side bar of the car for dear life and keeping my head turned as far away from the view over the side of the car! So, every time I see it I giggle.
Now, when I look back through our pictures, that cell phone image will always make me smile. It will for the rest of my life. I know that. It was a funny moment, and that is wonderful! Photography EXISTS so that we can capture moments in time. The other side to that coin is that I also don’t have any pictures, I mean REAL pictures of myself. i have been photographing clients and friends for 18 years and I think there might be THREE images of me, in that time taken by chance, by pros.
“WHAT?!?! Cat!!!” I know, I know. I market my business around existing in these pictures, if not for yourself, then, at the very least for your loved ones. And here I am, not existing myself. After I’m gone, or after my youth is gone, I have almost nothing from the last twenty years. Well, I have plenty of facebook profile pics from my very own cell phone, but no real portrait. No imagery. Nothing that exists of me from this time in my life. I challenge each of my clients to DO this. That they should value not only the final product of imagery but also the experience. The stylists, the laughter, the pampering and yet…I have done none of this! Why? Honestly, for the same reasons you haven’t. Because I am not as thin as I once was, or because I can’t afford it at the moment, or because, simply I haven’t valued myself enough. Typing that last sentence kind of hurts a bit. It is true. I know it is stupid. I am important. I am valuable. I deserve to be documented. I deserve to be treated well. I know all of these things to be true…on paper. I also know that I have my own fears and issues and in order to take a step TO value myself and TO love myself that I too need to take a leap of faith. I have not stepped in your shoes. Well, (gulp) I’m diving in. Keep an eye out on the blog as I’ll be posting the results from my experience here. And if you’re a photographer reading this…shoot me an email. I’m in need of a portrait photographer. 😉 Preferably one in the beauty genre.
- Cat Ford-Coates is a portrait photographer in Asheville NC