How a Photoshoot Helped Me Accept My Body
A Friday ago, I headed into London to do a photoshoot with Sian, a freelance photographer, who’s work I have been following for a little while on Twitter. I booked in a portraiture shoot with her because I felt like I needed an extra boost of confidence to start my summer off right! Unfortunately, I had a mini moment of drama when my 22 year old grown up body was faced with a pair of shorts I had bought one too many moons ago, but I'm getting ahead of myself. There’s a handful of things I want to chat about today in terms of body image and self confidence, and I also 1000% wanted an excuse to show off these photos because not only are they amazing, but they make me feel equally as amazing because I don't often see myself that way. BUT, first things first…
Sian, is a portraiture photographer, based in Hertfordshire/London, and oh my goodness, is a she a gem of a human being. I had originally been following Sian on Twitter and fell absolutely head over heels in love with her photography and decided one day to finally message her and book a shoot. We decided to shoot in St Dunstan’s in the East Church Garden since it seemed like we had a sunny day ahead of us and it was both on our lists of “hidden gems” to visit. Our hour there was amazing and this beautiful little church tucked away amongst the high-rise buildings of Monument is definitely worth the visit. You can even see The Shard through some of the arches!
From this point forward, all the photos have been taken by Sian. She even used some dope filter-y thingies for effects, which came out SO COOL.
Sian charges for an hour long session, all the editing, and of course, all the photos at the end. There’s first a deposit to be paid before the shoot, to make sure you’re committed and not wasting her time, and the remainder is paid after the shoot and once it’s all paid you get your photos! Literally all inclusive and you get some amazing 10/10 shots afterwards, and I would 100% book again.
Breakdown of a photoshoot
1. Find and contact the photographer you want to work with
2. Pay the deposit
3. Do the shoot!
4. Wait for the edits
5. Pay for your shots!
6. Rave about how dope your pics are and share them with everyone! (Don't forget to credit the photographer!)
Right, now onto the meaty stuff. Let’s start off with what happened before this shoot - I was standing around in my underwear trying to pick an outfit that I felt comfortable in and ended up crying my eyes out on the phone to George, while also frantically texting my best pal, Rob. Normally, when I hear that I need to dress cute and comfortable, my go-to option is a pair of shorts, a nice top, and my trusty black flats. I absolutely loathe jeans and if I could walk barefoot around the place I would. The drama started when my favourite pair of shorts could barely make their way up my thighs and when they finally did I looked like an overfilled sausage. Tears followed shortly after the realisation that I have gained a few kilos since I was 16 and that these shorts were likely never going to fit again. Aside from them being my favourite pair of shorts, I was super upset that I no longer had my “perfect body”, even though I had done very little by ways of trying to stay fit while at university…
As I sobbed to the boys about how life is so unfair and that I am no longer a snacc, they just kind of hit me with two very important reminders that I had failed to tell myself that day. George shut my negative self-talk down with reminders that I have been hitting the gym recently and that whatever nonexistent fat I may be seeing doesn’t actually exist, and if it did exist in excess, it will slowly melt away into muscle as I continue to take better care of myself. Whereas Rob hit me with the “you’re not 16 anymore, your hips probably just got wider”, which, when I look at it written down, is exactly the case. As soon as he said it, I just took a moment to realise how stupid it is that female body standards glorify teenage and pre-pubescent bodies and older women are constantly being fed the idea that they need to continue to look 16 well beyond their 16th birthday.
I am not 16 anymore, and there is no way that my 22 year old self is going to be able to keep squeezing her way into old clothes.
After painstakingly taking off the shorts and saying a heartfelt thank you and goodbye to them, I grabbed some clothes that actually fit and made a mental note that it’s definitely time to go shopping. I also realised in this moment that of course, my clothes aren't going to continue fitting, especially since a lot of my shorts were purchased six years ago. SIX YEARS. If my shorts were a child they would be in Year 1 or 2 writing about what they want to be when they grow up. No shit that they don't fit anymore!
I think it's often hard for us to grasp that puberty doesn't magically stop at 18 and that we'll continue to keep growing into our adult bodies everyday. This little rollercoaster has been particularly difficult for me because I always felt invincible against my body changing since for the better part of my teenage years, I didn't really change at all. I may have grown a few centimetres here and there, but otherwise the hips, thighs, boobs, and butt all came at once over these past couple of years. After having a chat with some of my girlfriends and getting advice from women older than myself, we all came to the conclusion that second puberty is something nobody talks about but everybody goes through. So once I made my peace with the fact that I'm just going through that sweet, sweet second puberty, I made a mental note to go on a mini shopping spree and then headed off to the shoot.
When I got to the shoot, Sian and I chatted away like old friends and talked about how photoshoots like this one are a great way to help you feel confident and comfortable about the skin that you’re in - and once we got into it, I totally forgot about my sob-fest from earlier in the day. Just being in front of the camera and having a fun time made me feel so confident and beautiful, I barely thought about how I was feeling earlier because I was occupied with how I felt in the now - and how I feel in the now is beautiful. I will admit that I still feel lumpy, but at least I don't feel like my body goals are unattainable, nor do I think I need to get back to what I looked like when I was a literal child. Now it's about getting fit for the shape I am currently, which includes fuller hips, stronger legs, and well, noodle arms - because I guess some things never change.
As great as I feel looking at all of these pictures, I’m not going to lie to you and say I am 100% feeling confident about my body because I definitely have things I want to work on, but doing this photoshoot just reminded me that I’m my biggest critic and that all of my “problem” areas aren’t really problems at all. Could I be a little fitter and live a more active lifestyle? Yes. Am I doing everything that I can right now to make sure I’m making those changes without making myself miserable in the process? Also, yes. Did not being at my peak level of fitness make me enjoy this experience less? Hell NO. I had a great time and when I got the photos back, they were awesome to look at and see that the lazy couch potato that I see is not the same person that other people see.
To conclude this behemoth post, if you’re really feeling yourself or need an external confidence boost or just want some really cute pictures of yourself - book in a shoot with a portraiture photographer. You're likely your own biggest critic and seeing yourself in a new light might help you realise that you are beautiful just the way that you are. It might even help remind you of the things that you do like about yourself, like your smile, your nose, or your eyes! If you’re in London/Hertfordshire, I’d obviously recommend Sian, and if you’re not, I’m sure you can find some dope freelancers in your area to book in with (and maybe even befriend!). For the time being, I’m happy I decided to take the plunge and book a shoot, and I’m even happier that the photos made me feel so confident in my healthy, regular sized, fun-loving, adventure-having, perfectly imperfect body!
Until next time,