Phone in hand, I extend my arm, let my face relax, and focus on one word: here. Then I snap the photo. Usually I take somewhere between two and ten photos. Taking 30 seconds to maybe two minutes depending on the moment.
I am capturing me, here, right now. This moment. The realness of it all. From joy to contentment to just being still. The photos reveal new pieces of me every time: beauty and truth and so many stories.
Somewhere in the last few years, taking self-portraits has become my daily meditation. This is the way I know I'm not disappearing in the midst of whatever the day hands me. This is how I remind myself that I can choose in each moment.
I know it can seem overwhelming to even begin to turn the camera on yourself. Many of us spend a lot of time in a sometimes intense negative inner dialogue about how we look on the outside. And we fear the camera will show the list of flaws we insist we have.
But here is what I know: Capturing myself through my camera lens is helping me to shed the ways I have been talking to myself since I was about eight years old.
The layers of "wishing I looked like" and "believing I would only be happy if" and "maybe I would have more success if I was skinnier" and so many other stories stacked up since third grade when I needed to wear a bra two years before all the other girls in my class.
Now when I look in the mirror and look at self-portraits, I almost always see myself with softness, with compassion. Even when the circles are heavy under my eyes. Even when I am hitting my limit of what the day holds. Even when I have let myself down. The mirror and the camera help me to feel less alone. They help me find space inside me. They help me find my breath. They help me to trust that I am finding my way.
You can find more juicy self-portrait prompts in my book Inner Excavation: Explore Your Self Through Photography, Poetry, and Mixed Media. I'm delighted to share that I'm selling copies again, this time at a special discounted price of $18. Read more about the book and order it from me right here.