Being Photographed: to Be Seen, or Not to Be Seen?

by Adrienne Ryan, Brisbane, Australia

Recently I was assisting a photographer as he photographed some beautifully ordinary individuals. I noticed how relaxed and open the people were. As we went on I came to realise there was a question silently being asked every time the camera was raised: “how much will you allow of you to be seen?”. I felt this myself when the camera was on me and I realised:

We choose how much of ourselves we allow to be seen.

Standing in front of a camera is like standing in front of the world itself with every eye upon us. In the face of the world and all its expectations we make a decision: how much to hold back and how much to let out. 

“To be or not to be?” plays out in front of the camera…
and in front of life.

We’ve played this game for so long that it has become normal. When the camera was lowered the tension of how much to let be seen was relieved and people relaxed, until the camera was pointed again and the measuring returned. It is not a huge change, but a subtle veil that falls between subject and lens.

When people let themselves go and seemed to say with their whole being, “This is me – here I am, you can look at me, I’ll let you see all of me, there’s nothing here I am holding back or hiding or keeping tucked away”, it was exquisite and powerful to behold – like the full sun coming out from behind cloud cover. It felt warm, effortless, mighty, clear, unimposing and inspiring. There was no ‘on’ or ‘off’ button – they remained this way when the camera was lowered.

“To be seen or not to be seen?” is the question we answer every day in front of life… and the question is the same when we’re being photographed. Facing a camera is an instant way to feel how much we let people in, allow ourselves to be seen by the world, capturing how present, accepting and appreciative we are with ourselves. It is not about looking perfect, but being perfectly yourself. It is an opportunity to let go, to not buy into hiding or holding back a drop of the ever unfolding beauty of who you are.

Inspired by Universal Medicine and the work of Serge Benhayon

209 thoughts on “Being Photographed: to Be Seen, or Not to Be Seen?

  1. When i read this line “This is me – here I am, you can look at me, I’ll let you see all of me, there’s nothing here I am holding back or hiding or keeping tucked away”, It made me realise that most of the images we see on social media these days are nothing like this – I have even heard the term “fakebook” picture The pictures on social media are saying the opposite I only want you to see me when I look a certain way.
    There is so much you offer to think about with this article.

  2. “To be seen or not to be seen”- that is the question?- well worth observing and noting, that we indeed have a choice to blossom and shine with no holding back, letting humanity in, or calibrate how much we chose to be seen, by holding back our love.
    I choose the former. Thank you Adrienne for reminding us of this.

  3. A very provocative expose about how much we hold ourselves back from being ourselves and you have used a great example of being in front of a camera. The camera does not lie and looking at some old photos of myself I can see the times that I have really held back on letting myself be ‘seen’ and other times I have been more open and that, for me, directly related, to how much I trusted the person behind the camera, not how much I trusted myself to show all of me.

  4. I loved re-reading this post and feeling what you’ve shared here Adrienne. It’s so very true, we’ve normalised from young to measure how much of the real us we can reveal to the world. So much so that we ourselves can forget us and how we feel so full of us when we let all of us shine.
    Bringing to to our awareness is a huge important step and when there’s a willingness to no longer hide, little by little we let more of us out and it’s utterly exquisite.

  5. I felt a little uncomfortable considering just letting myself be seen in full, especially by the camera. There was a whiff of being prepared to be judged by what the lens, or others see in me – and in the reflection I would see in an image. I totally get how I put on a mask for appraisal in order to avoid something that I think is going to occur. Crazy really when all I want from others is their own real deal ….
    When taking pictures of people I try to capture the candid shot when they aren’t “prepared” to be photographed. How much of life do we approach the same way – guard up, ‘face’ on, protecting a part of us that we keep hidden from view in order to not be hurt?
    Great blog – like Lucy I’m coming back to this one soon.

  6. Your blog exposes so much Adrienne – the many faces we present to the world, calibrating to what we think others want and or need to see, not being true to ourselves, and it begs the question why…Why do we choose to do this rather than be our amazing gorgeous selves – what decisions have we made about ourselves and the world around us that we will do whatever the outside wants of us, rather than be true to ourselves and trust what we know and feel to be true?

  7. I chipped my front tooth a few years ago and became even more self conscious in front of the camera. It affected the way I smiled as I felt like all people would see was my front tooth, there was a tension around my mouth. I felt really uncomfortable, however, now that I’ve had my tooth repaired, I feel the real issue was my lack of self worth and the sadness I felt from the amount of time it took me to love myself enough to have my tooth repaired.

  8. The thing is we are sold the ‘perfect’ image in many magazines that corrupt what is actually the truth of what we see. It is commonplace to fix up or photoshop to a point that a person has seemingly a perfect body, skin or hair. The result is many millions of people see this and think this is attainable and normal and chase this as a way to be, unaware that the image is manufactured.

  9. That is gold Adrienne, I have never considered having my picture taken in that way. I know this is a blog I will come back to, but for today, I will see everyone’s eyes as cameras so that when I see a camera I don’t hold back any more than I do when I look into someone’s eyes. Thank you, what a way to start my day 🙂

  10. What a gorgeous blog and insight into the world. Your observation around the photoshoot and how that also plays out in real life is completely spot on. I had not thought about it like this but when I do, it makes absolute sense. We measure all the time how much we let out and how much we let in. It actually gave me an opportunity to appreciate something of myself because whilst I know I measure, in photos I am quite open and ready to be seen. Which I made the connection that I am also quite open and ready to be seen in real life in many ways.

  11. I had a photo-shoot last weekend with a professional photographer and it was absolutely wonderful. What I could feel compared to a year ago, when I also had my photo taken, is how much more at ease and open I was. Everything is seen and felt through a camera, and therefore on a photo. If I hold back my real self, then that is what is felt in the photo. We might think that we only use our eyes when looking at a photo, but we actually feel everything that is in a photo.

  12. Reading your blog Adrienne I can see why I used to dislike having my picture taken. There is a saying ‘camera shy’, but really it is not about the camera, but the holding back of not wanting to show how amazing we are.

  13. I was involved in a photo shooting the others day and we had to do several scenes and i did had difficulties to play a role in a scene or interact in group photos.
    Than it came to portraits in nature. I was standing in front of a tree and just could be me-still a little serious. Than a got a little flower to play with and there was such a joy coming up. Being allowed to be me and play. I did not had to look in the camera, which i find challenging. But just to be there and play and being photographed was an amazing experience. Because i allowed myself to be seen in full in my beautiful essence.

  14. Being perfectly ourselves is a brilliant surrender from within. It confirms to the world that yes I am indeed a son of God, here to just be me, simply gorgeous me.

  15. Adrienne, what you have shared is so insightful. The camera is like life-how much are we letting people in or are the shutters partly closed. Wow! I can feel that when I am being photographed I do not show myself fully and maybe this is how I am during my day in my interactions. How revealing is that!

  16. “It is not about looking perfect, but being perfectly yourself.”
    So very true. With this approach a photoshoot will be a sheer magical and enriching confirmation of yourself and what you are up to.

    1. And if we adopted this in life how much more at ease would we be with ourselves, not taking on pressure to perform and be a certain way which shuns us into hiding away. Instead we would feel the light-heartedness and playfulness that naturally comes from an acceptance that you can be ‘perfectly yourself.’ How much fun is that..

  17. I remember always being very shy as a young girl in front of the camera and I feel it’s because I was asked to smile when I may not have felt like smiling, or to look a certain way that didn’t feel true at the time. I’m feeling more comfortable these days in front of the camera but still a work in progress at letting myself be seen in all my beauty.

  18. I have spent a lifetime protecting myself and not letting others in, from fear of being rejected, but in that rejecting myself. Every interaction with every person we meet in a day, we have a choice to let them see us or not, and how rich and rewarding those interactions become when we invite people in to see who we really are without holding any of ourselves back.

    1. Thomas, your words are spot on and you have shared so much about the game that is played by ourselves with the world. We try so hard to please others to not be rejected that we reject ourselves. That is so painful when you actually feel how self abusive that is.

  19. I am aware of the many faces that I have presented to the people I interact with on a daily basis, depending on what I feel will please others, and that I will be like and most importantly wont expose any of my hurts or get rejected. I have found this role-playing is an exhausting way to live as I’m not showing my true face and whom I really am. I am beginning to simply be myself more and more and what a joy it is.

  20. ‘To be seen or not be seen’ is about completely trusting myself that I am perfect the way I am, that there is nothing to hide, nothing to be ashamed of only a loving learning to drop the guards I have put on because I thought I needed protection.

  21. It is true what you are reflecting for us all to ponder, Adrienne. How often do we look at a photo that we are in and are very critical of how we look? Maybe this is because we are seeing the truth of how much we are prepared to open to the world and in seeing that, we only see the ‘holding’ back. I am pondering how amazing we are and that by holding back we are choosing to be less and that is the reflection all are faced with when we meet them. Love your awareness Adrienne, thanks for sharing.

    1. And when we do hold back who we truly are the whole world misses out on the gorgeousness we each bring and the reflection that life can be lived another way.

  22. Absolutely love what you’re sharing here, Adrienne ….’Standing in front of a camera is like standing in front of the world itself with every eye upon us. In the face of the world and all its expectations we make a decision: how much to hold back and how much to let out.’
    I have had the most amazing pictures taken of me that capture the essence of who I am. It was when the photographer connected very deeply with me, just by him being himself, this allowed me to feel safe and I found it was easy for me to match his warmth and loving playfull-ness by letting my guard down and being myself too. I realise this is what we are able to bring to others in life, when we allow ourselves to be in the fullness of who we are, those around us feel it’s safe to let their guard down too, and show themselves more.

    1. That is beautiful Alison. It really does start with us, by us showing it is safe to be ourselves (quite laughable if it wasn’t so sad) then others get the confidence to be themselves as well. That is why we need reflections in this world of there being another way as I see the norm, which I have lived for many many years, is to hold back from simply being yourself. Crazy that not being yourself is more normal than being yourself. Let’s be the change.

  23. That’s so true Adrienne – being in front of a camera is a great reflection of how we are in the rest of our life; how much of ourselves we allow out and let others see.

  24. Thank you Adrienne, this is so true! “To be seen or not to be seen” – it’s our choice, and I’m definitely not perfect as I have struggled a lot with being seen which has been predominately self-created through hurts and fear. When we choose to hide from people/ the world, I believe it’s also a bit self-ish and exclusive… For we are trying to protect and keep all our beauty to ourselves.

  25. “Being perfectly yourself.” How beautifully loving and supportive those words feel. Thank you Adrienne.

  26. I’ve always shied away from being in front of the camera for the very reason you have written about Adriana, I had not wanted to be seen. I just had a photo shoot, and loved it, I felt amazing and wanted to show it. Never felt that before. It was so much fun.

  27. Not that long ago I had a friend tell me they liked me taking their photo as I captured the essence of the people in the photo. Have you ever noticed that you gauge how much you’re going to express based on who is taking the photo? I have discovered this with a family member, whenever I ask her to take my photo it always seems that she isn’t capturing how I really feel on the inside. The truth is I am holding myself back with her and this is what she is capturing in the photo and this is why up until recently I have said she takes bad photos, but it’s simply I don’t like what I am expressing in the photos.

  28. It’s not only the camera that we choose to hide or be seen, it’s also in front of a mirror. Recently I had a group of people admit to me that they don’t look at themselves in the mirror. This same group also don’t like their photo being taken.

  29. Adrienne I love your sharing, so true of many of us. I have been camera shy for so many years and not really liking photos of myself for so long and now I feel you have revealed why, I am not putting all of my real self in the photo and it isn’t me I’m looking at! Babies at family gatherings are the only ones I know who shine in photos as they pose as their natural selves and are gorgeous!

  30. Reading your blog Adrienne I am feeling that a camera is a bit like a spotlight in that all eyes are turned towards us at that moment and we are asked a question – What reflection are we going to reflect to the world? Are we going to reflect love to a world that still struggles to understand and live it in the majority (and therefore really stand out) or are we going to reflect something else to just keep the world the same as it is and therefore not stand out. This may be the reason many of us feel a bit uncomfortable about having our photos taken?

    1. Great point you are making here andrewmooney26! To show ourselves in all that we are is very powerful and we calibrate that a lot.

      1. Yes to calibrate or reflect the fullness of who we are. Very exposing of the choice we are making every time we choose the ‘subtle veil that falls between subject and lens.’

  31. I am always fascinated about how different I can look when I view photographs of myself. Sometimes I look relaxed, calm and radiant. Other times I look strained, tired or tense. I guess photographs can capture those moments when we are either allowing ourselves to be fully seen or not.

  32. “It is not about looking perfect, but being perfectly yourself ” – such simple but profound advice for when we are in front of the camera, or simply in front of another person. No holding back who we are, just presenting everything we are in that moment in time.

  33. The self criticism that we have toward ourselves highlights a lack of love. How can we be judgmental about what is just so beautiful no matter what. Photos are a great self reflection and a marker to our livingness and the choices to live from our innermost or our outermost.

  34. Awesome blog Adrienne! I can feel how at the moment of the camera being raised, I hold back and have been doing this for as long as I can remember. No more though, no more am I holding back from expressing myself with full acceptance and appreciation of me. This is the resolve I am making.

  35. “It is not about looking perfect, but being perfectly yourself. It is an opportunity to let go, to not buy into hiding or holding back a drop of the ever unfolding beauty of who you are.” Your observations on how we are in front of a camera being a reflection of how much we let our true selves be seen and captured are very insightful. For me, needing to hold on to being seen as perfect plays a part in this. Accepting and appreciating ourselves is great advice, remembering that as you say it is just about being “perfectly ourselves”.

  36. What an insightful blog – I grew up with a photographer in my immediate family and was frequently in front of the camera often against my will – I now recognise this as a form of hiding, refusing to be in the world at times and choosing to withdraw. I feel this so markedly now because these days I am willing to shine and I share your understanding that being in front of the camera is ” is not about looking perfect, but being perfectly yourself” and this is actually a lot of fun!

  37. “It is not about looking perfect, but being perfectly yourself.” this is beautiful as I feel, when photographing people, there is always some time when they are putting on an image/act, but when they truly share themselves with the world you can immediately feel and see the difference in the pictures.

  38. Being in front of the camera is me coming out to say hello to the world, to love everybody and get that reflected back. And during a photoshoot there is such an opportunity for learning and confirmation. Each time I learn something about myself and can grow from that.

  39. Adrienne l see this in photos all the time. What youve revealed makes me ponder and wonder if maybe that’s what we react to when we see our own photos and we feel uncomfortable with the shot. We get a chance to see how much we are masking ourselves and we then react to how much we are holding back by not presenting the whole of us to our world.

    1. Yes, Irena. I feel that’s exactly what I do when I see a photo of myself that I react to, I can feel that it’s not me, I’m not allowing the ‘gorgeous-ness’ out, but keeping myself buttoned up, hidden away. There is a sadness in me and more often than not, I will blame the photographer for taking a ‘bad’ picture, when it’s actually all down to me, choosing to hold onto what I am not, feelings of not being enough …. great point, thank you.

  40. This is a beautiful observation and revelation, Adrienne. I can so relate to this. The things I may try to hide are actually the things I know are in the way of me just being me; the self judgement and the need to look ‘perfect’. When I feel connected to myself and all around me, it’s super easy to be photographed. I love what you expressed here so much.

  41. “It is not about looking perfect, but being perfectly yourself” I love this Adrienne. It is so common to look at the photo once it is taken to judge whether it is a good one or not, but is usually always being made about the physical and not whether it captures our natural self. A lot of people I have met also don’t like their photo being taken which is deeply revealing of how they feel about themselves.

    1. Yes Vanessa and Adrienne. I never thought about photographs in this way and this blog opens my eyes. I have always resisted having my photo taken. It feels terribly awkward, having to force a smile, be someone who is not me, together with the compulsion to hide, to play it small. There is a lot here for me to pounder.

  42. Adrienne I love what you share about not looking perfect but being willing to being perfectly yourself. This says it all!

  43. I am having a photo shoot tomorrow so perfect timing to read this blog now. I used to dislike camera’s and never liked myself on photo’s but that has changed. Yes, there might be some nerves there but I am actually really looking forward to tomorrow and to show all of me!

  44. No one can hide when a camera is placed in front. We think we can, by putting on a guard that is masked by a smile or look in ones eyes, but in truth the fact that we are not shining our natural beauty (which is what we truly want to do) is forever a tension when we look at the result.

  45. A gorgeous blog Adrienne – thank you. I absolutely agree that – ‘it was exquisite and powerful to behold’ when someone shows who they are in full. A beautiful reminder how letting people in inspires the same in others, re-building trust in choosing to shine our divine and glorious light in full. As who we truly are is amazing.

  46. Beautiful, Showing yourself is just being perfectly yourself.

    This is so different to how we are taught and expected to be.
    From a young age we are silently told to fit in.

    This ‘fitting in’ is the cloud covering the sun’s rays.

    1. Well said Luke. There is another way to be. That simply being ourselves is our natural way of being. And the more we choose to honor the divine love that we are, the more we naturally shine with the joy of living this love where ever we are.

      1. This is beautiful, Luke and Carola. It’s always a choice, like Adrienne is saying; to honour the Divine love we are, and the more we do, the more we shine, and allow the clouds to move away.

    2. Luke I felt a sigh of relief when I read the words ‘just be perfectly yourself’. Phew that really takes the pressure off doesn’t it. We can all equally be perfectly ourselves with no element of trying what so ever. No need to read up, go on a course, practice or improve, how amazing to realise that we’re already who we need to be.

      1. This is very true Alexis. Most of society has perfectionism syndrome which affects every aspect of their life. Although many may not say they are perfectionists however how many people feel anxiety and stress?… A lot (to keep it short)

        We feel anxiety and stress because we think things aren’t going to plan. Isn’t this a form of perfectionism?

        Like you say Alexis “realise we’re already who we need to be”

      1. For a long time I thought, how does not being yourself have an exhaustive effect?

        However when we get a taste of what we are really capable of, the prior does require a lot of effort to sustain.

        A simple example could be we have a really good day. At the end of the day we freak out because our day was too good. We go rummaging through the cupboards to find snacks to ‘relax and take time out’. As soon as this effort is taken to ‘snack’ we lose the sense of the ‘really good day we had’. Yet to remain in our loveliness, that produce our really good day, only requires us to be (nothing more and nothing less), whereas to stop the sense of the loveliness of a really good day vices are need to be acted upon.

  47. This is awesome Adrienne. There is so much to consider here. Allowing me to be perfectly myself is something to be very aware of.
    There were times when I looked at photos and thought how small I looked and remembered how I was seriously protecting myself at the time and definitely keeping a low profile. This is a challenge worth considering, to be all of me all the time.

    1. I have the same experience Amanda, and Adrienne’s article has made clear to me why I always felt uncomfortable in front of the camera, not knowing what part of me the photographer wanted to capture. A recent photo showed me that that is a thing of the past, and that the ‘protection’ I used to hide from the camera was actually preventing me from showing all of me to the world.

  48. Yes Adrienne I agree the photo shows how the person in front of the camera is accepting themselves. If a person don’t love themselves the photo would show it – it is that simple. So yes, if we are all of us in every second of our lives or in other words if we love who we truly are the photo would show this. No camera phobia would be needed.

  49. Thank you Adrienne, I really loved your blog, I have been in hiding most of my life, and have started to let myself out over the last couple of years. When having my photo taken recently I could feel so much more of me being present but at the same time so much more to come out. I loved the words “being perfectly your self”

  50. I have always felt awkward when I knew I was being photographed. It seemed to take forever for the photo to be taken. Just recently I had some photos taken and it was a very different experience. I feel this is simply because I am now willing to accept myself for who I am and not hold that back from being expressed. Really like this – “It’s not about being perfect but being perfectly yourself”.

  51. I recently noticed this myself and it was so obvious that every time the camera was on me I felt forced and not myself. I loved reading this blog and it is very timely as inside me I feel also a great joy and a want to let myself be seen in all my beauty and cheekiness.

  52. What you say is so true Adrienne. I have started singing and dancing to myself in the bathroom in an incredibly open and joyful way as I look in the mirror. The other day I was having some photos taken and I was looking a bit dull and not letting myself out. Then I pretended that the camera was my bathroom mirror and suddenly the photos completely transformed. I don’t plan to pretend everyone I meet is my bathroom mirror but at least being aware of where I hold back allows me to let go more and let more of me out!

  53. This is awesome Adrienne, you capture it so well. It’s true, we do measure when the camera’s on, create a smile, pose, look or behaviour that we want to portray, as opposed to the camera just capturing us – without all that ‘performance’. So often the best photos are the ones where people were unaware of the camera, i.e. where they are just themselves. To not change whether we have a photo (camera or microphone) pointing at us takes great confidence of self and with this acceptance of self. To show people everything about us, nothing to hide, but everything to show. Beautiful to note this. Your words: “It is not about looking perfect, but being perfectly yourself”. Spot on.

  54. Adrienne I love your example of how having our photo taken can show us what choices we are making in every moment – to be all of us or to hide. Thank you for this great prompt to remain open and let people in, to be “perfectly ourselves”.

  55. Beautifully written and totally profound. This absolutely exposes the uncomfortableness that people feel when the camera comes out – capturing them in their commitment or not to be all they are.

    1. Yes the camera exposes where we are at with being seen ‘capturing them in their commitment or not to be all they are.’ Little wonder that so many struggle with being photographed.

  56. Awesome blog, I love how tub made the link between the camera and it being the world as that’s how I’ve always seen it. Thank you

  57. I have absolutely felt this in myself… when the camera comes up it’s like tightness or tension running through my body because I am trying to hide myself, even though, it seems it would be more natural and free flowing to just let myself be seen, let all of my qualities be seen and all of my imperfections. This is something I would love to put practise to.

  58. This is so true what you are saying Adrienne. I have felt an anxiety that emerges when the camera comes out. You have beautifully explained why this comes about. Measuring how much of the true me will I allow to be seen. Ouch!

  59. This is so true Adrienne. I measure how much of myself I am going to let out in life so I do not enjoy being in front of the camera. It truly amazes me how much I measure me being me. It is only in this measured protective state I have ever been hurt. When I am unreservedly me anything harmful just glides by. It doesn’t get in. How ridiculous then is a measured life?!

  60. This is a very beautiful observation. Are we allowing everyone to see us or are we calibrating that what we show, a very good question to look at.

  61. This is really awesome Adrienne! Although I have never thought we choose how much of ourselves we allow to be seen, inside me I knew it because I registered that I decided that every time I was photographed.

  62. Thank you Adrienne. I take a lot of photographs of people and I am always amazed by how some people manage to blink just as the shutter closes. It is like they have a blinking superpower and it goes to show how intelligent the body really is. Someone can present with a big open smile but the truth is always told.

    I also love the way you describe the on/off button. I feel we get used to ‘performing’ being all things to all people. I know I have subscribed to the belief that I can switch myself on and off as needed. I can feel how freeing and delightful it must be to remain constant, consistent and of course this way leaves no room for fear of ‘being seen’ as ‘being seen’ becomes a joy and is part of every moment.

  63. Such a great blog Adrienne, recently I had some photos taken and I was aware of when I was holding back and not being open. I find the more I accept myself it is easier to have my photo taken and to ‘be seen’. I love this line in your closing paragraph ‘It is not about looking perfect, but being perfectly yourself ‘.

  64. Working with people in front of my camera all the time, I can say you nailed it here. I really like the las paragraph- I could have not expressed it better.

  65. Adrienne, simple and brilliant!
    As a 19 year old I remember having my photo taken and something like a mask came over me without any conscious effort at all. It was very strange, as if something took me over to hide. Now I know that it is my accumulated past choices that decides how I am in front of a camera and it is good to look at photos of myself.

  66. “To be or not to be?” plays out in front of the camera…
and in front of life.” I love this Adrienne – such a profound simple question we can ask ourselves every day.

  67. So many great quotes in this Adrienne, I love how beautiful it felt to read your description of people opening up to the lens and being all of themselves. How truly freeing to be open to life in this way, the choice is up to us.

  68. Thanks Adrienne, I really love this quote – “Facing a camera is an instant way to feel how much we let people in, allow ourselves to be seen by the world, capturing how present, accepting and appreciative we are with ourselves.” Til now I hadn’t realised that having photos taken represented so clearly our relationship with self. I’ve always been a bit resistant to having photos taken and looking at photos, a lot to feel into still on self acceptance and self love.

  69. This is spot on Adrienne, and always so interesting how people react when you point a camera at them. I know for myself there can be a moment of – ‘just give me a second’ as I find a magical new way to present my self – essentially getting something organised to portray – far from staying natural and light, playful and fun – which is me – and the me that deserves to have it’s day in front of the lens!

  70. I fully agree with “facing a camera is an instant way to feel how much we let people in, allow ourselves to be seen by the world, capturing how present, accepting and appreciative we are with ourselves”. This is spot-on. Thank you Adrienne for writing this.

  71. Adrienne I LOVE this post, it’s so inspiring and so true. I realise now how measured and on guard I can feel during a photo shoot (and that the photo mirrors this too) when it’s all about the image wanting to be projected (often egged on by the photographer), rather than showing and allowing the world/observer of the photo, the real-whole-us. So when we are open and trust, just like a young child is, the photo is so much more alive and true looking. Accepting and allowing more of us to be seen and minus the self-judgment, delivers a photo that is more real and beautiful. Beautiful Adrienne.

  72. A beautiful observation Adrienne. I have never shied away from having photos taken. But I have rarely presented me when I have had photos taken. The crazy smile, face pulling to create an image of how I am supposed to be or how I want people to think I am, rather than just me in that moment. “To be seen or not to be seen” is very appropriate.

  73. I can relate to what you share Adrienne and know that tension and veil you speak of when standing in front of a camera. It’s a great reflection to stop and feel how we are with ourselves in daily life. With deepening self-acceptance and self-appreciation it becomes easier to be more of me out in the world and to be seen and therefore easier to let myself be in front of a camera.

  74. This is a great observation Adrienne. I know that when a camera is pointed at me I subtly put on a front of how I think I would like to be seen and realize that this instantly puts a screen in front of me to prevent me from being seen just as who I am. Your invitation to just be yourself is so true; “It is not about looking perfect, but being perfectly yourself.” Thank you.

  75. The irony in life is all we really want is for people to see us for who we really are, yet we are measured or guarded about how much of us we let them see. We then blame people or feel hurt that they don’t fully get us. Yet if we are not willing to give others all of who we are, how can they be expected to see us in all our glory? Learning to let others see right into you takes time but the more we are able to develop trust and be ourselves the easier this becomes.

    1. Yes Rachel it takes time to be rid of the “on and off button” of the camera. Being our true self means not having the need for a button ever again.

    2. Great comment Rachel, indeed it is interesting that we place these demands on others, but as you say if we aren’t willing to be vulnerable then how will they truly get us? Letting people in is definitely a work in progress but one worth doing

  76. A really interesting point you have captured here Adrienne, of how we perform in front of the camera, can be a reflection on how we perform when the eyes of the world are focused on us.Your blog has given me plenty to ponder on, thank you.

  77. Wow I loved reading your article Adrienne, I work as a photographer and feel what you have written here to be very true, I can particularly relate to ‘There was no ‘on’ or ‘off’ button – they remained this way when the camera was lowered.’ This is lovely, I find when I’m photographing people that they often feel like they need to perform, to look a certain way – like models in magazines and often apologise for not looking good, what I have started saying recently to people I’m photographing is, “just be yourself” there is sometimes then a feeling of relief that they are enough and don’t have to try so hard, their shoulders drop and they relax more.

  78. What a wonderful observation “I came to realise there was a question silently being asked every time the camera was raised: “how much will you allow of you to be seen?” and in fact you noticed that when people shine and are truly themselves they remain this way with or without a camera pointing at them. Thank you.

  79. You nailed it beautifully, Adrienne in writing:
    ‘When people let themselves go and seemed to say with their whole being, “This is me – here I am, you can look at me, I’ll let you see all of me, there’s nothing here I am holding back or hiding or keeping tucked away”, it was exquisite and powerful to behold – like the full sun coming out from behind cloud cover. It felt warm, effortless, mighty, clear, unimposing and inspiring. There was no ‘on’ or ‘off’ button – they remained this way when the camera was lowered.’
    I never liked being photographed until recently. It was the permission I gave myself to be seen completely, and that how I felt inside was ok to share – that I can allow the light I feel inside to shine out when a camera is there – and that I love sharing me, the woman I am, with another that changed it (combined with a lovely photographer that supported the letting go of ideals of how I should/want to look on a picture).

  80. This is an incredible way to observe how open, trusting sharing we are with the world!

    I have often been confounded at how different the same person can look in a photo, even if I take the pictures seconds apart. I can feel how this is showing that IN ANY GIVEN MOMENT we have the choice to be closed or very open in sharing ourselves.

    Adrienne, I especially love your use of the word “unfolding” here, as I feel it reminds/allows me to accept where I am right now; not cringe or try to hide that I don’t feel full, ready or all-of-me yet…as I so often have.

    “…an opportunity to let go, to not buy into hiding or holding back a drop of the ever unfolding beauty of who you are.”

  81. Adrienne, I love your writing and this is spot on. Being in front of a camera is the perfect time to see and feel how much we change when the ‘spotlight’ is on us. It is rare that we are just ourselves letting all be seen. You bring in a very different perspective here in the questions you ask about how much of us do we really allow to be seen in our day to day lives.

  82. Lovely blog Adrienne, I love how you say ‘it is not about looking perfect, but being perfectly yourself’. We can never be perfect to all people but we can always be perfect in ourselves.

  83. Inspiring Adrienne, thank you for sharing – ‘there was no ‘on’ or ‘off’ button’ – it is sooo easy to measure ourselves by those around us instead of simply being the same loving person with everyone regardless of what they may say or think. ‘Being perfectly yourself’ sums it up for me as well – it’s an awesome phrase as stops the need to be any more than who I am, and simply be.

  84. ‘It is not about looking perfect, but being perfectly yourself.’ Beautiful line and great reminder for everyday life too! From reading this it makes sense why I have never, until recently, liked having my photo taken. Thank you Adrienne awesome blog!

    1. Yes, that’s the line that also jumped out at me jsnelgrove36. It has made me reflect on the fact that I really dislike having my photo taken. It certainly is a great analogy for how much of ourselves we want to reveal.

  85. Amazing Adrienne. I have always enjoyed photography but never liked portraits for they were never real. Years ago in a park I had asked a couple with a big white alsatian if I could take a photo of their dog and they agreed… I wanted an unposed photo of the couple. Your blog has shown me that I have, without really knowing it, always tried to see people for who they really are.

  86. Adrienne, I love how you expressed this topic using the example of being photographed and then saying that it’s not just about how we are in front of a camera, but how we are in Life, and how much we allow ourselves to be truly seen in the world. Speaking from past experience, I know that there are many different ways to hide our true selves – in what we choose to wear, how we walk and carry ourselves, how we talk, how we remain silent…

  87. Adrienne, this is so timely. I recently had my photo taken and definitely held back, didn’t let myself be seen. And as you point out, this reflects what we do day to day – measuring how much we let in and give out. Crazy. And it is exquisite when someone lets down the guard and lets themselves be all they are – ‘perfectly themselves’ as you so beautifully expressed.

  88. Thank you Adrienne, for your expression here. I simply love taking photos and yet when it comes to my turn to be photographed I would freeze… mmm Yes, what you have shared here is beautifully said. Only just recently I sat for a photo shoot – as soon as we let go of the ‘formality’, I became playful. I felt like what you shared “like the full sun coming out from behind cloud cover. It felt warm, effortless, mighty, clear, unimposing and inspiring. There was no ‘on’ or ‘off’ button”, so freeing, no holding back or hiding. It takes so much effort to hide and yet to be my joyful self feels so natural… how awesome is that!

  89. As ever Adrienne Ryan, you shine the light on the shade to expose any negatives, thus allowing the full picture to be revealed! Allowing myself to be fully seen… there is still work to be done on this subject.

  90. Thanks for sharing your experience Adrienne. I wasn’t one for volunteering to be photographed and your blog has revealed to me I was scared of showing all of me to the world. My approach to life now is summed up in your quote “This is me – here I am, you can look at me, I’ll let you see all of me, there’s nothing here I am holding back or hiding or keeping tucked away”.

  91. Awesome Adrienne. What a great observation and one I can relate to if I think how I have been in front of a camera in the past. I now feel to be seen more and it’s a work in progress to express all of me more fully. Thank you.

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