I recently felt to participate in a ‘Before and After’ Project that Universal Medicine (UniMed) is creating, which involved having my photos taken. Part of this includes people submitting photos of what they have looked like in their life before they started attending UniMed workshops and presentations, and how they look today.
I have never been a fan of having my photos taken and was usually the person on the other side of the camera taking the pictures, hiding behind the scenes – which is a common practice of mine in life in general. I have often heard people saying they want to be the one taking the photos but prefer not to be in them… Could it be it is not that we do not like having our photos taken but that we do not like what we see in our photos?
Yesterday I went to have some photos taken which I was not bothered about – well, that’s what I thought until I had to actually stand in front of the camera. My body became quite tense and stiff and I just could not seem to let myself go. The photographer was extremely supportive and did an amazing job, but it was not until I was in my car about to drive away that I realised just how tense I actually was.
Why did I have such an issue with having my photos taken, or looking at photos of myself?
Then I realised it was not about having the photo taken, but about what I saw in the photo in the end result.
I had never accepted myself or my body, and looking in the mirror was one thing – but having a photo, which is a constant reminder of where I was and am at, is a lot more ‘in your face’, so to speak. A mirror you can choose to walk away from or not look in, but a photo is there forever as a reminder.
I remember going home after an esoteric healing session one day and sitting in front of the mirror and looking at myself: it would have been one of the hardest things I have ever done. I felt awkward, continually looking away at whatever I could then bringing myself back again to the mirror. I had never actually truly looked at myself before and I did not like what I could see. My reflection was looking back at me but it felt like it was not all of me – there was a part of me I was holding back and did not want the world to see.
I could feel how I had created a façade to hide behind, a front for the world, and looking in the mirror made me realise just how much of the real me I was still hiding.
Usually, looking in the mirror was brief and really only while putting on make-up or doing my hair which all supported the facade really, creating another face to present to the world. Some days I would not use a mirror at all.
Even though I myself have changed a lot over the years and there is now more and more of the real me shining through, I discovered yesterday that there is still so much more of me to come out.
I have now realised that photos can also be a tool for allowing us to see, feel and appreciate how far we have come and how much we have grown, rather than to be afraid of or disappointed in what we see.
I can now have my photos taken and look at them and appreciate that I have come a long way… the hardness of the past now replaced with tenderness, my eyes no longer dull and withdrawn but alive and clear, willing to let the world see who I am without fear of being hurt; the stare of vacancy now replaced with gentleness.
And yes, they may not reflect the true me or all of me… yet. But day by day, these photos taken can be used as a reflection of me, supporting me to appreciate how far I have come and where I am going.
Through the support and sharing of Universal Medicine, Serge Benhayon and fellow students of The Livingness, I have been able to look at what I used in my life to hold me back from being and expressing who I am today. I now enjoy a life of simplicity as the way I choose to live, and a body of vitality which is able to support me in all that I do… something I have never had before, and for that I am eternally grateful.
By Nicole Serafin, Age 41, Tintenbar, NSW
230 thoughts on “Having My Photos Taken – Seeing the Real Me”
To be honest Nicole, I don’t know of many people that like their photos being taken and to be seen for who they truly are. We can often see it in their eyes, whether that sparkle of their Soul is emanating through or not and so beautiful to see and feel when it is.
What Serge Benhayon, Universal Medicine and their practitioners have offered is another way of living. A way of living that allows you to be you instead of this ‘facade’ that constantly barages us with falsities. When we come to this realisation by the loving support of others who have walked this pathway too, we realise that the life we have grown up around is based on these falsities of highs and lows. There is nothing on and of this world that can ever quench the thirst of unsettlement than to be with our Soul and who we truly are.
Gosh to be that honest with yourself about what you see in a photograph or mirror is so brilliant and inspiring. And I get it. If I am gentle and honest with myself about how I feel in front of the mirror or camera I will gain a lot of insight into patterns of protection, holding back and withdrawal. Thank you Nicole.
Nicole, I love seeing how you have come alive in the photos and how the most recent one is you shining so beautifully and above all at ease with your light and power (with of course more to come)…
When we are open and connected, to look in the mirror and look in our eyes is such a beautiful thing to experience, a bit like looking into the eyes of a baby or a child who is totally open and not hiding anything. Note that this can also be confronting to look into another’s openness if one is holding back. And of course when one is holding back and not allowing oneself to be seen, then there is of course a discomfort in looking deep into ones own eyes as one knows that there is a facade hiding the truth deep inside.
I understand these glances that we do in these halls of mirrors. And seeing a body but not wanting to truly receive what is in front of it. If we could look through the eyes of a baby it only feels the Soul through those eyes. Most people wouldn’t understand this until they allow another to see you for who you truly are.
Nicole, thanks for your sharing – As a child I loved having my photo taken and I was always happy to shine, but then somewhere along the line, this changed and I was also more the one to hide away or be the one taking the photos instead. And as you have shared the real pain is seeing ourselves in photos is not the photo itself, but rather the fact that we know on some deeper level that we are not allowing all we are to be seen and so to just see the shell of who we are is in fact painful or uncomfortable.
Photos can indeed be very exposing – but we can use this in a supportive way: “I have now realised that photos can also be a tool for allowing us to see, feel and appreciate how far we have come and how much we have grown, rather than to be afraid of or disappointed in what we see.”
Yes this is a great and gentle approach to unveiling the patterns of behaviour and protection we may have had through our lives. There is always learning and therefore always gold to realise.
I had a photoshoot yesterday and was all up for it until I was in front of the camera then went silly from nerves. It took a while to relax but once I did I started to enjoy it. Being seen for who I am now, a very gorgeous woman, doesn’t come easy for now. Then again before I started working on my relationship with myself nothing did. So I ain’t fretting, just takes practice.
A beautiful confirmation and appreciation of your deepening in love, ‘I can now have my photos taken and look at them and appreciate that I have come a long way… the hardness of the past now replaced with tenderness, my eyes no longer dull and withdrawn but alive and clear, willing to let the world see who I am without fear of being hurt; the stare of vacancy now replaced with gentleness.’
The first two photos really reflect many people today in the sense that so many of us are not able to be our true selves, we are carrying hurts and protections, and have buried, hidden or reduced ourselves. I was the same, looking back I can see elements of my essence expressing over my life but until I came to Universal Medicine, reconnected to my soul and received the support to heal the hurts, I couldn’t let myself out. Like yourself Nicole I am still working on letting even more of who I am out, it’s an amazing process and very beautiful to be living so much more of me everyday… and more to come.
The support we get as students is immense and can never be underestimated, so thank you Nicole, we can never do this work alone and being a master on this plan of life is all about brotherhood that comes from sisterhood and sisterhood-ship comes with one other in the most loving ways.
It’s very beautiful and liberating when we can finally say we have had enough of complicating maneuvering and start appreciating the simplicity of what is. Such a sweet homecoming.
Nicole what an amazing transformation that is easily seen and felt in the photographs you have shared.
I feel you are on the right track when you say
“Could it be it is not that we do not like having our photos taken but that we do not like what we see in our photos? ”
I have never liked my photograph taken and it is because I didn’t want to see the reflection of the ‘given- up-ness’ that stared back at me.
The before and after photos say so much, when we look in the mirror we see much too, ‘ sitting in front of the mirror and looking at myself: it would have been one of the hardest things I have ever done. I felt awkward, continually looking away at whatever I could then bringing myself back again to the mirror. I had never actually truly looked at myself before and I did not like what I could see.’
Our photos tell the story of how we are living, the more I allow myself to be open and transparent the quality of my photo is more true. It is when I am trying to portray something or have some protection around being seen then the photo reflects this as well.
I can so relate to what is shared here, in the past hating having my photo taken, but that wasn’t it at all, it was that I didn’t like what I saw of me in my photo, for it clearly showed how I’d been living and now I enjoy those photos and having them taken so much more. I see them as a marker of who I am and how I am, and because I now live and take so much more care with me and how I am now than before, there’s so much more to see and share and it continues to unfold each and every day.
I equally did not like having my photo taken and then what I saw in the reflection, whereas photos can be markers of our unfoldment, ‘I have now realised that photos can also be a tool for allowing us to see, feel and appreciate how far we have come and how much we have grown, rather than to be afraid of or disappointed in what we see.’
The Way of the Livingness, or living soulfully, offers a completely new way to view ourselves, as it’s not about ticking the box of fashion or ideals of body image or beauty, it’s about seeing how much love we are living and if the essence of who we are is soulfully shining through.
The photos say it all Nicole.. a simple life, where we take care of our body and live according to and within its limits, is a vital, consistent and energised life, free of complications and draining ups and downs.
There could be a host of potential reasons why we feel uneasy when we stand in front of a photographer. We may accept the photographer’s help to deal with it or we may indulge in the issue we carry and use the occasion to confirm it.
There is something about being aware of being seen that makes me self-conscious and I actually feel myself contracting, and having a camera pointed at is a very obvious example. There are some amazing photographers who seem to be able to call out and capture in a photo the true beauty of what we are, and what we live also gets shown even if we try hiding. I love those before & after photos and how the afters keep getting more amazing as the Livingness gets deepened.
Having our photo taken can be a great way to reflect on how we are and how far we’ve come and it invites us to consider what we reflect to the world and to understand that it’s a process; the more we let go, the more we bring of us to our own lives and hence the world.
I make loving changes in my life. I commit to life like I have never done before in this life. I feel amazing and others recognise my amazingness but it doesn’t mean that I now can put my feet up! The joy I am now living after many years in contraction is just the beginning…
The huge difference between your first and last photo is a testament not just to how far you have come over these years, Nicole, but to the choices you have made along the way; obviously many self-loving ones. But I feel that most powerful choice of all was to begin to accept the beautiful woman you naturally are and have always been; the gorgeous woman captured so beautifully in the last photo. Very inspirational indeed.
Hi Ingrid, your comment gave me a stop moment to reflect on the acceptance of ourselves in our essence, which can require letting go of all the things we think we should be or aspire to be. In that I was also feeling how lovely it is to accept others, accept them where they are at and also accept their beautiful, divine essence, even if they are not able to live connected to it for now.
I agree that the acceptance of another in their essence is so beautifully supportive for them but also offers us the opportunity to deepen our understanding of not just them but every single person we connect with.
How beautiful Ingrid, I had never looked at it that way! It’s something I would definitely like to explore.
Beautifully shared Nicole your pictures say it all, with even more of the amazing you to unfold.
A great reminder of how easy it is to hide behind the scenes in life when we should be living with the awareness that we can literally light up our own and others’ lives just by being ourselves, imperfections and all.
Big changes indeed Nicole. Wondering how a new photo would look like 5 years later? Surprise your audience! Perhaps a new version of the article.
What we allow ourselves to see is only related to the level of awareness we have said yes to.
It is so revealing going over old photographs, the energy behind the smiles and styles shows everything.
The photos say it all. Whilst you are a beautiful woman in all photos, there is an open, tender and claimed woman that emanates in the most recent.
The photographs say everything here. The recent one – age 41 – emanates such beauty, gentle self-confidence, someone who is ‘at home’ with themselves. What a wonderful transformation.
Amazing to feel your transformation through these photos Nicole. Having our photos taken offers us a great opportunity to reflect on how we are living, as we are shown through our bodies and our eyes what quality of energy we are embodying through our every day. If we are willing to embrace the truth when we look at out photos, we can see, feel and appreciate the beauty that we naturally are and if we are choosing to live in honor of our innate divineness.
It is amazing how much we can see and feel through photos. Before even reading your blog Nicole the photos tell the unfolding story. Beautiful.
Spot on Victoria, in this case a picture tells a thousand words indeed – but more so shares a thousand feelings…
What you can see and feel in the pictures is extraordinary – yes a massive visual change but it is more than that. It is a sense of ease in your body by the last one, you have dropped the mask and you simply are. I love that there is also a sense that you don’t need to be perfect to be seen, again, you simply are.
Powerfull way of accepting where you are and how much you have grown and that it is just the beginning of so so so much more of you.
Accepting ourselves where we are, not needing to be perfect, just being who we truly are.
Hi Nicole, I very much do appreciate what you say with “I have now realised that photos can also be a tool for allowing us to see, feel and appreciate how far we have come and how much we have grown”. This is so true, just to look and see where we are at compared to where we come from is already be a big healing on it’s own.
Thanks Nicole, you are radiant and very alive in the last photo, there is a trust and an openness, without any guardedness. It feels like you are letting the real you out in full, very inspiring!
Nicole, you certainly look the world of difference in your photos now. Warm, open, purpose-full and letting out who you are.
The recent photos taken of you that I have seen, not just the one posted here, show how gorgeous a woman you have become and confirm you in your beauty, ‘these photos taken can be used as a reflection of me, supporting me to appreciate how far I have come and where I am going.’
Thank you for sharing Nicole and showing us what changes are possible when we change how we are living and bring in The Way of the Livingness to our lives.
Thank you Nicole, I appreciated the new, gentle and embracing way you have developed to look over your photos, to approach yourself with understanding and to now celebrate how much you have grown and how much of your beautify inner self you can let out to the world. Your final photo does indeed show someone who is tender, open, wise, gentle, gorgeous and with a sparkle – and ready for more to come! I’m sure if I look over past photos I will see something similar with the inner true me sparkling much more now.
I’ve been inspired by another blog I recently read and have started a selfie journal. As someone who does not like having her photo taken, it’s been an interesting experience. There are not many photos yet, because I keep deleting the ones I don’t like : )
Ha ha, and what a great reflection :). Amazing how we can read so much in photos.. or when we look in the mirror.
One dayI would love to have a professional photo-shoot but realise that when I do I am claiming all of me, claiming all the beauty I am and that is confronting. Claiming my beauty is one thing I can do privately but it feels very ‘big’ doing it for all the world to know and see. Yes Nicole, this does expose so much to be felt and the holding back needs to be exposed. Our beauty is within us waiting to come out.
The reflection we see back when we look in a mirror, or when we see a photo of ourselves can be a tool we use to check in with the level of self-love and self-acceptance we currently have. It is a reflection that can help us return to the sweetness and loveliness that we all inherently are.
Yes and a very personal one too I have found. There is a knowing when you look in the mirror, you feel yourself from the inside, you can’t run away from it because it contains all your choices so this can be challenging or confirming.
Photos give away so much, they tell you far more than what we think we see, and the more aware I become, the more aware I realise that I knew exactly what I was doing to keep the world at bay, totally different to actually seeing a true delicate and claimed reflection that no longer allows the world to own them.
Your photo’s in this article say it all, how you now enjoy living more of you, sharing this openly with us all. And the word ‘simplicity’ is palpable, why make life complicated and struggle when we can choose the simplicity of living who we are each day more and more, moment by moment.
I love photos and pretty much always have. As this article is saying I was always keen to see how I looked in photos and used it as a gauge of how much of me I could see, similar to, “I have now realised that photos can also be a tool for allowing us to see, feel and appreciate how far we have come and how much we have grown, rather than to be afraid of or disappointed in what we see.” Whenever I had a photo taken I would study it and look at every thing. There were times I didn’t like what I saw but this didn’t stop me from having another one taken it more woke me up or gave me awareness to the things I saw that I’d like to change. I love having a catalogue of photos and really would love to do a shoot each year to keep this catalogue going. As I saw from the photos in this article they are really priceless when you look back to see how much things have changed.
Thanks for sharing these photos of you Nicole; it’s beautiful to see the joy, tenderness and openness that’s there shining through you now.
The same happens when I look in the mirror. Some days I look gorgeous and other days I really don’t like what I see. It is definitely a reflection on how I am feeling on the inside. I suppose when I look at my face on those days where I don’t like what I see its because I am faced with also seeing the choices I have made to get myself to that place.
I love having my photos taken simply because every picture shows me a process, nothing to hold onto but a reflection to take stock and appreciate—no matter how I looked or felt, it was an opportunity for me to see if I could accept myself.
That’s when we let go of judging ourselves or expecting to see something specific. You offer us to accept that it will always be a reflection of the process of becoming more of ourselves but also to accept that everything is there al-ready.
I am amazed at how much you can read of a person by just looking at the n detail of her/his eyes in a picture. This is the only part that always remain true to how the person is living.
Amazing what is revealed in a photo. Thank you for sharing these and letting us see how you have changed and really come home to yourself. Very inspiring and a reminder to take more photos for the great reflection they offer.
“Could it be it is not that we do not like having our photos taken but that we do not like what we see in our photos?” I think you are definitely onto something here Nicole – hit the nail right on the head!
“I now enjoy a life of simplicity as the way I choose to live, and a body of vitality which is able to support me in all that I do… something I have never had before, and for that I am eternally grateful.” There is so much grace in living in a body that is vital and has been given the love and care that it/we all deserve.
I love seeing the before and after photos and appreciating how far people have come in connecting to and expressing the true beauty that lies within. It is extraordinary how many of us hide and hold back in showing all of ourselves and yet it is such a blessing to not only ourselves but others when we truly allow ourselves to shine for the world to see, whether immortalized through a photo or not.
it is a choice of how we look at ourselves, to appreciate or to judge. It is all from the way we live that we create our judgements or feel the appreciation. I feel pictures are a beautiful reflection of the moment, a marker to look at and feel, Wow, what amazing steps have I taken. It is a time to take stock and build on, this is all of life in the end, with appreciation we grow.
You are spot on here Nicole when you say…”it was not about having the photo taken, but about what I saw in the photo in the end result.” I have had two professional photo shoots done over the last 18 months, and both times have felt so exposed as every tiny detail is captured in a moment of how we are, and how we hold ourlseves, and in some of these moments I did not like what I saw. But equally, there were also moments of absolute beauty, grace and divinity captured, and in these photographs I was blown away by what I saw. It is an incredibly powerful experience to have a photo session such as this, and a wonderful opportunity to make some different choices, to bring these moments of true beauty to everything that we do.
Last year, I had an opportunity to have some photo taken by an amazing photographer. I felt awkward during but looking at what came out afterwards was a bit of a process. Initially, I didn’t like how I looked in the most of them, and going through one by one, I started to feel the beauty and power in what I was seeing. I feel like there’s the whole lot more deeper I could go when it comes to truly appreciating myself, and as you say, it was a very necessary and supportive moment for me to stop and appreciate how far I had come.
I used to be someone who would look in the mirror and just focus on all my flaws. Now when I look in the mirror I see much more of my beauty- something I had previously never thought was possible for me.
I’ve always enjoyed having photos taken as I like to look back and have things or times recorded. I get what you are saying though and photos are a reflection and these days with most people having a camera on their phones it is much more convenient. It’s great to see what your reflection is and usually for me, my reflection is based on how I am feeling and has little to do with anything else. Photos can appear to change – I can look at them with one set of eyes and see something but then with another set I can see something completely different. If I look at myself critically in the mirror or photo I am looking at my thoughts and movements around my everyday…. have I been caring for myself consistently and watching my thoughts or have I been too busy or had my head down etc. I also take note of where I am critical because this can support in changing how I have been. All these things I use, to bring awareness to what is really going on for me. On the surface you can say you are just in a bad mood, or justify and say the photo was really bad etc but there is always, always something deeper to understand and this never stops.
It’s interesting to read as I remember having the same pattern of disliking that what I saw on the pictures taken. When I looked to a photo taken of me I always only saw the imperfections I was holding but never I could see through that and see that tender and delicate caring man I actually am and always has been there in all the pictures ever taken whatever mask I had on on top of it.
Photo taking are very revelatory moments on how are we in and with the world. How open are really we? How much openess do we settle for? How much of us do we allow the world to get to know?
I think you hit the nail on the head when you said we don’t like to see our photos because we don’t like the truth we see, however we are a result of our choices, so making different choices can easily transform the truth that’s apparent in photographs.
Spot on Meg, old photos never lie and we can see the impact our past choices had on us.
It’s a revelation, the moment we are in front of the camera, I have done everything from bursting into tears to avoiding altogether. Now I am able to be in front of a camera but still I find an element of holding back. To open and be in connection to my inner glory and sacredness, being intimate with the camera and shining my light I know and trust is there, will be interesting to see and feel.
Allowing all of ourselves to come out is what most of us would like, but I know for myself I find I am a little in and out most of the time depending on the situation. I would love to know the whole of me and have enough trust to be so.
When we start to accept ourselves this is reflected in what we see in the mirror or on a photo. The last photo shows, how embracing yourself supports the beauty and grace that lives inside to be reflected out.
That third photo warmed my heart… What a stunning picture of what a woman living her femaleness actually looks like!
Wow Nicole that is really a change you have made! I love this insight: “I have now realised that photos can also be a tool for allowing us to see, feel and appreciate how far we have come and how much we have grown, rather than to be afraid of or disappointed in what we see.” That is for me a wonderful way to see a photo as this way is much more self loving and supportive than being self critical and dismissive against myself.
“Could it be it is not that we do not like having our photos taken but that we do not like what we see in our photos?” Spot on Nicole. I never really like it when I see myself in photos. As a child I would turn my back on the camera – ruining many a family photo. I still prefer to be behind the lens. Similarly listening to recordings of my voice – I say to myself ‘do i really sound like that?’ However as i deepen my connection with myself I am more accepting, even learning to appreciate, what I see and what I hear- all thanks to Universal Medicine.
The detail you have shared here is spot on, I have struggled to look at photos of myself over the years too. I recently had a photo shot that was so confronting, as the photograph could see straight through my games and hiding and still managed to access the real me. It was really hard to look at these photos at first but with my husbands support and love I was able to really appreciate myself and my true beauty and now, one of the pictures is my all time favourite.
Something I absolutely love about photography is that you can really show someone just how beautiful they are, and how they are so much more than just their external looks.