Self-Portraits as Remedy: The Therapeutic Potential of Photographing Your self

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Whereas I’ll have publicly used the time period ‘self-portrait remedy’ earlier than, I’ve by no means spoken concerning the susceptible origins of my self-portraits.

After I began taking images of myself, I used to be immensely impressed by what different individuals had been creating. However there was additionally this massive half inside myself that desperately longed to be stunning. To really feel stunning.

As a younger lady, I used to be filled with insecurities, filled with concepts about what I wanted to vary or repair to be stunning. I didn’t see the innate magnificence I had inside myself. That solely now I do know all of us have inside ourselves.

So, I began placing myself in entrance of my very own digicam. And it was a painful journey, in search of acceptance from the skin whereas not realizing it should come from inside.

Initially motivated by a deep wound, I quickly came upon that self-portraits have a therapeutic high quality to them. And so they turned a giant a part of my journey in the direction of a more healthy self-perception.

Many different artists on this style equally use the time period ‘self-portrait remedy’ – as a result of we’ve all skilled what it will probably do to you. Artwork can heal you.

What Does “Self-Portrait Remedy” Imply?

Self-portraits may be both understood within the photographic or painterly sense. The historical past of painted self-portraits goes approach again and artists have used them for hundreds of years to precise hidden components of themselves. However I’d wish to particularly talk about self-portrait images as a approach of therapeutic.

By stepping in entrance of your digicam, alone, with no one else, you enter a really intimate house. The facade comes off. It’s solely you and the digicam. You might be watching your self.

On this sacred house, hidden components of your self might come up that you just didn’t even understand you had inside you. Chances are you’ll expertise sturdy feelings, you get to discover completely different identities.

Shared with the outer world, self-portraits can even change into a approach of speaking issues which were left unsaid and emotions which can be arduous to precise in any other case. Getting into this degree of vulnerability with your self can rework you. That’s why many artists converse of their self-portrait apply as remedy. It’s a apply of turning ache into artwork.

Let me share with you ways I skilled it.

Discovering Self-Love By way of Self-Portraits

Self-portraiture means that you must have a look at your self. Actually have a look at your self. Trustworthy. Uncooked.

As a portrait photographer, you’ll know that each particular person, regardless of how bodily enticing they’re thought of in keeping with no matter present magnificence ideally suited society defines, could have ‘unhealthy’ angles. Whereas usually we’ve an appreciation of different individuals’s magnificence in entrance of our lens, many individuals wrestle with seeing the identical in themselves.

And it actually exhibits how self-love, acknowledging your individual magnificence, is an internal course of. It doesn’t rely upon what you’ve been given exterior. In reality, I’ve spoken to many individuals, particularly ladies, whom I’ve perceived as mind-blowingly stunning. Nonetheless, they had been ridden with self-criticism and insecurity.

When taking self-portraits, or any form of portrait, there will probably be photographs that aren’t flattering. As a self-portrait photographer, that you must undergo these images. You have to have a look at them. At your self.

Begin Accepting Your self as You Are

And that you must settle for that each one these views are a part of your self – those you label ‘stunning’ simply as a lot as those you label ‘ugly’. You recognize self-portrait remedy begins working whenever you discover methods to return to phrases together with your appears. In an area the place there’s no one else current to guage you, you’ll discover that actuality will depend on the way you decide your self.

It took me years of taking a look at myself till I used to be capable of look within the mirror and smile at myself. With out critiquing. Full acceptance.

An enormous a part of this self-love journey was undoubtedly images, like for different ladies, too. It has helped me to see the gorgeous sides of myself and it has let me come to phrases with the remaining.

The woman who so desperately wished to be stunning has lastly realized that she already is.

Releasing Feelings in Entrance of the Digital camera

Emotional expression has all the time been tough for me. Extra a thinker than a feeler, I valued my rational outlook on life. That didn’t imply I didn’t expertise feelings, nonetheless. I simply didn’t know how you can cope with them.

Stepping in entrance of the digicam provides you house to discover how you are feeling. Pictures is carefully tied to emotion, and with your self in entrance of the digicam much more so. Usually, beginning with no idea in thoughts, surprising issues will come up.

There have been few instances the place I’ve began to cry. Different instances, I’ve began to run, crammed with a pleasure I didn’t know I had inside myself.

Self-portrait remedy is a approach of coming into your physique. Transferring your feelings by way of the physique and releasing them. The instances I’ve taken images of myself in a low second and left feeling significantly higher are lots.

And it may be simply as therapeutic to share the artwork that comes from it – usually, the artwork that touches us probably the most is the one we see ourselves in. By way of sharing your deepest self, you enable others to attach with you on a deeply human degree.

Ultimately, artwork is a approach of letting one another know: Hey, you aren’t alone.

I’ve all the time been drawn to images depicting solitude and vulnerability. Preventing to beat my very own emotions of loneliness, I felt comforted understanding that I’m not distinctive in my expertise. Grown from it has been an appreciation for solitude, however with out feeling remoted from the world.

Self-Portrait Remedy as a Means of Exploring Identification

Particularly when taking conceptual or surreal images, self-portraits can change into a wholesome approach of escapism. You may strive completely different roles, dressed up or not, and take your self into distant fantasy lands. Turning into a part of a fairy story or combating your largest monsters, visually.

Whereas rising up, I used to be devouring books. There may by no means be sufficient. I lived to slide into these stunning, imaginative tales. I found self-portraiture once I was 19, however my child-like self that desperately wished to dwell in a narrative was nonetheless there.

By way of conceptual self-portraits, I crafted a spot the place I used to be at peace. A house that was actually my very own. And the chances had been infinite: Studying how you can use Photoshop, I may make issues fly. I may make myself fly. I may meet big fairies and take myself to distant lands.

However even when your photographs are usually not all fantasy, you may get to know so many various sides of your self by taking images of your face and physique. It’s by way of taking over completely different roles that you just actually discover your individual identification. Freely. Safely. As a result of, once more, there’s no one else watching.

The outcomes of your self-portraits should not have to outline you – they’ll merely be an exploration of who you might be, who you aren’t, who you need to be.

Identification is one thing we craft ourselves and I feel self-portraiture impressively exhibits in what number of instructions we are able to go. In the event you let go of the restrictions you placed on your self, you actually may be something you ever wished to be. Realizing that is additionally a real-life lesson is when self-portrait remedy has lastly introduced the message residence.

Redefining Your self By way of Self-Portraiture

So, why am I sharing all of this with you? As a result of I actually consider that we are able to elevate one another up by sharing our journey and what has helped us.

In the event you’re a photographer and also you’ve by no means taken images of your self, I encourage you to strive it. And even when you have by no means held an expert digicam – any trendy smartphone will permit you to set a timer and begin taking self-portraits.

Don’t get scared away from it as a result of I used the phrase ‘remedy’ and that sounds form of intense to you. Simply enable your self to be. See what occurs. And don’t overlook to have enjoyable.

Self-portraits have modified a lot for me. They’ve allowed me to be taught portrait images while not having a mannequin, allowed me to experiment with new strategies and kinds and so they have helped me to develop as a photographer.

However most of all, self-portraits have helped me to develop as an individual. That’s why I strongly advocate a dose of self-portrait remedy to anybody. You don’t even have to point out anybody – simply do it for your self.

You would possibly discover issues that shock you, perhaps even redefine you.


Disclaimer: In fact, I don’t advocate taking self-portraits as a substitute for precise psychological remedy. If you’re struggling together with your psychological well being, please know that it’s okay and essential to hunt skilled assist. Sending you like.


In regards to the creator: Anna Heimkreiter is a photographer and world wanderer. The opinions expressed on this article are solely these of the creator. Yow will discover extra of Heimkreiter’s work on her web site, Fb, Flickr, and Instagram. This text was additionally printed right here.



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