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How Self Portraits Are Helping My Mental Health (And Why You Should Care)

self portrait

Our mirrors are lying to us

Self portraits are helping my mental health, that’s for absolute certain.

Stooped over the bathroom sink, I make an occasional glance into my soul. Death staring at myself, the mirror returns my gaze with far more ferocity.

We’ve all been here, right? Looking deep into the mirror trying to figure out where it all went wrong? Where, or why life took a road of self destruction?

Now this could be the over thinking talking but hear me out; mirrors are relatively cheap. Ours was no more than a few hundred dollars, if that and the lighting in the bathroom is certainly not always flattering. 

But the lenses on my camera, and the lights I use in my portraits, they’re far from cheap.

The technology alone that goes into how each piece of glass is designed and placed in front of my camera sensor (or film if we’re making photos on the good stuff) is far beyond that of the everyday bathroom mirror.

So how do we trust our mirror to tell us exactly who we are and how to view ourselves?

How can a photograph be any better?

Unlike that three dollar light globe that’s sitting directly above your mirror, a professional portrait photographer meticulously designs every part of the lighting to show off all your best angles.

I took this approach a while back and, under the guise of learning some new lighting techniques, made some new self portraits.

I treated the session as I would with one of my new or long time customers. Every bit of care was taken to ensure I was comfortable, understood what I was hoping to create and even started talking to myself, LOL.

Spending Time With Each Self Portrait

It’s so easy to criticise yourself. My aforementioned mirror staring contests are a testament to that but much like when I’m sharing photographs with my customers and new friends, looking into a well lit photograph is a new and far better experience.

Spending time with my own portraits, looking through the same eyes that sees the portraits I make for others, has changed the way I see myself.

I’m not looking for imperfections or things that are wrong, I’m looking at the light in my eyes, or the grey hairs shining through and making my self portraits a little more interesting.

I can see stories in each and every wrinkle, scratch and scar. My fingers that no longer straighten probably need their own photograph series because that’s another huge story to tell.

My portraits are raw, (almost completely) unedited and real. It’s about being vulnerable and honest. 

black and white self portrait in the studio of Steve Taylor-Madin aka gorak photo

Is this a bit of a stretch?

To claim that my portraits are the reason my mental health is far better than ever before is a long shot. It just would not be true, or at least, not the full story.

Talking and writing about my mental health is something I can’t seem to get away from. It’s always on my mind. And it’s always something I’m talking about. That’s where the real work is done and the improvements are made.

But these self portraits are an important step along my mental health journey. I just wish I made more self portraits earlier.

and why should you care?

The right professional portrait session will do wonders for your self confidence. Whether we make portraits in black and white or we go full colour, I say with great confidence that we’ll make something you’re proud to show to the world.

A good portrait photographer will spend the time to find out who you are and what you need. Despite being asked to tilt, turn or extend your chin into positions that won’t feel natural, the portrait session will feel more comfortable than you could ever imagine.

A professional portrait shoot will be an uplifting experience. When we’re done creating art together, you should feel buzzed, alive and be full of unrelenting confidence. Next to the images, the shared experience is my biggest focus.

Shall we make portraits together?

black and white photograph of construction in melbourne photo of the day

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