My issues with my body mean that things are never going to be picture perfect for me. The chances of any picture meeting the grade are slim, and there are always a lot of casualties along the way. This is hard for HL, who is often the photographer. I get frustrated because in my mind’s eye, I looked different than I do in reality. I also get upset easily. While he has pushed me past some of my anxiety to a point where he can take pictures of me, the way I look in them will often mean that I end up unhappy. It is a fine line to tread.
I read a really interesting post this morning by a new blogger called Charlie X. In his post, On the taking of selfies for mental health, Charlie made the point that if you make sure that a picture is associated with a positive thought or emotion when you take it, then you learn to associate it with that positive feeling when you look at it. Light-bulb moment! In fact, Charlie made a number of points that really got me thinking, so if you haven’t read his post then I would recommend hopping over to have a look.
Often when we are taking pictures, I don’t feel positive. I feel worried about how I am going to look. I am scared that the camera will catch me, not as I want to be, but as I actually am. This can be somewhat of a battle because the way I see myself is not always healthy. Rather than seeing a natural bulge or crease here or there, it is about looking repulsive. The feelings of loathing can be really strong and I am not able to see anything positive there to work with.
This is hard for HL as he does not see me the same way. In addition, he has often taken the picture so it is quite insulting and demoralising for him when I am not just disappointed with his efforts, but actually revolted by what I see. I know that this is hard to understand and I have to say that it isn’t always like this. We can have times where it works too but I realise from what Charlie said, I need to retrain my mind to focus on the positives which I can control, and perhaps that will help with the irrational thoughts.
And I do know that they are irrational. I feel guilty about that. I feel like a fraud who is trying to garner attention and compliments because I know that my thinking is distorted and that, in reality, my 50 year old body is pretty much what you would expect it to be. I know all of that but it doesn’t help at points because the old cognition is still there and, even after 33 years, it can paint my thoughts black.
But hey! This was meant to be a positive post about the positives of taking pictures and the ways that I can use the positive experience. So now that we have established that picture perfect isn’t what this is about, I can try to make it picture positive. Despite all of the issues mentioned above, we have taken some nice images of me and some that I actually like. Being able to crop and edit has meant that I can focus on the angles which I feel most comfortable with and produce something that I can put out there.
I do take some of my pictures myself, but as HL was the driving force behind it in the first place and he likes to take pictures of me, it is often something that we do together. He is happy enough to hand over to me to select and edit the ones that I want and, although he never makes a point of it, I know that he files some of the others away as part of his own private gallery. He doesn’t tend to show me the ones he looks at – he doesn’t want them ruined by my reaction I expect, so avoids the negatives there.
We have come really far though from when I started the blog. I have always sent him selfies but would never have shared anything online. He was very gentle and very slow with me. It was a gradual build, firstly to the part when he got me to post an image myself online, and then to the part where he actually made me take my clothes of out in the big wide open to have my picture taken in the mountains. That was a bit of step, I will say.
Sometimes it has been so close to my boundaries that I have had to tip into my submissive headspace in order to do as he has asked, and that has led to being more relaxed and feeling the excitement and the thrill. On days like that I will end up suggesting places to go and things to try. The pictures usually come out well and so I see again, that the positive thoughts and emotions of the time can actually affect the way that the images are viewed.
All in all, erotic photography has been a journey for us which has been varied and rewarding. It has allowed me to make major inroads into challenging many of the negative ideas that surround my body image issues. The feedback I have had has always been helpful and I have said often that it has added strength and volume to the words that HL has used with me for a long time.
I posted the picture from the featured image above a while ago with the following caption:
“Life is like photography. You need the negatives to develop.”
I felt that it was appropriate to use again for this post because things have developed and many of the negatives have become much more positive. That is definitely how I feel moving forward and will be trying to focus on a positive at the time to see if that helps the way the pictures look. I am pretty sure I will never get picture perfect, but I hope to avoid the negatives at the very least.