As a photographer, it’s SO easy to get lost behind the camera.

You’re always the one taking the photo, and let’s face it, non-photographers (and some photographers, too…bless their hearts) take the shittiest photos of you. 

Back fat?!?! Why didn’t you tell me to turn? Why is THAT the one photo you posted on Facebook? God, do you even like me?

Because, if we are being honest, we know what we look like. We look at ourselves in the mirror Every. Single. Day. So why is it soooooo surprising when we see that photo?

I’ve narrowed it down to 1 Reason.

We HOPE that we look different from what we KNOW. 

I know that I was wearing pink undies under my yoga pants, but I was hoping that no one else KNEW that was the case.

On a photo level, you hope that any photo of you shows only your best qualities. That’s easier to accomplish in videos because you’re talking, laughing, walking, twirling. Not to mention there’s personality and your brain kinda fills in the gaps in a more positive light. 

Not in a photo. Hell to the no.

A photo is just a split second of time. And it can be merciless.

It’s easy to think that you only need to take one shot to make the photo turn out perfect because that’s the case when friends take photos of you. It’s a ‘one and done’ little snapshot that is getting tagged online immediately, and there is no room for adjustments other than your filter you put on it.

And that’s when alllllllllllll of this Photo PTSD develops! 

“I hate looking at photos of myself. I hate getting my photo taken. I hate the way my smile looks. I hate the way I look. I hate feeling so self-conscious. I hate this stomach situation right now. Of course, I’m all broken out. Is bra fat (or weird mole, gray hair, weird skin thing, nail beds…the list is ENDLESS, just fill in the blank) going to show up on camera?”

All of these thoughts went through my head. MY HEAD. The photographer’s head. The person who is supposed to assure you everything’s going to be fine.

Because I didn’t have my photographer hat on. I had my customer hat on. 

Nevertheless, I decided it was time for new photos. I’m not going to lie. I was scared. I copped out of hiring someone and just took them myself because I didn’t know who I could go to.

CODE FOR: I didn’t know WHO I could trust MY insecurities with.

I didn’t want to get photos back and cry because yet another photo shows all the things I hate most about my body.

So, I took the photos myself…which was kinda rough at first, but I thought I would show you some.

(It’s hard to focus when you don’t have anything to focus on while setting up the camera…) Minor setback. Lol

I actually really loved it.

I loved it because I finally remembered the process. The process I bank my entire business on. The whole process I sell to any client walking in the door.

The process of how a photo session works.

You don’t just take one photo. You take SIX HUNDRED. And you don’t just take a photo of you in the same spot. You sit. You stand. You lean. You turn. You smile. You laugh. You’re serious. You’re goofy. Don’t even get me started on the hands. Up, down, in the pockets, on the hips, resting on a table, behind the back. And then…you put on a different outfit. 

And you do IT ALL AGAIN. 

Headshots by Madison Yen
When you realize you have a plant, a stool, and some cables in the photo, but you just say, “fuck it, I’ll crop it out later….”

Headshots by Madison Yen

Headshots by Madison Yen

Headshots by Madison Yen

Headshots by Madison Yen

Headshots by Madison Yen

Headshots by Madison Yen

Headshots by Madison Yen

Goofy Headshots by Madison Yen

Headshots by Madison Yen

How did I forget that??? 

You take a million photos. And some are sooooo bad. When one eye is blinking and the other one is just chilling there. Like WTF is happening with my eye right now?! And some are of your face right in the middle of a sentence when your mouth looks all weird. And some are of you being all slouchy and poochy. And some are when you magically have your chin tucked in and that creates four chins. I didn’t even know I could HAVE four chins, but I guess I somehow managed….

But that is part of the process! Every last chin of it.

Because for every 8 bad ones, you have an acceptable one. One that you’re like “Ok, I can work with that. That’s more like it….” 

And for every 15 ok ones, there’s a really nice one. One that you’re like, “ok yesssss, this is in the ‘yes’ pile.” 

And for every 5 really nice ones, there’s a “HELL YES, FUCK YOU ALL. Fuck ANYONE who has ever taken a photo of me mid-bite sitting at a table like a fucking hamster stuffing it’s face with some hay. Because that shit is a lie. Because THIS. RIGHT HERE. THIS IS WHAT I LOOK LIKE. THIS IS ME.”

It was after this process that I started being nicer to myself.

Because seeing all of the bad ones was…bad, but then seeing the all of the great ones mixed in, too, was so gratifying. Being able to laugh at myself was a relief. And being able to think, “Ok, I can work with this. I’ll fix x, y, z in photoshop and MOVE ON WITH MY LIFE” was a gift.

A gift that said, “Hey, I like your hair today. And you know what, Madison Yen, I think you’re kinda pretty. And you can rock black like a badass bitch.”

After this ONE SHOOT, I started finding little things that I liked about myself.

Now I KNOW that good sides of my face exist. I know that flattering poses of my body EXIST. Whether my friends post those or not, at least I know that they’re there. Now I can at least start to REWRITE this photo PTSD that has developed in my brain.

For good or for evil, that’s the power of ONE photo.