“I do not want to be in the photo!”- As a photographer, I have of course, heard this sentence many times. Mostly, it is followed with a “I look horrible on photos!” and a refusal to look at my camera. People have different reasons not to be in photos. You might be a safety officer, not wanting to compromise your family when the photo is on the internet. You may have a bad hair day (we all do!). Or, you might simply not like the way you look in photos.

This blog post is not about having a positive body image (I will cover this topic another time), it is about why it is important to overcome this dislike of being photographed.

You might think I will tell you something cheesy like “Everyone is beautiful in his/her way!”. Well, even though I agree with that statement, this is not what I would say.

It is simply this: the photo that will be taken of you is not for you. Yes, correct, listen to this:

Most photos are not taken because one single person wants to look at his/her photo alone. No, most photos are taken, because we want to keep the memory of YOU and share the moment- with others!

If a mother refuses to be on the group photo on the wedding day of her son, wouldn’t that be outrageous? Yes, because the wedding is not a celebration of just two people. It is the celebration for the couple AND all the great people around them. So, of course, everyone should be in the photo. Because it is not about how you look, it is about your presence, about the moment that happened.

This is also true in everyday life. It must not need to be a professional photoshoot, it can also be a simple photo of you while cooking. And- this is a scary thought- it might be the last photo of you.

Once, I took a photo of an old lady with her best friend. They knew each other from school and now they were in their 80s. When I took the photo, we did not know that it was the last time that they would see each other. When I told them that I would take their photo, they first were like “Oh, no, thank you!”. I knew that this one lady especially did not like to have her picture taken. So I had to do some extra persuading until they agreed. Some time after that, one of the ladies passed away. A life-long friendship ended. But the photo was still there. And until now, the other lady has the photo of the two of them framed in her apartement, reminding her about her best friend.

So, the next time you cover your face with your hands, just to avoid having your photo taken, please remember this story.

Your family and friends (and the photographer that they hired) want YOU in that photo. They want to remember you and your presence. Your smile and your eyes. Not because of the way you look, but because of who you are to them.

Because they love you and because you belong together.