A camera is a magical device with a subtle yet powerful ability: it exposes the beauty in the subjects it captures while rendering its wielder all but invisible. The most self-conscious people will be hyperaware of the presence of a camera in their midst, but even they will spare little energy for the photographer itself. With a camera comes legitimacy and purpose. The photographer needs no introduction, no explanation.
Most of my life has been spent hiding behind a camera, from high school dances to charity benefit galas. I have pursued beauty with the tenacity of a dog chasing after a bone, motivated sometimes by money and sometimes by free tickets to events and always by passion. The evidence – in the form of moments trapped in pixels or ink – overwhelmingly points to the notion that everyone is beautiful, especially when they aren’t paying attention.
You don’t need to suck in your stomach or find your light or smize (that’s smile with your eyes, for those of you who haven’t heard the gospel according to Tyra Banks). You don’t need to wear vertical stripes or create an optical illusion with makeup. You don’t need special undergarments or million-dollar hair products. You don’t even need confidence. You just need a body, any body at all.
In spite of this realization, I have struggled with putting my own body in front of a camera and appreciating the result. I can identify the beauty in the unique topography of the bodies of others, the elegant curve of a wrist here or the graceful contour of a scar there, but my own has been elusive. I look at pictures of myself and feel betrayed, exposed by my own invisibility cloak.
In defiance of my insecurity, I persevere. I drag myself kicking and screaming out of my comfort zone and embrace my own visibility one shutter click at a time. I will not be the hypocrite that tells other women not to fear the camera while I stand firmly rooted on the other side of the lens. There is beauty in every body, and I will bear witness to it all, even my own.