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Irene Rubaum-Keller Headshot

Say Cheese! Does Having Your Photo Taken Make You Self-Conscious?

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'Tis the season to be jolly, and to have your picture taken. How do you feel about having your photo snapped? Are you happy about it, or do you hate it? I find this subject fascinating, as I have started to shoot photos of people as a career. I am also a licensed psychotherapist, so my interest in how people react to their own image is filtered through the lens of an eating disorder/body image specialist. It's beyond fascinating. I find that both men and women have a range of self-esteem issues that come up when in front of the camera.

The best photo subjects like the way they look and feel confident in front of the camera. This is Tanna Frederick, and she falls into that category. Of course she is young, gorgeous and a movie star, but I have worked with others who fall into the same category who can't stand the way they look in photos. Tanna has a very healthy self-esteem and seems to know what she looks like. She isn't surprised when she sees her image in photos. Her self-image is congruent with how she really looks.

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Photo by Irene Keller

This is John. He likens having his picture taken to a tooth extraction. John is an attorney, not an actor or model, but he is striking just the same. He doesn't think so; therefore, taking photos is abhorrent to him. John is a friend and asked me to take his photo and family photos as a favor. Although it was at his request, he still hated posing for me.

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Photo by Irene Keller

This is Lindi. She is my friend from high school and someone I dearly love. She posed for me as a favor but really didn't want to. I think Lindi is lovely, but she doesn't agree. I find this very sad. As women, in particular, our self-esteem seems so fragile and based on our looks, age, weight, etc. Not only is our self-esteem based on our looks, but we judge our looks against airbrushed magazine images. Even the 20-something models who are posing don't look as perfect as their photos do.

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Photo by Irene Keller

Here is Chance. He is four. I have never seen anyone pose the way he did for his photos. We were all in awe at the shoot. Maybe he was Marilyn Monroe in his last life. Chance was fearless and a real ham to boot. He was just having fun and had no self-esteem issues whatsoever. He wasn't interested in looking at the photos in the camera, either. He wasn't after the results; he was enjoying the moment completely. It's good to be around little children to remember how to be compeletly present and unselfconscious.

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Photo by Irene Keller

Pamela is gorgeous, but she has had to adjust to seeing herself in photos now. She was once an actress and brought along her headshot from days long ago. Although the camera still loves her, aging is something that can be very hard on the self-esteem of both men and women. While we might still look fantastic, we don't look like we used to. There is also the reality that there are very few images of people over 50 in the media. We are not in magazines, movies, ads, etc. Maybe this will change, but for now, we have to realize that for the most part we are comparing our images with those of 20-something actors and models.

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Photo by Irene Keller

Here is Gabby. She is 22 and has done some modeling but really wants to teach kindergarten. She was raised with extremely grounded parents who wanted her to take pride not just in her appearance, but in who she is as a person. She is confident in her looks but happy to focus elsewhere. Go Gabby!

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Photo by Irene Keller

Natalie is a dancer and is just starting out as an actress. She falls in the middle of confident and unsure of herself. She has a unique look, and I think she is just stunning. It seems that if we are at all outside the small window that is considered attractive, there is room for insecurity, especially for women.

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Photo by Irene Keller

So where do you fall in this spectrum? Are you comfortable in your own skin? Do you know what your skin looks like in a photo? Can you accept and love yourself for who you are today? Do you enjoy having your picture taken, or do you hide in the back? Let us know.

If you'd like to make contact with Irene, you can find her here.

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