How to love yourself in your wedding pictures. Some thoughts on self acceptance and being kind to yourself
How to love yourself in your wedding pictures? That might feel like an insurmountable question. As I said over in this post on my personal branding and portrait photography site, I struggle with self acceptance as much as the next person. It’s difficult to extend the kindness and compassion we offer to others to ourselves. We reduce ourselves to the sum of our parts and our perceived imperfections. We internalise messages about what it means to be beautiful because those are the messages we receive every single day.
Let’s flip this around and think about your future spouse. Do you love them? And as part of loving them, do you accept that they’re a human being with imperfections? Are you kind to them?
Of course you are. We would never, ever want to undermine the confidence of the people we love, let alone impacting on their self worth by focussing on their ‘flaws’. Love means accepting the other person and not trying to change them. You look at, and love, the whole person.
We reduce ourselves to the sum of our parts
So why do so many of us neglect to extend the same kindness to ourselves? Self esteem is slowly built and just as quickly demolished, based on compliance with an idea of beauty that is forced upon us. We believe in a need to be perfect. Then you’re getting married but you don’t like your arms / legs / bum / belly / chin. The things are all going to be photographed all day, on your wedding day.
You might assume that your photographer can make photos of you that you love, even when you don’t love yourself. Or that your wedding photos will be totally different from the pictures your friends or family take of you. This is definitely true to an extent. I’m a professional photographer with over 300 weddings under my belt, and a whole load of experience taking portraits of people that allow them to show up as their most authentic selves. Your wedding photography will definitely be different from the photos your friends or family take of you. That said, liking yourself in your wedding photos starts with liking yourself in real life.
So how do we like or even love ourselves in our wedding photos
There are lots of things you can do to help yourself feel calm and grounded on the day. The first thing I’ll say is that my meditation teacher training and counselling background means I have a number of tools that I can share with you on the day. If you’re feeling stressed or anxious just give me a nod!
A really big part of it is letting go. If you can, try to relax and enjoy your wedding day and forget about being photographed. I’m super unobtrusive on the day, so you’ll hardly know I’m there, which helps. Relaxed and happy people look relaxed and happy on camera. Luckily it’s fairly easy to tap into that happiness on your wedding day. You’ll radiate happiness and sunbeams will burst out of your face because you’ll be having an awesome time, surrounded by all of your favourite people!
Looking at the bigger picture
Even if you’re not your own biggest fan, looking at the bigger picture can really help. Your wedding photography will capture the whole story of your wedding day. Every time you throw your head back in laugher, the tears, the moves you pull on the dance floor. Those sunbeams bursting out of your face. When you look at your wedding photos I want you to transport you straight back to the love and happiness that you felt on the day of your wedding. You’ll remember that moment when you said ‘I do’ to your best friend? Your pictures will capture the whole spectrum of emotions you felt on the day.
Thoughts on learning to love yourself in your wedding pictures from Cheyenne Gill
I asked one of the most inspiring self-love proponents I know to share some thoughts on loving yourself. Cheyenne (They/she) is a body and fat affirming boudoir photographer, educator, and retreat facilitator over in the US. We met at a retreat a long time ago and I’ve been massively inspired by her (and even photographed by her many moons ago).
Here’s what they had to say:
“Tough love. That’s how I handle this whole ‘self love’ situation. Bottom line is this: YOU NEED TO GET OUT OF YOUR OWN WAY. It doesn’t matter if you’re a size 0 or a size 90000908798 – you are beautiful and you need to know that. Step back and get out of your head. Those stretch marks? Those boney knees? That rib cage popping out? The roll that rolls around when you sit down? Literally no one is looking at those things but you.
Growing up I hated my body. I HATED what I saw in the mirror and I certainly couldn’t bare to look at myself in pictures. It’s been a long, difficult journey, but I worked on celebrating, honouring, and seeing myself and I fell in love with myself. Every roll, every stretch mark, every jiggle with every step – I love it. And you can do the same. You’re beautiful and you shouldn’t be ashamed to admit it
Your wedding is going to be one of the most important days of your freaking life!! It doesn’t matter who your photographer is – YOU, your partner, and YOUR LOVE are going to be the pieces of the puzzle that make your pictures indescribably beautiful. The only way that can happen is if you put aside what are in your own mind.
Wedding photos that are real. Wedding photos with soul.
I concur. My own journey to loving myself, just like Cheyenne’s, has been a long one that’s taken work but I am absolutely determined to offer myself the same kindness and compassion that I would any other human.
There will always be the people that want their wedding photos to show a highly styled and curated version of their wedding day. A version that glosses over imperfections. I prefer the version with soul. The version that’s real. And wouldn’t it just be easier to embrace the chaos and appreciate the beauty in those in between moments?
There are some tips in the post I linked to earlier that are a great starting place for loving yourself a little bit more in your wedding pictures. If you’re really struggling with body image and self acceptance then therapy is a brilliant tool. It’s played a massive part in my journey to self acceptance and self love. Another really accessible tool is using affirmations to change the way you think about yourself. I talk about the power of affirmations combined with emotional freedom technique here.
I hope this post and these reflections helped a little with how to love yourself in your wedding pictures. If you’d like me to document your happiness in all it’s glory, get in touch.
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