The Healing Power of Photography
By Howard Zucker, Moving You Forward (Self-Image Photography)
When someone is dealing with issues relating to self-esteem and body image there is a great need for healing. For those who seek it, there are many alternatives, therapy, medication, and spirituality, to name some of the more familiar ones. This is an introduction to a new tool that has tremendous healing power, photography.
I have been a photographer for over 12 years and have developed a technique called Self Image Photography and in order to understand its potential one has to first review the issues it can address.
How we view ourselves and how we see ourselves in the mirror is a learned behavior, which starts at a very young age. Growing up in times of high stress and dysfunctional family environments can often include a tremendous amount of negative emotions and experiences that play a huge role in how we develop our self-image.
Some of the negative emotions that children are often exposed to include shame, rejection and ridicule. There are also traumas that can occur in childhood within the family or in school or in religious settings. Over time these experiences can lead to very low self-esteem and poor body image. In addition, as children grow up they are continually faced with the media's interpretation and ideals about having the perfect body.
Even as adults our bodies are shifting constantly due to weight changes, aging, illness, and the negative feedback often continues from poor relationships and a society that is so heavily focused on youth and perfection. And each time we return to the mirror are we seeing our true selves or the negative perceptions that we've been led to believe? It is these distortions that can lead to destructive behaviors such as eating disorders and compulsive exercising.
Self Image Photography is an opportunity to see one's self in a new way without all the negative conditioning.
This type of photo shoot consists of taking pictures in all different poses with various clothing, using different angles, lighting and specific direction. The focus is to make people feel comfortable and relaxed which allows their best self to shine through. The goal is to capture one's true soul.
After the shoot the images are reviewed on a large screen, which is where the healing begins. Instead of the usual way, in the mirror, we are able to objectively view image after image and appreciate who we really are as we see ourselves looking terrific. After the photo session there is always a shift in the way people perceive themselves. This shift opens a path towards surprising transformations.
A set of contact sheets of all the images become tangible proofs of the experience and confirmation of how great we really look. The contact sheets are a great catalyst for further review in therapy.
Photography can be a powerful tool to help alter these negative perceptions and relearn a positive self-image. When done in the right environment with the right photographer, it can have a dramatic impact on how a person sees him or herself.
It is always an empowering experience that increases self-awareness and confidence. The truth is there is beauty in everyone when we open up to see it.
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