What would you say to her? | Did you know there is no such thing as a perfect photo?  Everyone has different perspectives and beliefs about what is beautiful and perfect, which is why there are no universally “perfect” photos and why people love different photos for different reasons.

Um, what exactly does this have to do with an adorable baby photo, Sara?

I’m getting there!

When you look at a portrait what is the first thing you notice?  Is it the person’s face?  The outfit they are wearing? Is it the emotion you feel when you look at the photo? 

We all notice different things when we look at photos because we have all had different experiences when it comes to photography.  What we notice is the result of a combination of different factors, like the values we have, our previous experiences being photographed, and the messages we heard around our appearance growing up.

If you came here just to look at the photo of the adorable grinning baby, bear with me.

What most people don’t realize is that what they notice in a photo is not what other people notice.  What most people don’t realize is that the flaws they automatically search for, are not automatically noticeable to others.  

When we look at photos, we will always find what we are looking for. If you are looking for perfection (in appearance, in relationships), which doesn’t actually exist, you will always be disappointed when you look at photos.  If you start looking for different things like connection, emotions, and what memories a photo triggers for you at that stage of your life you will find a newfound appreciation for every photo you look at it.  It doesn’t mean you will love every photo. It just means you will be able to recognize its importance in your life story.

What would you say to her?

As parents and adults, we have the chance to teach the next generation to look for different things in photos.  To not focus on the messages we heard growing up about physical appearance and “perfection” but instead focus on the emotions we feel when we look at people we care about, the connection between people in a photo, and the memories we have of a particular stage in our life.

Back to the baby.  What would you say to her?

It’s never too late to change how we talk about ourselves and our family members when we look at photos.  The next time you sit down to look at photos, I invite you to notice the thoughts that pop up and rather than believing them to be true, to think about where they originated and if they still serve you or represent what’s important to you.

Our kids are listening when we talk about photos of ourselves and photos of others.  When I look at this grinning face, I wonder if her generation could be the first one who appreciates memories and photographs of themselves with genuine kindness and love for every stage of their life and appearance?  

What would you say to her?