by Liza Andrews
Shooting people is far more enlightening than shooting any other subject. Many times, the individual in front of my camera is not alone. He or she carries complexes and insecurities fed by factors affecting their self-esteem, such as weight variations, divorce, job crises and mostly, aging. I’ve been there, so when that happens, I step out of my photographers shoes and say, “We want these photos to show the best of you. So, if something is bothering you, how about we work on that first?” If they agree, we will reschedule and I’ll encourage them to do some exercises in the meantime. When they return, the photoshoots are marvelous. Their problems may still be there, but their perception of self has changed and their confidence is renewed.
I learned a great deal about reinvention over ten years ago when I started working with cancer survivors. These brave men and women had to go through frightening, life threatening experiences where the outcome was uncertain, and then, after the worst was over, they had to learn how to resume their lives, or reinvent themselves and their life-style entirely. Years later, I was about to discover that aging may have a similar effect on people. Once you wake up and the face in the mirror is no longer the one you relate to as yourself, your self-esteem starts paying the price. We all want to look great, what I learned in my line of work was that “great” is more comfortable when it translates into “the greatest we can be at our age.”
Trying to look a decade younger through plastic surgery and other aggressive methods or extreme changes in diet and life-style have proved to eat us inside, making the mind and spirit uglier than our aging bodies. Reinvention makes more sense and brings much more happiness and fulfillment.
In my Reinvention Studio, I taught clients how to “body map” and find their strengths and weaknesses. By being familiar with your body in the different phases of your life, allows you to find ways to highlight your best features and disguise the ones you are not so crazy about. You’ll do it through daily changes that require commitment, but not the pain and funds requested for invasive methods. Being responsible for setting the goals and walking the walk of your own reinvention and growth also have positive psychological side effects. In the end, you will be proud of your journey and personal effort.
In practical terms, in order to obtain improvements in your looks for photos or life, you will need to observe your moves by setting your camera in automatic and taking selfies to study yourself later and make adjustments.
My experience has demonstrated that you will start looking better and feeling a lot more confident with these 5 actions:
1- Improve your posture - by straightening your back and sucking in your stomach, you will create an instant illusion of being taller and more fit.
2- Bring the great posture also to the way you sit - observe yourself in the mirror or through selfies and discover what to do with your legs and arms while sitting. Which “poses” suggest more charm and value your body type.
3- Practice walking: Find a way that combines great posture and confident attitude and people will notice when you walk into or around a room. Keep your head straight up (without raising your chin too much.) Look casually to your sides from time to time. Do this exercise daily in any long walk you take ( E.g: to get to the train station or to grab lunch). Focus on your arms. Think of walking as a dance, in which every step needs to be confident and purposeful. If you practice this everyday, you may feel like a robot in the beginning, but it should feel natural and show successful changes after about a week.
4- Eye contact: if it’s not natural to you, practice eye contact with strangers during that walking exercise. Don’t linger, don’t stare, but establish a firm and yet pleasant exchange. This simple exercise will make you nervous, feeling inappropriate, but they will create antibodies to shyness and make enormous difference in your journey toward feeling more confident.
5- Genetics don’t rule it all: Add charm to the mix. Charm can be as powerful as beauty, and fortunately, it is something you can develop and exude at any age. During my workshops, I study my clients individually and make personal suggestions, but at home you can try this: Do some research and find a celebrity that you consider elegant or charming who has some physical features similar to yours. Study them. Be honest to admit which of their physical attributes are not truly attractive. Then notice how insignificant such “physical weaknesses” seem compared to that individual’s whole attractive package. Regular people with tons of charm and charisma are normally perceived as more attractive than other with perfect features who lack those.
I witnessed hundreds of individuals benefit from the suggested exercises we use in our workshops, so I highly recommend that you try them. Between one and three months, depending on your commitment and determination, you should see considerable changes. The confidence the process brings to people and the changes I see in them has inspired me as well. Photography as a form of art became my passion because creating it is like writing a piece of History. Just like people, each piece has its unique story: what inspired it, why it was created and how it can affect the outside world. So why not combining interesting people and artistic photography in my storytelling? I often have clients who experienced some type of reinvention or self-improvement during our sessions volunteer to pose for my fine art collections. For me, that’s an absolute delight!