Jennifer Boyle Photography – Seattle Lifestyle Photographer » Seattle-based Lifestyle and Wedding Photographer

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Self Portraits and Self Perceptions

Like almost all of my clients, I never loved getting in front of the camera. It’s a vulnerable place to be.

I remember a few years ago there was a recorded experiment making the rounds on social media (an ad for Dove, actually–it was genius). It was a forensic artist who was drawing portraits of subjects sitting behind a curtain based just on their own descriptions of themselves. They had to be minutely detailed in describing all the elements of their face. Then they had another person come in to give their own detailed description of the same subject for another portrait. Across the board, the stranger’s description was much more flattering, gentle, and…accurate! From the descriptions the subjects gave about themselves, the artist drew portraits with bulbous noses, uneven eyes, crooked teeth, etc. But in the portraits drawn from the strangers’ descriptions, you didn’t see any of those “imperfections”. They had bright eyes, soft expressions, and warm smiles.

This all goes to say that we could all be a little nicer to ourselves. No one else sees those imperfections that we obsess over–they see the bigger–and much more flattering–picture.

Of course it’s taken me until my late 30s to start being nice to myself. I was inspired to do this set of self portraits because of my grandma’s gorgeous wool coat. I’ve had it since I was a kid, and have always marveled over its beauty–both visual and tactile. It’s traveled around the country with me through so many moves I’d have a hard time even counting them now. All the while, it’s been stationed in my closet–because really, when do we have the opportunity to wear something so bold and extravagant these days?

That’s where portraits come in. When I wear this coat, I feel as though I’m of a different era. I wanted to play up that feeling in a set of self-portraits that would memorialize this sentimental piece of clothing and also document this stage in my life. Late 30s, wife and mother, business owner. Woman who’s finally feeling comfortable in her own skin.

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