The earliest known footage of me, currently locked away in vault known as a VHS, shows a not-quite-school-aged Kelsey standing next to a fence post at her grandparents’ place talking about the horses. “I wanna ride Pride,” I whine in a high little voice. The next shaky home video scene starts up abruptly, exactly a year later. I’m whining again but this time I’m running towards my grandparents’ house while crying, “Noooooo!” I would not be participating in this year’s filming.
Grandma had thought it’d be fun to rewatch the previous summer’s footage, so for the first time in my life I’d seen my awkward, gangly self on the screen. The first time I’d heard my high little voice. “Is that what I really sound like?” I’d asked my dad. “Um, yes?” was the reply. I nearly cried.
People say a camera can add ten pounds. But can it also make my voice several octaves squeakier? Can it add about six times more social-ineptness than usual? Can it highlight every insecurity better than a neon-yellow highlighter?
To my surprise, it turns out the answer is no. Or at least, not always. It depends a little on lighting and makeup. And it depends a lot on who is standing behind that camera. But sometimes a camera can capture the confidence you don’t always see when you look in the mirror; the confidence you can’t quite feel.
I’ve been wanting to get professional photos for my blog since I reached 500 followers, but that meant standing in front of a camera. So here we are, just celebrated reaching 7,000 followers, and I only just got the pictures.
I remember reading that J.D. Salinger refused to have any sort of image on his covers because he was afraid it would detract from the book; it would impact the reader’s imagination; it would [insert more annoyingly artsy reasons, and so on and so forth]. And in addition to being camera shy I was afraid a picture might detract from the content on my blog. I was afraid of looking “un-Kelsey.” But I was more afraid people wouldn’t take me as seriously because I might look as awkward as I feel. You see, one of the best things about the internet is that you can be faceless. You can seem more confident and like maybe, you know, you actually have your shit together. Plus, the fact that I look so young for my age doesn’t get in the way when it comes to text. Text looks good on me; it really complements my complexion.
But I’ve been wanting to move beyond only blogging. I’ve been researching this scary thing called freelancing. I’ve been collecting helpful bits of information and editors’ email addresses. I’ve been makes notes of all those articles I’ll write … someday.
I just haven’t been able to start because I haven’t had a headshot, and a selfie didn’t exactly scream Take Me Seriously, Dammit. But I finally did it. I booked a photographer. I wore my favorite sweater and I had her do my makeup. And I think it was one of the most radical acts of self-care that I’ve taken in a while.
I took myself seriously. I took my writing seriously. I told myself that my writing wasn’t “just blogging” and “just a hobby.” It’s important to me. And taking it seriously was worth the time, money, and camera anxiety. (But, honestly, it wasn’t stressful.)
My photographer, Alisa Clark of CapturedBy:Monaalisapro, made the whole thing much smoother than I ever would’ve hoped. And to my surprise I actually enjoyed having my makeup done (I’m the girl who didn’t even buy special makeup for her wedding). And posing wasn’t awful. In fact, the whole thing was actually fun and I’m planning on having a couple’s photo shoot in the future with the hubby so we have more than just wedding pictures and couple’s selfies.
I love my pictures. But what I love the most is that I feel like I take myself more seriously now. I feel more confident about submitting pitches. And I even feel more confident about blogging. I’ve started working my way through that list of articles to write. I’ve stopped waiting for someday. To me, my pictures say it’s not “just blogging.” No just about it. It shows that I take myself seriously, and that you should take me seriously, too.
What does self-care look like for you today? What does it mean for you to take yourself and what you love seriously? Bloggers, is it time for you to book your own photo shoot?
(Any Seattle-Tacoma folks, be sure to check out Alisa’s website and Facebook page. She’s the perfect mix of laid back and professional. And the next time I need photos, I plan on using her again. Plus, she can do makeup, like, professionally and I can barely even get my mascara on without making a mess.)