Vulnerability & Photography

Step 1 of Walking into Vulnerability: Remove camera from in front of face.

Step 1 of Walking into Vulnerability: Remove camera from in front of face.

One of my goals as a photographer is to make people see their worth through the photos I capture of them.  But there was an abrupt realization I had this week that hasn't been sitting well with me.  I dread being in front of a camera.  To be able to capture this for people, I too must be ready to put myself on the line and be vulnerable every now and then.  The more I do this, the more the realization becomes clearer.  It happened as I sifted through the photos of myself I thought, "That shows way too much of me."  I don't naturally move in fluidity, I hate certain angles of myself and leave it to a digital camera to show you every single trace of any flaw you find in yourself.  Hence why I'm just safer behind the camera, so that's where I'll stay...

It was during my discipleship group meeting earlier this week did I hear the words I really needed to hear from a sweet, encouraging friend.  She simply said, "I thought of you when I read this!"  which caused me to pay special attention to the words.  I reread it and reread it.

"And just like the shepherd-turned-king, this farmer-turned-warrior transformed a tool of his trade into a weapon of war.  I don't think David had any idea when he was tending sheep that God would use his skill with a slingshot to catapult him into the national limelight."
{from Mark Batterson's, All In}.  

I don't know that I've had my slingshot moment where I've been catapulted into the national limelight because to do so you must be entirely vulnerable with every aspect of your life.  I hear God calling me out.  It's not enough to expect people to be vulnerable in front of my camera, I need to be just as equally vulnerable in front of theirs.  Take away the camera analogy, apply it to everyday and see it as, I can't expect people in my life to be completely vulnerable with me if I'm not ready to be completely vulnerable with them.  I can see Him easing me into this and that's so like Him.  He tenderly shepherds us into each phase of our lives so as not to overwhelm us by just throwing us in.  I am learning through this what it means to tend to the sheep; the sheep being us, people.  What I've learned thus far is we tend to each other by listening, understanding and being sympathetic to the needs of friends and family, and even strangers who walk into our lives.  

Bringing it back to photography, maybe these feelings of unsureness in front of a camera is a way for me to grow in empathy for those people who do bravely walk in front of one.  How can I tend to those in front of my camera if I haven't felt the jitters and concerns that come with such an action?  I understand that with every shutter click of the camera, you feel as if a layer of your hidden self is shed and all you want to do is be done and cover up.  I'd love to tell you that I could instantaneously take away those insecurities by flashing you an image I see and have you love it just as much as I do.  When in reality, what you may see is the handful of things wrong which have burned inside you all of your life. However, my friend, this is a post to be glad about!  I've experienced too many victories to stay in a place of self loathing and horrible photo angles to stop there.     

That farmer turn warrior moment is at hand!  My weapon of war is the very thing which is holding the power over me, a camera (or anything reflecting poor self image back at you).  Our minds war daily with contradictory thoughts and it's time to fight.  Insecurity is a vicious villain and I will not let it control me or any of those people God has given me to tend to.  And how thankful I am for the ones He's sent in to tend to me.  We need each other.  We are stronger united.  Let us not forget that.  To wage war, I will use my camera to shutter click through a thousand times if that's what it takes to produce an image that depicts the truest version of you.  So what, if it's only one out of those thousand clicks that marks a victory?  Then my work is complete.  Don't listen to those 999 other lies, listen to the one truth that tells you, "You are worth it and your value goes far beyond what you see in yourself right now."  And that catapult moment?  It will happen!  If God so chooses to catapult me into any sort of "limelight", I trust He will have been faithful to defeat the giant that wanted to hold me back from any such triumph.  I will be ready to be on display.  I will be ready to talk about the insecurities I faced and I will be stronger because of this season He broke down the very things which tried to hold me back.  I will step in front of more cameras, I will try to wear my heart on my sleeve more often, and I will watch Him transform me into the warrior He will continue helping me to become.  Friend, the same applies to you.

With Love, 

Alysha Miller1 Comment