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Using Photography to Cultivate Self-Love

Photographer Amalie Orrange shares expert tips to improve self-love.

The concept of self-love is not novel; however, it has gained popularity in recent years. We are in an era in which people are finally realizing that cultivating love within your being is key in being able to love and be loved by others. While it can certainly be challenging, it is a wondrously empowering and worthwhile practice, especially as it relates to improvements in mental health. I have utilized the Self-Love Workbook in my private practice for years and have seen how this investment often serves as a cornerstone for transitioning from struggling with mental illness to thriving with mental wellness. Individuals who hone their self-love often experience benefits such as improved confidence, motivation, and happiness as well as decreased anxiety, depression, and suicidality.

One of the many tricky aspects of self-love is inherent to the term: It pertains to the self. What self-love looks like for me may not be what it looks like for you. The increasing popularity of self-love has been helpful to highlight this resourceful concept, but the trend is that we often explore self-love as it relates to mental health, and therefore, suggested strategies parallel the most common methods within the scope of counseling and psychology (e.g., meditation, gratitude, reframing). Since we are in the season of love, I decided to explore creative methods of fostering self-love. In this series of posts, you will find my interviews with experts regarding self-love in their respective fields followed by a deeper reflection on how you can infuse their creative strategies to cultivate self-love.

At a time when editing photos is more accessible than ever, the prevalence of skewed images has been recognized for influencing our perceptions of beauty, and for having negative influences on our mental health1,2. However, photography has long been acknowledged as a therapeutic form3, and some methods have been associated with improved self-esteem 3,4. In my interview with Amalie Orrange, a personal branding coach, stylist, and photographer, she shared about her mental wellness journey and how she views self-love, as well as tips to infuse self-love when getting your photo taken.

Photo used with permission from The Branded Boss Lady
Photo of Amalie Orrange
Source: Photo used with permission from The Branded Boss Lady

Can you share a little about your mental wellness journey?

My mental health journey is still ongoing. I am Type A, a perfectionist, and a people pleaser. I put a lot of pressure on myself as a mom, wife, business owner, friend—and personally. I am still in the process of learning how to say no to projects and things that do not fill me up. I am working daily to take time for myself to "unwind" and have quiet time by taking a bike ride and listening to French cafe music, taking a Pilates class, or just taking time to do nothing at all and feel okay with that, too.

What does self-love mean to you?

Accepting myself as who I am today. Not holding on to my past self or trying to achieve that "perfect" future self. This is something that I work on daily, showing myself kindness with my expectations with work, my weight, and my mental health.

What can people use from your field of personal branding photography to improve their self-love and well-being?

Self-love shows up a lot in my work, not only for me but for my clients. I work with high-performing female CEOs, entrepreneurs, and business owners. As moms, as leaders in our industry, and as women, we tend to put so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect in every single aspect of our lives. My favorite part of my job is showing my clients that they are beautiful as they are today, that they don't need to lose 10 pounds or buy a new wardrobe. They need to show up as they are unapologetically and their confidence will show through in their images.

What are some tips you can share to help someone love themselves in front of the camera?

  1. Make a point of choosing an outfit you feel comfortable in and confident in. If you feel great you look amazing.
  2. Go into your photo session knowing that it's okay to not feel like you know what you are doing. Having a photographer to help coach you through your session and make you feel comfortable, confident, and beautiful is key.
  3. Know that you are perfect just the way you are. If you have any insecurities, tell your photographer and they will help guide you into posing to accentuate your favorite features.
  4. Drink plenty of water, eat a great meal prior to your session, and pick out your favorite pair of shoes or lipstick to bring to your shoot for that added boost of confidence.
  5. It's okay to be nervous when the camera is on you. I have a trick that I love doing with my clients when I can see stress start to come over the face or their jaw tighten: I have them close their eyes, take a deep breath in and then I count to 3 and have them open their eyes and say "HEY." This gives a more relaxed expression, allows them to get into the moment, and eases the nerves a bit.

References

Susruthi Rajanala, Mayra B. C. Maymone, and Neelam A. Vashi.JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery.Nov 2018.443-444.http://doi.org/10.1001/jamafacial.2018.0486

Jaime E. Sidani, Ariel Shensa, Beth Hoffman, Janel Hanmer, Brian A. Primack. The Association between Social Media Use and Eating Concerns among US Young Adults. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2016; DOI: 10.1016/j.jand.2016.03.021

Cosden, C. & Reynolds, D. (1982) Photography as therapy. The Arts and Psychotherapy, 9(1), 19-23. DOI:

10.1016/0197-4556(82)90023-5

University of Houston. "Reflecting on photos helps young cancer survivors regain confidence: Retelling cancer story through photography increases self-esteem." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 December 2019. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/12/191202140606.htm&gt;.

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