Be Seen: Part 1

This is the most terrifying thing I have ever done.

A couple months back, a photographer friend of mine private messaged me after I posted on Facebook about how scary it can be to to be seen behind the lens of a camera, which is akin to my worst nightmare.

You know the nightmare: the nightmare of being naked in front of a group of people; Of unknowingly (and annoyingly) losing your pants at some point (and of course, no one told you) and now here you are standing in a horse stable amidst snickering jockeys; Or of being suddenly topless without a shirt to be found anywhere and you have to give a presentation of your life’s greatest work to a million eagerly waiting business professionals and soccer moms counting down in 5… 4… 3… 2… 1.

I have a feeling a good number of you can relate.

Larry, my photographer friend was reaching out to let me know that when ready he would love to help me get over my fear.

How many of you admire Brene Brown? For those of you who have never heard of Dr. Brown, I strongly encourage you to do a little browsing. She is a research professor and social scientist who has spent a little less than a couple decades studying vulnerability, courage, empathy and shame.

If you have Netflix, she recently gave a talk encapsulating the whole of her work. Or you can google her famous TedTalk, which is one of the top 5 most watched TedTalks of all time. Or you could read any one of her excellent books.

The soul of her work hinges on a famous quote by Theodore Roosevelt:

It is not the critic that counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Being vulnerable is possibly the most terrifying thing we can ever do with our lives. Nothing worth having is had without this vital sacrifice. It is the launching point, the heartbeat, the gatekeeper to a full life, and it provides no exceptions. There are no loop holes, and it cannot be bribed or sweet-talked. To be vulnerable is to know disappointment and heartache, but also triumph and true wealth.

So, after my work deadline passed and months of overtime quieted, I summoned the courage to do the vulnerable thing, and I reached back out to Larry to set a time to meet up.

Loose Park, Saturday, May 18th at 7 am.

I arrived, two coffees in hand. It was a beautiful morning, raining only briefly, a small temporary respite from the weeks of constant downpours. The pavilion was covered in trash and squirrels. A Taco Bell bag laid atop the grill and a broken lawn chair was propped against an overflowing garbage can.

I actually like the rain, and I don’t mind a little mess. The stage was set.

When I look at these pictures I see scars on my face, partially grown-in eyebrows resulting from years of over-tweezing, a nose that kids used to make fun of, and a snaggle front tooth, and I feel like a guitar-playing poser. I feel awkward, unattractive and afraid.

And it still feels weird to look at my side profile. Anyone else feel like you don’t know who you are looking at when you see your side profile in pictures?

I have picked up and put down the guitar several times in my life.
Larry had to remind me how to make a D chord, which is why I am laughing so hard.
This guitar was a gift from a former customer and dear friend
from my Whole Foods Market days who used to be in the entertainment industry.

But I also see my mom, the expressiveness of my partially Greek bloodline, and someone who sometimes requires laughter to ground her when the deepness of her heart pulls her out to a tumultuous sea. I see pretty eyes, olive skin tone that tans easily (I am a summer girl to my core), and long fingers that are more elegant than I thought. I see the same kind expression that I had in my second grade school picture.

I see a woman emerging out of years of deep unyielding internal pain. I see a woman who is for the first time in her life choosing to believe that people like and love her. She is fiercely immoveable when needed, direct sometimes to a fault, and kind. I see a brave woman daring to be truly seen.

When I look at my life choices I often consider “What would the ‘me’ 6 months from now think of this moment?” “Two years from now?” “On my death bed?” This filter process has influenced my decisions to persevere through some of my life’s greatest battles thus far, to backpack through Europe with my youngest brother when it only sort of made sense practically, and to walk my first runway audition as a 30-something.

You and I live once on this planet. We all get to chose the parameters by which we live it. For me, making that old gal on her deathbed proud is one of my greatest goals.

This is just the beginning, my friends. I kind of don’t know what I just got myself into with pursuing modeling and this blog, but I was aware from the beginning that this freak out would likely come.

This is the first of more shoots with Larry to come, and I will be sharing each one with you.

The world awaits THE REAL you. Thank you for being here.

Bonus: Remember that pictures are a snapshot. Most of which are awkward and unflattering. It comes with the territory. For your viewing pleasure and in (almost) full disclosure, here are a few of my awkward and unflattering favs. Not sure if you’ll get a good giggle out of them, but I sure did.

Ps. This is Larry’s style – raw and unedited. Rather than a portrait photographer, he is a candid one. He has done some impressive work in his lifetime. If you would like more information on getting in touch with him, please reach out to me.

0 thoughts on “Be Seen: Part 1

  1. You are beautiful Ariell- love this! Praying Gods best for you! Love that T. Roosevelt quote- I’ve learned it’s so true πŸ˜πŸ’πŸ˜˜

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