This time of year is known for New Year Resolutions. People wish to change, to achieve more, and to do better. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. Often people get distracted, bored, tired of the resolution. Many times, it is simply not what they were hoping for.
Then there are resolutions that completely change us and our lives forever.
When I made my New Year’s resolution last year, I had no idea where it was going to take me. Surely, I didn’t think it was going to be a life-changing experience. It was just supposed to be fun. Something to make my boring stay-at-home-mommy life a little more interesting, and to keep my creative flow going.
Not having many pictures of myself, I decided to do a 365 Self-Portrait Project, one picture of myself, every day, for a year.
It has been a life-changing journey. One that comes to an end in a few days when I take self portrait number 365. I assure you though, I will keep taking pictures of myself because I have learned to enjoy being on the other side of the camera, much more than I would have ever expected.
From the day I started this project, I realized this was going to be a much bigger challenge than I thought. The self-esteem crap all women have to deal with over their body image plagued my thoughts. With every single picture I saw how far from the “perfect model size 0” I was. What the hell is size 0 anyway?
I saw how puffy and tired my eyes were. I saw wrinkles and gray hair. I saw it all. Despite all of this, I knew it was my body and no matter how hard I tried to hide beneath layers of clothes or make up, it was still me. This is how people see me and this is how people accept me.
Many times I would look at a picture I had just taken and would think, “I don’t look like that!” I saw my gray hair and thought, “It can’t be true. I don’t see them in the mirror.” Then I would go to the bathroom to look more closely, and there they were.
We live in a sick world. A world full of images of what the perfect woman looks like. Where beautiful is depicted as a flat stomach, white teeth, no wrinkles (even at 50) and hair nowhere but on the head. Where “Photoshopped” is the new real, where naked is the new fashion trend, and most commercials could be considered soft-pornography.
And here I am, an ordinary mother having an ordinary life fully-clothed in comfy sweatpants and a loose top spotted with baby food and doing laundry…
Or taking kids to a doctor’s office..
Going to the park and having my butt whooped by one of my kids. (It had to happen sooner or later, right?)
And it is in my ordinary life that I sometimes just want to disappear.
Life gets overwhelming and disappointing. Kids are all over me and I feel like I have nowhere to go.
Then I can escape to my project where it is all about me. I can involve the kids or not. I can be out in the world or just alone. It’s my time-out. And when I feel like I want to shoot myself in the head… I just do it!
There were many times I got discouraged or tired. Times when I was just overwhelmed by this undertaking.
And then I would get a comment on my blog, or here on Bonbon Break, or an email from someone who saw my project elsewhere and it would keep me going, week by week, day by day. I realized that there are so many women out there struggling with their self-image; so many that are afraid of appearing in pictures.
I’ve received a collection of “thank you”s for taking on this project and for showing the natural, normal, regular, not always perfect image of a woman and a mother.
This project has allowed me to stay creative even while having a newborn and a two year old around.
Two months ago I went from someone who photographed ladybugs and butterflies to being a professional photographer. I am now confident and convinced that this is the path that I want to be on till I can no longer hold a camera steady in my hands. Thanks to this project I can now say, “I am a photographer”, when someone asks me what I do for a living.
This project not only helped me overcome the fear of being imperfect, but it also taught me the importance of being in the picture. Someday my kids will be able to look back and see their mother as she used to be years and years ago. They won’t judge. They won’t laugh. They will be happy to have those pieces of the past. That’s what I hope for.
And now, as I write this prose, I can see a Holiday card I received from one of my clients. I dreamed about a day like this one, about a card just like this, about a feeling of fulfillment like the one I feel right now.
And all because once upon a time I decided to shoot myself!
ABOUT EWA: Ewa Samples (Mom Photographer) is first generation Polish. After graduating university in Poland with master degree in Media Education, at age 26 she moved to the US for a cultural exchange program called Au Pair.
Today she is a mother of two young girls, wife to a crazy biker and an owner of two dogs.
In her private life, she is very passionate about food and children photography. Now and then, for a difference, she likes to snap a picture of a flower or a bug.
At the beginning of 2012 she started the 365 Self-Portrait Project (one self-portrait each day for a year).
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