As a photographer I sometimes worry about people and what they think of themselves. On many photo shoots I will ask, “When you look at a picture of yourself what do you see?” Many times the answer comes out and it is never positive. They point out their flaws or talk about who they wish they would be like.
Now I am not saying I am an expert on how to Love your body. I can pick out my wobbly bits, and I am sure my facial hair is coming in faster and thicker than I can or want to deal with, but at the end of the day there are things about my body I have accepted. I have learned that I have a body that has taken me places, and have had experienced things in life because my body has taken me there. Therefore I should not be so harsh to compare my body to others.
If you ask me what I like in a picture of myself it is my eye’s. They are a beautiful blue. My eyes can also tell a story from true happiness to feeling exhausted.
Last year I started a project called Project Individual Worth. It was a call out for people to nominate others they thought were truly beautiful in the inside which in turn made them outwardly beautiful. The prize was a free photo shoot to celebrate the winners at the Royal Botanic Gardens, which would be a day for them to remember. Anyone could enter and the competition lasted for a month. In that month there were only three entries, and what surprised me more was none of them were based in Edinburgh.
Now due to the fact there were only three entries I decided to make all of the entries winners. It was really interesting to hear the reactions of the winners. Ramp up the feel good factor to 10.
Here are what the entries read as:
Iain Pollock – Lanarkshire:
I nominate Mrs P We have been married for over 8 years and she has tolerated me a lot longer than that. When it comes to me, she has the patience of a saint. She comes to most of my gigs, when quite frankly, I’m bored doing most of my material. She not only looks after me, but, as a district nurse, takes care of the ill and dying in Lanarkshire. On the negative side, she’ll hate that I’ve nominated her and probably won’t want her picture taken (but that’s your problem, should you choose). Great project IP x x
Rachel Thomson – Dunfermline:
I want to nominate Shirley Thomson (my Mum) because she is always able to help me look at things a different way when I am struggling, she inspires me to be the best I can be and to see the good in a sticky situation. I think the essence of who she is as a person radiates beauty and kindness and if girls always end up just like their mothers, then I am one lucky girl! I want her to know that I appreciate everything she does for me and know that if it was not for her, I would not be where I am today. My Mum takes great joy from helping others and inspiring people to feel good and I hope she knows just how much everybody loves her.
I would like to nominate a mother and daughter who have amazed and inspired me since I was lucky enough to join their beautiful family in 2000 when I met my son’s dad.
Karis was a toddler then and the most gorgeous, tumbling haired Scottish beauty with a beautiful green eyes and precocious language and temper. I remember her calling her day nurses “Blithering Buffoons” at the age of 3 and reducing us all to tears. Karis is now an equally beautiful teenager. She has won a place on an Open University degree in Arts and Creative Writing at 15 and has worked with the Poet Laureate. She has a crush on Jake from Twilight and she is very poorly.
Karis was born with muscular dystrophy like her brother Luc who died at the age of 9. Karis never met Luc but her mum Donna cared for him every day like she does Karis. Their house is full of music and poetry and laughter and they are the epitomy of beauty to me.
Joe’s dad and I separated before Karis could become the bridesmaid I had promised she would be. This would be a small way of telling her how special she is and how strong Donna and Karis have been to challenge discrimination, disability law and all the problems that come along with life limiting illness.
They live in Inverness but could travel to Edinburgh if Karis is well enough.
I can’t put into words how blessed I feel to have such amazing women in my life and they deserve to be celebrated.
Thankyou for the opportunity to share.
Now once I had contacted the people who entered the competition, I made them individual videos for them to show the winners. The winners wrote me back in shock. My favorite reaction was Mrs. P who at first was a bit angry at her husband for nominating her for she hates having her picture taken. At first she refused to accept the prize. After a few days she settled down, and realised that her husband is not very romantic, and that if he loved her that much she would go through with it. In the end we really did have a fabulous sunny day. Mrs P is a real gem, with a wicked sense of humour. She even admitted to enjoying the day.
The next winners were Rachel and her mother Shirley. Shirley is a really down to earth caring person. On the day of the photo shoot she brought her daughters, and I felt privileged to be part of the mother daughter affair. Once again we were blessed with good weather, and everything just seemed to be joyous. These women will definitely bring good into the world, and the world needs it.
The last of the winners are Donna and Karis. Due to bad timing and health issues I have not been able to meet with them yet. We do occasionally email each other, and in an odd way I feel like we are turning into pen pals. As I have told them many times the offer of their photo shoot will never expire.
This project made me feel incredibly thankful to know that there are good people in the world, who inspire others. People who are beautiful for just being themselves. That being said I want to do this project over again, to see if I can make the idea of inner beauty spread. Starting Monday I will be post a blog from nominations with instructions.