I hate having my picture taken.  The only thing I hate more than having my picture taken is being forced to actually LOOK at the photo that I was either roped into or was not quick enough to escape.  It is at this point that I turn to Phil and say, “Do I really look like that?” 

And not in a good way.

With the exception of my wedding photos, I have done a decent job of dodging the camera for most of my adult life. This drives Phil crazy.  During both of my pregnancies (because “pregnant chicks are hot”) he would literally chase me around trying to catch a picture of my wide ass belly.  When his paparazzi-in-the-bushes strategy failed, he went the guilt-trip route: “What if you die in a horrible accident someday and then the girls have nothing to remember you by?”

Yeah, because that thought makes me want to Say Cheese.

In the past few years I have taught yoga at a few different studios.  This typically requires a short bio for the studio website along with a –yup, you guessed it – photo. This sends me into a panic, especially when the other teachers’ photos involve an advanced yoga posture with a name like “Fallen Angel.”  It feels a little awkward to post a cropped picture of myself at a BBQ holding a can of Miller Light next to some diesel yogi balancing her entire body weight on her pinky finger.

So my solution here has been to just avoid this request from the studio owner as long as possible, until he or she sends me the one-sentence email: “I NEED YOUR BIO AND PIC….NOW.”  It is at this point that I throw on some Chap Stick and call my neighbor to take a picture of me in my front yard. (Thanks Jen!)

I was relaying this story to my friend Danette, a professional photographer who has taken some gorgeous shots of my kids.  She shared a recent brainstorm for a photo project that would involve taking photos of women doing something they love (besides taking care of kids) and are passionate about. Taking some yoga pictures fit the bill, or as Danette put it, “photos of you standing on your kidneys.”

I remembered one of my favorite posts by Emily where she tackles this same topic, asserting that we (as women) crave photos of ourselves that make us feel good – even though we may feel silly or vain or self-centered admitting it.  We immerse ourselves in making sure everyone ELSE looks good.  I make sure that outfits coordinate, eyes stay open, and headbands stay in place long enough to snap that Christmas card picture…yet I am braless and wearing “gently used” yoga pants while taking it.

The possibility of a grizzly, premature death aside, I thought about what effect my lens-aversion might have on Emma and Phoebe.  My dream for each daughter is that she will grow into a confident woman who is at home in her own skin.  I don’t want her to apologize for taking up space or to shy away from the spotlight.  I want her to embrace the quirks and “flaws” as part of the whole perfectly imperfect package that makes her…her.

So last Saturday I headed over the Danette’s house in Manayunk armed with my mat and a lot of nerve.  I started biting my nails at red lights.  What the Hell was I thinking?  I should have watched that You Tube demo of Fallen Angel.  What can I do that is really worth taking a picture of?  My yoga practice is lame.  She might as well take pictures of someone doing bicep curls with 3 lb weights.

But Danette was definitely on to something with the idea of taking shots of a woman engaged in her passion…because you really do lose yourself in that activity.  I love doing yoga because it’s the only time I don’t feel like a marching band geek with her pants pulled up too high. Sometimes, if I really relax into the practice, I actually feel graceful.  It becomes less about me finding the pose and more about the pose finding me. If a pose lands, great, if it doesn’t, move on the next one.  After about 20 minutes I almost forgot Danette was even there…which either means I was high on ujjayi breathing or she’s a pretty damn good photographer. I vote for the latter.

I showed the photos to the girls at dinner, and after her bath I caught Emma striking her best Dancer’s Pose in front of the bathroom mirror.  Mission accomplished.

And I have to admit, when I saw myself in a handstand, I turned to Phil and said, “Do I really look like that?”

And in a good way.

These photos were taken by Danette Pascarella.  If you are looking for a sweet, funny, and creative photographer in the Philly area to take photos of your children, or even better, YOURSELF, I highly recommend you check out her website! http://danettepascarella.com/

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