Beyond the lens
A photograph of yourself that you love is a rare treasure. It's also a major confidence boost, writes photographer Sian Tyrrell.
I started photography for me. To fulfil my drive to create and make the images I saw in my head, a reality. For years it was all about me. Very few people even saw the pictures I made and that was fine. But then something began to happen, and it has totally changed how I see my role as photographer, and it’s the reason I continue and the reason I feel so privileged.
What happened was this… I began to talk to the people who came to me for photos. Not just about what they wanted (the styles, dates, locations) but about why they wanted them. To talk more deeply about what these photos and the experience of being photographed meant to them. To hear their stories and see their perspectives.
The stories and the emotional reactions made me realise that there is much more to being a photographer than clicking the shutter and making a competent picture. Of course, this can be a big responsibility too, people place their trust in a photographer and there is potential to make a great impact.
The greatest and most satisfying impact is a growth in confidence. I’ve seen this in people (mainly women) who have undergone significant change in their lives that has resulted in a lack of confidence.
The reasons for this drop in confidence are many and various – bereavement, relationship breakdowns, redundancy, illnesses (mental and physical) and a whole host of other things. How a person sees themselves can be affected negatively by so many things, and stepping in front of a camera to confront that seems like an odd thing to do.
And yet a number of people have reached out for photographs, and it’s only afterwards that I’ve found how they were feeling and what a difference the photographs have made to them.
So whether they initially came because they needed a photograph for work, or online dating, because they really wanted photographs of their kids and I insisted on a least a few with them in too, or because I persuaded them it would be fun, the key is a really positive experience that’s about celebrating how you look, remembering who you are and expressing what makes you special.
Words and photographs by Sian Tyrrell