I am so unlucky. I’m that unlucky that my dad, who is a whizz on the fruit machines, won’t play them when I’m stood next to him as he never, ever wins when I’m in the room. So, imagine my surprise when I was contacted by the lovely Sareta from Kiki Blah Blah to be told that I had won a competition for a free photoshoot in London with professional photographer Eddie Olaleye.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about the whole idea of having my photo taken. I actively dodge the camera unless it’s a selfie and I have full control of the angle. I have such an aversion to having my photo taken that when I was backing up my phone the other day, I realised that although I had nearly 11,000 photos stored on my iPhone, very few of them were of myself. Obviously as a proud mum and aunt, the vast majority were of my daughters and nephews but I had more photos of makeup than myself.
I think this is mostly because I have definitely lost a lot of body confidence since becoming a mum. Even though my youngest is three, I still don’t feel quite like myself and one of the reasons that I wanted to have these photographs taken was because I wanted a reminder of what I looked like in my 30s. I’d like my children and grandchildren to know what I looked like and not assume that I had bunny ears and huge eyes.
Having my photograph taken wasn’t the only way that I was pushing myself out of my comfort zone. Unbelievably, I had never had the freedom to travel to London by myself before having the girls and now being a single mum, it’s so rare that I get an hour to myself, let alone a whole day. Did I feel guilty for having a whole day away from my daughters in order to do something that was completely for me? Yes. But instead of letting the guilt swallow me and cancel the shoot, I let myself enjoy the experience.
For my first solo trip to London, I had to treat myself. I decided to not only travel by train, but to push the boat out and go first class. Before you think I’ve gone mad or won the lottery, the tickets cost me a bargain price of £34 return. I have to say, it was completely worth it as I was constantly offered drinks and had a free meal both ways. I’d love to say that I used the free wi-fi to catch up on my Netflix watchlist but no… I spent the journey down catching up on blog admin but I did it in style with a glass of free prosecco in hand so there are no complaints from me.
Strike A Pose
When I explain to my sister that I was travelling to London to have my pictures taken by someone I had never met before, she thought I was insane. However, I’d had a couple of chats over the phone with Eddie before travelling to London about the schedule for the day and felt completely comfortable with the plan. Until the day arrived that is and it slowly dawned on me that I would be having my photograph taken multiple times in public. Needless to say, that felt daunting, even more so considering the last couple of times that I had been professionally photographed would have been my maternity shots or my wedding. Both of those times I had months to prepare for the photoshoot and I felt unusually body confident. This wasn’t the case here.
After meeting Eddie near the station, we discussed again the types of photos that I was looking for and also what my blog was about. We also discussed the difference in house prices between the Midlands and London which might have seemed strange, but it helped to put me at ease because he listened to my ideas for photographs and what I was looking for from the finished shoot, which was for the pictures to be as natural as possible.
I love London, but I didn’t really know where the ideal places for a photo shoot. My favourite places in London revolve around the makeup counters in Selfridges, Covent Garden and House of Fraser. With this in mind, I was happy to go with Eddie’s suggestions and use some of the buildings around Kings Cross as a backdrop. As a complete and utter side note, how beautiful is the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel? We spent so long getting pictures here and it’s definitely my new favourite place and on my hitlist of places to stay in the future.
I’m sure that the first few photographs from the shoot would show absolute fear in my eyes. My ego convinced me that of course every commuter passing through Kings Cross was staring at me and wondering why I was having my photograph taken. Chatting with Eddie put me so much at ease that I quickly forgot about how public my photoshoot was and to be honest nobody really noticed. I relaxed so quickly that by the end of the photoshoot, I was able to drop the ‘photo face’ and we managed to get some great photographs with a real smile, photographs that I’m really proud of.
What I’ve learnt from the experience
Having my picture taken in the middle of Central London during rush-hour was not something I would have arranged by myself but this is the year of pushing boundaries and discovering more about who I am. I won’t lie, I’m not fully body-confident but I am proud of these photos and although I’m not traditional model material, I happen to think that I look good here.
My original request for this photoshoot was only headshots and no full length photographs but the pictures that I loved the most are the more relaxed and natural full-length poses. I can see a beauty in them that I never really saw in myself before and after spending so long being plagued with insecurities and anxiety, this is a blessing.
I’ve also learnt that I have an inner strength and determination that I didn’t really realise that I had. Travelling by myself and spending the whole day catering only to my own needs without having anyone to seek reassurance from was strangely liberating. I am the queen of self-doubt and travelling to London to do some work that was connected to my blog and my writing made me realise that if I can get my anxiety in check enough to do this, I can conquer anything. On to the next challenge.
What is your biggest fear? When is the last time that you faced your fears and challenged yourself?