Recently, I began thinking about “Real Beauty” again. What is it? Can one capture it in an image? Can one experience it on Instagram?
I’m reviewing my previous and current thoughts on the topic sharing excerpts (in the color green) from my first writing (over a year ago)…and then my thoughts more recently (in black).
*Today I was reminded that “real” and “perfect” don’t exactly go together.*
Life is such a messy business, isn’t it? The perfect images we see everywhere draw us in to their beauty. Why? Because they are pretty. We feel “at rest” when we look at them. For awhile. And then after a while I start to “want.” Long. Desire. Covet.
I am on a mission to search my heart, ask God to show any bad ways in me. I want to know if the images I produce (for magazines) are harmful to others.
*I miss real life.*
I was reading a Stylist’s blog, Frolic, recently and she had just turned 40 but her job for years has been a “Stylist” helping with props on photoshoots for professional images. She shared that she was tired of making scenes for photos (picnics, etc.) and wanted to live “real life” and have “real” picnics. This really spoke to me because I had started feeling the same way. It was one of the things that spoke to me as I’m transitioning from mainly planning deluxe styled photoshoots to living real life and then photographing it. (this is definitely a “work” in progress!)
My first official “styled” photoshoot with LanaJenae Photography
*I don’t set the table and I don’t create a “Home” for my family like I used to do before I decided to become a Stylist.*
Since I wrote the above I’ve been trying to set the table (sometimes!) and live real life with a little style. I’ve had a few small groups of family and friends over and set a pretty table.
*Do laughter and styling go together?*
Going that extra mile to coordinate a color scheme, picking some fresh flowers for the table, pulling out the linen napkins. A little goes a long way for making me feel like this is a special moment with my family or friends. I’m learning a lot! Laughter and styling can go together. (especially if my expectations are not like Martha Stewart’s; I have high expectations for entertaining; it is something I need to work on!)
a recent “real” get together with some family; This was a “real” table setting for a “real” event!
*Is there a place for magazines and perfect images? or does it just hurt the people who view them? Do we feel good or bad after viewing perfect homes and outdoor picnics that probably will never happen in real life? As a Photographer/Stylist, is it wrong for me to create a “perfect” scene for the camera to capture?*
This is a super hard question. And as I discussed this, in-depth, with a dear friend this week I was reminded by her that what matters is my heart. and my heart’s intent. Do I desire to please God? or do I desire to make others jealous?
*But real beauty fills my soul. Real beauty can not always be shown in an image on Instagram. Real beauty is love, kindness, gentleness. Real life.*
I’m learning that the definitions to “real beauty” are many. I’ve shared my thoughts with a few friends this week and got their feedback on what “real beauty” is; it is a large vague topic.
What is beauty?
It depends on the beholder. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So true. However, I came up with a few answers that I’d like to share: (I also started reading a good book called “Captivating” by John and Stasi Eldredge and it’s all about Beauty!)
(Thanks to my Creative friend Annetta Bosakova for posting so many beautiful quotes and grabbing my attention to it! (on IG: @annettab or @annettabosakova)
God is beauty.
“Every experience of beauty points to eternity.” -Hans Urs Von Balthasar
We each have a unique beauty all our own.
True Beauty is being ourselves.
“As women, we desire to possess a beauty that is worth pursuing, worth fighting for, a beauty that is core to who we truly are. We want beauty that can be seen; beauty that can be felt; beauty that affects others; a beauty all our own to unveil.” -Captivating
“Unveiling our beauty is our greatest expression of love, because it is what the world most needs from us.” -Captivating
*Enjoying Beauty (and not coveting).*
I believe (whether we realize it or not) we are all seeking real beauty everyday. We are hungry for it. We long for it.
As far as beautiful images are concerned, I think we are subconsciously longing for eternity. For Heaven. For Paradise.
From Ransomed Heart…”I was thumbing through a Williams-Sonoma catalog. It calls itself “a catalog for cooks,” but really, it’s a catalog of the life we wish we had. Everything is beautiful, delicious, elegant. The kitchens portrayed are immaculate—there are no messes. Cooking there would be a joy. The tables are sumptuous with their beautiful china place settings, wine glasses brimming with nectar, gourmet foods deliciously prepared, invitingly presented. Fresh flowers abound. The homes are lovely and spacious; the view out the windows is always a mountain lake, a beach, or perhaps an English garden. Everything is as it ought to be. Glancing through its pages, you get a sense of rest. Life is good. You see, the images whisper, it can be done. Life is within your grasp. And so the quest continues. But of course. Our address used to be Paradise, remember?”
The Garden of Eden was a perfectly beautiful place. A lot of images seem “perfectly beautiful.” -Not exactly attainable in “real life!” However, we do have some real moments of bliss and absolute beauty. (Thank God for these “epic” moments! These moments may look like a magazine image but more than likely they will be simple moments.)
Back to “Magazine” Beauty… (and Instagram and Pinterest, etc.)
When I was a teenager (and my early 20’s) looking at images in magazines and on TV, I measured my life by such images. When I looked into a home magazine or people magazine, I believed that it was totally real. I wanted beautiful. I wanted my life to look like the pictures in the magazines. After years of trying “so hard” I burnt out and hit a brick wall (some might call it a mental breakdown). God healed me in so many ways and I was able to relax and not want so much and try so hard. So, you could say that magazine images had a part in the devastation that I found my life to be in.
Now, many years later, my creativity pursuits have turned to photography and styled beautiful images (for magazines and my blog.) What gives????!!!
Well, for starters; after I became healthy after a year long serious illness, I wanted to follow my dreams and live life! I decided to pursue and follow my heart. I researched how to “become a prop stylist” and only at that point did I realize all the effort by a team of people that goes into an image for a magazine.
For some of the most popular home magazines or brands, a whole team of people is needed; a prop stylist and assistants, an art director, a photographer and assistants, a graphic artist, a person who irons the curtains, etc, etc. This team of people sets up at the desired location sometimes for several days to get maybe only a handful of photos for the magazine. The effort is ginormous, it costs lots of money and all to manipulate and perfect a photo.
So, partly the truth can set us free when we ooh and awww over magazine photos. It is truly a work of art that is not the “real life” of the homeowner. I have worked as a team of 2 on photoshoots and these experiences have been truly euphoric and heavenly. The creative challenge to get the photos just right absolutely is the biggest creative high I have ever experienced. It is so exciting and when I’m in the middle of it I feel like I’m in heaven!
BUT, am I hurting other people? Wow! This is so tough. I will be continually praying that God would guide me and use me. And I do have to say more often here; the photos I produce are either completely manipulated and not a part of my real life at all or they are just *a moment* in my real life. The photos are not meant to fool you or make you feel bad.
If you are here at Country Cottage Living, you and I enjoy similar “kinds of” beauty. (or you are my Mother!) (Hi Mom!)
I have no ending or revelation for this topic as it is one I shall be seeking truth in always. (and sharing more here.)
The above excerpts (in green) are from a writing I started a year ago and was recently published on my friend, Dana’s blog Rebellious Beauty. If you’d like to read the 4 part article, titled,
Images (and coveting); What God has given me Is Enough, Real Beauty, Wanting a Forever Home, Thanking God for My Life