My husband is a lot cooler than me. I knew it from the first time I saw him in NYC, camera in hand, focused and in control amongst the chaos of a large crowd. He'd taken beautiful black and white portraits of acquaintances, some friends, and I remember thinking that there was no way I'd ever join that elite group. I doubted he'd ever seen my face, much less want to photograph it.
Funny enough, it was a photo of me that actually made him take a second look. If you've read our love story then you know the details, but here's the short version: we were both at a 70's themed party (at a photo studio, no less), overlooking the Hudson River. There was a photo booth and I was "feelin' myself" that night (it was a Whole 30 high - seriously!) so you bet I was frequenting the booth. Fast forward a month later, Matty is sitting at his home in Australia and browsing through the public photos of the party. That's when he saw me and that's when he decided that he wanted to get to know me when he made it back to the States. Things didn't exactly go as planned (I happened to be making a sudden move to Austin the day after he arrived), but persistence and grace somehow got us here, still.
A few days ago we were sifting through old computer files, trying to get organized before recycling our old Macs. Matty opened up some unnamed photos and there they were: the first portraits he ever took of me.
We were both so nervous. I didn't know how to act and he didn't know how to casually ask to take my photo, even though we both knew he'd been dying to do it for days. He'd come down to visit me two months after I made the move to Austin. We'd spoken on the phone, texted, and/or Skyped every day since I'd left New York and now we were face to face, on the verge of a decision that would change our lives forever.
I was so terribly smitten with him and so terribly afraid that the girl he saw in front of him wouldn't translate through the lens. I have taken some BAD photos and this guy needed a muse, for goodness sake! I could potentially be a muse, but only on a 46-degree angle, with make-up on, and on the count of three because I'm a blinker.
I finally decided that if this was going to happen, I needed to find a way to feel comfortable. And in an instant, I knew. To this day, here is my simple secret for when Matty pulls me aside for a photo: I look through the camera and look for his face. Magic.
It works for me and it's how I find joy in front of the camera - I simply ignore it and look straight to my guy. Since those first photos, Matty has taken countless photos of me:
"Babe! The light is so good right now! Hurry up and get out of the shower - don't dry your hair!"
Rolling out of bed in the morning, "Can I take photos of you today?"
Cooking dinner, "DON'T MOVE!" as he runs to grab the camera.
"Can we go for a walk and take some photos?" late afternoons after work when I'm feeling anything but pretty...
Which brings me to the most incredible, life-altering realization that comes with marrying a photographer....
It didn't take long for Matty to take a photo of me from an angle other than 46 degrees. I cringed at the photos of me mid-sentence, mid-blink, and mid-laugh, where the double chin was on HIGH display. I saw the flaws, the mistakes...the ugly.
Guess who didn't. Guess who even maybe, kinda, sorta...liked them? Granted, some of the photos have indeed been terrible, which we can easily laugh off, but there have been times when he shows me his favorite shots and it's all I can do to not yell, "THAT ONE?! BUT YOU CAN SEE MY COWLICK!" I've learned that pointing out my flaws doesn't go over well and, in time, I'm learning to see myself in a different way: the way he does.
I've said this before, but one of the greatest joys of my life has been to get to know and love myself through his lens. Instead of immediately zeroing in on the things I hate, I first look for the things he loves. Sure, it's too easy to compare myself the perfect models he photographs, with their blink-less eyes and perfectly shaped arms, but it helps to know that he never, EVER does.
A few days ago he gave me his coat when I was cold and immediately freaked out. The next thing I knew, we were walking around our neighborhood, camera and coat in hand. I never thought I'd have the confidence to let this man take photos of me while I did my best Julie Andrews twirls in a public alleyway, but Matty has never been interested in capturing Britt, the perfect creature. And thank goodness for that.