Contemporary Portraits | self-portrait edition?

contemporary portraits in cape town studio self portrait with dark background

This is probably the last thing that I thought I would blog. A series of self-portraits. And, as my son would put it “Yikes!”

It’s taken me a long time to feel comfortable enough in my own skin to feel that I was worth the effort of having photographs taken of just me. Photos with my son? Sure, we book a session every 18 months or so. But just me? You have got to be kidding!

Then, of course, there’s the problem of needing to have a photograph for my “about me” page, and I can never find one that’s recent! I had to use a wedding photograph for more years that I care to admit.

Being stuck at home for weeks on end, with no option to take photographs (my son absolutely refuses to let me photograph him at the moment), left me with no other option than to do my own hair and makeup (flip, do I appreciate the amazing hair & makeup artists I usually work with!), find a dress or two, and take some self portraits. I did enlist the help of my son to focus the camera on the tripod for me, and then he bailed. Typical!

Taking my own photos was not something I would ever think I could do. But there was nothing else to photograph, and you know what? I’m really glad that I took them. My son has been asking me why there aren’t photos of me. And why must he pose for photos, when I don’t have to. At least now, he doesn’t have an excuse when I ask him to pose for me next time!

Of course, there’s also that part of me that feels that I’m never quite “ready” to have photos taken. Because… <insert excuse here>

For me, it’s things like “I’m not thin enough”, “I don’t know what to wear”, “What’s the point?”, “People will think I’m vain”, “It’s more important to have photos of my son”, “Maybe I should rather take photos of my parents”, and the list can go on and on… and on.

I always tell people that it’s not about how you feel, it’s about having photos for the rest of the family. For your kids. They will want the photos you took now to look back on in five or ten years time. And you know what, in doing these, I went back and found photos of myself from five years ago. Wow. I couldn’t believe how much I’ve changed over the last few years.

I feel as though all the hard work that I put into looking after my health would be something that I would forget over the years. It’s really hard to forget it all now when it’s staring me in the face. And that’s not a bad thing. There are definitely feelings of “flip, did I forget about myself so much?” but there’s also a lot of pride in myself. And I don’t think that I would feel that if it wasn’t staring me in the face.

The other thing is (and this is where I was almost brought to tears); I asked Michael to play “spot the difference” between the photos. I stood next to him waiting to hear the inevitable words “you were fat, now you’re not” because that’s the first thing that I see. And those words just never came out of his mouth. I even wrote down the list as he was going, I really couldn’t believe my ears. This is what my son had to say:

  • I’m in the picture; it’s just you mom
  • You have a big smile; and a small smile
  • You’re wearing nail polish; you’re not
  • You’re wearing your bracelet; you’re not
  • Blue top; white top
  • Earrings; no earrings
  • I can see your legs; and I can’t
  • You’re sitting on a rock; you’re sitting on a chair
  • You’re in nature; you’re at home

Most of that list I had to look quite carefully to even see what he was seeing. I asked him about it a little later – he said that he just saw his mom in the photo, not my size. And THAT is why we should all put our egos aside and take the damn photo. Our kids and families want those memories with us. They don’t want to look at the photos and say “oh, mom was there too, but she was taking all the photos”.

So I challenge you all today. Take that damn photo. I promise you, you won’t regret it. And there is someone out there who would absolutely love to get a framed photo of YOU for their home.


  1. Lara Valstar on Jul 4, 2020 at 7:38 am

    Ahem…. See, this is what I meant. Getting to the point of wanting to capture some images of yourself when you’ve had a journey, is not about vanity. It is not about being boastful and is certainly not about showing off.

    At this point is about owning the knowledge that every choice you made in your journey was because you are worth it. And those pictures will reflect your calm acceptance of your resilience, strength and determination.

    And yes, I do still want to have my photoshoot no matter how uncomfortable I might feel in front of the camera. But I would need some hair andmake-up😱🤣

    Well done you🤗

    • Katie on Jul 4, 2020 at 8:39 am

      Thanks Lara! You’re right, we shouldn’t feel guilty about owning our journey. I can’t wait to photograph you, and the good news is, I know exactly how uncomfortable it is to be on the other side of the lens, so we’ll work together to make you feel as comfortable as possible. Of course we do hair & makeup for you – it’s allowed again 🙂 xx

  2. Jacqui Ryder on Jul 4, 2020 at 8:46 am

    So awesome Katie…. so many more woman need to read this!!!!

    • Katie on Jul 4, 2020 at 9:14 am

      Thanks Jacqui – We all deserve to spoil ourselves, and our kids deserve to have memories of us for years to come too!

  3. Dani on Jul 4, 2020 at 9:56 am

    Katie, you look amazing ! And I think you finally feel it too… that’s so liberating♡ Keep being a good role model for your son 🌻

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