Something I hope you’ll always remember is that it’s okay to celebrate yourself on your birthday. Celebrating yourself means making plans for your day–from the moment you wake up until the moment you hit the pillow. I realized this long ago. If you leave it to other people (even those who love you very much) to schedule activities or to surprise you, you may find yourself disappointed. And if you’re like me, you may also be hoping that at some point during the day, you’ll get your picture taken. It’s your birthday, after all! Someone should offer to take a picture of you to mark the occasion. If you’re lucky, someone just might. However, two things will happen. First, “someone” is not a photographer, so he’ll likely take the picture with his phone. Second, “someone” may only have a minute to spare and won’t be thinking about how to pose you or shoot from different angles so that you look your best.
I remember when I turned 30. I put on my make-up and did my hair, but I didn’t feel like I could wear anything special because it was a weekday. Plus, it was a school day and I home schooled my boys. Later that day someone did take a picture of me standing under the porch. I wore a t-shirt that had the word “split” across the front. And, I stood stiffly with my shoulders bunched up and my hips squared towards the camera. When I look at that picture, I know what day it was, for sure, but I don’t feel it represented who I was at 30. A professional photographer could have done that for me. Just like one can do that for you. If you’ve recently had or are about to have a birthday, I recommend that you celebrate yourself and book a portrait session.
You change a little every year. Maybe you think I didn’t need to speak to that point because it’s obvious, but, give it some thought. When you look in the mirror every day, you see the person you saw yesterday–literally. You don’t see the changes in you because they’re subtle. That’s why birthday photos are great–they chronicle those subtle changes. I can tell you with certainty that I looked pretty different when I was 26. I’m 46 now, and I would love to have photos to put side by side and see my progression. All I can do at this point is look at all the photos in my storage box and guess which one depicts me at 26, 27. 29, 34, etc. by remembering how old my kids were at the time. A great way to see “you in all your forms” (got that from the movie The Vow), is to have your photo taken every year–on purpose!
Every year on my birthday I spend most of the hours looking at my life and my future. I use my birthday as a time to refocus and get some clarity. I look at three areas–my career, my creative endeavors, and my home. This year a clear theme emerged from my internal search and contemplation–consistency. Having consistency in these areas right now is my way of feeling successful everyday. That means having consistency in what I deliver as a photographer, consistency in creative writing, and being consistent in how I take care of my home. It’s been two months since I turned 46, and the revelations I had that day for how I want this year to be and look are still with me. Two days after my birthday, I had a portrait session. And, I’m so glad I did. Whenever I see this picture, I remember my theme. Consistency. I tell myself to keep moving forward and not to forget the lessons I learned that day.
So, you’re probably thinking this is a ridiculous thing to offer as a reason, but it’s not. What if one day someone starts a Wikipedia page about your life (got this idea from my 23 year old son), or puts together a VH1 Behind the Music story about you, don’t you want them to have pictures of you at every age? Yes! Whether this is an unlikelihood or not, there’s nothing wrong with a little preparation. Someone may thank you for it later.
All this boils down to that you matter. You don’t have to famous to matter. The idea of having portraits taken on your birthday is just a way of marking each year. And, it doesn’t have to be on your birthday. It can be when the seasons change, which I wrote about in the blog post, It’s a New Season: Book a Portrait Session. The point is to continue to celebrate being alive and growing and changing and learning.