My Pursuit of Authenticity
Growing up, authenticity was all I wanted from people and myself. Yet I found it so hard to live an authentic, genuine life.
Authenticity seems like it should be easy. The definition is "being true to one's own personality, spirit, or character." Just be yourself. Then why is it so difficult?
It's because life can be cruel. At some point we are all authentic, which requires vulnerability. But many of us received a bad response. So we went into hiding, layered on personas to protect our core selves. We modified and tinkered until we felt "acceptable."
Sure, now I can avoid confrontation, awkwardness, and the pain of being misunderstood. But at what cost? What numbness and disconnection from myself do I have to experience for this?
A few years ago my sister went on a huge vulnerability journey and I was introduced to Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. You may have heard of her. If not, she has an absolutely amazing TED talk on vulnerability that I highly recommend you watch.
But at the time I thought I had vulnerability pegged. I kind of brushed it off, because I felt I had been more vulnerable in my life than she had.
But as I pushed into my 30's I had this growing unease with myself. I was feeling less and less authentic. I was feeling lost, guarded, numb, and disconnected form myself and others. And I was chronically negative and cynical.
And that's when I realized the connection between vulnerability and authenticity. I reassessed my willingness to be vulnerable and realized I had stopped. And then I asked why I had stopped. And what I found is I hadn't actually embraced who I am at my core. Heck, I didn't even know who I was at my core because I had reinvented so many times in pursuit of acceptance from others.
How could I be authentic if I couldn't even find my own personality, character, and spirit?
So now I'm on a journey to pursue authenticity and, by proxy, vulnerability. I'm just starting, really. I haven't made it anywhere in particular. But I have made a commitment to myself to begin digging into it. That's part of why I started Laurie Neale Photography.
And that's why I've made authenticity one of my core values.
Authenticity, Meet Photography
So what does authenticity have to do with photography?
Well, for me, everything. Photography captures our light. Both literally and figuratively.
To produce a physical image, the camera captures the light that is being bounced off your body and records it on a sensor (or film). That light is capturing your physical body, however it is being presented. It is an authentic recording of light at that moment in time.
But it goes beyond that. To produce an iconic, lasting, and authentic image, the photographer poses and interacts with the subject to bend that light so the camera captures their emotional, metaphysical being. As a photographer, my purpose is to discover and connect to you in that moment so I can capture something authentic about you.
I don't see what I do in my Light Signature sessions as simply taking pictures. I see it as crafting an experience that brings out your truest elements so I can create an image that is a personal manifesto. To yourself and, if you like, to your world. It should say, "This is who I am. This is what I stand for. This is my personality, my character, my spirit."