Aiota Photography
Empower + Inspire | Boudoir Photography | Vancouver, BC
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About the Photographer | Notes on Self-Love | My Philosophy

So we’re past the holidays now, and the days are getting longer but still it’s dark at 5pm, and spring can’t come soon enough. Winters, after the holidays, in Vancouver are always an odd time of year. These days, I’m so busy I can barely notice the weather or how quickly the weeks FLY by - but like a little beacon, this reminder in my mind - Valentine’s Day, remember, that’s coming up and your clients are going to want something for Valentine’s Day.

When my client just go for it, and treat themselves to a boudoir session to give to their significant other - either for Christmas or Valentine’s Day, or an anniversary or for their wedding gift - I jump for joy with gleeee. I ask for photos, I ask for videos, but I at the very least ask for a little note afterward with an update, of their partner’s response! It makes me so happy to hear about their SO’s reaction! It’s just the best - love is the best!

But as you may have gathered from my previous blog post, my relationship fell apart in 2018, and my recent journey has been one of self-love, self-trust, empowerment, and revisiting previous ideals I had about what I wanted my romantic relationship to look like.

Lucille Ball said “Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” It’s something that I’ve been digging at and working on in my own world again recently, and I truly believe that the moment we begin to practice self-love consciously, is the precise moment that we begin to receive love from the world in surprising ways we never could have imagined. We’re just so used to tearing ourselves apart, internalizing all the setbacks and failures we face in the world, until we wonder how we got back to the place of constant self-criticism and competition with others.

We’re very often concentrating on pouring our emotional selves into someone, or something, else. I did that for years, and honestly I can’t even remember where those years went. I’m having to re-learn that it’s okay to love and take care of oneself and your own needs before meeting (and exceeding) those of others. I say re-learn because I actually knew this, practiced this, lived this, every day at one point in my life - actually, when I was at my best. I learned, in my mid-late twenties, the magic of transformative self-love and what it can do for you. It’s the airplane preflight spiel put to the test; your oxygen mask goes on before you help others. There’s a reason for that; you have to be all that you can be before you are physically and emotionally able to embark on tackling the rest of the world.

You may think self-care is like, getting your nails done and going shoe shopping - and that counts, for sure. But it goes much, much deeper than that and it starts in the mind and with your beliefs. I’m not talking about bubble baths, pedicures, and cucumber masks - there’s so much more to loving oneself than just taking time to be pampered. Part of self-love and respect, for me, is about not swallowing your thoughts and opinions, and learning not to second guess your gut feelings and intuition - to trust you. Self-love is also about accepting and forgiving yourself when you’ve made a mistake - to understand that it’s okay to make them, and if you want to grow from them and move forward, realize that your self-worth is not wrapped up in a mistake you made, or a failure you experienced. It’s about learning to look in the mirror and see someone who is worthy of that self-love, rather than ripping into your physical appearance or something equally superfluous. It’s about bringing to your days a deep trust in who you are, your abilities, and your unique voice in the world. It’s about putting your emotional health first, and showing up with boundaries - telling others that we respect ourselves, and to show us that respect, also.

It’s…well…it’s a lot.

But first step? Look within - face what’s uncomfortable, ask yourself what it is, where it came from, and if it’s true? Is that story you’ve been telling yourself about where you fall short really true? Go to that mirror, or step in front of a camera, and see past all of that physical beauty and use it as a window to see who you truly are and embrace yourself for all of the strength, integrity, kindness, intelligence, and perseverance you possess as a person. And there are times where we feel we actually could better ourselves...and that’s okay, too! We can be happy with who we are, but still have goals for the future, at the same time!

And it does help - stepping in from of a camera. I did a portrait session at the end of the summer with my super talented friend Brenna Louise, and it just...well it made a difference. It reminded me that I am beautiful! Not just “pretty” - but I could see emotion in myself; empathy, happiness, depth, sadness, silliness...all the things. I saw myself and wow, I...liked myself.

Loved...myself...even.

I promise you that once you fall in love with yourself, it will transform you. And it’s not a destination - like having to go to the gym to stay in shape, it does require dedication, discipline, and regular practice. And, like all the ways you try to talk yourself out of going to the gym, you’ll talk yourself out of self-love - so just remember, just because your mind tells you something negative about yourself, absolutely doesn’t mean it’s true.

Hang onto that as we move through the season of love, but also just remember that and lock it away in your heart - I come from having experienced this myself. Talk the talk...walk the walk.