Earlier this month I was out in the SF Bay Area (aka one of my favourite places ever).  After doing the Photo Walk in Portland earlier this year, I thought it might be fun to put out an invite to come join me in one of my favourite places in San Francisco, the Mission. It’s so full of gorgeous murals, colour and gorgeous light and I thought it might be fun adventure for Bay Area folks to feel the permission to get touristy in their own city and take selfies!

It was SO awesome to get to meet and reconnect with all the lovely ladies there and I led the group through a few Be Your Own Beloved selfie activities.  It truly made for the perfect end to a really nourishing weekend.

Here are a few snaps of our photo adventuring (and the selfies I ended up taking during the walk)!





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I put the camera down

Press the timer

And I move.

At first I had to invite myself to.  It was a way for me to shake off nervousness and get grounded in my body to take that photo.

These days it happens automatically.  I set the timer & the playfulness begins.

99% of the time when I go out on a photo walk, I don’t have a specific goal in mind. Sure I might have something in mind but truth be told, the photo walk seems to always have its own direction it wants to take me in, always embracing the unpredictable. That 1% of course is when I need a super specific photo for a class!

All of these photos you see on the website are taken as I’m living what I’m teaching here, as I’m trying out activities or just trying to shift my own energy of that day.

In so many of my photos, I’m dancing.

It’s been that way for years and I think from the outside I bet it looks playful, joyful and even like a woman who feels at home in her body.  While it wasn’t at first, it has led me there and I wanted to share a bit about why I dance in photos.

At times I have this voice in my head as I’m just about to press ‘Post’ on Instagram and share another movement photo that says “Is this really accessible for people, all these dancing photos?”  “Do you really want to post another one”.

But here’s the truth.

I don’t take or show them for any purpose of showing off.

I take & share them because this is where the deepest healing of my self-image has happened.

When I move.

Someday I’ll share my full story of the depths of where I began with my negative self-image (its spilling into my manuscript) but a big part of my journey before taking self-portraits had me feeling like I needed to contain myself.  To sit on my hands.  To stop moving.  To control how I existed in the world.  To be contained & still.

And for whatever reason it may have manifested in our lives, I have a feeling I’m not alone in having felt deeply disconnected from my own body for much of my life.  Is that familiar to you at all?

So when I realized that taking self-portraits was a place where I could relearn how to be in my own body, it was all about the movement.

It is the one sacred place where I’ve found I can reclaim that sense of autonomy of how I move in the world, where I have found a freedom that has allowed me to feel more at home in my body. It may look like fun, and indeed it is.  But it has a deeper purpose for me than one viewing the photo might think.  That can be such a powerful piece of taking selfies, the place where they can embody powerful stories of healing for us, even if the viewer sees something different.

Interestingly enough, photographs only capture that one second of the movement and package it into stillness again in a way, but somehow it doesn’t diminish the freedom that I felt in the moment. Because the experience of the freedom & healing that happens is in the lived experience of it, not just the outcome.  The photographs are an invitation to return back there.

To keep moving.

To revisit that place of healing we can create when we make space to move our own way.

So this….this is why I dance.

Have you explored moving as you take a selfie just for fun or even as a tool for healing disconnection from our bodies?


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From now until Friday if you sign up for Beloved Beginnings (which is already super affordable self-paced class) you can bring a friend for FREE! Yes…its a 2 for 1 sale.

Maybe there is someone you’d like to encourage to a Be Your Own Beloved class by doing it together?

Or you’d like to take it with someone in your family?

Or would like to gift the spot to a friend?

OR get an even better deal by splitting the cost!

I also wanted to do this offer right now in case you were pondering doing the November Session of Be Your Own Beloved but might be feeling a bit nervous to jump in and go for it!  This is a gentle 10 day version of the class that can be a great warm up for the November class and a way to ease yourself into seeing yourself with kindness through your camera.

Just let me know the email address of the person you’d like to join you when you sign up! Class starts right after I receive your registration.

The offer ends Friday and you can register here!

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Be Your Own Beloved (3)

I’m in the Bay Area this weekend and I wanted to invite you to join me for a Be Your Own Beloved Photo Walk!  We’ll be gathering at one of my favorite spots, Clarion Alley!  If you haven’t been there before, it is this amazing mural filled alley right near the 16th St. Mission BART Station, filled from end to end with vibrant, colorful art.

We’ll start in the Alley and then head over to some other incredible nearby!

While it isn’t a full workshop, it is a guided photo walk and I’ll be leading you  in a few Be Your Own Beloved activities as we explore taking selfies and seeing ourselves with kindness through our own camera!

I’m especially excited to gather together community & connect on a gorgeous October day.


We’ll meet at 2pm on the Valencia end of Clarion Alley between 17th & 18th.

What to Bring:

All you need is your lovely self and a camera!

A timer is also recommended.  If you are using an iPhone, I recommend getting the free Gorillacam App!

Register for the Photo Walk:

Grab a ticket to come join us!

SelfiePhotoshoot500If you’re not in the Bay Area, but would like that same kind of experience online…my new class How to Rock a Selfie Photo Shoot starts on Monday and in this class I’ll be bringing you all sorts of activities for capturing self-portraits that help you shine in your life, your blog or your business!

Class does start Monday but as soon as you register I also send out a pre-class activity for you to experiment with this weekend!

Register here!

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Untitled“I haven’t been in a photo for years.”

“I’m always behind the lens, but never in front of it.”

“There are no photos of me amongst all the photos of my family.”

“You wouldn’t know I existed if you looked at the photos I take”.

Every time I end up chatting about my work and sharing that I help women see themselves with kindness through their own camera, this is what I hear. Along with the belief that they aren’t photogenic or they’ve never seen a photo of themselves they like.

I hear it every session of Be Your Own Beloved too, from probably over half of the women who take it. That this is the first time that so many women have been in photos in years, let alone take the photo of themselves by themselves.

So many of us are missing from the visual story of our lives.

We delete ourselves out of them because we don’t like photos of ourselves or we don’t let ourselves be in them at all.

But the problem is, by deleting ourselves out of the story of ours lives in our photos we are writing a new story. One we likely don’t even realize we are doing. We are writing a story that tells the outside world, or family, or friends, that we don’t feel worthy of being seen.

Because we are shown a visual story all around us, airbrushed and photoshopped and we believe that story, and that ours will never look like that.

And it won’t because those visual reresentations aren’t real. But we have a real, truthful brave narrative to tell, don’t we.

It’s not that life needs to be constantly photographed or captured in pixels, but so many of us are capturing our lives in photos and conciously leaving ourselves out of it.  Because we don’t want to be captured in a way that we aren’t comfortable with. I so know that experience. Yet by making that choice we don’t give ourselves the chance to be in our story at all and to indeed take photos we do feel good about.

I know that is the story I was creating for a long time. I didn’t like any photos of myself and only saw my body in them. Not my vibrant spirit, not my laughter, not the story of the day I was having or what important thing just happened.  I only saw the size of my thighs, belly rolls and double chin.

That is the story I was chosing to see.

I was living a narrative of unworthiness that I didn’t feel like I asked for, but felt weighted down by none the less.

Yet it was the only story I knew how to tell about how I saw myself in photos as an adult and how would I know to do it any other way?

Until life stopped me in my tracks in the form of a depression and when I emerged from the other side of it, I knew that I couldn’t keep living entangled in those stories of self-hate anymore.

I didn’t know how to change it, but I knew that I needed to start following the breadcrumbs of intuition that were telling me to pick up a camera (even though I had no interest in photography before). I knew I needed to get into the photo, even just my hand reaching in to touch a flower or my feet amongst the fall leaves.

I’m still following the breadcrumbs of taking one photo after another, and while I didn’t know where it was all going to lead, it indeed led me back to myself. Not only that but I now have this visual landscape of photos that tell that story. I have a visual story to look back on that allows me to see the emergence of a woman that has travelled a path from self-hate to self-love. And I know that I have the map back to myself should I get that lost again.

It is not vain to want to tell your story or to be a part of the story of your life, not just behind the camera. It was a lifeline for me, when I most needed it.

I wanted to tell you this today in case you’re doing just that.

Deleting yourself out of the visual story of our life.

Taking a self-portrait or selfie is so much more than just having a new social media image. When we can think of it as telling our story, taking selfies take on a whole new energy. It becomes less about our physicality and so much more about just letting ourselves have a voice again. 

I love being able to see how through just one month of class with Be Your Own Beloved we rewrite that story, to hear that voice they didn’t know they could have through taking photos.

It becomes not about trying to get the perfect photo of ourselves but to instead, reinsert ourselves into the visual narrative of our lives.

I see it with people’s blogs or businesses too. We delete ourselves out of the story we are telling. Sure, we might be telling it in words but using other people’s photos or sharing a photo that masks what we look like.

I think is the thing I most want to share with people about taking self-portraits is that we aren’t trying to get a perfect shot. We are just choosing, day by day, to be a part of the story of our lives be it our hands reaching in, our toes, a photo with a dear friend.

We are just choosing a new story and making a concious choice to tell it.

Are you missing from the visual story of your life?

What narrative are you conciously or subconciously telling?

I wanted to share a bit more about the two offerings I have right now for helping people step into the visual story of their lives.

Be Your Own Beloved is a 28 day class inviting you to create a new habit (as they say it takes 28 days) of seeing yourself with kindness through your camera. It is a guided journey with daily simple activities that invite you back into the story of your life. You don’t need to have any photographic experience to take it (I mean that) and iPhones or any type of camera are welcome. It is a supportive community experience that has been profoundly transformative for women around the world (while at the same time being a whole lot of fun).

How to Rock a Selfie Photo Shoot is a brand new 4 week class in which I’m sharing my experience as a portrait photographer to invite you to gift yourself with your own photo shoot experience. We ease towards it though, taking simple gentle photos throughout class and end with a rockin’ photo shoot that will help you cultivate the story of you to share in your life, your blog or your business. While it will be oh so helpful for creative entreprenurs, you don’t need to be one to join in! It embodies the same self-compassion as Be Your Own Beloved but with completely different activities!

Come join me for one of these classes and invite yourself back into the visual narrative of your life.

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  • I’m always the one behind the camera so I’m not in many pictures. But lately I’ve been trying to force myself in front of the camera, and have considered getting into self-portraits, but I think I’m still holding back due to a lack of self-esteem.

    I look forward to reading more on your blog! I love what you write about.ReplyCancel

  • […] Are You Missing From the Visual Story of Your Life? – Vivienne McMaster. I’m not in as many photos as I should be, but I decided a long time ago, particularly as a single female traveler, that if I wasn’t in the pictures, how was I going to remember who and where I was? I may not like every picture that I am in (and many of them I don’t), but I show up for them because I deserve to be a part of the story of my life. […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Are you missing from the visual story of your life? […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Are you missing from the visual story of your life? […]ReplyCancel