Men’s Style written by Paul Moon from The New York Times
Do you ever stare in the mirror, hoping to summon unseen powers behind the glass to improve the way you look or feel? Most men do, whether after turning a certain age, gaining the first hint of a beer belly, noticing a bald spot or just having a bad morning. We both know that mirrors are merely rays of light, reflections of how we already see ourselves physically and psychologically. But if you are still of the mindset that men don’t look at their reflection twice, think again. A 2014 Today/AOL Body Image survey revealed that men worry about their appearance more than family, career, or health concerns. Of this pool, 53 percent of participants said they don’t like having their pictures taken because they don’t have six-pack abs or feel they will be judged for another shortcoming in standard manhood.
That said, if you want a real boost to your self-esteem, trash the mirror and pick up a camera, insists Liza Andrews, founder of PictureCure, a New York City-based agency that offers innovative workshops on personal reinvention with photography therapy. “Mirrors play off our emotional interaction with complexes we are reluctant to shed,” says Andrews. “This is the tug of war between criticism and compliments. In contrast, cameras produce the documentation of a static moment in our lives, making it easy to evaluate how we look and how we may improve. Results are more attainable through this process of studying how we actually appear.”
After using photography therapy for two years to recover from a severe hormonal imbalance, which made her lose hair, weight and her positive self-image, Andrews developed a transformational photography and self-esteem program for men and women. Her work started out as a charitable service for cancer survivors in different states of remission or physical disarray. All were in need of a positive outlook while carrying on after experiencing disease and trauma. Through workshops tailored to each individual’s concerns and goals, Andrews helped each undergo transformation with conversations and photographs captured along the way.
In its evolution, over the past decade, PictureCure has photographed clients nationwide, including me. Being an actor in a sea of thousands of twenty-something male actors hungry to play the part—a respectable part, that is—I needed professional shots when I went to see Andrews. Sure, she took rather dapper photos that I could confidently share with industry pros. The bonus of working with her, however, was learning what faces make me look best in pictures and what attributes I should always emphasize. Whether a ginormous movie camera or smartphone turns to me now, I know how to muster a natural smile or devilish smirk with the right symmetry of my face and pose to go with it.
Liza Andrews is writing You Beyond the Mirror, a book about the power of photography therapy. Wouldn’t this world be a more cheerful place if in the process of taking great pictures for dating profiles, job applications and auditions, we also felt more confident about ourselves? Looking for your best self? It may just be in the right picture.