Whenever I see a camera pointing my way I usually go in to hiding. If I don't, I risk seeing my face plastered over Facebook sporting a double chin or an unusually huge spot gleaming back at me. Give me a drink and I'm the one behind the smart phone gathering my friends together, pulling their cheesy grins and peace signs - pouting optional.
I found my sudden love of photographs of myself like some self-obsessed model, about a year or so in to pole. My instructor organised a "heels and photo" lesson for the first time, where we were allowed to dress up and pose in our favourite and secure moves while we all took photos of each other. In fact, it was so alien to me, I remember bringing my point-and-shoot camera rather than just using my mobile.
I remember even going to get my photos developed and the lady behind the kiosk in Boots, opening the packet for me to check if the prints were mine. I felt proud when she pulled out a couple which showed me doing a Gemini with my hands still on the pole, my instructor just visible to the side with a huge smile on her proud face. I wasn't ashamed or embarrassed.
It wasn't until a few years later, that I began taking photos almost every lesson. My reason? Progress shots.
I enjoy nothing more than to look back over photos and see my progress develop EVERY lesson. Even small things, like pointing toes through to where my face is looking to the face I'm pulling!! It's really satisfying looking back at how much improvement you can make. It's not that you are then required to tear up or delete the old photos in disgust or amusement, it's so you can compare every little detail and keep it to remind yourself how far you have come.
I, personally am a very slow learner, but I know that every lesson I attend, every minute I spend on the pole is another step to improvement and another minute less on the sofa.
There is some debate among polers (in particular instructors) around the use of the phone in the studio. Does it cause people to pose on the pole without caution? Are we often guilty of being shown a move once and then asking for a photo on our second attempt? What about spotting? Do we often pose for a photo were not confident in, without someone ready to catch us, for fear of ruining our perfect snap?
Providing we aren't risking ourselves or others, this shouldn't be an issue. If we can honestly say we are avoiding letting photos take over the lesson, then keep snapping! Or, as I have seen, some instructors are keeping a "pole phone" to hand. All other photographs are banned, the instructor agrees when a photo can be taken, and it is done on the special device and shared later.
Professional photo shoots are becoming more and more popular with many photographs also being polers and therefore are able to help with positioning and moves as well the technical lighting and background details. Prices can start from as little as £45 for the shoot and a selection of prints, with the added bonus of purchasing more. Why not get them printed on canvas or make your own photo book and be proud of every moment?
I can still see flaws on my professional photos (point those toes!!!) but I can also still see huge progress (look no hands!!).
Whether you're camera shy, a model or just like keeping photos for progress, be sure to keep safe and keep snapping!