Don’t be an invisible woman, put yourself in the picture - Lynette Fay

Whatever stage in life you are at, take photos - and if not for yourself, then for your family

Lynette Fay

Lynette Fay

Lynette is an award winning presenter and producer, working in television and radio. Hailing from Dungannon, Co Tyrone, she is a weekly columnist with The Irish News.

photographer camera dslr photo person portrait photographing girl joy make photography taking concept - stock image
Women often end up on the other side of the camera when it comes to recording family events, making them 'invisible' in photos (scyther5/Getty Images)

I noticed my new publicity photo in last week’s paper. The hair change is official, albeit still a work in progress. Publicity shots and official photos are a part of the job that I dislike the most.

You are supposed to look relaxed, natural, when the setting is the opposite. It’s just you in front of the camera and lights, whatever insecurities are bubbling underneath are guaranteed to come to the surface. It can make for a fully nerve wracking, overtly self-conscious experience.

I’m sure that I drive those around me on shoot day round the bend. I would need a sedative to get me through a photo session. ’Eau de insecurity’ is never attractive.

Self-consciousness gets us all at times. It can present when we are teenagers, when our bodies and hormones are changing. It certainly kicks in when we feel vulnerable.

Sadly, these feelings are a right of passage for most young women and girls. The lucky ones are comfortable in their skin. The rest of us have to work on it, and it can take a while.

At the moment, I don’t have to encourage my daughter to play up to the camera and be playful with it. The innocence of her pulling shapes and making faces into the camera keeps us all entertained. I dread the day that she becomes self-aware, and shies away from photos. Unfortunately, it feels inevitable.

I went to an International Women’s Day event in Benburb Priory, where 11 women told their stories. I was really struck by something that portrait photographer Cat Corrigan said. She gave her presentation on ‘Invisible Women’ – the women who, over time, disappear from photos.

Women assume many roles as they get older, and one of those roles is to be the family photographer. I certainly recognised myself in what she had to say.

How many times have you found or seen photographs of your younger self and thought, ‘I didn’t look too bad in that photo’, or possibly the more common reaction is, ‘I thought I was fat when that photo was taken’.

Portrait photographer Cat Corrigan said spoke about ‘Invisible Women’ – the women who, over time, disappear from photos

My advice? Take the photo and decide whether you want to keep it or not at a later date. How many of us let life milestones go by and shy away from the photo? I am definitely guilty of this.

I regret taking very few photos of my growing baby bump, and I have only a couple of photos with my baby in her first few weeks. I have hundreds of her on her own, and with others though.

I am thankful that most of my friends did not have a camera to hand when we when were in our teens/ twenties given the shenanigans we got up to, but it is lovely to have some memories of those carefree times. Recently, an old school friend sent me a photo of Halloween night out to Clubland when we were teenagers. I saw all our daughters staring back at us. The memories are important.

Lynette Fay
Lynette advises that getting used to a changing image of ourselves is difficult, but that change is inevitable as we get older

Getting used to a changing image of ourselves is difficult, but change is inevitable as we get older.

A few people have been commenting on my photos on social media to tell me that ‘I don’t look like myself’ or ‘when are you going to dye your hair back to it’s normal colour?’

The first comment is correct to a point. I don’t look like my old self. This is who I am now. As for the hair colour? This is now my ‘normal’ colour... This is what happens when most women in their mid-40s stop colouring their hair.

It will be another while before I am a fully fledged member of the silver sisterhood, but stopping the dye has been liberating, and one of the best things I have ever done for myself. Many women have watched my hair transformation and commented that their hair wouldn’t turn out as well as mine.

I disagree. I think that no-one knows how their grey will grow out; will it be white, salt and pepper, dull and dark? It is a risk that you will take when you are ready to take on the challenge. Growing out the dye takes time and it is a painful process.

I am glad that I documented it. Whatever the stage in life, take the photos. If not for yourself, for your family. Don’t be the invisible woman.