Documentary Family Photographer Getting Over a Resilient Lie

Getting over a lifetime of lies is frustrating.

It can make someone unproductive.

So I suspect it’s time for me to come clean and get over this life hurdle. So I can get back to what brings me peace.

Now, I thought about giving up photography

Like a million times.

If you’ve been following me for a while, I get to this manic point where I’m like…

“Oh my God, that is not what I wanted to say.”

So I delete everything off of Facebook.

I delete everything off of Instagram and I think to myself, I’m starting fresh.

I will do it my way and then my friends.

Then I get self-conscious.

Hi, my name is Marcia Gilmore and I’m a documentary family photographer.

Image by JoJo Cooper Photography
  • I am a story analyst.
  • I’m a mother
  • and I’m a friend.

Some of you may know my story.
Some of you may not, but that’s not what I came here to talk about.

But first…

Backstory time!!!

Previously in my life, around 2010ish, when I first started paying attention to how parents and kids would stress out during their family photo shoot.

It bothered me to my core.

I guess if I wanted to be known for something…I wanted to be known for

Family photojournalism. Documentary family photography. Lifestyle family photography.

So, I built on that.

I would use my kids as target practice, as they would say.
Nowadays ALL of my kids know that when I say I’m “testing the light” it’s completely B.S.
Because really,

I wanted to capture them in their

raw, unfiltered, totally themselves state.

It was an exhilarating rush to see if I could capture their facial expression or body language.

It made photography exciting for me.

In 2010, by Googling around
I stumbled on a website run by Cooper Smith Koch I reached out to him and said…

“Hey, I really would like to represent the LGBT families in the Dallas Fort Worth area.”

There weren’t many photographers out there
promoting that they were welcoming OF ALL TYPES OF FAMILIES.

I was one of very few photographers that had
gay families and lesbian families on my website

So, Cooper, his husband and his children invited me to their home and allowed me to host many sessions to help me build my portfolio.

It was great.

I didn’t charge the families for the photo shoot.

I wanted them to know that if they were looking for someone who was LGBT friendly, I would be more than happy to take their picture.

Those mini sessions got me linked up to the Rainbow Roundup group

Fast forward to about a month ago, a member of the nonprofit LGBTQ Group in DFW called Rainbow Roundup contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in photographing my family for JC Penney.

Like, right on the cusp when everybody found out they were going bankrupt, and I was like…

“Am I being Punkd? Is this happening?”

I thought… Oh, my goodness, this opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time. I didn’t know what it was for.

She’s just asked me if I want to take the pictures.

I thought if they use them, fantastic!
If they don’t, that’s no sweat off my back.

I get to take meaningful pictures of my children.

And look… Side note.
Many have asked me.
My daughter’s been asked by many…

“Why would you do a photo shoot for JC Penney if they’re going bankrupt?”

“Like, are they going to pay you for or what?”

I have an answer for that is really simple.

A member of a group that I wholeheartedly support, asked me if I’d be willing to take pictures of my kids.

Full disclosure though and…why I offered to be a part of JCPenney’s 2020 back to school campaign.

All four of us. Me and my three kids are trying to work through epic levels of mental health chaos.

  • One’s got an eating disorder.
  • One’s got more borderline personality disorder.
  • One’s got anxiety and major depression.

All four of us have PTSD.

And I am like the craft cocktail of all of that and then some…

I’m special.

I say all that because I’ve not been able to
not only pick up my camera to take pictures of anyone
or even offer services to people.
I haven’t been able to edit.

I don’t really want to look at my photos because I think my photos suck.

Now, I don’t truly believe that my photos suck, but it’s this feedback loop from hell going on in my head.

  • That I’m not good
  • That I suck at my job.
  • My business failed.
  • I left clients hanging.

And a year later and A LOT of trauma therapy…

I realize that that voice did not come from me.

It was placed on me.

It was embedded in my brain covertly.
The messages that I was hearing
Is you’re just not good enough.

I wasn’t being helped.
I was trying to create on my own.

The best example that I can give to you is

Those words and thought process on me

Like a knee… on a neck.

You feel me?

So, to my fellow parents out there…

If there’s one thing I want you to take away from this backstory that I’m telling you…

If it sticks in your head and your heart, the biggest takeaway
personally and professionally.

Is this, I’m a highly sensitive person.

Highly sensitive people feel everything.

We can see the emotions that are
hiding behind the actions, hiding behind the words.

For me, I feel all the pain.

the anger. the worry. the anxiety.

It can come from the visuals on the news, from the information that splashed through newsfeeds or anything you scroll across on Instagram.

And for the nerdy glasses’ definition:

In the mental health community, the fearful feelings that keep someone stuck from moving forward in life are also known as.

The fight, flight and freeze response.

My sticking point with [the fight, flight and freeze response] learning and honing in on fear, anger, all the nasty stuff started somewhere in 2nd or 3rd grade when my teachers isolated me from all the students.

Starting that narrative of “Be seen, not heard.”Do as I say, not as I do.”

So, these resilient lies, I believed.
It became the norm for me.

And what on earth does this have to do with my documentary photography?

Well, friends new and old. I finally have the courage to be honest. That photography for me is less about being known as an “influencer” or “known” in the industry. It is more about art therapy for me.

I guess that’s why the biggest revelation in the last year, but overall, in the last five years is how

documenting moments for other people has been a place for me to feel safe from ongoing trauma.

  • Toxic.
  • Covert.
  • Stockholm Syndrome, aka Trauma bonding.
  • Emotional abuse.

I’ve struggle with how to come out and talk about the ways interpersonal trauma affected personally and professionally

My love of documentary family photography.

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