"Isn't everybody just a bit more than we think they are?" I read something like that a long time ago. It stuck with me, and it has changed the way I've looked at every person I meet.
It's also one of the reasons I became a portrait photographer. I get to put people in front of my camera, they get to dress up, dress down, put on a costume, change the way they look in everyday life, and I make the photo. What a job!
I admit to a bit of artistic editing after that. Much of the time anyway. On rare occasions, I leave things much as the camera recorded the photo. Most of the time, I help things a bit. I don't change the person's appearance, but I do want the subject of my photos to look good. Maybe even a bit better than they do in "real" life. Most of them are pleased with that.
As I take a photo, I'm aware that the person I'm working with is so much more than what my photo can show them to be. I can only record the outside, as beautiful, or unique, or amazing, or strange, or captivating, or young, or old, as they may be. And that's good! Sometimes great! Almost always interesting.
Still, it can't capture the inside. Doesn't matter what you want to call that: heart, spirit, or something else. It's that inside that's hidden to the camera, and elusive to our eyes. What do you see in the photo above? They say a photo should tell a story. I think it does, but what story? Is it one you make up in your own head, or is it the real story of the real person. I'm betting it's the one in your head.
It's that way with every photo, with every real, live person you meet. They are more than you know. You are more than most others know. Maybe it's a good thing some of that is hidden away. There are unpleasant things about all of us. Yet there are other things, good things we don't see.
What does a hero look like? Is there a tell-tale sign? How do you recognize wisdom, or courage, or kindness, or genius? If you looked at a photo of Albert Einstein, without knowing who he was, would you recognize his genius? I doubt it.
Admittedly, we don't see the evil in people either, but I'm persuaded that's less common. Mostly, we're walking in the company of amazing people and don't know it. You're amazing. Who knows it?
I get to see people through the lens of a camera. I capture some beautiful moments, beautiful people, interesting human beings. But I know I'm in the company of someone more than what they look like.
Too many people suffer various forms of body shaming, they hurt because they don't look like some movie star, and others might use that to dig the pain deeper. And yet, they aren't just what they look like. They are more.
One reason I want to make my subjects look good is because I want them, and anyone else who sees their photograph, to think, "Wow! Look at that!" But my deepest desire as a photographer is to hint and something more.
Every person you meet is more than meets the eye. Believe that. Believe it about yourself. It will change how you "see" everyone. It will change how you "see" that person looking back at you in the mirror.