Anna Shinoda

Photos, Doubt, and Bobby Hundreds

I am an author.  I represent myself through words, through stories.  I am not a model.  I am not an actress.  When you turn a camera on me, I’m most likely to make a funny face, or at the very least, smile.  In fact, I can probably count my posed, serious photos on one hand.

And yet, as an author I have written a serious novel on a somber topic, and when my publisher asked for a picture to represent me, and my novel, I needed to take a serious photo.  The hair was flat ironed, the make-up was applied, the dress was put on.  I did it all myself, and second guessed it the whole way.

A candid picture captures a moment, but a portrait is set up to make a moment.  We all try to look our best in a portrait.

And what if our best isn’t good enough?

Isn’t pretty enough?

Isn’t skinny enough?

Isn’t perfect?

I found myself on a trail I liked to hike, feeling like an asshole because I was wearing a dress and heels instead of my familiar Nikes and running shorts and tank top, pressured to take a photo that I know will represent me in a way I’ve never been before: as a published author.  It all seemed so far out of my comfort zone – except behind the lens was my friend Bobby, and next to him was my husband and we were chatting like we would any afternoon.

It morphed from a photo shoot into a hang out, and I paused often from the smiling and laughing and swatting at the thousands of gnats on the trail that had taken to surrounding the three of us.  I paused to think about my book, to think about Clare and Luke as Bobby snapped pictures.

As expected, Bobby’s work was beautiful and we had several shots to choose from.  He did what he does best – tell a story.  A little about me, a little about my book.  The mood is right, a mix of hope and sorrow, captured in lighting, focus, and composition.

His work is perfect, but I’ve been raised to pick apart my flaws.  Always seeing the beauty in others, struggling to see in myself that perfection is in the imperfection.

The photos sat on my desktop for months, shared only with my publicist for the Atheneum catalog, while a pancake I decorated with whipped cream, chocolate chips and marshmallows continued to be my visual representation on twitter.

And they sat, and I waited.  For the right moment, I guess, the moment when I was ready.  Being ready might mean that the book is coming out soon and I don’t have an option.  Being ready might mean that I’m tired of having a pancake represent my face.  Being ready might mean that I need to stop worrying about being judged, because the scrutiny my picture gets will not matter to me as much as the scrutiny my book will get.   It’s a good warm up.  So here they are.

Anna Shinoda photo by Bobby Kim 1

Anna Shinoda Photo by Bobby Kim 3

Anna Shinoda photo by Bobby Kim 2

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22 thoughts on “Photos, Doubt, and Bobby Hundreds

  1. Every comment here hits on the same idea from their own perspective. We are all victims of a society that defines what is beautiful as the nearly unachievable then tells it’s members that if your not ‘this’ you are ‘that’ and nobody should want to be that.

    We fail to consider how impossible ‘this’ is, and in doing so condemn ourselves unwittingly to hate on ourselves.

    Men, women, children. All victims of each other. Nothing changes until we openly accept this and agree that any way other than the way we are is better then the constant bullying of each other.

    If you were to take an outside look at the status quo you would probably wonder how is it possible that a society can exist that injures every member in it.

    “If you want to change the world, change yourself first.” – Ghandi


  2. I actually like this photo of you. It’s very atmospheric and light. Very artistic. Your beauty is in your honesty


  3. you are beautiful, anna.You know how many people would love to your husband? many. you’re really perfect. Looking for your book !
    p.s. sorry for my english, i’m italian


  4. This was a great moral boost up. Thanks Anna 🙂
    And you are beautiful…i’m waiting for your book!!


  5. Very well written, I know exactly how this feels. All I can say is that you’re an absolutely beautiful woman! ❤


  6. what?!
    You Are Beautiful. There can’t be any other options.


  7. Hi Dear Anna, I red your Note Twice, It was so impress to me, & I wanna Say . . It Really Doesn’t Matter what we do,What we go through , What We say, We Always Get Judge by Our Action (I wanna Say A little Story) For this:
    Story of A Old Men with A Burro , He was so kind Heart so he didn’t want to push his Burro A lot so with his Burro They Kept Moving & The old men was Carry on his Stuff by himself, When The Old men got into the first City, People started to say (Look At this stupid men. .He have a burro &but he carrying his things by my himself) So the old men thought he really making mistake so he put All his stuff on burro & Also he bought some more things & he inserted them into burro’s back, He get into next City . . This Time people started saying (Look At This stupid Old Men, He have A burro & he walking on his feet , (So the old men thought yea maybe their right i should use my burro to keep traveling . .so He did, & He got into The Third City & people started saying (Look Out . . How cruel this men is . . He using burro for his ride also that poor burro is carrying All his stuff. (in the end Old Men find out People Just loved to Judge, & talk about the others for no reason & does’t matter how much they are right themselves, so from that time the old men did what he thought is right.

    (And this story is for your position too . .We can’t stop being judged by others , in this world we have Billions people with Billions Loosen, so whatever you do some people will find A point to talk about, So we shouldn’t Focus on this , what do you should focus is , look deeper . . you find out .. your positive point is , You know who you are , You know what you want to do, You know where you stand in your life, & You know what you want to go thorough, but maybe you don’t know the details but again Dear Anna , The point is we never know what details is . .what “Exactly” Going To Happen . we won’t know that & we won’t find out until we get through it so everything about you & your actions here Is only “SUCCESS” Cause as long as you know who you are . .you’ll get what do you wanted to get 🙂 Besides your photo shoots are amazing . . you look so great & as always So beautiful 🙂 & I’m so happy for you & Also Can’t wait for the Book :)) ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥


  8. Once I was a little my grandma told me this story.
    A one old man adopted two little wolves. One wolf was black the other one white. The man noticed after a while that these two wolf brothers are totally different. The white was innocent,always happy,he never howled or made mess while the other wolf was grumpy,he always howled and he was so aggresive the man had to lock him sometimes alone in some other room. The irony was in the looks of these little two creatures. The white one was ugly,he hand’t a second ear and his eyes were destroyed by infection while the black wolf had wonderful shaped face and big black eyes.
    One day a woman Rashka came to visit the man,but the man wasn’t home. The man was crazy in love with Rashka but he never confessed his love to her. She noticed the white wolf in the corner looking at her friendly and happy.
    “What an ugly little creature you are.” She said loudly. Then she saw the black wolf coming out from the darkest corner in the room. She was so suprised and amazed by his looks so she came closer to pet him. But she didn’t know the black,beautiful dog is dangerous and he attacked her. Even the woman insulted the white one,he stopped his brother and he told him to runaway before the man comes back. The black eyes stared into his white twin brother and he did it. He runaway. The man came back home from his trip and saw the woman laying on the floor. Shocked old face,full of dissapointment and sadness started to shouting:
    “You monster! Look what you did! I was thinking you’re the right one but I was wrong. Get out of here before I kill you.”
    The wolf ran away. Depression came over his life but he did the right thing. He knew the man had mercy to him because he was always the good one. If he found out that his brother attacked the innocent woman,no mercy would be in his hands. Years where going by and the white wolf met a also deformed lady wolf. God was talking to him:
    “It never comes from the outside,it’s what’s in your heart. Appreciate this beautiful wolf soul like a prize and you will live happily.”
    His evil twin brother otherwise got punished,God told him:
    “I will not kill you I just will let you live. You’re alone,you have nobody,that’s the best punishment for you.”
    The black wolf soon gave up and threw himself on the bridge. He couldn’t take this loneliness and emptiness.

    (I hope you understood the story I wanted to tell. My school english isn’t very useful I guess. xD)


  9. Reblogged this on monicaopperud and commented:
    This.Is.Perfect. And surely will help a lot of girls struggling with low self-esteem! Anna is amazing and adorable.


  10. I would be lying if I didn’t say that this blog made me tear up.

    I have a eating disorder personality. I have anorexia for two years and half now. I’ve always been too skinny, and that always made me be a center of attention in my family. They always made fun of me because of this, and that kinda made the need of being perfect grown up inside of me. I’m naturally a perfeccionist. I’ve always felt the need of making them be proud of me. For that, I studied hard, just to be the best in my school. I worked hard just to be the best in my basketball team. Just to hear the “I’m proud of you” from my parents. That never happened. I was never “good enough”, they always made sure to point out my flaws and mistakes in everything I did. That’s kinda the reason of why I got to this point. To see myself ugly (inside and out), to feel insecure, totally worthless, and not letting anyone help me. Keeping it inside was a mistake, and still. Everytime I try to stand up for myself and get better, they break me down. Everytime I find a way to cheer up and see the world with positivity, they change it.
    “Worthless”. “Ugly”. “Disappointment”. And it hurts. It really does. Because when even your own family makes you feel useless, you can’t wait for compation from others.
    I admire you so much. You’re so brave, and you have the love of your family and friends, the people whose love is the love that you really need, that you really have to care about. And, you’re so so so beautiful. I totally understand the uncomfortable feeling that you might get for wearing a dress and heels, I cannot see myself wearing something different to a hoodie or shirt, lol. I can’t wait to read your book, and, why not, maybe add you to my favorite authors list!!


  11. Kate-KE on said:

    I know that feeling when you compare yourself to others and it happens to often to me. But it’s right: no matter what your photo looks like, it’s the book and it’s content that would be discussed by the audience.
    And,you know, I’m amazed by your photos! Sometimes I prefer not the photos, but the memory of the circumstances in which they were taken. And I just smiled reading your description of that photo shoot day 🙂
    Now I got more excited about the book!

    PS: isn’t that the bracelet that Mike did with his 3D printer? Oww cute ^^


  12. Hi Anna . I ‘ll take a few minutes to tell you this .. First I want to congratulate you for the photographs . Really,The photographs are very beautiful. I love photography, ( It’s a hobby , I’m not photographer) and often I take photographs myself , (like 100 to find one that I like ) but I always try to make faces , smile , or grimaces . Although I love photography , I have never taken a picture of the whole body, because it gives me a lot of shame, and much less someone let me take photographs . Always feel shame and worse … I think ” What will say when you see it ? ” “Will they say taht I’m too thin , taht I’m too high? ” . And that scares me . I’m not famous , I’m not a model , I’m simply a fan of Linkin Park which likes to draw and take photographs , which at home is dressed like a mess, I do not like dresses or shoes, in fact never use haha but I can understand how you feel . Sometimes it’s a lot of pressure load , and accept what the other has to say … People are often cruel , and they see only the outside. But really you have achieved the essence of time, you look good , natural, in a nutshell , you look like a real woman. Of those women who do not need makeup to show the world your beauty , or die doing endless dieting , or being operated . You’re real , you samples like you are and that is worth more than thousands of women trying to get ready every day for the rest say “It’s a pretty face .” I admire you’ve done this photo shoot . You look beautiful Anna . I do not know you , I admit I know by Mike Shinoda , your husband , but I admire you for who you are, not as the wife of one of my idols . I think you’re a great person , so no topics to show you , if you you show like you are, whether photographs can capture what you really are, not physically , but what you are as a person , that will be one of your best work. Thanks for sharing this with us. I wish you all the luck with the book. Goodbye Anna.
    (Sorry for my bad English).


  13. There always will be people trying to bring you down, but also people who will adore you for your personality, your talent & beauty. Please, don´t let critics or haters dictate you how to look or work, because it wouldn´t be about you anymore. And it would be sad, because you are amazing. You set an example to lots of girls, women and also beginning authors around the world.
    It´s great you overcame your fear and doubt, because your photos are very beautiful. You are beautiful.
    And I´m very excited to read your book 🙂 Can´t wait!
    Take care, Anna & enjoy Christmas arrangements in peace.


  14. I know this feeling… I was in your shoes back in junior and senior high. I was insecure about myself and second guessed pretty much everything I did. I was always being picked on for liking the music everyone else didn’t, for wearing not so girly clothes (can’t help it, hoodies and band tees are my thing) and basically for being different than everyone else. But as I moved on and started my college life, I realized that I didn’t need to feel insecure about what I liked and WHO I was and as it turned out, the new people I met didn’t care about those things, the important to them was the inside. It’s so nice knowing they hang out with me for who I am and not because they simply have to.

    Overall, friends, family and loved ones is general are the ones that keep us from falling and if we do fall, they’re always there to help us back up, right?

    You’re such an amazing and inspirational person to many and I really love these photos! So beautiful!!! Always nice have family and friends around on occasions that make you nervous; they just take your mind off things and make you have fun! And it shows!
    Good luck with the release of the book, cannot wait to read it!!


  15. I just woke up to your blog post and I must say that I (just as a lot of the others who commented here) know how you feel. I never really bothered about the fact if I am skinny enough because I am too skinny as it already is, but I always had skin problems…still have them. And it used to make me feel ugly and disgusting and people calling me names didn’t help at all. So this is still haunting me today, not as bad as it used to… but it does.

    But I learned that it’s more important whats on the inside, what kind of person I am…who I am, than what I look like. It took me years, great friends and family to understand that.

    It doesn’t matter what haters might think of you, Anna. There will ALWAYS be people who need to spit their nasty thoughts, that’s how it goes. But it’s on you/us if we choose to grow on them, to use their stupidity and learn the step over them, walk around them and just let them bet – or we choose to let them bring us down. I am rooting for option no1, even though I know it’s not always that easy.

    I love your pictures, you look absolutely amazing. It’s obvious you had a great time shooting them, and its even more easier to fall into a almost relaxed state while doing something like that, when you have familiar people around you. Which you had, and that shows. They’re amazing, you look absolutely beautiful. And I can’t wait to finally get to read “Learning not to drown” – the excitement level is rising, not only for you as author, but for us as readers as well 😀

    Have a awesome day 🙂

    PS: I like picture no3 best as well 🙂


  16. I definitely know the feeling and lately I’ve been thinking a lot about why we feel inadequate so often. It’s a real shame cause we all have flaws, but what is perfection? Does it even exist? I think we should all tell ourselves more often that we are flawless in our own way. I think Beyoncé has a point when she says “it’s our soul that needs a surgery” in her new song “Pretty hurts”. Honestly, Anna, those pics are amazing!
    PS: I just lost 30 pounds and I did it all for me, myself, and I 😀


  17. You’re beautiful Anna . No doubt. Take care.


  18. Insecurity in my middle name. I’ve been dealing with it my entire life and I still continue to deal with it. I’m lucky though, to have family, friends and amazing coworkers that help me to look through it . It’s hard but I’m getting there and you have the love of family and friends to help you as well.

    Anna, you’ve always been so beautiful and anyone that says otherwise deserves a swift kick in the ass with a size 12 platform shoe. 🙂 These photos are gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous.

    Third one is my favorite. Just in case you’re keeping track. LOL


  19. As someone dealing with anxiety, I know how being insecure feels. Thinking everyone is judging you and that they want to see you fall. For that reason, it’s really difficult to be yourself. You don’t want to disappoint them. But if you can’t be yourself, who will you be?
    Some people will hate you and some people will love you, but they all will feel something for who you really are, and that’s all that matters.
    I’m looking forward to read your book. Take care, Anna.


  20. marsammie30 on said:

    I know what its like to feel insecure. To feel not pretty or skinny enough. Been struggling with that my whole life. But its true, you can’t let other people ruin your big moment. To tell you if you aren’t pretty or good enough. We all have flaws, we all want to feel loved for who we are.
    I can’t wait to read your book. And who knows, you might become one of my favorite authors.
    Good luck. And don’t let the stupidity & negativity of others influence you. Beauty is found within all of us. Let that shine through.


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