Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

I hate getting my picture taken. We were scheduled to meet at 6 pm on Wednesday for headshots, and when the thunder rumbled and I noticed some dark clouds at 4, I called the photographer. “Well, I guess with this weather there just isn’t enough light to take pictures. What do you do in situations like this?” I was really hoping for a rain reprieve. “No problem!” she said perkily. And went on to list several reasons why she could take great pictures in the dark, several possibilities for back up plans with more plentiful light and concluded with a definitive list of all the great photos she had taken under adverse conditions. There was no arguing with this person. “Sounds good,” I sighed. “Thanks. See you in a bit.”

Well, 6 pm was bright and cheerful with lovely cool weather thanks to the short storm we had had earlier. No damp hair for anyone. No humid frizz. No sweat from the day’s 96 degree high temp mark. Just picture perfect weather.

As we gathered into a circle and introduced ourselves to our photographer, the first thing she asked was, “Who hates getting their picture taken?” Four out of five raised their hands. “Why?” She asked. Double chins, goofy smiles, dorky poses, looking fake. She totally understood, and proceeded to address each of us individually saying what she would do to prevent our nightmare vision from happening. She was funny and forthright, pragmatic and problem-dissolving. Hope started to dawn that maybe this would be a good photo.

She had all of our proofs posted online by the next day. And they were gorgeous. And we gushed. And shared. And told each other how beautiful we were. And picked our favorites.

And I got to thinking, getting a photograph taken is just like getting a tarot reading. I had two primary fears around what might go wrong with my photo. One, that my flaws would be highlighted. Two, that she would capture only my mask and not me. I’ve been freaky about photos since I was very little. I always looked straight at the camera with wide eyes, no smile and a general air of having just been betrayed. Even today it takes a good photographer to get me calm enough and trusting enough that I can relax and be seen.

We go through these same steps with our tarot clients. We want to understand what their fears are around the reading. What are they worried might happen? A lot of people tell me that they’re worried something bad will come up in the cards. I let them know that the reading doesn’t have to be predictive, we can explore issues from other angles, such as “What is the best action to take to reach my goal?” And then I say, “But if you do want to do a predictive reading, and that is one of the things that tarot does well, then we don’t just stop if we see a bad outcome and say, oh, well. Better luck next time. First of all, if the outcome is really negative, maybe it’s a sign to go a different route altogether. But if we see a result we don’t care for, then we ask the cards how to avoid or resolve that problem or how to achieve a different outcome.” When people hear that they can do that, they immediately relax and are suddenly much more excited to get a reading. It’s very empowering to know that you can get a glimpse of a possible future for the purpose of fine-tuning your game plan.

Then there’s the fear of how we look, that the reading will highlight our flaws. Just like the photographer can edit our images to smooth out character lines or whiten up our teeth a bit or add that tiny shadow just under the jaw line, as readers we can lovingly and artistically soften the flaws. It’s important not to airbrush them away entirely—then our clients won’t trust us; we all know what our flaws are and we want someone simply to be honest with us about them.

But sometimes we’re afraid that we are seen only on the surface and not deeply. I think this is the problem when people say, you’ve only told me what I already know. It’s our job as the reader to create an environment and experience where the client can relax enough to share their secret self. They need to trust us, and we need to prove ourselves worthy of that trust. To encourage our clients to be open and to let themselves be seen, we have to be fully seen ourselves. If we are hiding behind a mask, we are energetically encouraging them to do the same. When we present ourselves openly and authentically, we are setting an example they can mirror.

When you capture the image of your clients, what kind of tarot-photographer are you? A quick candid shot from a cell phone? A photo booth strip that captures a series of fun and funky poses? A highly posed and formal portrait? An action shot? Whatever your style, we can all strive, like artists, to capture that magical moment, that stillness that blends past and future in a beautiful now of perfectly shared truth.


Joy Vernon is a Certified Professional Tarot Reader and Reiki Teacher in Denver, Colorado. Her specialty is the Empyrean Key Transformational Guidance, which combines energetic and esoteric modalities to help her clients break through blocks and align themselves with their higher purpose. For information on upcoming classes or to schedule an appointment, please visit JoyVernon.com.

© 2012 by Joy Vernon. All rights reserved.

Joy Vernon
Joy Vernon

Joy Vernon is widely recognized as an expert tarot teacher and respected community leader. With over twenty-five years’ experience teaching energetic and esoteric modalities, Joy brings expertise and practiced familiarity to her specialty of esoteric tarot, which layers astrological and qabalistic symbolism onto the traditional tarot structure. Under her leadership, the Denver Tarot Meetup grew into one of the largest and most active tarot-specific meetups in the world. Now Joy runs the Greater Seattle Tarot Meetup. Joy works as a tarot reader, astrologer, and teacher in Burien, Washington. To learn more, please visit JoyVernon.com.

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