I Got My Aura Photographed and Left Feeling So Much More Self-Aware

Plus, I got a super moody, psychedelic selfie out of it.

Aura photography has been on the rise, providing people a chance to see their non-visible energies materialize as vibrant colors. / Aura photograph by Inner Light Aura; background image courtesy of Getty Images.

After a pretty chaotic two years (COVID bride here), I knew that I needed to put more energy into my self-care routine. That’s why all my 2022 “resolutions” revolve around carving out more space for the stuff that brings me joy and replenishes my energy: reading instead of mindlessly scrolling Instagram, moving my body but resting when I need to, and drastically reducing my alcohol consumption. I’ve even made it a point to try new wellness activities, like glassblowing, getting chakra massages, and starting (and sticking to!) a skincare routine.

So when I saw my friend and wedding photographer Melissa McManus (of M2 Photography) had gotten her aura photographed in mid-January and raved about her experience, I knew I had to try. By investing more in myself these past three months, I’ve found I’ve been more introspective, on a kind of path toward stronger self-discovery. I figured that seeing my aura — the unique, non-visible energy field that surrounds each and every one of us — materialize in vibrant, colorful orbs hovering over and around me would give me a greater understanding about myself, and hopefully leave me feeling more confident and equipped to evolve in ways I’m proud of.

On McManus’s recommendation, I booked a session with Inner Light Aura, a Graduate Hospital-based aura portrait biz run by breathwork guide Sara Silverstein. And three weeks ago, I ventured out to determine what exactly is going on with my ~inner vibe~ in the hopes of having a clearer vision of who I am and who I have the potential to become.

The whole experience lasts only about 15 minutes, but contains so much discovery. (Silverstein highly recommends recording your session — and trust me, you’ll want to.) First and foremost, you get your portrait taken using a machine designed in the 1970s by Guy Coggins, founder of Progen Aura Imaging. Silverstein had me take a seat in front of a box-y looking camera and told me to place both of my hands firmly on silver sensors. They, she explained, gather biomagnetic feedback from your skin — like temperature and electrical properties influenced by emotional state — and transmit it to the main camera. (Silverstein uses an Instax.) About five seconds later, out came a Polaroid!

As we waited for the image to develop, Silverstein had me select an oracle card from one of Inner Compass’s daily guidance decks. She has clients do this before diving into their unique aura readings to provide a moment of pause, reflection, and joy. “Sometimes we all need a little nudge from the universe that we are headed in the right direction or simply that things are okay,” Silverstein told me.

I pulled the “Party Time” card, which came as a surprise to me — I didn’t feel super celebratory all throughout February. (Winter blues, amiright?) Silverstein said she hadn’t had a client pull that particular card in two years, which made us both excited to read its description:

“Stop being so serious. Drop all of that. This is an excellent day to celebrate life, leave your restrictions and rules behind. Today, everything is allowed. In your subconscious, you keep norms and values once planted by either yourself or your surroundings. They give you a sense of morality and discipline. For the right balance, completely let go once in a while. Think, “Fuck it!” All work and no play is no good for anyone. Cut loose and seize the moment to dance, laugh, or make love. Pour yourself a drink and toast to your successes — whether these are big or small. Climb out of your head and paint the town red. In short, celebrate life.”

As someone who went to Catholic school basically my entire life, I felt so seen — I was raised on discipline and making sure things go according to plan. And yet, pulling the “Party Time” card felt like the universe’s way of telling me I could (and should!) put into motion a mindset shift to get out of my funk, make room for fun, and try going with the flow more often.

Then, it was time for the big reveal. When Silverstein turned the photo portrait-side up, we both oohed and aahed over the red-heavy orb taking up most of the field. (Auras present themselves in colors — sometimes multiple — which all have different meanings.) “Even though you’re a party of red, there’s a lot going on here!” she said, and proceeded to dive into my aura analysis.

My aura, captured by Philly-based Inner Light Aura. / Photograph by Inner Light Aura.

Silverstein started at the two bottom corners of the picture, which she explained represent the masculine side (left side of photograph) and the feminine side (right side of photograph) of a person’s energy. Basically, the masculine side is the persona you project outward and how people feel when they’re around you, while the feminine is all that is received by oneself and others.

Because both my corners are red, Silverstein explained that I’m the kind of person who is grounded, courageous, passionate, and good at being in charge (accurate, IMO) — and that I help make others feel those things, too. She told me that it’s because red is highly connected to the root chakra, which is associated with feelings of safety, security, and support. The masculine side is also a very “doing” kind of energy, she said, which is important to keep in mind because mine is a bit more faint compared to my feminine side. “This means you’re a wee bit tired — probably that you’ve been doing too much,” Silverstein told me, as I nodded in agreement. My feminine side is full of “practical, fearless, powerful” energy, according to Silverstein, which shows I am using both inner power and energy received from others. And yet, there is always room to be more selective about to what or whom I’m giving my energy, so that I don’t continue to feel emotionally drained (as evidenced by the duller redness on my masculine side).

From there, we moved to the arc-like area above my head, which represents hopes and dreams, as well as energies waiting to be tapped into for personal growth. Pulling red here, Silverstein explained, means that I’m all about manifesting my aspirations and taking actionable steps. We also noticed a streak of violet in that area, which signals that not only am I empathetic, compassionate, and a solid communicator, but I’m also a “double manifester.” (Hell yeah!) “Being a double manifester means you can create whatever reality that you seek, but that requires you to take action in order to make it actually happen,” Silverstein said.

Though violet is present, it isn’t as strong as the surrounding red. This, she told me, alludes to the notion that I have a bit of distrust surrounding my goals and my future. Questions like “How will my wants and actions be perceived?” and “If I want to try something new, how am I going to think about myself? How will others?” often present themselves for me, which is acutely true — I pondered those extensively when re-evaluating my relationship with alcohol earlier this year.

To the right of the violet is a bit of magenta, which we had to use a flashlight to see because it nearly blends in with the red. Magenta, Silverstein told me, blends the groundedness of red, the communicative-strong blue, and the honesty of white — a mix that symbolizes an out-of-the-box, eccentric, and creative thinker.

Finally, we looked at the orbs hovering over my throat and heart, which, like everything else, were red. Though it represents a grounded nature in other parts of the field, Silverstein said pulling red in this area means I have the tendency to put up my guard when it comes to loving and speaking up. “For your heart, you might want to examine if there’s any relationship in your life that doesn’t feel aligned right now,” Silverstein told me, in order to help mitigate this doubt or hesitancy. “For your throat, maybe you’re feeling timid to speak up or talk about something right now. In your energy field, there’s something ready — and waiting — to come out of you, but you don’t necessarily feel secure enough to move forward with that right now. The red is a good reminder to wait until you feel truly ready.”

At the end of our session, I asked Silverstein if auras have the ability to pull different colors from session to session, to which she said there’s often a high chance: “Depending on the individual, there might be parts of the aura that are consistently stable. For instance, my masculine and feminine energies are consistently red because I have to be fundamentally grounded as a breathwork specialist. But other parts can shift, like one’s hopes and dreams because those likely change over time. Your whole aura can also change based on the season and periods of life transition, like when grieving a loss or navigating a career shift. During the winter months and hard times, an aura might not blossom outward as much, staying more contained or pulled-in around the body for self-protection.” (Want proof? Look at how McManus’s shifted in just six weeks.)

As I walked home that night, I felt both self-affirmed and self-aware. (And couldn’t stop staring at my cool, moody, new-age selfie.) I had gone into the session open to possibilities and without skepticism, despite there being some criticism around the photo trend. But I had no personal reason to distrust the captured colors. To me, that’d be like denying my own lived experiences; after all, we don’t just wear our emotions on our sleeves, we emanate them. Above all else, though, I gained clarity, reminded that our energy flows where our attention goes — which is, in and of itself, a kind of magic.