According to spiritual beliefs, auras are unseen energy fields that surround every living and non-living entity. These energy fields are often interpreted by color, size and type of vibration. 

In the early 1980s, a Californian entrepreneur named Guy Coggins introduced one of the earliest aura cameras to the market. This film camera supposedly captures the colored energy field surrounding a person, and translates it to film. Coggins’ camera utilized a method to print instant photos, linking an instant-film camera to two charged metal plates containing biofeedback sensors. The above-linked article written by Cassie Packard, provides that for each reading, “a subject places their hands on the two metal plates, which register electromagnetic data. The first exposure captures the person’s likeness, while the second superimposes the generated hues. The polychromatic haze, which differs from photograph to photograph, is purported to represent the subject’s aura and provide insight into his or her chakric energies.” 

Today, there has been a slow resurgence in the popularity of these cameras. While they have been developed into more modern forms, they still follow a similar process. I recently had the opportunity to get my aura photographed at a pop-up studio in Detroit called, “AURA AURA.” According to their website, “AURA AURA is an experiential portrait practice of Detroit-based Projector, Eileen Lee. This research-based practice serves as a vessel for exploring the #humanatmosphere by utilizing analog technology and professional instant peel-apart film that is no longer being produced. Through a non-traditional photographic process of capturing your bio-magnetic, vibrational energy, we make the metaphysical visible, resulting in awe-inspiring, one-of-a-kind portraits.” While the website includes various photo packages and lengths of interpretation, I decided to go with the basic, individual private session.

When I first arrived at the AURA AURA studio, I sat in the waiting room for a couple minutes as the aura photographer/interpreter was finishing up with another client. The waiting room area doubled as a small store with various products ranging from crystals, to graphic tees, and even vinyl records. Soon after browsing through the products in the waiting room, the photographer called me into a white, dome-shaped tent inside the studio where the camera and other necessary equipment was housed. The photographer briefly explained the process to me, welcoming me to sit on a stool facing the camera and to place my hands on two metal plates that were hooked with many wires. Following the photographer’s instructions, I looked into the camera with my hands exactly placed on the molds of the metal plates. It took around 30 seconds to capture the photo and other than the cold feeling of my hands on metal, I did not feel anything significant during this process.

Once my aura was captured, the photographer/interpreter invited me to sit across from them at a table. My nerves consumed me as I waited to see the colors of my aura. While I was not entirely convinced of the accuracy of these photos, I still hoped that I would be pleased with the results. As we waited for the film to develop, the interpreter handed me some diagrams that explained the breakdown of the image as well as a brief summary of what each color indicates about the person in the photo. 

After this brief explanation, the interpreter handed me my photo. I was shocked to see how bright of an orange-red shade my aura appeared. The interpreter also seemed shocked, exclaiming “wow, that’s really bright!” I was not sure what the color red meant and I worried it was a negative thing, but the interpreter assured me that there is no color that is necessarily bad; they each have their positives and negatives. The interpreter further explained that my aura indicates that I am in a period of “new beginnings” in my life. They elaborated on this, providing that the orange shade of my aura indicates I am a creative and driven person. 

Following my appointment, I felt a bit unsatisfied. While I did feel that this interpretation spoke to me, I also felt that it was very broad and was not specific to my experiences. To be fair, it was only a 20-minute session and with such a short period of time, I couldn’t expect the interpreter to be very thorough or detailed. On a more positive note, this experience encouraged me to think more broadly about my life and to set stronger intentions for my future. Though the image of my aura did not initiate a ground-breaking self-discovery or greater consciousness, it made me more aware of the perception I have of myself and advanced me further on my journey of “self” discovery.