I’m wondering–by show of hands–who loooooves to take their camera, turn it around, and snap a picture of themselves to put in the family photo album. Raise them high if you like to!
Crap. I can’t see your hands…a downside to the blog. No visual contact.
Well, I’ll take a guess, and say that approximately 0% of you reading this actually like to do it.
It seems to be a common thread amoung my woman friends–I don’t know if it applies across the board to dudes, too–this strange uncomfortable feeling that overtakes us when a camera is pointed in our direction. Especially when we’re the ones pointing the camera.
We’re used to presenting lots of things to the world: Here’s my child. Here’s my husband. Here’s my cooking. Here’s my home. Here’s my work. These are all ways for us to share ourselves. But to say, “Here I am!” is a little trickier. Self Portraits leave no room for interpretation or wiggle room. It’s simply us, BAM, take it or leave it.
Often times we leave it. I have very little pictures of my mom and I together, and the ones I do have I treasure. It dawned on me sometime last year that my kids weren’t going to have any pictures of us together, because I was always behind the camera. Which is where I liked to be. But I started thinking about what they would have to remember me by, not in a morose way, but in an introspective way. I wanted them to have pictures showing how happy I was as a mom, and how much I enjoyed our time together. So I tiptoed out from behind and put myself in a few pictures. A token to show them that we were a great team when they were little!
I was startled at how uncomfortable I felt. What the internal messages were that I was telling myself…”I take pictures of interesting things…not just me! Pictures should be of special things…not just me! The focus of a photograph should be something I love…not just me!” I’ve always prided myself of being pro-girl to my girls, and trying to model self acceptance in any form to them. This was the opposite, so I embarked on a “52 weeks of Self Portraits” journey–one self portrait a week for a year.
I laughed, I cried, I slowly worked out a lot of hidden issues having to do with lots of touchy feely self acceptance things that could have been an episode on Oprah!
I decided to continue it for another year, this time encouraging other women to join me in a flickr group “52 Weeks of Bam!” And join they have! Strong, amazing, uniquely special, feminine, vulnerable, kick ass women….who are all freaking out about taking pictures of themselves. It feels indulgent, boastful, and a little shameful to say honestly, “Here I Am! Look At Me!” and isn’t that sad?! We all have a story, independent of who our kids are, who we’re married to, what we do every day, and what we get involved in. Beneath all that, there is just us…our own feelings, our own needs, our own stories. Those should be shared and encouraged.
So, I encourage you. Turn the camera around this week, if you’re a picture taker. Even better, take it and share it on the flickr group. Be vulnerable, be happy, be sad, be whatever you feel. You’re worth it.