It’s a shame most photo sessions begin with what is essentially a meeting of strangers. Doors open to reveal unfamiliar faces. Perfunctory dialogue about the weather or traffic fills the apprehensive space. We comment on outfits, and “backgrounds”. We ask about due dates and commute times. Then, as we progress beyond niceties, a few lovely unguarded moments bloom through the soil of polite conversation. Those are the moments we wait for. Gifts.
Some people are easily relaxed, while others remain nervous and uneasy. Me? I’m in the latter group. After fifteen years of shooting, I’m completely at home behind the camera. Like most photographers, I don’t think of it as a mechanism as much as I do an extension of my hand, my eyes, my self. But I’m filled with fear as soon as its aim is set toward me. Fear for what I might see. Fear for who might be staring back? Do I like her? Can I accept her? Will that girl trapped in the back of the viewfinder make me want to run away? To hide? Am I really enough just as I am? Carrying twenty extra pounds, with a space between my teeth, wrinkles and a five year old pregnancy mask…
Am I worth documenting?
Because if someone were to ask me this question, my answer would wholeheartedly and unequivocally be YES! I’ve devoted my life to it. And it’s this notion that’s at the forefront of my mind during every shoot. Behind the niceties, I’m thinking, “Don’t worry, I will take care of you. Your face, your body, your intimate moments and your vulnerabilities are safe with me.” And so the question becomes, is my face, my body, and are my vulnerabilities safe with me?
These thoughts came as a result of being mesmerized by Stephanie’s phone-tography, and Rachel’s self portrait project. They both inspired me to create my own, despite the voices about how indulgent it felt, or about how I don’t need another project. Sometimes blogging can become about other opinions. So I’ve made an effort to post images which are truly significant to me, regardless of their photographic value. Because photos are blogged straight from my phone, it of course means no editing, no fixing, no hiding. It’s been a daily exercise in accepting what is, and making peace with imperfection. I’ve only been doing it for a short time, but have already found it to be therapeutic.
What about you? Do you enjoy photographing yourself, or is it difficult? We’d love to hear your thoughts, and see your images.