Perspective of a Photograph

Today was the hardest day I’ve had at my new job.

It wasn’t a tough day because the work was difficult or because I’m still learning, and no one was mean to me or made me feel bad about the work I do. Nope, today was hard for one simple (yet complicated) reason.

I had to have my photo taken.

It’s not uncommon to hear people (especially women) talk about how much they hate having their photo taken, but today I would have happily scratched off my skin rather than have my photo taken and after thinking about it, I think I know why.

Now, I don’t like my photo taken in general (which may come as a surprise to some given that the banner of this blog is MY FACE) but I can deal with it if I’m in a group photo or with someone else in the photo. In fact, I like having my picture taken when I’m travelling just so I can later look back and see myself in the place I was. When I HATE having my picture taken is when the camera is just focused on me.

It’s part of the reason I decided during my BA that I wanted to get out of Theatre. I loved pretending to be someone else on stage but I didn’t like the individual attention that sometimes resulted afterwards. I would enthuse and smile and laugh outwardly as appropriate, but inside I was yelling “PLEASE GO AWAY SO I CAN CURL UP IN THE FETAL POSITION!”

Having someone take my picture for work combines my two most uncomfortable states of being: Being the sole focus of attention (I should probably add this to the list of reasons I’m single) and feeling like the perception of my identity is out of my hands (which is crazy because it always is, that’s how life works!).

While I enjoy attention, I prefer it to be in a casual setting. In a work setting, attention terrifies me. My first thought is always: “WHAT DID I DO WRONG?! I’m sorry! I’m useless! I’ll fix it and if I can’t, I’ll just bludgeon myself to death with this stapler!”

My second thought is usually: “I AM DOING MY BEST, YOU SON OF A BISCUIT, WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?!”

I’m complicated.

Earlier this week, one of the people I work for put me on the spot and as she introduced me she praised the hell out of me. This took place in front of pretty much the entire company. I was terrified. Here she is, telling people I’m “brilliant” and “smart” and I don’t know what else because I was too busy focusing on not bursting into tears or hysterical laughter. On the outside, I tried to look as calm and collected as possible but on the inside:

This is especially apt because our boardroom at work has one glass wall.

So, back to today’s debacle.

Having a picture taken when it’s just me in the photo is excruciating normally, but knowing this is going to be on the company website? Having my photo intrinsically tied into my work? That is pants-wettingly terrifying.

I can (and often do) take photos of myself, but the reason I can do that and the reason it works is because I KNOW WHO I AM.


Let me explain:

A photograph captures one moment in time and one moment of what you look like. A picture is not always going to capture who you are because it’s not always going to capture the right moment. That’s why some photographers work for LIFE and some work for tabloids. It’s about knowing your moment.

I know my moments. I know that I photograph best when I’m being a little playful.

That’s why I can take pictures like this:

Yes, this is actually me.

Yes, this is actually me.

And be totally cool with it. Because that cranky old lady face I’m pulling? That’s part of who I am. I happen to find that photo of myself FAR more attractive than any school photo I was ever posed for. Getting me to pose for a photo? You might as well draw a stick figure and use that instead because it will represent me just as much.

I’d be lying if I said that part of why I hate other people taking my picture wasn’t a self-esteem thing. It is.

I worry about looking stupid or fat in my photos. You know, because I’m a human being who lives in a world that loves to tell people (especially women) our main goal in life is to be attractive. But that’s not the part that bothers me the most because intellectually, if not internally, I KNOW I’m not stupid. And YES I might think I’m fat a lot of the time, but I’m slowly learning not to care about that because I’m healthy and my weight does not affect my lifestyle or who I am as a person. Besides, calling someone fat just means that you can’t find any actual reason to object to them as a person beyond the fact that you are an asshole.

What kills me about having someone take a picture of me is that moment when they show it to you and are like “This is a really great photo of you!” and you’re there like “That doesn’t look anything like what I see when I look in the mirror. I hate that photograph because it feels like someone else is wearing my face and it doesn’t fit them quite right.”

I jokingly said at work a couple times today that I wish I was a Vampire because then I wouldn’t have to look myself in the mirror or have my photo taken. That isn’t quite true. These days, I’m starting to LIKE what I see in the mirror and taking absurd photos of myself for my own amusement is FUN.

I just don’t like that people can take moments of me that I don’t invite them to have.

P.S. Originally this was supposed to be another BIG 30 project post, but then I had things to say about stuff. SO, from this point on-wards The BIG 30 posts will be put up on Saturdays. I won’t be posting every Saturday, but if I have something to say regarding The BIG 30 project, it will go up Saturday. Keep an eye out because there are some exciting things in the works!


Posted on March 5, 2015, in Serious Life Stuff and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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