That’s Not Me

In the past I have talked occasionally about how uncomfortable I feel in front of the camera. It is actually a sentiment felt by many photographers – even though that species adores taking pictures, it abhors being in them. Occasionally, the wish to become a photographer grew from the practicality of avoiding being photographed by actually being the one who takes them. An easy way out – just “hide” behind the camera…
Nonetheless I have appeared in photographs (*gasps*), preferably though in self-portraits, because even if they are a painfully laborious enterprise, at least one has *full* control over them. And I have occasionally also sat for other photographers’ projects which included getting dressed up and styled. Not because I am keen but because I am ready to support. I have posed as 80s white American trash in a tacky tourquoise blouse with gold pin stripes and my hair styled into a side-braid. I have sat with a strip of gorilla tape plastered on my mouth which had the word “Nazi” written on it. Today I pretended to be an Irish farmer’s wife from the 1960s, complete with polyester house-coat and pink headscarf. What a hoot. And such unflattering images of myself, too…
I’ll admit that part of the reason I don’t like being in photographs because I am vain. But I quickly came to realize something that helps me accept being in those photographs: The person in there is just not me! With the help of a ludicrous get-up I can completely distance myself from the person that is pictured. I do not wear a headscarf, ergo non sum. Once you have realized that, being photographed actually becomes quite fun. How liberating to fool around in front of the lens, when you know that the result will not be a likeness of yourself but an entirely constructed, fictional character that merely shares some facial similarities with me… You can let go and be as ugly as you want.

Maybe that’s the approach to take, even in bona fide photographs. Whether snapshots or photographic portrait – put on a stupid face and claim afterwards that it was all deliberate! Who knows, I may after all become quite camera-keen…

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