The hardest photos for me to take actually aren’t any of the ones that are the more technically challenging (fencing photography comes to mind) or the photos that require a significant amount of serious physical exercise to get them (anything up in the mountains for certain). The hardest photos are the ones of myself. They aren’t the hardest because I need to do a delayed trigger, a remote trigger, or find someone to be my bitch and trip the shutter on my command. They’re the hardest because they’re me.
Maybe it’s the fear of not exactly knowing how to capture myself. I can certainly capture other people, places, animals, things, whatever. But myself? It’s a scary and difficult capture. Another part of it is that shallow human being inside of most folks that thinks oh my god, do I look that bad? And another part is well, who the hell am I?
But does anyone know themself that well?
Recently I came into the possession of several hats and shot a bunch of photos (see Badass!Hat entry for part of that shoot) and a great deal of them were of me.
Of all of them, the Badass!hat ones were the easiest because I was playing a part. I was being a badass, and as much as I’d like to claim otherwise, I’m not a badass. Badass, by the way, is a really fun word to say, right up there among smock and scowl.
I’m me, whoever that is.
So I play with the camera, trying to mess with its mind (I’m sure it has one), playing all these different parts, but I’m not certain that any one of them is actually me.
I can stare the camera down:
—but when I look at it, I’m thinking You can see my scalp!” not that I’m going bald, it’s a bad gel choice on my part. But I think it anyway.
I can glare at the camera:
—but due to the depth of field of the shot (f/2.8 fellow photo geeks), my head looks detached from the rest of my body (and sometimes, I’d love for it to be so).
Or I wear a hat and hide my face:
—and think “Oh my god, are my ears really that small?” They are, by the way, there’s no denying that. My sister says that they haven’t grown since I was two.
Or I might grin and bear it:
—and think that I look like I am incredibly concerned that the camera pointed at me is going to rip my ears off the moment that I blink.
Or I can tell the camera to get the fuck away:
—and yet still think “Wow, I really need to stop picking at my thumbs.”
I could also subtly tell the camera off:
—but question whether or not I’ve got a double chin. “OMG, do I?”
Try for a look at me! pose:
—and wonder “Do I look like a cancer patient?” (I’m not, by the way.)
I could try lost in thought:
—but that’s an awfully white arm right there and my camera-shutter-trip-bitch has focused on my hand for some odd reason (you can see the focusing error in the larger size).
An attempt at a generic pose:
—but clearly, you can see exactly what I’m thinking. “Camera-shutter-trip-bitch, I’ve got a pom-pom on my head.”
Or I could finally deem to smile:
—and be told “Oh, you have such a cute smile.” No I don’t. And one of my eyes looks wonky.
And by the end, I’ve had it:
—oh, and camera-shutter-trip-bitch, you lied when you said my hair looked fine. And holy shit, maybe I am going bald.
I’m not sure any of those are me.
I’ve got one photograph that I actually see as me. This is me:
—I’m a little kid, five or six or seven, lost in thought. The shot uses natural light, something I use so much in my own photography. This is the one photo I have of me that makes me think, “Hey, that’s me.” But I obviously didn’t shoot that photo.
Now, this isn’t about finding myself, that’s an entirely different train of thought. It’s about somehow being able to capture myself in the ways that I can capture other people.
Where do I find myself in a camera?