I never know why this happens, but for whatever reason, I absolutely hate being photographed. Whether it is to capture a special moment in my life, I will gladly move out of the frame so that I don’t have to see myself in the picture. Sad I know.
So when we were told that we would be doing self portraits in our intermediate class, I thought to myself… oh lord. Now we were told we don’t have to actually be in the picture. Whether there were tangible things in our lives that make up who we are, we could throw those into a picture and that could be our self portrait. I envisioned the possibilities of all the things that make me… well me.
I didn’t think that I could find anything that could possibly form my perception of myself. I thought I could take all my school books, an old camera, photos, and whatever else I thought was interesting and take it all to the beach and photograph those. The more I thought about it, it just didn’t appeal to me anymore. Then I thought, well I could take photographs of me and my boyfriend at the beach. Primarily our hands, the little details that people don’t look at. But again in the process of doing so, I just couldn’t get it right. I loved the beach idea, but it just wasn’t working because I was in the photograph.
I sat on a rock, watching my boyfriend skip rocks by the water, and I felt as if I could just give up. I hate being photographed, but a self-portrait is a picture of one’s self. I just sat there… watching the waves break on the shore… my boyfriend came up to me with my camera and snapped a picture. He said that in that moment, that picture he took, was me.
We talked and I became more frustrated over the idea of being photographed. I was distressed and hated having the camera in my face. Then he snapped another.
When I went to class and developed the film and looked at the pictures, I still didn’t like any of them. I sat there, staring at my contact sheet. My teacher and another student looked behind my shoulder and stated their favorites. In utter defeat, I went into the darkroom and printed their two favorites. They were Ronald’s pictures that he took of me in the moment. The first, engaged with the camera. Light in my eyes and a smile of contentment. The second, the look of stress and disappointment of the days progress. It was like looking at two completely different people and I was okay with it. It was me. There are days when I’m happy go lucky and there’s not a care in the world. Others, I’m in over my head. And the stresses of everyday life get to me.
There I was in all my glory, and they will be the best self-portraits of myself because I didn’t take them. It wasn’t thought about and analyzed to the very last detail, like what I do with all my other photos. It was a boyfriend who saw his girlfriend in her best and worse moments.