This blog post has been a struggle for me to get around to. As I've curated the photos, nit-picking based more on impression and feeling rather than technical quality or accuracy, I felt at a loss of how to share them, how to talk about them, even what they represented.
Self-portraits aren't an area I'm always comfortable with, and I think it's because it's an area I've hardly explored.
Selfies are a funny subject to me because there are so many opinions, judgements, and stipulations that come from them.
But I always come back to the reality that I don't hate them.
Or at least I don't hate the idea of them.
And although all these photos were taken by my brother who I directed frame by frame, I felt like in the end I was actually the one taking them, scrutinizing the model that was me, telling her which way to look and move and be.
I started to notice there was a theme of how close, and how far we shot.
At first I wanted the rocks,
Then I just wanted the reflections in the water,
Then I just wanted the rock,
Then I just wanted my frame,
And then it came to just my face.
I found it like a dance, finding my way through this would-be-uncomfortable experience doing something that should have felt self-absorbing and seeking but actually became liberating.
And I'll tell you why....
There were so many ways to be.
So many ways to turn.
So many ways to feel.
So many faces to make.
So many positions to take.
And the more I think about it...
It was a dance, a discovery, a dream-state of feeling like myself when I would normally feel otherwise.
And I started to see the stories hidden within even just one frame.
That there is a heartbeat behind each photo.
That there is always more than what the beholder sees, what they hear, what they imagine.
As I saw my contrasting expressions and positions I began to see that we can take a photo that beams of joy and happiness, even contentment and then the next moment we hide our faces and shy away from really showing, which means really sharing.
My film photography teacher used to tell me he saw me in all the photos I took...
The funny thing was I never took a self portrait.
I would bring in these photos of natural girls, in natural environments, staring into the camera or looking just to the side. They weren't wearing any makeup, they weren't making a scene... And I found them so beautiful.
I found myself recreating these images and this time it really was my face showing up on my camera screen; they were my stories, it was my body, my face.
And it felt bold. Fresh. Memorable.
Because I liked what I saw.
And that was huge.
I wasn't afraid of what would come out.
And that was transformative.
Because I've been terrified before. I've seen a culture evolve (or devolve...) and change from years past. The pressure to be beautiful a certain way.
It's been difficult for me, difficult for us.
I've felt the weight of looking in the mirror and wondering what the world sees, and whether or not they formulate an accurate description, opinion, depiction and impression.
I've had moments where I've been ready to jump out of skin.
I've had moments where I've wanted to change.
And in ways I have.
But there's this voice inside of me...
A whisper all too familiar...
"No.Don't do it. The world needs this beauty. They will see it. It will inspire. You will be a picture of what it means to remain the way you have always loved, what you have always wanted to see in others, and has always been most comfortable. your beauty comes from the deepest part of you, the permanent beauty that remains no matter how much makeup ends up on your face, or clothes that collect in your closet, Or weight that you hold or lose.Focus on what I really see. Because then you will know who you really are."
I felt this word well up within me for others that have found themselves in this storm of image and appearance.
This is for all of us that have wanted to change ourselves:
We are free.
We are worth taking a second glance at. And that which we've always known to focus on more....
our character, the ways of our hearts, how we treat people, our abilities, dreams, beliefs...
They were always worth our time, attention, energy and focus.
We have permission to keep looking like ourselves, to keep being ourselves.