I really dislike having my picture taken. I really dislike seeing me in photos. I'm just not comfortable in front of a camera - so I make strange faces to compensate for my uncomfortablness, basically ruining any chance the photo would turn out semi-decent.
I have a file that says "Press-shots" where I pull out pictures of me for various publications and presentations. I try to look decent, but really, I look like either goofy or like an old lady with a big nose, lots of wrinkles, a double chin, and granny hair!
However - as I've been sharing photo albums with the grandchildren, I realized that I am missing in many many photos There are very few pictures with me in them. I typically have been the photographer (good excuse), but really -
Several years ago I was at a colleague's home going through his photo albums looking for pictures that would honor his more than 60 years of work in Folklore. And a funny thing kept showing up - many pictures had a face or body torn right out of them! Holes in pictures where there should have been a body. Huge gaps in tracing and recording a pictorial history.
I asked my friend's wife about this. Her reply, which I will never forget was, "I'm ugly. And I don't like my photos, so one day I just sat down and tore me right out of the pictures." I was stunned - basically a sick to my stomach sort of stunned. Holy cow - this woman had removed herself from perhaps some of the best times of her life! And in this case she would rather not exist than be seen or remembered.
When I was diagnosed with cancer I decided I would document my journey - through this blog and through photos. This put me in a very vulnerable spot - ha, vulnerable anyway, right? So I went to a photographer who I trusted, Nick Stone, to document me from diagnosis to healing. I learned to trust the photographer and trust the camera, and Nick gave me permission to do so.
Of course, there were lots of candid pictures, but the documenting of this time in my life was more important than the picture-perfect me.
And now, with the fact that, "I have gone through cancer, I can do anything," attitude, having my picture taken, while still uncomfortable at times, is very important to me. What's the worst that can happen - a wrinkle show, yucky hair, blinking, a roll? at least I have wrinkles, hair, eyes, a healthy body - consider the alternative.
I've been honest and vulnerable throughout my journey, but the other day I was asked to submit a professional photo for a couple of conferences I'm presenting at this month. And my vulnerability kicked in, and I couldn't find a picture that I think explained me! As you can see from my Bio on my home page, I've changed my photo, just recently, to one my daughter took of Scott and me early this fall. It's nice - and I've changed even since this photo was taken. So I sent one of the pictures of me to both of the conference folks, and I really wonder if I'll be recognized from my picture, and judged, or if I will have folks attending my presentation!
Awe, the turmoil of confidence, introvertness, vulnerability, and respect for myself!
Perhaps one of my most vulnerable times - just five years ago, finishing chemo, barely standing up, puffy, bald, sick as I could possibly be, and Nick caught that moment, and I let him!