It’s taken a long time to get around to writing this particular blog – not only because the summer has been a wonderful whirlwind of family time and exciting photographic opportunities, but because organising my thoughts on this has been a long time coming.
Last year I finally resolved to deal with my own fear of being photographed. It is frankly ridiculous to be a portrait photographer and not be able to stand to look at a photo of yourself. How on earth could I help those I photograph to feel comfortable, to understand that I’ll take care of them, that they will look great and that previous bad experiences in front of the lens must be put to one side and forgotten – when my own gut instinct was to run a mile from any camera pointed my way. My excuses were feeling hollow even as I said them “I’m just not photogenic” “I always make a weird face” – excuses I’d heard so many times from my portrait subjects and which I routinely acknowledged then laid aside.
My rational, business minded self also knows that people buy people as much as they buy services, and I’ve blogged about the importance of connecting with potential customers through your profile photo and your About Me section. You see, it’s not that I don’t believe all of this, it’s simply that I know how hard it can be! The wonderful Hannah Couzens so kindly did my headshots last year and they are lovely – honestly she did wonders with my immobile face and it’s tendency to look murderous even when the actual thoughts behind the eyes are much more banal. It was a great experience to be photographed by Hannah and the images are great but a year on I could feel the old fear surfacing again and so I figured I needed another ‘shot in the arm’ so to speak – it was time to create my own self portraits!
I had a free couple of hours so I planned for 3 different looks going from pretty banal to more daring on the grounds that if the banal went badly then I could bail on the more daring! I wanted something with expression, something with character even though I know that leads to a less pretty result – expression tends to give me more wrinkles, smaller eyes, more ‘weirdness’ all together but honestly it’s who I am and it’s about more than just a pretty picture, it’s about embracing the weird!
So here they are – 3 shots – all quite different but all very much me. Don’t get me wrong, the idea of putting this out there still worries me – and before anyone asks (that means you Dad!) it’s a strapless top! However, I’m a good photographer and while these are most definitely not ‘straight out of camera’ I think that makes a difference and sharing them is perhaps a little step along the road to accepting my face as it is (in it’s mid-thirties, with some wear and tear, feeling a bit of neglect but probably typical). I don’t look like a model, but a good photograph doesn’t require you to look like Kate Moss.
A few weeks after I made these photos, and a week before writing this blog I did my first ever training on working with the media – I had to do a video interview. This did not go well! I cringed at the sight of my miserable face on the screen, hated the camera angle with a passion and frankly wished the ground would swallow me up as my colleagues and trainers watched the film back. So – still work to do on self acceptance, but baby steps perhaps!