A few months ago a friend asked me if I’d take some photographs of her husband and son with the family dog. The dog was elderly and she wanted some great photographs to remember him when he was gone. Naturally I asked if she wanted to be in the photos as well, “oh no” she said “no-one wants a picture of me”. She was slightly joking, but the underlying sentiment here has been one I’ve heard several times since from both men and women and it’s starting to worry me.
The implication is one that touches on a lack of valuing yourself, and in more ways than simply thinking you’re not attractive enough to warrant photographing. Looks is part of it, but it’s not the whole story in my view. This sense of “I’m not worth it” rolls up a whole bunch of negative emotions. From feeling that no-one wants a photo of us, through feeling no -one cares for or values us, right the way to no-one wants to remember us. Why are we so keen to want a photograph to remember the family pet, yet we don’t want to remember ourselves as we are now, when we look back in years to come?
There are a multiplicity of factors at play here I’m sure, and so I won’t try and enumerate them all, I’m not a psychiatrist! However, I reckon there’s also a dose of Britishness here. It’s just not British to post a great picture of yourself that says “Hey! This is me and I look great! I’m proud of who I am”. Instead we post the ratty selfie, the badly lit, unflattering angle snapshot that says “I’m not trying very hard and yes this is a bad picture but I’m no oil painting anyway”. Frankly this is sad!
Everyone should have at least one great picture of themselves, as they look right now (so no your wedding picture from 10 years ago is not good enough!) and getting that picture done properly is as much part of taking time out for yourself as getting your nails done or your hair cut. It’s about celebrating yourself, owning how you look, and being proud of it.
Ironically when I came to do the shoot with the kid, husband and dog, the husband quite quickly asked “can we get one of all of us?” totally blowing my friend’s excuse out of the water and showing that yes, people really do want a photo of us!