An exercise in surprise

How do we view ourselves? How do we think others see us? Maybe we all think in terms of how we’d like to see ourselves/others to see us, and we get the two confused.

I took a series of about 60 self portraits and learned that I utterly hated nearly all of them. This was a real surprise, I squirmed upon loading them on the screen. Who’s this guy? So there’s only one thing to it….take more…..and more and more. Why? It’s novel and unnerving, uncomfortable, and I’d rather be taking pics of lovely people or scenery. If it’s to be ugly, what about some graffiti even dirty shoes found on the street, but not me!  I don’t think anyone want’s to see these pics; and consequently the correct thing to do is what feels least natural, most polar opposite of the instinctive behaviour; to hide behind the viewfinder, or even to not take photographs at all. So I’m going to take more.

The anticipation is actually strangely exciting, both in the sense that I think the outcome will be novel, and because it’s challenging in an unexpected way. I’m expecting to find this to continue being outside of the ‘comfort zone’ and I don’t know why, it’s not like I have a poor self image or am abashed for some physical extra or missing bits. But through the lens is different to in a mirror, so much so that it felt as a rude awaking of the fact – pictures do distort reality, some realities more than others. If you don’t believe me, try it yourself! What a hoot!

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