About a week and a half ago I posted about the Proud2BMe pledge, part of NEDA’s push to get teens to accept who they are and what they look like by encouraging them to build confidence in a variety of ways. The pledge focused specifically on sharing images–more specifically, not sharing or posting images that we’ve altered in any way and instead posting images that are true, accurate representations of who we are. There’s so much photoshopping done these days that it’s hard to tell if we’re ever looking at pictures that haven’t been manipulated in some way, however small. The Proud2BMe pledge was an effort to encourage people to fight the pressure to be something other than who they really are and, in the process, show that they’re happy and accepting of the images they’re sharing.
After taking the pledge, I mentioned trying out a daily self-portrait project. The goal would be to take a self-portrait every day. It wouldn’t be fancy, posed, or planned in any way, really, it would just be an expression of who I was in the moment I took the picture. And unlike most things that I say I’m going to do and then never follow-up on, I actually started this project by creating an account at blipfoto and posting my pictures there. I’ll be honest, there have been days when I’ve forgotten to take a picture, let alone post one. As a result, I’ve only got a handful of self-portraits to flip through so far. And even though I’ve only been doing it for a few days, I’ve already got some thoughts on the whole thing.
Such as: it’s a daunting project. There’s something about the thought of taking a picture of myself every day that I sort of hate. It just seems so self-indulgent and egotistical even though I know, rationally, that it’s not. I didn’t feel that way when my friend and fellow blogger Jill did something similar, and I wouldn’t feel that way if I came across someone else doing the same thing (unless it really was very ostensibly self-indulgent and egotistical, in which case I guess it wouldn’t really be the same thing). But taking a picture of myself, because it’s me taking a picture of me, feels impossible and selfish. It’s a cliché, but I think in this case it rings true–it’s hard for me to turn the lens on myself and really look at who I am, what I’m doing, and what I look like while doing it. Every time I post a picture, part of me is thinking about how stupid it is, and resisting the entire thing. That’s why I’ve missed a few days. I guess the difficulty is what makes the whole thing worthwhile though…right?
Also: what could be more boring than to look at pictures of yourself? Again, I think this has to do with my feelings of discomfort about being on camera. It could also have to do with the fact that from one day to the next, very little about the way we look changes. In spite of that, though, we’re always changing and when I look back at the self-portraits I’ve accumulated over the course of a year (or, I don’t know, a few months or whatever), I’m sure the changes will be much more obvious. For now, though, I feel some self-imposed pressure to take interesting pictures, all the while recognizing that doing so wouldn’t really be in line with what the project is all about.
Finally: my dad is an incredible photographer and even though I know I could do better (I mean, these pictures have either been taken with my cell phone or my MacBook’s Photo Booth program), when I look at my pictures, I feel embarrassed for him! His quick pics, the ones he takes casually while walking down the street in any given place, are amazing. I would buy prints of any one of them and hang them on my wall. Or in a gallery. I won’t even start on how good his stuff is when he’s actually working on composition and lighting and all that photography stuff.
I don’t know. Maybe this will get easier. Maybe it will get harder. My goal is just to keep doing it, and to keep working on accepting what I see when I take the picture.