The self-portrait journey I’ve challenged myself with over the past year has turned out to be quite an interesting and insightful experience…one filled with anxiety, trepidation and surprise. I’ve realized that self-portraits are so much more than simply snapping a photo…it’s the baring of one’s soul; knowing that what is captured in less than a second is most likely going to reveal what is going on inside, no matter how much we’d like to think that our truth doesn’t show. It always shows. And because of that, I’ve had to push myself to work through the fear of revealing my inner turmoil and worse yet, my weaknesses.
This became more evident the other day when I looked at my set of self-portraits and realized that it took me six months to be able to look directly at the camera and show my entire face. Even more symbolic was the fact that my very first self-portrait was of my back…quite a statement as to the depth of my fear. Over time, as I became more comfortable “seeing” who I was at any given moment, I found myself emerging from behind my hair, showing more of my face and on rare occassions, even looking directly at the camera!
I don’t know that I would have delved as deep into self-portraiture if I didn’t have a digital camera. There’s a indispensible safety net built into every digital camera: the almighty and revered “delete” button! And I have no problem using it; quick and often. I like the fact that undesirable images can disappear as quickly as they appeared, way before they sear into my memory and I begin to focus on all those parts that I wish were different. I’m certainly not denying that the unattractive parts are there…I’ve just found that it’s quite a bit healthier (and more enjoyable) to focus on the good stuff. Nonetheless, it is a humbling ride…one which I am grateful for having the courage to take. It is a journey which I intend to follow until I reach my destination…a place that I can see off in the distance; a warm and welcoming place called “acceptance”.
for another musing on the growing popularity of self-portraiture, here’s a link a piece I wrote early last year: The Self Portrait: Self-Aggrandizing or Self-Expression?