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The Reluctant Poser Behind The Camera

Updated: Aug 20, 2021

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I'm sure I'm not the only person who hates having their photo taken. I remember the great relief when, as a teenager, I had my first camera and I was able to be the one behind the camera taking the family photos. What a wonderful excuse not to be in front of the camera. Being the photographer in the family it's fortunately been the same ever since.

My wife and I really do go on holidays together, but you'd never know it from the photos we bring back. She invariably looks like a lone traveller, and I must appear to others as her stalker, following along with the camera to capture her in various places and poses.

These days, even more so than ever, everyone is snapping every move they make and posting it online for everyone to see. "I am just going to put the rubbish out, hang on, let me grab a selfie stick and snap me pouring the rubbish in to the bin (cheeky smile and a pout...)" So many life events posted online everyday. Actually maybe pouting is reserved for the girls only, God I hope so!

As up to date and as cool as I am, I never really 'got it' with the whole selfie craze. I'm sure it's an age thing. I confess though, I have taken a few selfies, but it was more of an experiment. It really was!

Well, as it happens, those of us who really REALLY don't like their photo being taken actually have good reason for not liking images of ourselves. It turns out that even if you hate your photo being taken, you probably look in the mirror regularly, in fact several times a day, basically because you have to. Washing, shaving, getting dressed, trying on clothes, all necessities, but also who can resist walking past a mirror without taking a sneaky peak to see how they look? We are used to looking at ourselves in a reflection, that is the image we have in our minds of how we actually look. That makes sense to me. I look in the mirror, I don't mind looking in the mirror at me. Don't get me wrong, I keep 'mirror looking' time down to functional use only. The reflection looks as 'normal' as I expect it to be.

The photographic image of ourselves is not the same as looking in the mirror, even though you would think it should be, but it's not for two main reasons. When you look at your reflection in the mirror your left ear is on the left side. When you look at a photo of you, your left ear is on the right hand side. Most of our faces aren't symmetrical either. Also, generally, in the mirror we are looking straight onto our image, a photo captures us at all sorts of angles we wouldn't normally see, and that's why so many of us think we look weird or different in photos but not in the mirror. Our image is not the usual one we see everyday and the non-symmetry is all the wrong way round to that which we have been used to seeing all our lives.

So, having worked out the science and rationalised the 'fear', I decided in 2017, to help myself and shove my face in front of the camera and create at least ten self portraits I am happy with. Oh God, what a horrible thought! I think I've made it ten times worse by blogging about it. Never mind, its all in the name of photographic art (cough), and self improvement.

A self portrait doesn't have to be a standard head and shoulders face forward shot (that's a relief), so I will keep those to a minimum. I'd rather go for something a little more wacky, unusual and interesting, at least to me anyway. After all, this is supposed to be for me, right?

Here are a couple of images I've taken already. I am breaking myself in gently, and I am pretty happy with them (gold star for self). I will write another blog on my progress with this when I have taken a few more.

Simon Bratt

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