Self Portrait

I’ve started a new project. It’s inspired by an everlasting bad combination of self-conscious hang-ups and an aspiring creative career. I’m taking pictures of myself. Daily. I’m taking tons and tons of pictures and I’m studying my own face. I’m going to figure out why it does what it does and how to make it do what I want it to do. I’m going to learn how to be so comfortable in front of a camera that I hardly know if it’s there. I’m not waiting for someone else to do it, either, I’m getting started now.

It doesn’t really matter what happens as a result. Maybe I’ll compile a digital folder with a gazillion pictures of myself, so what? Maybe I’ll learn how to control my eyebrow, that’d be nice. Maybe, this won’t help at all. Then again, maybe I’ll begin to conquer some of the biggest roadblocks I’ve faced in life, the ones I’ve generated. All those ideas and thoughts I have that do nothing to aid me will be questioned and eventually undermined.

It’s a start on that path, anyway. You know how it started? It started because of this iPhone. I got the iPhone and I pushed a button accidentally and the lens pointed at me instead of away from me and the sight of my own face scared me so badly I almost dropped the phone. I kept trying to hit different buttons to figure out what I’d done wrong and undo the torture. It was like the phone ringing in church, it was embarrassing. I knew my reaction was over-the-top but it was that intense. Seeing myself on the big screen was downright scary.

Then I had to go on camera yesterday. Actually, there were three cameras. There were also monitors that I could see myself on during the filming. God I hated how I looked so much I couldn’t stand it. When I left the studio my self-image was at level ten awful. It’s like I hit bottom. That’s it, I thought. It’s time to face this demon once and for all. So I pulled out the iPhone and I pressed the reverse button and snapped my photo. That was enough demon fighting and I put it away. Later I took out the phone and looked at the picture. I studied it. I tried to figure out what might make it better and then I snapped another one. I kept taking photos. I was trying to unlock some mystery. Maybe it was a certain side of my face I didn’t like. Maybe it was a look in my eye. Whatever it was I wanted to understand it. I wanted to overcome it. The feeling grew. It grew enough until it became a solid idea. I’d work on self-portraits.

I’ve decided that whatever happens next, I’m going to be prepared for it. I don’t ever want to feel surprised by a camera or a mirror or a shot again. I want to take my photo so much that I know what the shot is going to look like before I even see it. It’s like guitar. Some people play guitar enough that they know what something is going to sound like before they touch the strings. Not me, I’m just a beginner. I have to pluck and pull and hammer and slide my way around testing all the possibilities, one at a time. One day though, one day, I’ll know the sounds of my guitar. It might take awhile but I’ll learn. And that’s how it’s got to be with the camera, too.

Self Portrait for tonight:

It’s not like I’m the only one with this problem. I don’t know anyone who’s particularly fond of cameras or even the way they look. Nonetheless, I’m sure I’d be accused of navel-gazing if I posted this project on Facebook. Too bad. I better do some navel-gazing because just as I suspected as a two year-old the whole world does revolve around me. At least, my whole world revolves around me and if I’m not happy it seems to effect the other planets in my solar system. Why this healthy body my so-fortunate soul rests within should bring so much shame and self pity is incomprehensible to me and oh so exhausting I’ve just had enough. Navel advance! It’s time to unveil this beast and put it to rest.

Shutters ready.

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