I hate having my picture taken.
A lot of people say this, but few have the ability to use the excuse I have. Back in 6th, maybe 7th grade, a girl in my class tried to take my picture with her cell phone. She had an LG flip phone, it kind of looked like a clamshell. The camera was the standard 300/200 VGA resolution. Not even a megapixel. She pointed the phone at me, snapped the picture, and was greeted with a black screen with classic 8-bit lettering:
FATAL ERROR: PLEASE SHUT DOWN
She promptly showed this to everyone who would look, who all got a good guffaw, as I was easy to pick on in these days. She then tried to restart the phone, but it wouldn’t turn off. She had to pull the battery to get it to turn off. Then, after replacing the battery, much to my horror, it wouldn’t turn on. She literally had to get her parents to get her a new phone.
The reason she gave her parents: I took a picture of JR, and his face broke my phone.
This is a true story. The names, aside from my own, have been removed to protect the guilty. Because I’m not the kind of guy to still feel embarrassment over these things, or hold a grudge about them, Charity…
So I hate having my picture taken. I’m the guy that flashes his hand up, like a celebrity blocking the paparazzi. The guy that dives behind the menu at a restaraunt. Turns swiftly so you only see the back of my head. Makes a silly face to get the photographer to laugh and lower the camera, then I make a quick escape. If I have my camera handy, the camera becomes my face. There’s a picture of me somewhere where my face is completely obscured by my big Nikon F4. It looks like my head is a Nikon F4. Maybe I should share that picture. Call it art…
I hate the way I look in photos. I hate my smile. Hate my teeth. Hate how my eyes either look squinty or droopy. I have a scar on my right eyebrow that I got when I was 5 from the corner of a solid oak drawer falling and very nearly killing me. I hate that. I hate my nose, I hate how my hair is (and always has been) thin, and how my hairline seems to be racing towards the back. I don’t think I’ll look good like Agassi. Did I mention it sticks up in the back, naturally, like Alfalfa’s from the Little Rascals. But, naturally, mind you.
I hate how my skin complexion is a cross between Edward Cullen and a kid with chickenpox, still, at twenty five going on twenty six. I hate how, at twenty five almost twenty FREAKIN’ six years old, I STILL can’t grow a beard or mustache, which all the ladies seem to be so infatuated by these days.
Suffice it to say, I hate my face. Favorite thing I tell myself in the morning: Is your face hurting, because it’s killing me!
This is problematic however, because my Christian beliefs tell me that God created me as I am, and that to His eye, there’s nothing wrong with me. I’m 100% as designed. There’s proof, too:
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.” Psalm 139:13-15, English Standard Version
“Are not five sparrows bought for two farthings, and yet not one of them is forgotten before God? Yea, and all the hairs of your head are numbered: fear not therefore: ye are more of value than many sparrows.” Luke 12:6-7, 1599 Geneva Translation
“Knowing that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation, received by the traditions of the fathers,But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb undefiled, and without spot.” 1 Peter 1:18-19, 1599 Geneva Translation
This puts me in a fine fix. I’m worth something to the Savior of my soul, and to the Creator of the universe. I’m more valuable to Him than the stars in the sky or the birds in the air. Think about that for a second. I, and you, mean more than the stars in the sky, one of the most beautiful displays that even exists. We can’t even begin to count the stars, let alone the galaxies. If we could add them all up, we’d still be worth more.
So… The problem obviously lies with me. What can I do to fix this?
Oddly, while pondering this conundrum, I stumbled onto a website that gives challenges to photographers to help inspire creativity. Challenge number one: The self portrait.
I looked over to the shelves I have my camera gear sitting on, and there, waiting, was a roll of Kodak Tri-X, my newest camera, a Nikon F4e, and my Nikon remote shutter release. A heavy duty tripod sat under my bed. Two small desk lamps were available to provide (as it turned out, too much) lighting.
Now, this was originally going to be called “36 frames of Me,” but I… Messed up a few exposures on my roll, or had some shots that just… No. Just no.
So these are the photos of my that turned out well, and some I even like.
No, they’re not perfect photos, or even works of art. Some are good, but others are off technically. But in the end, the challenge for me wasn’t making a good self portrait. It was getting in FRONT of the lens and learning to accept me for who I am, physically.
And getting to that point is a powerful thing.
(All photos: Nikon F4e, Nikon 50mm 1.8f, Kodak Tri-X 400, Tiffen yellow #2)