I’ve always been camera shy. I’m not particularly confrontational, so coming face-to-face with me, myself, and I is usually doomed to end badly. As soon as the shutter clicks, my inner voice is screaming, “Oh no, that’s awful. Delete it before anyone sees it!”
Don’t get me wrong, my ego is big enough to accommodate the prospect of a likeable likeness, at some point down the road. A likeness that conforms to the way I feel on a good day. A portrayal of myself that I carry around, as most of us do, already framed and mounted in the perfect spot, on a wall papered with imagination.
The way we see ourselves can, perhaps, be equated with the way we hear ourselves. Anyone who’s had free rein with a tape recorder knows, the familiar voice that we use without thinking can suddenly turn on us and send us into a state of disbelief and non-acceptance. That with which we communicate automatically, express ourselves confidently and without hesitation. The voice that is such a large part of us, can sound alien and detached. Unrepresentative of ourselves in tones that have fled the resonating chambers, only to come back at us naked but for discreet digital disguise or a loosely woven analogue array.
But this post was meant to be about photos. Photos of me, a man who’s more selfie conscious than it’s healthy to be, given his love affair with social media. I mean, everyone’s expected to show up, right? Strike a pose, and keep striking until you get a crick in your neck. No pain, no gain, in search of the perfect profile pic. But perhaps it’s all in the language. Because avatar says something quite different to me. I find the idea of producing an icon, an embodiment, a manifestation, far more appealing.
In the past, I’ve used photos of my younger self. I’ve also used photos of my older self, but only after they’ve been through the magic mincer, and steeped in layers of clever effects.
A friend who often reminds me I should smile more often in front of the lens, remarked on a photo of me and Mags, recently taken by No.1 twin granddaughter. She said she refers to such photos, affectionately, as the “kids’ angle”. We’re rather taken with it. Even if it has been suggested – with some justification – that we are reminiscent of Grant Wood’s ‘American Gothic’. What do you think?