lessons from pictures

I spent a few hours last night looking for 2 pictures in particular but finding a ton more that I had forgotten about. I have a lot of pictures, as do most people, but I learned early on from being around a photographer hobbyist grandfather that I am undeniably not photogenic. My sister has this signature pose, she throws her head back and smiles big, wide, goofy, unabashedly for the camera. Me, I tense up, get awkward, scrunch my face into an unnatural smile and squint my eyes and truly convey all the awkwardness I feel at being in front of the camera. To make up for this I asked my grandfather to teach me photography during a summer in high school. He loaned me a Leica from his collection and I set out shooting pics of my sister in the backyard jumping through sprinklers and swinging on a hammock and wrote out little exercises that my grandfather prepared for me. I have loved taking pictures ever since.  And while I don’t yet have a DSLR, (hint hint, wink wink, nudge anyone sitting next to me off their seat), I still like having a camera around to get shots of people as they do their thing.  So, in short, I have a lot of pics because I was always the one with a camera.

I noticed that a lot of the pictures I dug through last night were of times I never thought to be looking back on (not something people tend to think of when taking pictures.) And what struck me, sort of in a sad way, was that I smiled, a hellaofalot more than I smile now. Also, I looked good. And I wouldn’t say that but for the fact that I have never liked my body. And in some of the pictures I found, I remember the day exactly in terms of how I felt about myself and I felt pretty low. I would put on outfits thinking I was fat or that my face was chubby or that my hair would never ever be considered nice hair. And looking back I am envious for who I once was because I still have that same uncomfortable in my body feeling that I did back then except a little more skin and/or stretch marks here and there. 

And I wonder if 5 years from now I’ll have the same moment.  Looking back on pics of random hikes and just hanging around the apartment feeling the same way.  And if 5 years from now I’ll feel the same way about how I look in pictures and how I look in the mirror before I walk out the door.  I hope not, but I know that tomorrow, there will be no final stops in front of the mirror before I walk out.  I will grab my stuff and go.  And I will try and spend less time fretting over the bangs blowing away or the pimple on my chin and I’ll just smile next time someone else is trying to take my picture.  Worrying about what angle I’m standing at so that my hips don’t look so wide in a picture, it’s taking time away from my day.  And as my days grow seemingly longer with more activity that doesn’t seem to be helping anyone in particular, one glance in the mirror gone will give me some time back in my day.

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1 Comment

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One response to “lessons from pictures

  1. I’ve done the same thing, going back to old pictures and thinking how great I looked in them. Then I remember that I felt ugly/bloated/hair-challenged/pimply that day, and I see none of that in the pictures. It taught me to love who I am, not just in retrospect, but in the moment. Great life lesson that was.

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