Don’t believe the photographs


How it felt to be blocked: Part 2

Last week, I shared my experience of being blocked online.  If you missed Part 1 of the story, you can read it here.

This week, I’d like to talk about photographs.  I’m taking a line from my blocker’s email and using it as a springboard for Part 2 of this story:

“I’m getting annoyed by the perfect shots (often taken by someone else) in the name of a sell.”

If I’m not mistaken, photographs of oneself are usually taken by someone else.  Excuse the sarcasm.  There is the obvious exception of photos taken with selfie sticks or monkey arm equivalents.  Is my blocker implying it would be better to post selfies?  Or, are they saying it would be better to never post photos of yourself at all?  I agree that after having viewed countless profiles filled exclusively of shots of the person’s face/ass/chest/ strategically poised physique in front of a gym mirror, there is room for considerable restraint.  Mine is not one of those feeds.  I can count on two hands how many selfies I’ve posted in my lifetime.  Normally, those shots are to show off the damn fine haircut magic my hairstylist, Anita, performed on me.  (‘Cause we all know my hair ain’t never gonna look that good again.)  I’ll plead not guilty then on the selfie charge.

Now, let’s chat about those other photos.

The shots of myself from that seem perfect are like that because they were taken by professional photographers

Gasp!  The yoga session shots that you can see throughout this website were taken by the talented Lyle Krannichfeld.  They were shot during real, albeit admittedly produced, yoga classes that I taught during one of my Maui yoga retreats.  Lyle found me, ironically, on Facebook and asked if I needed a photographer.  He was starting his business on the island, a dream he decided to pursue after giving up a soulless job on mainland USA.  At the time I needed photos for my then soon-to-be-launched website.  It was perfect timing.  I loved his story and jumped on the chance to work with him.  I feel very fortunate to have had that experience because I probably couldn’t afford him today!

Those photos were used to advertise my yoga workshop and retreats online.  Could I have marketed my yoga business without them?  Probably not and if I could have, I honestly didn’t know how.  Owning and operating your own business is incredibly hard at the best of times.

Remember Man in the Arena

“It is not the critic who counts, not the one who points out how the strong man stumbled or how the doer of deeds might have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred with sweat and dust and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, if he wins, knows the triumph of high achievement; and who, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” – Teddy Roosevelt.

Thank you, Mr. Roosevelt, and thank you, Brené Brown, for popularizing his quote.

I’ve never been very good at marketing and self-promotion, but I was doing the best I could.  To have someone criticize the manner in which you’re doing it when the critic has never tried to do it themselves is bullshit.

As for the photos of a more personal nature, like the one in this post, those were also taken by a professional.  They look that good because the photographer knew what they were doing.  The colour is saturated and the lighting enhanced, sure, and I was sometimes directed to stand in a certain spot, but not often.  All were candidly taken during real moments when I was busy living my life.  Many were taken when I was none the wiser.  The composition looks right because it takes talent and practice to know how to make it look right.  The photos evoke a mood and tell a story better than I ever could in writing.

That’s what an artist does: they make you feel something through their work.

If I let myself, I would believe the stories.  Stories of solitude, of romance, of being alone in nature, of feeling confident in one’s skin, of being the only two people in the world watching a sunset.  I almost did believe them.

The truth is, I never felt worthy of having my picture taken.  I’ve never felt overly beautiful or special or, I dare say, deserving.  To have someone who openly wanted to take my photograph was as surprising as it was unnerving.  For someone who never thought she was pretty enough to be photographed to then have someone think that she was meant the world.  So, I let my picture be taken.

Behind those photographs is the real world with other people to interrupt the moment, to get in the way, and to force us to practice patience until – click! – the photo is snapped.  Behind those photos is an insecurity no one else can see.  Behind those photographs is a girl who never quite thought she was good enough.  Behind those photographs is the story of a relationship that was hard to the point of leaving me broken-hearted.   Those are the real stories behind those photographs.

That’s the thing about online photos: they lie.

That happy couple celebrating their anniversary? He’s cheating on her.  The extremely fit woman?  She’s got an eating disorder.  The business that looks like it’s taking off? They’re one missed billing away from closing the doors.  The photo taken of me by the river one winter?  We were moments away from frostbite.

So, don’t believe my photographs, but love them anyway.

In an Instagram world filled with terrible photography, we should support those who take the time and effort to post photos that are genuinely good.  Better than good; beautiful, exceptional, and thought-provoking.

x KM

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