If I could, I'd show you the picture of myself I carry in my head and that immediately makes itself visible when I think about having my picture taken.
In it, I'm about ten. We were having a long summer vacation in Quebec, and on that day, we were visiting the Montmorency Falls.
The picture if of me alone, with the falls as my backdrop. I look tired. I look cranky. I'm squinting (I'm super-photophobic) into the sun. I'm standing in such a way as to say, "Hurry up, already." I'm clearly not having a good time.
That's me--the girl who hates to have her picture taken. And I know that I have to. They've told me to stand there while they snap. It's not ok to refuse. That's not going to make them happy, and they must be happy, even if it means I'm miserable.
Fast forward 37-ish years, and I'm still that girl. I know this because in social settings I avoid cameras like the plague. I can, now, you know. I'm the Queen of My Own Life. I get to say no. And my first inclination, always, when a camera is pointing in my direction, is to protest loudly, and put my hand up as if the Queen is blocking the paparazzi.
What that's garnered me is a LOT of really awful pictures of myself. Pictures, I imagine, that might have been quite nice if only I'd been someone other than that girl.
So this past weekend, I took a deep breath, and had a photo shoot with the amazing Alina Kogan--a young, talented photographer here in Baltimore. The plan was to get some creative head shots that I could use in my business. We decided to shoot outside, in the lovely, lovely garden behind my friend Laura's house.
But the day was grey, and it rained on and off. And then although the rain stopped and the sun attempted to peek out from behind the clouds, the glare outside was so bad that I couldn't look at the camera without squinting and blinking.
Inside we went, where I couldn't deal with the camera's flash without blinking. I wasn't having a good time. It was obvious Alina felt that--and it was causing creative challenges for her. I could see myself in my head... ten, the falls behind me, cranky. I'm sure that's what Alina was seeing, too--at least metaphorically.
And then the sun came out. Such a mechaya it was. And we went back outside--but under a covered porch where there thankfully was no sun and no glare to get in my way, and absolutely no need for Alina's flash.
And there, for what might be the first time ever, I started to have a good time with a camera pointed directly at me. No threats for non-compliance. No one making me do it. Alina clearly felt the shift, and came more alive creatively, and a short time later, we were finished.
I don't know how to stop being that girl in every day situations. Maybe I never will. But on Sunday, for a brief time, I saw myself very differently in my head.
And Alina captured it.