How To Find What You Came Here For

Welcome to the worlds that populate my brain!
The short stories you find here are the product
of a vastly overactive imagination
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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Picture Perfect

I love to take pictures, but I will go to great lengths to avoid having my picture taken.

Despite my strong desire to avoid being photographed, it's nearly impossible to avoid completely.  Proof of that is a picture a friend took when I was in college. 

My friends surprised me with a birthday party, and someone snapped a picture as I walked through the door.  I wasn't prepared for a camera; I didn't realize the picture was being taken until the flash went off.  It was a completely candid shot, and it revealed more of me than I'm comfortable with even now, more than twenty years later.

There I am, standing in front of a door that has just shut behind me.

One hand is up, caught in the act of pulling my hair forward to my face.  I recognize it as a defensive maneuver; it bothers me that I felt the need for it in a room full of my friends.

I'm wearing baggy pants and an even baggier sweatshirt.  I wasn't skinny--I carried 135 pounds on a solid 5' 2" frame--but I remember feeling obscenely fat.  I'd kill to be that weight now.

My head is down, avoiding eye contact.  Again, a defensive move that makes me uncomfortable now.  An awkward smile is half-formed…I look ready to run.

I can be loud, funny, fearless.  I can be.  But it's just a well-crafted disguise, not who I am.  I put it on like other women put on makeup.

I am that awkward person in the picture, painfully shy because I've been surprised and haven't had time to put on the mask that makes me the person I'm supposed to be. 

This is why I hate having my picture taken--cameras can't be trusted to see the disguise.

This post is in response to a prompt from Write On Edge to write about a photograph of yourself in 300 words or less.  When you are captured in candid moments, what does the camera show that you'd rather it didn't?

Thanks for stopping by, and please tell me what you think in the comments! 


  1. I SO know this person... i have always disliked being photographed... always... but as i have grown up, i have become freer of my inhibitions and sometimes, i just don't even remember that i didn't like being photographed. Good post.

  2. OH, this is brilliant. I can relate. Oh, can I relate.

    Sometimes, being confident is so exhausting. And yet, I look at my defensive pictures, especially from my youth and I want to scream, "Why can't you see how lovely you are???"

  3. Pictures are a funny thing--sometimes they capture the soul, sometimes they make us see ourselves as much less attractive than we feel!

  4. Oh I can so relate to how you feel! In fact you capture the feelings in words far better than I ever could have. :)

  5. This is so good. You write about that vulnerability to a tee. But I think photographs can be deceptive too, they can distort the truth as much as they capture it. I've never been crazy about photos of myself either but I try to make a point of being photographed occasionally, just to have for my kids, not necessarily for me. I'll always be harder on myself than others.

  6. I get this, and know it well. I have a lot of defenses, too, and I am so very uncomfortable when light is shed upon them.

    I love how much you opened up here- it's lovely to "see" you.

  7. Thank you for being so honest about it here; I think that's the reason so many of us are uncomfortable with photos. Cameras can reveal more than we're ready to show.

  8. Wow. This is incredibly powerful. I love the line "I can be loud, funny, fearless. I can be. But it's just a well-crafted disguise, not who I am. I put it on like other women put on makeup."

    Many of us feel that way, and it gets better with age. But not so many are willing to acknowledge what it is that makes picture taking so uncomfortable for so many women. And it's not just cameras. Sometimes we wear masks for daily life, too, and it's painful when they slip.

    Beautifully written.

  9. Hi everyone! Thank you so much for your comments--I couldn't get to a computer today so they got ahead of me!

  10. I definitely relate to what's written here. Thanks for sharing such a powerful post!

  11. This is the first time I have ever seen a photo so clearly amidst 300 words. Powerful post. And your insight into yourself will only be helpful if you use it as a tool to grow. And to really see who you are. You shed your disguise in this post. A great start.

    A great post.