I enjoy taking photos, and this little plot of internet real-estate is one of my favourite places to share them. I’m easily frustrated with f-stops and depth of field, but I enjoy the hobby. The photos and words on Muse & Meander reflect my life.
I know I’m not a professional photographer, but I’ve never tried to be. For me, the joy is in freezing time and capturing memories. My favourite photos of my friends and family are when they aren’t aware of the camera. It’s the moment I enjoy.
The problem with being the one behind the camera, however, is the lack of decent pictures when I need them. I was okay with that–in my family there was usually a fight when someone wanted a photo, and I’ve learned to equate portraits with squabbling. Like many of us, my inner voice has perfected its ability to be hyper-critical.
I need a few such photos now. I didn’t know who to call, so when my friend Gail volunteered her husband, I asked them to come to our home. I didn’t doubt his skill as much as I doubted his subject. I hoped we could at least come up with something useable.
I was fretting, I’ll confess. I could pretend I didn’t really care, but of course I do. Dumb old pictures. Still, I took my time doing my hair and makeup, and chose clothes I hoped would be flattering. I frowned at the mirror, wondering once again why losing weight isn’t nearly as simple as finding it. I sighed at my reflection, resigning myself to the knowledge it would be over soon.
Maybe it was that resignation that made it so much fun.
I made a conscious decision to enjoy my friends and the time we had together. And sure, there were some photos that didn’t work out so well. The wind would gust at the most inopportune time, and the sky teased us with drops of rain.
When we looked at them afterwards–Ron, Gail, my husband and I–we faced the daunting task of choosing five pictures. Only five. We had over a hundred to choose from but he would edit five. It didn’t take very long to narrow them down but I was surprised at how many were candidates.
We laughed at the wind shots. I saw that one eye is not as open as the other. I saw the unnecessary padding, circles and wrinkles that tell the world I’m in my fifties. I have one strand of hair which always wins, regardless of how much hairspray dares it to stay in place. My sweater was askew, I could have chosen a different necklace … the things that are wrong make for a long list.
But as we scrolled through the pictures, something very important happened. Listening to the reactions of people gathered around the screen–my husband’s rich chuckle, my friend’s sparkly giggle–I was challenged to change the lens I was using to view them. I wanted to see what they saw.
When I opened a window for my healthy critic, I realized I actually like the person I see looking back at me. We’ve faced some challenges, she and I. And we’ve not only survived, we’ve thrived. I respect her.
Why had I wasted so much time wishing I was different, instead of realizing there’s nothing at all wrong with who I am?
This photo shoot–the one I did because I needed to, not because I wanted to–is one of the best things to ever happen to me. Thank you, Ron and Gail, for making it such a great experience.