“Sit down you two” I yelled from across the room, “I’m taking your picture”. For some reason, as soon as I got up to take a photo of Mandy and Nancy at our Tuesday Morning Meeting, they both got up. They were good enough to sit down again, laughing at me the whole time. Then Mandy took a picture of me and Nancy. “Look at this” she said, “this is a great picture”. I looked and told Mandy she had to erase it. “I look so ugly” is what I said. Nancy wasn’t happy with it either. “You’re both laughing” Mandy said, “it ‘s a wonderful picture”. “If that’s what I look like Mandy, I don’t know how anyone can stand to look at me” I told her. Nancy puffed up her cheeks and pulled her lip back pushing her top teeth out like a rabbit. “Look at me she said, ” my face is fat and scrunched up, I look like a chipmunk.”
Now I know Nancy didn’t look like a chipmunk, she looked nothing like the face she made, she looked really happy. So what’s with the photo thing? How could someone else look at a photo of me and say I look good and when I look at the same picture I wonder why I didn’t break the camera? And how can I insist that I’m right and they’re wrong.
When Jon started taking lots of photos and I was in many of them, I began looking at them and saying to myself “Oh, so that’s what I look like”. This way I was able to see me more objectively and it took the judgement away. But if there was, what I thought was a really bad picture of me, I’d ask him not to put it up.
Photographer, Pam White wrote on her blog today ” The photo shows that truth of the moment. Not the “truth”, just the moment”. In a photo, we’re only seeing a tiny piece of the whole. Someone else looks at me and sees me in the context of us being together at that time and everything they know and feel about me. And when I look at that photo I do the same. I see Nancy different than she see’s herself. Mandy sees me different than I see myself, etc. I think it’s true we look better in some pictures than others, but how to judge and who’s to judge.
So what if I looked at the photo of me and Nancy laughing and could see what Mandy sees? What if I could trust her when she tells me it’s a good picture? What if I were just able to see me and Nancy laughing and having a good time?