“Truth of that Moment”

Mandy and Nancy at the Central House in Salem
Mandy and Nancy at the Central House in Salem

“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?

15 thoughts on ““Truth of that Moment”

  1. Interesting thoughts. I don’t like having my picture taken because I don’t like seeing what I look like. But I know that the people who love me like to see pictures of me. Whose truth is “truer”?

    I do like taking pictures, that way I can stay out of them!

  2. Excellent thoughts Maria. I am not a photographic person at all, but you are right that the camera catches a moment. And sometimes it is the moment itself that makes the photo a good one. One of my favorite pictures of you is laughing behind Rocky. You are not in focus, but your joy is so evident it just makes me smile when I see it. Sometimes I go back and look at a photo I hated, and find that it has grown on me ~ that maybe it’s ok. Perhaps because of the memory of that moment in time. Anyway, I really enjoyed this blog post!

  3. What a great question! What if? It’s thought provoking for sure. It’s just this insidious low self-esteem and self consciousness that’s so hard to shake. :~0

  4. We are always tough on ourselves. Having met you in person, I can attest to the fact that you are beautiful, and I remember you had a radiance that was awesome..true story.

  5. It’s strange to hear or read someone else saying exactly how I feel about me when I see me in a photo. I want to scream and tear it up or hit DELETE as fast as possible. During Christmas, it seemed like everyone had their camera or phone out taking pictures or videos. And to me it looked like most of them were pointed right at ME. But the breaking point for me was when I looked on my FB and saw a video of Christmas morning and ME handing out gifts. All I saw was ME when there were so many other people in the video. I thought I looked huge and ugly and I got so mad at my step dad for putting that on FB for all the world to see. Of course it was the biggest most horrible mess ever. He did take it off and deleted it and all other pictures of me as well. It all boiled down to me thinking exactly what you were thinking. It really upset my mother. She thought it was her fault because I thought I was ugly and I was her daughter. So I have been a little better about not freaking out every time a camera or phone is pointed at me. I’m so glad to read this this morning. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with me. I say me because I feel like what you are going through is what I am going through too. And I hope we both come out on the other side with a better healthier self-image of ourselves. Because I know what you put into your work is true.

  6. Maria, I have a picture of us in a small frame that is over 20 years old. Our eyes are closed our mouths are open, we are wearing ridiculous hats and laughing with our arms around each other. It is my favorite picture of us. When I look at it, It brings me to that moment and I can see what we saw as we stood there in St. Marks square.

    1. Fran, I think that’s the only picture I remember of us from our trip to Europe. And we do look really silly and it is a really good picture, like you said it goes right to the moment. Thanks for reminding me.

  7. Isn’t part of the “shock” of seeing ourselves in pictures related to the
    reverse image thing? Like when we look in a mirror. What we see is not what other people see. So if our smile is lopsided on one side, or our hair parted a certain way, what we see in the mirror is the opposite of what we will see in a photograph of ourselves.

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