I’m taking part in an Instagram challenge this month – #marchmeetthemaker. The first prompt is you. So 156 photographs later (truly, I’m not kidding) and this is the best that I can do. Of course I could have used an existing picture, but I hate them all! I am at my least comfortable behind the camera. Something odd happens to my face and, self consciousness makes it do odd things. The odd thing is that I’m not unhappy with my appearance in general. When I look in the mirror I’m happy enough with what I see. When I look at pictures of myself, for the most part, I do not recognise the person in them. It isn’t the same face that looks back from the mirror but rather an awkward and uncomfortable version of me.
And then there is the online me. From a business point of view I almost certainly need to be more present. I am a small business selling online, I very much am my brand and I think customers probably need to connect with the person behind the name. After all the joy of buying from a small business is that human connection and I know I love seeing images of makers pop up in my Instagram feed. If I don’t appear in any of my Social Media feeds or website then perhaps people will feel unsure about purchasing. It might make me seem detached and less personal and I don’t want that at all.
I think this portrait discomfort has crept upon me. When I look back on childhood photos and even my wedding day, I can see the real me looking out. It’s not because I’ve aged but just become more self-conscious in front of the lens. Perhaps a combination of lack of practice and a certain vulnerability too.
I took Xanthe Berkeley’s Make Films Course last year and she emphasises the importance of appearing in your own films. I think she’s right and actually I’ve found that I don’t mind seeing myself on film. When my face and body are moving they look more like me. Perhaps the answer is more film then, or maybe those Harry Potter style moving portraits! Yes, I think that might be the solution.