The weather is getting chilly, and in between working and boxing, I’ve been doing a lot of snuggling with Bobby the dog… and also thinking about hot chocolate (with marshmallows, of course).
I hope you’re keeping warm too.
There’s something very comforting about spending time at home, wrapped in blankets, watching TV and reading.
I’ve also been rediscovering photo albums that have been gathering dust in a cupboard. Looking back over years gone by, being transported back into happy moments in time, and reliving the emotions and experiences all over again.
As I sat on the floor of the snug, surrounded by albums, photo books and random flyaway photos … it struck me.
Something is missing.
Amongst the hundreds of photos of my family, my kid, my husband, and approximately 4532 photos of Bobby the dog, I hardly make an appearance.
To say I’m not keen on having my photo taken is a massive understatement.
In group photos, I shield myself behind a strategic tall person, and sometimes even duck down completely just as the photo is taken. Say cheese! More like … say, hide!
When we’re with friends and someone suggests we take a picture, I’ll pipe up, “I’ll take it! Everyone get into position. Smile!” Turns out, when photo fear takes over, I discover a bossiness I didn’t know I possessed.
Being behind the camera is so much more comfortable than being in front of it.
But the thing is, photography isn’t actually a method of torture.
These pictures chronicle our lives and experiences, record people we love, and help us remember perfect moments in time.
When we hide behind a random tall guy, we avoid being part of those memories. It’s as if we weren’t there at all.
Not wishing to sound dramatic, but it’s like we’re erasing ourselves from history. (Like that scene in Back to the Future).
It turns out we are not alone.
A few years ago, when Australian mum Evie Farrell realised that out of the thousands of photos on her phone she was more or less absent, she launched a campaign to get more mums into photos.
At this point of polished perfection, filters, injectibles, surgery and inch thick makeup, the pressure is on us to be perfect. And if you don’t feel totally fabulous about the way you look, it’s tempting to hide away completely.
I get it!
On holiday this summer, every corner, tree, or bench was turned into an Instagram opportunity. On more than one occasion, I was witness to some very uncomfortable-looking posing, body contortions, and pouting.
Even witnessing this scenario made me feel all kinds of awkward, and shuffle past at speed, eyes averted.
It all seemed so extreme. All that effort and discomfort, just for a photo.
There has to be a happy medium. Somewhere between pouting and hiding.
Photos are meant to capture memories, in all their messy glory. The unruliness of life.
Because, when I’m 90 I shall definitely spend my days in my rocking chair flicking through old photo albums.. (or maybe some new-fangled piece of virtual reality tech… gosh I do hope we still have rocking chairs in the future!)
And in those photos, I will definitely want to see my friends and family and all the people I loved.
But, I also know I will want to see myself. I’ll want to see my crazy hair, flushed cheeks, and big smile. I’ll want to see my body doing things I can’t do anymore. I’ll want to see myself experiencing things, feeling things, having fun, and living a big life.
So, whether you’re taking a selfie when you’re out and about, or someone else is doing the business it doesn’t matter. Filters or no filters. It doesn’t matter.
The important thing is to put yourself in the picture. To be visible. Because you matter.
You’ll look back on this moment when you’re old, slightly bonkers, and really rather wrinkly, and remember how fantastic you are.