January 30, 2007

Facing myself

Usually on the days I work at home, I take a break by hiking in the woods behind my house or by dancing in my own kitchen to some Middle Eastern music. The knee injury has prevented me from that sort of physical exercise. I can't hike, or snowboard, or belly dance, until the ligament heals.

But I do have a digital camera. A few days ago, as a creative outlet, I decided to start playing with the camera. Stuck inside with a limited range of motion, I looked around the house for something to photograph, and realized suddenly that I was it. My own face was far more interesting than the unwashed dishes on the kitchen counter or the living room filled with musical instruments and dirty ski socks.

Since I am the person in my family who usually takes the photographs, I don't have many photographs of myself. Certainly not any close-ups. When I see myself in a photograph, I am usually a tiny head surrounded by kids, siblings, nieces and nephews.

My camera is a point-and-shoot camera with a broken flash. So I've been limited to taking photos in my daughter's bedroom, where there is enough natural light for the kind of camera I have. And the one blank wall in her room where the light falls is the wall she painted an obnoxious bright pink, so I have to switch the photos to black-and-white before I can even stand to look at them.

I don't plan to do anything with the photographs. They aren't going on my blog, since they show my face. I don't intend to show them to anyone. Some I have already deleted. And yet, it's been a valuable experiment.

Somehow, it is a jolting change of perspective to look at a photograph of my face and see that person from the outside. I look at that face, and I am able to name the feelings reflected in those eyes. I look at that face, and wonder what it would be like to be friends with that person. I look at that face, and wonder who she is. I look at that face, and wonder what her future holds.

16 comments:

Heidi the Hick said...

That's beautiful!

I used to do a lot of self portraits of myself. the last one I did, I was pregnant with my second child. Any guesses why I don't draw myself anymore???

YourFireAnt said...

What's it like to be friends with that person?

Hmmm. Like chasing a wolverine into the dusk.

FA

Kyla said...

I can't answer most of your questions about her...but I can tell you she has a magnificient ability to weave words into something magical. :)

Yankee, Transferred said...

Lovely post. Are you ever a jerk?

Mom2BJM said...

No matter what my day is like, I can always check in here and find something insightful and uplifting to read.

jo(e), you are awesome.

jo(e) said...

Heidi the Hick: I'm guessing it has something to do with your obsession about Johnny Depp. You end up sketching him instead.

FA: Exactly.

Kyla and mom2bjm: Thanks.

Yankee Transferred: Oh, just ask my kids. They've got stories they could tell you.

Marie said...

I love where the pictures took you.

Kathryn said...

Jo(e). Snap! In a strange kind of way...I'll blog what I mean in a bit.
Oh, I AM looking forward to March :-)

Mona Buonanotte said...

The last photo I took of myself was of my booty. (Clothed, of course.) Just to see how big it really is. The kids accidentally saw the photo and now they can't stop talking about it.

Note to self...DELETE incriminating photos from digital camera....

listmaker said...

I was doing the same thing last night, trying to learn how to use my camera by photographing myself. I couldn't hit the delete button fast enough.

Sara said...

I haven't learned to take self portraits without making a signature grimace. Well, not a grimace excatly, I might be smiling, but a certain wooden-ness maybe. It is particularly pronouced if you are holding the camera in your hands and shooting your own head and shoulders, not so bad if you use a tripod. I have noticed the phenomena in other people's self portraits, too.

I wonder if the YOU in those pictures is the same YOU that would appear if someone else took the shots? The danger of testing the theory is then you have to share the photos.

Chip said...

no belly dancing? Couldn't you prop yourself up against a chair and do it? Or are there some mysterious links between stomach and knee?

As for photos, what's amazing to me is how I always look so young in all the old photos I have, even the ones from just a few years ago...

jo(e) said...

The knees are pretty important to belly dancing. You have to scissor the knees to shimmy, for instance. Most hip moves involve the knees.

My knee is starting to feel better, though, so I am hoping to get back to normal activities soon.

kate5kiwis said...

how about posting just an eyebrow or nostril shot....

BeachMama said...

My youngest Sister is queen of self portraits, I could put together a whole photo album of photos she has taken of herself with my camera alone.

I don't have as many, but I have been trying to take some more as I am always the one taking the picture. Little J likes to take pictures of me, but since he is only 3 they are pretty close shots and not the most flattering.

Rana said...

Hee. That's one of the first things I did when I got my digital. If it's goofy or ugly, delete!

One thing that I found was very odd was looking at my face in a photo as opposed to a mirror. Before then I'd somehow never noticed that my face very gently curves to one side, rather than being straight up-and-down symmetrical. It did much for explaining why I like sleeping on one side more than the other!