In the age of social media and self-awareness, don’t we all just want to be liked and validated? But sometimes, when you don’t pose, prettify, and project your most photogenic self, the realest portraits of you are revealed.
A couple of months ago, one of my friends was working on a rather erotic series of photographs for the Bloom Arts Festival and asked me to participate. I agreed and he came over to my house to take the said images.
Of course, being the shamelessly self-aware person that I am, and knowing that the results would be subject to the scrutiny of a big audience, I wanted to make sure I looked good in the photos. I primped and prettified, practiced poses, and made sure I presented myself in (what I thought was) the best light possible, keeping in mind the mood and look he desired to achieve.
The afternoon was spent exploring several set-ups (one involving me being cramped into a tight cubbyhole), some lighting experiments that ranged from Kubrickian to Hitchockian, and propping a dead cricket and fur stoles on my naked body.
A few rolls and disrobes later, he said he was satisfied with the images he’d captured, saying I looked the part and the shots were in line with the theme he was going for. It always brings me pleasure to help out friends with their artistic endeavors and (hopefully) deliver what they had envisioned.
We were just chilling and hanging out when he wanted to take some instant shots of me on his Fuji Instax camera. Since I was off “model mode,” I wasn’t really ready for more photos and was trying to turn on my inner Tyra Banks when he just clicked the shutter and I was blinded by the flash. The camera spit out this blank white sheet that developed right before our eyes and slowly, teasingly revealed the candid shot of me not looking like my normal self—according to my perception of me, of course.
“I love it, you look like a simple girl,” he said and I actually took offense in that for a second. Because the image I have of me is not of “a simple girl” (and most people would probably agree that ‘simple’ is the exact opposite of what I am), I kind of resented that instant photo—and that moment.
But when I look back on it—especially when I see the photo above of my artiste friend pouring over the instant shot—I realize that when you don’t orchestrate, perpetrate to, or hesitate on that “picture perfect” moment, you actually record the most genuine slices of life. As one of the Ten Golden Rules say, don't think, just shoot. And when you don’t think and just shoot, you’ll find that meaningful moments or poignant personalities are exactly what they are: honest, straightforward, and simple.
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