body image

On photos…

It’s been a week for thinking about photos. Christine kicked it off with her post about seeing her strength and power reflected in recent photos she’d had taken. See Through A Different Lens: Seeing My Power Now. It’s a great post and I love Christine’s expressions in these powerful photos.

And then two things in my newsfeed got me thinking about photos and the images we share of ourselves online.

I liked Bodyposipanda sharing their outtakes. That was the first thing.

And then second, I read feminist philosopher Kate Manne’s essay on being captured by photos and how uncomfortable the whole process makes her feel.

Here’s an excerpt,

“I had imagined myself breezing into the photo shoot (done outside for COVID safety reasons) and saying airily to the photographer, “Just make me look like myself.” In reality, I was shy and sheepish, and inquired as to whether he could photoshop out the chickenpox scar that haunts my left eyebrow.

The photographer himself was professional and courteous and made not one comment on my appearance—a baseline level of decency, to be sure, but one which I was grateful to him for meeting. The college News & Media Relations Manager I work with here was delightful and supportive as per usual.

And yet I was never comfortable. I was never at ease. It took 1.5 hours and afterward, I was exhausted. I came home and had Szechuan food delivered, and eschewed writing for the evening in favor of some good, bad television. It was just like in the old days, when I still lived in the world of Events, not of Zooms, which I unlike many others find much less sapping. Not having to be a body in public has saved me so much time and energy and willpower and has thus given me, ironically, the capacity and critical distance to write about it in a sustained way for the first time in my life. Strangely, it feels good to write about something that feels so terrible.”

All of this made me reflect on my recent photoshoot with a U of G School of Fine and Music alum, Trina Koster. Sarah and I needed new work headshots so we went together and had fun with that.

The top one is the one I’m using now. Bottom left was a warm up photo to get me to relax. And bottom right was a more staged theatrical one we did once we were having fun with the whole thing.

And then a friend on Facebook–thanks Ray!–had more fun with Game of Thrones mood photo, bottom right, by photoshopping a sword for me. Others suggested I also needed a regal white ruffle!

Love the sword!

My advice to women in professional roles where people routinely ask you for photos is to take control of the process. Find a photographer you like and trust. Tracy, Nat, and I all recommend Ruth of Ruthless Images. I had a very good experience with Trina here in Guelph too. Relax and fine someone who’ll make it fun for you.

A friend on Facebook said that he thought his attitude to professional headshot photoshoots is different because of his experience with selfies. In an age where we take our own photos a lot and we’re used to seeing our image online, he said he now finds having his photo taken fun.

How about you? What’s your experience of being photographed?