Friday, April 11, 2008


I am exhausted.

But I did it. Survived my photo shoot. The photographer was marvelous. I'm anxious to see the pictures.

For most of my life, I have hated having my picture taken. There are very few photos of me extant. But I thought my massage website, when it materializes, needed to have photos. So I bit the bullet, and started roaming the web, looking at Portland photographers' sites. I knew what I was looking for. Someone who could do natural light interiors. Someone who could do both portraits and photos of people at work. Someone who photographed what they saw, instead of what they wanted to see -- i.e. whose pictures of different people looked different. I hate the stock soft-porn spa massage photos, pretty girls in soft focus stroking other pretty girls in soft focus. I imagine they work, after their fashion, but it's not what I wanted to convey, and I don't imagine clients brought in by such pictures would be happy with what they got.

I wanted real hands on a real body. And I hoped for some sense of the connection I feel, when I'm listening to someone's body with my hands. A dear friend, and one of my first paying clients, agreed to model, bless her! -- so the connection was there. I hope the pictures turn out!

"Tuck your head, just little there," said Joni, when she was doing the head shots. "Makes you look approachable. No, not that much. That's like 'hey, babe.' Not what we want."

"Definitely not," I said, and we all laughed.

She paused. "You hate this, don't you?" she said, sympathetic, but amused.

"I've always hated having my picture taken," I said. "That's why I wanted you. I saw your photos and I thought, I could deal with that. I could have my picture taken by her."

It's not quite true to say I've always hated having my picture taken. It would have been true a couple years ago. But I know photographers, now, by way of the web. In New York, at the blogswarm last year, I actually liked having my picture taken, for the first time in my life. I trusted the photographers -- people I've known online, whose photos I've loved for a long time. I knew how they looked at things and at people. I was willing to have them look at me and show other people what they saw.

It's not really about wanting to look pretty, or not much. (Richard Burton, when he was having his portrait painted, implored the artist, "Don't make me look ugly, there's a good fellow.") Of course that plays. But it's much more than that. It's a psychological horror of being represented by people who don't understand me, a feeling that by the malign power of the camera I could be turned into what I'm misunderstood to be. "Horror" is really not too strong a word. The people who photographed me in New York have no idea the level of love and trust my permitting them to photograph me, even welcoming it, signified. If they saw ugliness or awkwardness, that was okay. It would be my ugliness and awkwardness, and I'm perfectly willing for the world to see that.

So. I was nervous. But I lived through it. And now I am very tired.

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