I openly admit how much I love getting my photo taken. I know I’m not a model. I don’t have patience nor the imagination to pull off what models need to pull out to be able to project the way they do in magazines and commercials. I’m too self-conscious. But I love seeing photos of myself the next day, after a party, and seeing them on Instagram or Facebook. I love it when I am caught candidly, laughing, and sometimes there are shots where I look good. Sometimes, there are those when I’m staring straight at the camera and I look composed, poised, smiling believably and not having any tension at all in my mouth or in my face.
I used to be horribly shy in front of the camera. My Dad used to take photos of my siblings and even paint their faces before shooting them but when it came to my turn, he’d always tell me to relax and to not be so self-conscious. He could see the tension forming at my lips, like I didn’t know what to do or how to project my true self outward and he’d just lower the camera and say, “No, I won’t take your picture. You’re too self-conscious.”
I don’t know if that made taking photos horrible for me. Throughout college, when my friends in Communication Arts would take out their SLR cameras and practice on us, their friends, I’d always just open my mouth wide, like I was surprised or shouting, and felt comfortable with making faces. I’d scrunch up my face or do exaggerated smiles because that was what was most comfortable for me to show. I’d hate it, I think, if I heard someone say, “I don’t want to take your photo, you’re too self-conscious.”
Over the years, friends came and went and I found myself with a great group of people and they, too, loved bringing SLR cameras to our out of town trips and all of a sudden I was a quick subject for them to use (as I was the only one who didn’t know how to use the hi-tech camera). They’d all huddle around the photographer, checking settings, suggesting the aperture and shutter speed, and I’d be alone out there, the only subject to be shot.
They’d tell me to pose and I would and when the shot would be taken, they’d all tell me how good I looked.
I don’t know if that flipped a switch for me.
When the camera phones became more and more prevalent, there were shots being taken everywhere and I was getting very used to it. I liked it. I would take countless selfies of myself (posting only one of three hundred) but I could determine the difference between a good shot/pose and a bad shot/pose. I could tell how I could soften my features, make my smile look more genuine, and erase the self-consciousness that plague me in my youth.
Now, one of my best friends is a photographer. Cez does a Pop-Up Portrait once a year. She sets up a studio and charges Php 1,500 for professional style portraits. Proceeds go to the studio and to a charity. This year, her Pop-up Portraits will be donating to The Love Yourself Organization, a non-profit group that helps out people living with HIV.
She’ll set up a studio in Makati on September 24 and October 1 and to reserve a slot, you can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The photo will be styled like the photo I’ve attached on this blog entry.