Really, Sweet Louise? We need a guide to looking at a photo of ourselves?
Yes. Yes, we do.
Chances you’ve had a photo taken of you at some point in your life
A school photo.
A candid photo.
Maybe you went to Glamor Shots.(Well, I’m just saying maybe you did.)
Maybe you’ve sat for a professional portrait for work.
Maybe you worked at a theme park and there are thousands of photos floating around in the world of you as a Disney Princess.
Maybe you hid from every camera you can ever remember but somehow now you decided to get on stage, cover yourself in glitter and fringe and Ba-BAMM someone was there to catch you in the act.
Maybe that happened – and now there are pictures to prove it.
I’ve got a plan.
Lemons & Lies
Follow me here – this’ll just take a moment.
Imagine you are wearing a pair of blue lens sunglasses.
On a sunny day, the sky would look extra blue. Your skin would have a bluish hue. Things would look different to you than they would to a person not wearing blue glasses. Yes? Yes.
Okay. So let’s say I hand you a lemon. What color would it be to you?
Which means that it would *LOOK* like a lime to you. But that’s a lie. The blue lenses are filtering the data your brain gets and creating a lie. That fruit in your hand is a lemon.
Now, without tasting or smelling it, the only way I could be convince you that it’s a lemon and not a lime (lie) is if you take the glasses off.
We do this all the time – mental health professionals call it a cognitive distortion.
When it comes to viewing photos of ourselves – I say – Take your sh*t colored glasses off before the view is ruined.
Lemons or Lies – it’s up to you.
I know that you all as a group have a wide range of experience looking at photos of yourself. These are my suggestions and as with all unsolicited advice your mileage may vary.
How to Look at a Photo of Yourself
STEP 1: Take off your Sh*t Colored Glasses.
Yep. You read that correctly. Take em’ off.
How many times have you said – “OMG look at this amazing pic of you! ” to a friend only to be met with:
“…*sigh* of course they took it from that angle… look at X awful issue with my X body part.”
“HOLY CRAP that lighting was awful why does my face look like that?”
“I knew I should have done X to my costume/why did I wear that???”
Those are Sh*t colored glasses talking. These glasses turn everything into… that’s right… Sh*t.
“OH I just HATE seeing photos of myself. I always look awful.”
Oh really? Stop stealing all your joy by wearing those Sh*t Colored Glasses. Take em’ off! Life’s a lot more awesome when it doesn’t look like everything is covered with sh*t.
(If you are really attached to your hate inducing sh*t lens glasses I promise you can put them back on again when we’re done – that’s your prerogative. However I suggest taking them off as often as possible until one day you’ll forget to put them back on because you’re too busy being awesome instead)
Glasses off? AWESOME.
*deep breath* Oh that was nice… I’m gonna do it again.
Before you read any further - stand up.
Wiggle a bit.
Now sit back down.
Here comes the JOY.
STEP 2: JOY! (aka Oh Em Gee That’s MEEEE!)
Holy smokes THAT THING HAPPENED!
Look through the pictures first just to relive the experience. Just for the joy of it!
Squee with pride and joy over how FABULOUS you are!
Wallow around in the joy.
Sweet Louise photo credit Thomas Cray
STEP 3: RESEARCH – Ask yourself What’s working here?
After you’ve looked through them just for fun… go back and treat all of them as research.
The ones that work and don’t work for you. For example: notice how your costuming reads (does it convey what you meant for it to? Why or why not?)
Your Research Data will fall in to the categories of working/not working for a multitude of reasons. Maybe it’s a technical reason. Maybe those sh*t colored glasses crept back on your face. (And hey – you’ve probably heard of rose colored glasses too – those can distort the data as well)
- the angle the photo was taken from
- Our attitudes and beliefs about ourselves – again these attitudes and beliefs can make photos fall into either category
If you find yourself loving a particular photo – collect data.
What makes it “Work” for you? The angle? The look on your face? Your costume? What? Just notice.
What can you do to improve the likelihood that you’ll create this data again? Have that same friend who peer reviewed your routine help again in the future? Spend those few more minutes on your makeup/hair/costume? Relax before going on stage? What helped create this very moment that you now think “worked”?
If you find yourself not digging a photo – collect data.
…and keep this in mind: If you find a shot that looks particularly awkward and you think
“Oh my god why am I making that face?”
It takes less than a second to capture an image. Less than a second.
Likely, that facial expression never really happened in any memorable way during performance.
If you notice things “not working for you” take a look at the data. What information can you gather here – in a scientific way. What do you notice that isn’t adding up to the vision you had for this performance? (Keeping in mind that ONE IMAGE is not a reason to go ripping apart your costume/concept).
STEP 4: MORE JOY!
Squee! Joy! Yay! OH EMM GEEE THAT’S MEEEEEEE!!!!
STEP 5: CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE
So you want to share these photos with the world?
YOU did the performance. SOMEONE ELSE took the photo. You BOTH get credit every time that photo goes public.
Proper credit looks like this:
Opal Malone, Annie Cherry & Sweet Louise. 2012 Photo credit Russ Matthews
If you want to get really thorough, name the act and location as well.
You worked hard to create the act. The photographer used their skill to capture and edit the photo. You both get credit.
A note on touch ups:
Know that airbrushing/touch ups may have been done. Some of you may dig this, some of you may not, some may not care – AND it’s very common in this area of performance and photography for touch ups to be made. Reality may be that I had a giant zit on my chin – I hope my performance was compelling enough that the audience didn’t focus on that – I sure don’t want the remaining image of that performance to highlight the zit. No thank you. Likewise if a little cellulite gets smoothed in the process I’m not going to complain. By touch ups, I’m not talking about changing a silhouette.
Lemons, Lies and Joy Making
Lovers, the world needs as much joy as we can muster. And if ever there were joy makers it’s burly folk. So when viewing photos of yourself take a moment to ask yourself -
Am I seeing myself for the gorgeous sparkling lemon parfait that I am? Or am I perceiving a lie?
Cuz I think you are a yummy lemon parfait.
P.S. You can find a list of 15 Common Cognitive Distortions at psychcentral.com.