Photographic Memories

The amazing people I work with at InterUrban ArtHouse have hired a photographer to take pictures of events at the studios so they can archive our growth. This is an amazing space and I am so happy that I am a part of this creative community. However, this taking pictures thing is not bringing out the best in me.

I truly sympathize with this photographer because if I am aware that my picture is being taken, I automatically either stick out my tongue, cross my eyes, or both. This is not something I give conscious thought to. It’s not something I’m particularly proud of. It’s just a clown’s attempt to keep from having to deal with looking at a “real” picture of myself.

I have never been fond of having my picture taken. I remember as a kid squirming uncomfortably any time my mom or dad lined my siblings and me up for pictures. Due to my mother’s amazing photography skills, our family albums were filled with pictures of the three of us squinting into the sun or standing at the top of the steps looking down with double-chins appearing long before nature intended for us to have them.

From that awkward start, my relationship with photographs of myself has never improved. Even when I was young and everything was firm and taut I hated every picture of myself that I saw.  It always took a measurable amount of time for me to grow fond of my own picture.

You see, one amazing thing about photography is how time can make a really bad picture look good. I have repeatedly had my picture taken, only for me to look at the photograph and feel nothing but dislike for what the image shows me. Then, if I give it about 10 years, I will look at that same picture and think, “Damn, I didn’t look bad. Why did I hate that picture so much?”

Now that I’ve gotten older, when I see a current photograph of myself, I am forced to deal with the visual effects of my aging. I cannot speak to what other people see when they look at my picture, but all I can see are wrinkles, loose skin, and hair that is always going the wrong direction.

Yes, I see my reflection in the mirror every day, but that doesn’t have the same impact as a photograph. I have needed glasses since the third grade, and I am pretty close to being blind without them. Due to my bad vision, whenever I look in the mirror, which is usually only when I put on makeup, my features are blurry at best. I focus my attention on one part of my face or another, not really taking in the whole until I’m done. Then, when I’m done, I’m almost always running late so I give my reflection a quick glance and go. I never have to really look at my appearance and how I present to the world.

Ironically, despite my intense dislike of being photographed, my YouTube channel, Jasmine Petals Yoga, is filled with videos of me instructing people how to do yoga. I know that may seem unusual for someone who hates being photographed, but when I teach, I am able to take the self out of the equation. I wasn’t 100% comfortable filming any of the videos, but I was able to assume my teacher persona and make it through with minimal discomfort.

It would be easy to say that I should take that same attitude with having my picture taken at the ArtHouse. I’ve thought about it, and I will try. However, when I am in my studio, I am revealing my most vulnerable self. I gave up my art for almost 40 years because of a lack of belief in my ability; coming back to it later in life frequently causes huge doubts and insecurities to manifest. I keep plugging away because I know this is what I am meant to do.

The photographer at InterUrban is a nice man and has been quick to accept that he is going to have to be sneaky taking pictures of me. He works hard to take pictures without me being aware he is there. He has assured me that before the year is done I will be hamming it up in front of the camera every time I see him. I find that highly doubtful, but I really appreciate his positive attitude. So, between his great attitude and me working on my attitude, I hope to be sharing some great things with you in the next year.


What are your thoughts?