As the self-portrait project continues I get more questions from onlookers about how I work the magic. Lisa asked about where the ideas. Tara asked about how I get full-body shots without cheating (cheating defined as having someone else snap the photo). Michele asked about filters. Ellen asked about how I can stand the feedback.
First of all, you have to want to be seen. You have to be comfortable claiming space, time, and attention. You have to be honest with yourself about who you are and what you want and why it’s okay for people to look in on that. Nothing works if the heart isn’t engaged and open to radical self-acceptance, which is one of the points of the practice. Acceptance releases the flow of creativity. This project also doesn’t work if the comfort level with public exposure doesn’t go belly-deep (another point of the practice). Hiding who we are turns us rancid. Worse, it ensures that all the world ever sees of us is the way fear twists us into emotional goblins who hurt each other and then say shitty things like “It is what it is.”
No. No more. Done with that. Please, with all the breath left to breathe on this planet, let me be done with that.
But back to Lisa’s question. I’ve grown to love this challenge. It shows. The more I do it the better I get, but as I’ve said from the beginning, the motivation is rooted in wellness. If it wasn’t about wellness that fact would also show. Wellness is affected by every choice I make every single day, so I never run out of ideas. I don’t wake up and plan my selfies. This is just me living my life the way I want to feel.
As for the technical stuff, everything is done on my phone unless I get out the Big Girl camera. The iPhone has a 10 second timer function on the camera. I use it a lot. The Big Girl camera also has one. I also have a free app with a 15 second timer when I need more time to get further away from the lens. Double exposures are taken with the Hipstamatic app and then transferred to Instagram. I glue them all together at the end of the week with an app called Pic Collage. The only other application I use is an app called XnView Fx, for textures, light leaks, and artsy-fartsy stuff. I still don’t know how to use Photo Shop and I still have no plans to learn it.
As for the feedback, my joy is not diminished by what people think. That took a loooong time to be truth but it is finally and firmly the truth. It’s also truth that I am offered far more compliments on this project than criticism. But even so, the world somehow doesn’t end because I have to listen to disparaging comments about selfies and about the people who take them. I’ve never lost anything crucial to my survival because someone didn’t like my selfies. Opinions vary. They change. So does the weather. I just roll with it.
It’s really okay that some folks don’t get it or can’t relate; and it’s not because I’m not interested in what other people think. Sometimes people do get it but they also get uncomfortable. People don’t change until they become uncomfortable enough to change, so the crankiness and irritation goes with the territory. And it’s not always grumpy fluff. Sometimes people have really interesting things to say or interesting reasons behind what they say. I don’t want to live in a world where I can’t be exposed to such things.
It’s really okay because when an activity becomes a bona fide element of a wellness practice I let go of the need to justify it. It’s right for me. It’s good for me. I deserve the right things and the good things. I’m going to make sure I allow myself to have them. I’m going to feel the way I want to feel. I nurture and protect that right and that privilege in a world where so many women don’t have that right or that privilege. The alternative just sucks so much. I spent so many years starving, hurting, searching, clinging, cowering, destructing, and in the end–so empty. The fastest road back to that lifestyle is caving to the pressure applied by negative feedback and giving up the practices that support my wellness.
Nope. It’s just that simple. I deal with the feedback by accepting it and holding myself responsible for how I feel in spite of it or because of it.