On the cusp of the summer solstice I feel compelled to rename my self-portraits. Since I have a long and glorious history of making up words to suit the expression of any given day, I’m betting I’ll be replacing the name Selfies with something that doesn’t yet exist. I wouldn’t have to do this if I hadn’t gotten so good at taking them. I’ll just go ahead and get that statement out of the way now. When I first began my self-portrait practice Selfies felt appropriate. Today–how many years later?–not so much. The terminology feels a little too casual for what I’m doing now. I feel like I need to call it something that honors the fact that it has indeed become a practice. I devote time to this. I devote study and contemplation to this. As the practice has deepened my awareness of why I continue to do this has deepened to the point that a term with connotations of snapshot just doesn’t feel right. I need something a little more formal. A little more meaningful. And of course, a little sassy.
Take for example, the shot below. This is definitely a self-portrait but it doesn’t feel like a selfie. The ring of selfie doesn’t feel as special as this portrait feels.
Yes, I was dancing. You bet I was dancing. In the spooky wooded alley behind my house. It’s a one-lane road. People use it as a shortcut in and out of the neighborhood. It was morning, right after my run, in the weather window between our signature Spring thunderstorms. I felt playful and uninhibited and dazzlingly creative. Effervescent. All twirly skirt and sensual hips and serene green harmony. Giving myself permission to not only take up that space but to fill it with my energy. Selfie just doesn’t do those feelings justice. Self-portrait feels a little too Van Gogh, if you will.
Y’all know that I’m fiercely protective of my Right To Selfie, as well as yours. I don’t abide the selfie-bashing and if you’ve been following me for any significant length of time you already know why. But here’s the thing. I’ve taken my practice to the next level. These are not poses in front of a bathroom mirror, iPhone in one hand, duck-mouth smirk, to show you my hot new outfit (or my expertly applied spray tan, under-boob tattoo, or ripped muscles from my killer workout). Not that there’s anything wrong with those things, but obviously I’m doing something different here. Selfie lumps my work in with the Insta-shenanigans of my college sophomore stepson and the like; goofing off or curing boredom or pulling pranks for the enjoyment of his peer group. Again–that’s all fine but that’s clearly not what I’m doing here, so why call it the same thing (selfie)? Let’s not. Let’s call his jokey-joke casual play snapshot a selfie. Let’s call mine…what?
I don’t know.
As of the date of this posting I haven’t picked a new name yet. Nothing I’ve come up with so far feels quite right. I’m going to have to spend some more time on it. I’m open to suggestion if you think of something. I think it still needs to be short; two or three syllables max. Anything that ends in -grams feels too junior high slumber party. Practice-grams sounds like a Western Union corporate training program. You see my dilemma.
The word manifest feels good but I’d have to hack at it to make it fit. Festies? Maybe. I’ll let you know. Unless one of you is more brilliant than I am; then you let me know.