Well, I don’t really hate my camera. I actually love it. I just hate the selfies it takes. They’re awful – make me look tired and old. From what I read, I’m not alone in selfie-hate. From what I read, there are scientific explanations for the notorious badness of selfies. From what I read, the most adamant selfie-takers use apps that automatically make them look better.
I tried one of those apps. I tried a second. And okay, they’re better. But they make me look not like me at all. So I’m settling for picking an angle that hides my flaws, wearing dark glasses, or hiding my face behind my camera.
And that’s kind of how I became a photographer. I much prefer to be the taker than the takee, which means, of course, that my family members have a slew of photos of themselves and fewer of me. I am the family photographer.
Which was actually a good thing way back when, because photography was how I discovered writing.
Photography, Cameras, and Writing, Oh My!
When my oldest son was an infant, I decided that a mother at home with her child was the one who could take the best pictures. So I borrowed an SLR from a friend and taught myself how to use it. Film was the medium then, and the processing and printing weren’t cheap. So I learned how to do that myself as well – but then, renting darkroom space cost money, too. To support the habit, I took a job in my local newspaper photographing local businesses.
One day, the editor asked me to write an article to accompany my picture. I did it in two seconds; they liked what I did; I was asked again, and again. Likewise, when I volunteered as a photographer for a charity organization. Before long, I was writing speeches for the organization’s president – all of which made me realize, for the first time, that I could write when others could not. THEN, when I read an article in The Boston Globe about women who wrote novels while raising families, I was primed to try it myself.
Those Who Can’t Do, Teach
Even after I wrote my first novel, I kept at photography. I had three children now, and we no longer lived near that other newspaper, so I supported the habit by teaching photography twice a week at an adult education program. There’s an old saying, “Those who can’t do, teach.” You’re looking at a perfect example. I was hired once to photograph a fashion show; I got to the venue and my flash unit didn’t work. Another time I photographed a would-be actor and not one of the shots came out crystal clear. But I was a very good teacher.
Writing About Cameras and Photography
I’ve put photography into a number of my books and am doing it again in my next one, the first pages of which I write as I write this blog. I’ve actually just sold my old Nikons and am treating myself to a new Fuji, which is mirrorless and far lighter. That said, photography isn’t about equipment, but about the photographer’s eye, which was one of the things I said over and over again when I taught.
But more on photography in later blogs. For now, getting back to selfies, I’m trying to think of a novel way to take ones that I like. Here’s a possibility. I took it in Rhode Island last April when I was at Ocean House to keynote a fundraiser. It’s kind of an interesting mirror, don’t you think?