thoughts on being seen

polaroid by Meghan Davidson of Life Refocused

You know when you’ve had a good rich meal, it takes some time to digest it. I like to sit with the feeling of being full. It’s decadent to be so happily content. Sometimes I sit with that feeling a long while. It leaves people wondering, “why’s she so quiet?!” This was the case upon my returning from Camp Shutter Sisters. A month has passed. Photos have been shared, as have stories. and yet here I sit, still digesting. Not knowing what it was I wanted to share with others, what it was that I needed to keep sacred, and what was most important for me to focus on for my own growth.

This is my learning.
This is photography, no?

I spent the majority of my time at Camp speaking about self portraits. Here is where words cannot always express the conversations shared. I took no self portraits while I was at Camp. {I find humor in this} I’ve written before about being seen in real life and the value I place on the gathering of like minds, the importance of community, and the power that is stirred up in the Universe when we share intentions. All these thoughts were magnified during my Camp Shutter Sisters experience.

So, what is it that I brought home with me? It was more than loot and images and laughter and shells. It was the reminder that I am worthy.

We had just come back from a walk. A handful of Shutter Sisters, all of us with cameras. Meghan was holding that old familiar camera, the Polaroid SX-70, same as my fathers. I think we both saw the light at the same time, how could we not? It was streaming in through the windows begging to be seen. An exhale left her lips with a simple string of words, something along the lines of “I’d love to photograph someone in this light.”

{let me note that it was jokingly said one morning at breakfast “I just wasn’t expecting this… ya know, so many cameras!” And those of us who are camera shy all laughed at the absurdity of this statement. It was a photography retreat afterall. Were we expecting not to be photographed?}

This, being seen by someone else, allowing myself to be seen by someone is a place of growth for me. I can talk with my hands for hours about the importance of putting yourself infront of your lens through self portraiture, and yet when someone else holds the glass to my face I want to shy away. I took note of the light, of her generosity in asking so kindly, and I paid attention to the growing I need to do as a photographer.

These are the lessons that come from being on the other side of the lens.
These are thoughts on being seen.
I sat at the window and took a deep breath.

Why is this so hard for us? This allowing is mostly the unspoken plea, “I am no actress and so I’m freeing my insecurities to just be myself and let you document it.” You see, there is trust there. Trust that the photographer sees you as you see yourself. As you feel in your skin. Even without enough notice to actually comb your hair free of coastal fog. This feeling of who we are sometimes does or sometimes does not come across in photos. Photography is mostly optical illusion. But this being seen, dare I say, is real life.

There is something about being on the other side of the lens.
Being seen is as important as sharing your voice.
I am worthy
And so are you.

*****

Thank you Meghan, for seeing me and sharing this most beautiful moment on expired film. you can see more of Meghan on her blog: Life Refocused.

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