Sea Blue Lens

Mirror, Mirror


In Situ

For 2012, I’ve joined a project called {in the picture}. I’ve committed to myself to take/create 52 self-portraits this year, or one a week. There’s a Flickr group where we can share our images, and once a month we’re all invited to share our project in a link up over at Urban Muser. To help us shy ones get comfortable with the concept, this month’s theme is “A Piece of Me.”

Green Earring

Over the years I’ve become more comfortable with being photographed. I know I’m getting older; I’ve never looked like an airbrushed model and never will, so I’m willing to just relax and let the camera catch what it will. I am what I am, and have no control over that shutter-click. Interestingly, the less I cared about how I would look in the photos other people took of me, the better I liked the results. Is this because I lowered my standards? Became less self-critical and more self-accepting? Or maybe because I was more relaxed and therefore more natural? I suspect there may be some of all that at play. Or maybe I really have improved with age!

What, Me Photoshopped?

But I’ve discovered a funny thing about self-portraits. When I am both the photographer and the photographee, suddenly I am self-conscious all over again. I want to look good. Really good. I want to be beautiful. I also want my selfies to be creative and beautifully lighted and spontaneous and fun and . . . in short . . . PERFECT.


Oh boy. Guess what? It’s never going to happen. That perfection, I mean. Let’s start with my face. I know intellectually that no one’s face is perfectly symmetrical, but it’s not something I notice about most people. The way people look is just normal, that’s all. But the way I look normal to myself is in the mirror. In a self-portrait, my whole face is wrong. It’s backwards, and suddenly everything about it looks crooked. Things I never noticed before. It’s very disconcerting.

Is this how Mona Lisa felt?

Then there’s the expression. Do I smile at the camera when it’s held at my own arm’s length, or sitting by itself on a tripod? That feels weird. But my face without a smile looks sad. Tired. I try for pensive and look ill. And old. Hm, maybe I can wear a veil, or take all my photos in the mirror with the camera in front of my face.

How about a year of feet photos? I like my feet.


I expect this to be a year of change and challenge, of learning and of growth. I hope my self-portraits will reflect that. I’m going to try to relax and enjoy the journey.


20 thoughts on “Mirror, Mirror


  2. Yeah! You go girl! I just got my remote shutter release to do just the same. You inspire me…. 🙂

  3. LOVE the photos. You hit it on the head in the beginning… you are getting better with age Leon!

  4. We are all becoming old and there is so many good things about it. I am learning to be more patient with myself and say what I want no matter what.
    Your photos are beautiful and like me, we will have a great challenge ahead of us. It is not going to be easy, but at the end we will be so happy.

  5. Yes, it’s an interesting process & I love what you’ve come up with. I really like your reflection in the first.

  6. Great shots of your beginning self-portraits. I began with my feet, but am slowly getting the nerve to photograph other parts of my body. I think when we accept who we are, we can be more creative and relaxed with the process.

  7. Great shots and I loved reading your thoughts too. My favourites are your reflection shot and the shot of your eyes. So looking forward to seeing where this takes you. Very inspiring. 🙂

  8. Great photos!! I feel the same way about taking my own pictures. I never know exactly what to do with my face…should I smile or not? look at the camera or away? I was thinking of taking all my shots with my 2 year old in it with me but I want this to be me (not that she won’t be included in many of them though!)

  9. Leon,
    These self portraits and your words/thoughts that accompany them are such a great lesson in self acceptance, in my opinion. What you wrote about your process here really resonates with me. Thank you for sharing these views of your beautiful self.

  10. Oh, Lee. You have put into words feelings that I was unable to express. For me as well, the “face” that I hold in my mind is the face that I see in the mirror. I never thought about why my vision of myself was so different in photographs. I hate catching myself in reflections (even though I love reflections themselves). You are being so brave and I look forward to seeing where this journey into your “self” takes you. I am inspired by your example.

  11. Wonderful post my friend. I love your thoughts about when someone turns the camera on you, and by relaxing/acceptance you feel the images are better. Quite the insight….and how that changes when you’re the photog.
    My fave is the green earing and the shot of your eyes and from the side framed by your hair all in gorgeous light. But that’s me, oft drawn to just enough of something/one to let the viewer know what it is.
    And cute lamies too.
    Hope we can get together soon.

  12. these are really soft and pretty. and i love that last whimsical shot. too cute. i am also self-conscious having my photo taken… even if someone else is taking it and not me. but i look at it this way, at least with self-portraits, i can choose the way i’ll be in my photo. if my eyes are closed or i have a goofy smile, i don’t have to use it, right? and no one will tag the photo of me in facebook, even if it is a bad shot. =)

    it does feel weird to smile in a photo you take of yourself. but sometimes i can’t help but to, because i find it sort of embarrassing to myself that i’m taking my own photo… so then it ends up being a genuine smile. works out well that way.

    you’ve done your first month for this project with a great deal of poise and beauty.

  13. Wow! You jumped in with both feet — I mean total face. 🙂 Good for you! Your words totally resonate with me….I feel the pressure also to come up with some creative and beautiful selfie. It’s all about self acceptance, isn’t it? Your portraits are lovely — so natural. Well done, Lee!

  14. you are off to a fantastic start! thank you so much for linking up at {in the picture}!

  15. Wonderful shots! Even better are the words; I am enjoying getting to know you. I’ve thought about this…the self portraits. I am so much more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it. As for getting older, I think I’ve become my mother!

  16. Well done Lee!!! Overcoming our own self critic is the hardest part. We all have one and we just have to tell it to be quiet and everything else falls into place!

  17. oh my gosh… I think I would take an “F” on this assignment. Taking or seeing myself captured in pictures is the last thing I want. But, I may regret that someday when there are few photos of me for my daughters or grandchildren.
    Loved your thoughts about getting comfortable in front of the camera (I’m still working on the behind the camera comfort – ha! what an excuse, huh!?!!).
    You have beautiful skin so flaunt it ~~~ my friend…

  18. 🙂 You have a great sense of humor. Your shots are very creative!

  19. Good for you for taking on such a big challenge. I’m with you on every aspect of your reservations about selfies. I used to avoid having my photo taken if at all possible–until I started scrabooking and realized how much better my pages were with (suitably smiling or expressioned) people in them. I also realized that being in other people’s photos meant being a part of their memories and I needed to respect that too.

    I will keep an eye on this as you proceed through the year. I predict you will become much more comfortable with the whole idea and that you will end up with some truly amazing shots before all is said and done!

  20. You ability to express yourself on your selfie project is great. There is a very disconcerting aspect to the whole project and yet…Yet there is this pull that challenges and propels me forward. Maybe a desire to become comfortable in front to the camera (since I like it when others don’t mind my camera pointing there way) and to also learn more about myself from the whole process.
    Great job on the first month!

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