4 May 2008

Me,me,me and me again.

If you have met me in real life or blog spoke to me for a while, then you will know that I HATE my photo being took. In fact this post will probably give some folk a heart attack as they haven't seen me in photographic form for a long long time.
Photographs of me have slowly been creeping onto this site ever since I got a digital camera last year. All the photographs you do see of me, have been taken by me, its a control thing.
As most of you know I am training to be a counsellor and the largest component of my studies is personal development. This personal development takes you well out of your comfort zone, so far out of it, it feels bloody awful at times. While you can ride high on great moments of enlightenment, you also sink quite low with the not so nice aspects of your life and personality. That sounds pretty scary, but in fact its been the best thing I have ever done so far with my life and if people can get a fraction of this experience from counselling, then I think they will definitely say its worthwhile.
Change has a considerable psychological impact on the human mind. To the fearful it is threatening because it means that things may get worse. To the hopeful it is encouraging because things may get better. To the confident it is inspiring because the challenge exists to make things better.King Whitney Jr.

So what is the problem with photographs? I love photography, taking photos, seeing other peoples photos, but I just hate seeing myself in photographs. This started way back when I was little and is just something I haven't grown out of. I could be more in depth but I don't know all the answers myself yet, yes this is a bit of cop out but I am not up to exposing myself totally. Nekkid stick Claire doesn't count as exposing myself. I will be posting about this again, think of this as the start of a progress report, well fingers crossed I make progress.
This problem has led to many of what I like to call 'Where's Claire?' moments, not to be mistaken with Where's Wally or is it? I am missing from so many family events that its a wonder people know who I am at all.

Common Claire reactions to the appearance of a camera:

Get the camera out of my face or I will hurt you!
I have at times, reacted very badly to people whipping out the camera and trying to 'surprise' me. This has never resulted in me actually hurting someone, but I have felt very angry at them, even though its me that feels that way and they have no idea how I actually feel about it. I usually go with the 'look', a raised eyebrow don't even think about kind of look.

Run away! run away!
I am very quick at spotting when its photo time and will usually leg it! Either go to the bar, leave the room, go the toilets, hide behind something or someone. This is probably the most common reaction, usually resulting in confusion as people realised that I have scarpered (legged it).

On the inside is where its all really happening, what you cant see. I feel a lot of things, like anger,frustration, hatred and sadness.
Now looking back it just makes me feel kinda sad, there are photographic memories that I cant ever get back, unless someone lends me their time travelling device.

Why am I writing this post? Why have I published photo's of myself!
It is not to get compliments or reassurances that I look okay, that has never worked for me. I need to be able to look at myself and say that for myself. Not that I don't appreciate it, I just don't believe it. Your damned if you give me a compliment and damned if you don't.

Do I think its a problem?

Everyone has their little quirks, dislikes, phobias and for the most part there is no big need to change. I think its when these become a problem for 'you' and it might stop 'you' from doing something. So this has become a problem for me that I want to change, there may be other motivating factors, but its definitely me that wants to change.

Motivation for change!
I am being a bridesmaid on the 6th of June and that means photos, photos and more bloody photos! I don't want to just get through the whole process, I want to enjoy it. I loved the time Heather,Emma and I spent last weekend and I know the wedding is going to be fun, but I am already dreading the photographic aspect of the wedding.

I love hiking and I would like to be in more of the photographs to look back and say 'hey I did that'. Travelling to see my blog friends and I want photographs of them with me. I could go on and on!

If someone came to me when I am in my official role as a counsellor and they had a strong dislike of getting their photograph taken or looking at themselves , I cant jump in with 'me too'. Not that I would dream of saying such a thing, but it would definitely strike a chord within me.
If it nots something I am prepared to understand and work on for myself, I wouldn't be able to do my job as a counsellor.

Is it easy to change?

I would like to say of course its easy to change, but that would be a lie. I am of course applying this to my own personal experience as that's where my expertise lies. Being aware of the problem is one thing, talking about it is another thing, both are great. Actually changing yourself? Bloody hard! It feels like changing the habit of a lifetime.

There's only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that's your own self. Aldous Huxley.
This post was a killer to write and if it makes it published status then I will be patting myself on the back or feeling sick or both.

Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me.
Carol Burnett


  1. Claire, you are beautiful! Did you cut your hair? I just love that picture of you three girls. You all look so happy.

    Great post. Change is good. ;)

  2. i have the same hatred of having my picture taken, which i think you're well aware of! lol

    my junior year of high school, our english teacher adored our class and was always taking pictures of us. i managed to shift position, put up a book, etc, etc every time she snapped a shot. near the end of the year, she approached me: "I don't have a single picture with you in it!" smugly, i told her i knew that.

    so i got a solo shot taken. hmph.

    for whatever reason, it's not an easy issue to let go of ...

    good luck! :)

  3. I hate having my picture taken, too.

    So I took one of myself and anytime anyone wants it, I just give them the URL. At least I had control over how/when/etc it was taken.

    Pictures nooooo no picture *hides under blanket*

  4. I don't know why you don't like your picture taken. If I looked like you I'd send poster sized pictures to everyone I knew! You're absolutely gorgeous.

    I wish you'd believe it!!!!

  5. I know you've said that you're not looking for compliments, but you do deserve them. You are beautiful. Cheers!

  6. I had a sense that you shyed away from the camera, but didn't know it was such a wholly-formed anxiety. You should be very proud, then, for stepping out of your comfort zone and facing your fear. Just a little at a time is all it takes.

    I also think that most people are overly self-critical of how they appear in photographs. That's just the nature of the beast, because you have so little control over it (unless you sport mad Photoshop skillz). I did a video spot for a friend recently, and when I saw it I was like, "Edit me out!! Argh!" ;)

    You have nothing to fear, however. You're very photogenic. Especially with that foxy new style. Whoot!

  7. I am not a get my picture taken person either. I have no idea why. I don't really like seeing pictures of other people either, I feel like they are staring at me, lol.

  8. Let me be the first, or one of the first, to walk over to you and give you a hug of support and then stand in your corner with you. I believe in you. I know you can do this. I will do anything I can to help make it happen. Write or call me night or day. I care.


  9. My mother and aunt are exactly the same way, and what ends up happening is we take "surprise" photos of them that tend to reinforce their attitude as their very poorly posed. I'm fine with photos being taken ... it's more seeing them afterward that gives me anxiety. I'm happy to lend my voice of reassurance to the chorus and say I haven't seen a bad photo of you yet :). Oh, and I'll bring the time machine by once I work out the bugs.

  10. @Tisha, thank you. Yes had the hair chopped on Thursday :)

    I was happy, just want to feel like that more often.

    @Ender, you never? lol.
    Oh dear not a solo shot! I gave back my school photos and when the teacher asked why, I said my parents didn't want it, which was a lie as they never got to see it :)

    Your right, it aint easy and thanks :)

    @arachne, I have the 'one' photo too :) Its like an official press release thing.

    I hope you don't under the blanket :)

    @Mags, you only get to see the photos that I consider the very best, after deleting literally hundreds! At least you get to see the real me in September.

    and erm your are gorgeous!

    @machinehuman, I appreciate you comment, but naughty for complimenting.

    @.45, you are a perceptive soul :)
    I think your right that most people are overly critical and think you know when you have it bad when you steal photos or delete them off other peoples cameras.

    Thanks for this comment, I do appreciate it, especially the whoot :)

    @chelle, I shall avert my eyes :) Thanks for visiting and commenting :)

    @Tom, I appreciate your words and the thought behind them, really :)

    @franscud, those surprise photos are a killer and your right they definitely reinforce the negative thoughts. Its the thought of the actual photo that is worse for me, thats why I react so badly to the camera.

    Of course you haven't seen a really bad photo, I wouldn't let any exist!

    Thank you for commenting :)

  11. Well, it's good that the post made it to the "published" stage, as facing up to that is I suppose part of the battle. I am very much like you in that I too hate to have my picture taken. No matter how I try to smile when told to do that, it always comes out lousy. I have even, on a few rare occasions, tried facing myself in the mirror and practicing smiling to see which way brings a better effect and nothing works. I'm also very self-conscious now -more so that ever -because I have gained way too much weight over the past 10 years and that affects my attitude in general too. But, I've hated having my picture taken since I was probably about 10-12 years old and I know it started because of my mouth and my teeth being crooked.

  12. Claire, you are a wise young woman...yeah yeah you don't like compliments, I think your beautiful too so there.

    One step at a time you will conquer your world.

  13. It isn't easy I know because I share the same sentiment. When people begin brandishing cameras and it's "snapshot" time I have a lifelong habit of vanishing.

    You are gorgeous Claire. Your eyes are so soulful they take my breathe away. You would be a wonderful model to paint.

    Go girl go!

  14. No you're right, it'll take your sooouuuul.

    Just kidding, best of luck getting used to the idea. No one ever enjoys the wedding photo process though so don't aim too high, but if you are comfortable doing it then that'd be cool.

  15. You take a great photo Claire. I hate having my photograph taken too, photographs I actually like of myself are very few and far between. When we needed to renew our passports we did the photo needed at home - I took three of MWM for him to choose from, I made him take 20 of me before I found one that was acceptable! :(

  16. I positively DEMAND that I have my picture taken at all times. Clothing optional.

    As for you, m'dear, they say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but for me there is only one: "Phwwwwooooaaaarrrrr."

  17. Dear Claire, If you're young, thin and cute and hate having your photo taken what hope is there for the rest of us? Don't be that way. Take full advantage of being cute and not old yet, get yourself imprinted on film now so you can look back at how marvellous you were.

    Not that women in the 40's (such as myself) are not fabulous. But it was easy to be fabulous at 20-something when you were also a lot lighter and perkier.

  18. @Jeni, practising to smile is bloody awful, I freak myself with the faces I end up pulling. I have found that once i fix something like lose some weight, I then focus on something else. I cant say anything about you being self conscious as that would make me a big hypocrite :) Its all about how you see yourself in the mirror aint it. It doesn't help knowing when it started either for me, but I am working on it. I hope you are too :)

    @trukindog, Just because I have a hard time taking a compliment doesnt mean I dont appreciate them :) I loved your comment.

    @timethief, "lifelong habit of vanishing". That sums it up nicely. Thank you reading this and commenting.

    @thriftcriminal,ha! I felt that way sometimes. I certainly wont be aiming to high, not locking myself in the toilets for the whole day will be great start for me :)

    @akelamalu, ahh the passport thing, I was due to go away with university and I still hadn't got my passport because of the photo issue. I literally got shoved into a passport booth and wasn't allowed out without a photo. I wish you didn't feel that way, its ruddy awful.

    @lord likely, I didn't think you would be camera shy and thank you.

    @laura, I wish it were that easy. Thats why I posted this, to give myself a kick up the arse. Thank you commenting! :)

  19. Claire, you are beautiful inside & out...and yes, someday you will cherish these photos taken of you now, IN YOUR PRIME!...believe me one day you will wake up and be 49.99 years old and wonder HOW IN THE HELL did this happen!

  20. Is there such a thing as 49.99 years? I meant 49 years, 51 weeks old...

  21. Where's the Castro hat?

  22. Congrats for putting yourself out there. I hope you work through this. I...uh... for some reason have to go to the bathroom when it's photo time. So.. if you can work on it, I can, too.


    And the hair looks HAWT!

  23. @Olga, that's a lovely thing to say and yes I hope to cherish them, but having them taken is a good start :)

    and you don't look a day over 49.73 :)

    @daniel, the hiking hat above is the castro hat :) are you following me or Lord Likely? Look he has commented up there.

    @ladybanana, I had noticed that you disguise them. You have gorgeous children, you must have had some part to play in that :)

    @jillian, ah the bathroom, at least I now have list to think about when I am in there. Yes if I can work on it, anyone can.

    I like to make with the funny, but this was hard for me to post and I still want to take down the photos but I wont.

    @monkmojo, that made me smile and disturbed me :)

    I would like to thank everyone for ignoring the no compliments!

    I felt better about myself after posting this and your comments have helped. You can't see my brain ticking over, hear me talking about in counselling class or with my friends. This wasn't a light hearted easy post that I decided on, this has took me years really. I suppose I am trying to emphasise that this isn't a easy thing and if anyone else has this type of problem it aint going to be easy for you either.

    Feel free to email me or whatever if you want to talk more about it.

  24. First, I say "Bravo!" to you for taking a step out of your line of comfort. I'm sure it was NOT easy for you to do. Second, I will also say that "DAMN GIRL, you've got it going on!" So you can believe it or not. I just wanted to say it. Third, have a few drinks of wine before the photos at the wedding...not too much to get pissing drunk, just enough to feel relaxed. You'll look gorgeous and you'll enjoy yourself.

  25. Claire, you look fab, especially in the colour pic. But you are still never seeing a pic of me lol :)

  26. @random chick, Thank you for that and for saying what you felt :)

    I think I may have a glass or two but I know thats not the long term solution I need :)

    @Alison, drat! not even a little one? I am joking.

    Thanks for the compliment and maybe I will get to see you in real life and we can take photographs of trees or something :)

  27. congratulations are in order. you've overcame on important psychological barrier. one step closer to your true self. :-)

  28. @marmelade, that made me smile :) Thank you :)

  29. Wow. I just wrote about change. You are a wise, wise, lady, Claire. A brilliant and enjoyable post! kudos.

  30. @pentad, I have just read it and I think the wise hat sits firmly on your head :)

    Thanks for such a great comment :)

  31. If you take out the part about studying to be a counselor this post could be about my life. Well, you would have to take out the hiking part cuz even tho I love to hike I have not done so in a long while. And you would have to take you healthy hair and color it red about 300 times so it would be somewhat dry. If yu do all those things, then this post is my life to a T.... maybe when I go on vaca next week, I will be daring enough to take pics of myself.... I doublt it but I will try.

  32. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  33. Wow, kudos to you Claire for being able to write such an open post about yourself.
    Can't wait for the bridesmaid photos! ;)

  34. @Petra, I am such a dork. I suppose I have gotten use to being frustrated with myself that I dismiss my own feelings. Its when other people say that they have had the same experiences that it really gets to me. I am great at giving people compliments, honest opinions and reassurances but when it comes to myself, meh!
    I want to do and say all those for you, but would that work?
    Instead I will say just enjoy your vacation and if you do take a photo great and if you don't, what the hey :)

    I love that you took the time to comment :)

    @Billy, Thanks for that.

    @Thomas, aww I appreciate that and you may just get to see some of those photos :)

  35. Noone can take my picture but me, because I do it right, and close ups are the only thing I do, because if I go too far away, I start to look weird, I therefore have issues as well. Your gorgeous though, you should really retrain your thought process when someone takes a camera out, if I were as gorgeous as you, I'd be letting anyone take my picture. ;)

  36. You are so beautiful and of course your friends too:-)
    your photos are so artistic effects!

  37. @Chica, that does sound a wee bit similar to me, actually a lot :)

    The retraining has begun, I don't know about the gorgeous but nice of you to say and I think you should take some of your own advice :)

    @janeser, thanks very much :)

  38. Ha ha challenge those irrational beliefs, Claire :)

  39. I can email you a picture of Alison...... :-D

    A beautifully written and very honest post Claire, I'd add to the chorus of compliments, but my wife might read it ;-)

  40. @merv, I am trying :)
    Your not merv with the rather erm strange gravatar over at qelqoths?

    @Chris, that would be mean and Alison would hurt you!
    Thanks for your words, it was a hard post to write but I am glad I did.

    and behave yourself :)

  41. I'm so late to this party you may never read this but I'll give it a go anyway...
    We have scores of family photos in which my darling grandmother is minus a head - not the entire figure, just her head. She took scissors to her family pics and hacked off her head in most of them!!!
    I never minded having my photo taken - until I got really fat and that was when I was about 19, after having my first child. I hid from the camera until recently, when I lost 130 lbs. Now, I'm hiding again because I just turned 60 and I hate how I look. The face that looks back at me in the mirror isn't the face I feel familiar with.
    Recognizing what we do is just the beginning of finding out why.
    Great post, my dear!

  42. @Gracie, erm you could probably count on your hand how many times I have been to your blog this year, so the fact that you continue to read me and comment is wonderful :)

    I have attacked a few photos with scissors, but the really isn't that many about.

    "The face that looks back at me in the mirror isn't the face I feel familiar with."

    I think that sums up how I feel a lot of the times.

    Thank you for your words as always :)

  43. Morning Claire...

    I love the fact that while reading it you can start to feel the confidence you have developed within yourself...

  44. @Benny, thanks for taking the time to comment here and say such nice things.

    I am also glad that you can feel the confidence developing, its very perceptive of you :)

  45. Well I suppose this is the place to leave this bit o' wisdom for you since this is where you brought it up.

    Most people dislike photos of themselves. Some more than others, but the majority of us look at our snaps and think "It looks nothing like me!"

    There's a reason for this. When you look at yourself in a mirror - which is really the only way you can do it - you see a 180 degree opposite image of what everyone else sees. When you look at a photo of yourself you're seeing yourself from an angle you're unaccustomed to. And since nobody is exactly symmetrical in features, you don't look like the "you" you're used to seeing. It's alien to you and we humans we don't fancy "alien" very much now do we?

    The differences are subtle usually, but they're disorienting enough to be unsettling.

    The same thing happens when you hear a recording of your voice. Because you can't speak directly into your own ear, you're used to hearing your voice as its reflected from the surfaces around you. Speak into a microphone with the speakers facing you and you're hearing the voice everyone else hears, but the reflected variant is layered with it. But speak into a recording device and listen to the playback and it "doesn't sound like you".

    The objective truth is that the photo and the recording are much more faithful to the real thing than what you're used to seeing and hearing.

    So to sum up, there's nothing at all strange about not wanting to be photographed or recorded. It's an aversion most people have.

    But really Claire, you're a perfectly lovely young woman. And I'm something of an expert in the field having ogled many, many beautiful women in my long life. If I had your eyes, I'd want the entire living world to see them.

    Seeing as I'm way late in getting here, I don't know that you'll ever see this comment, but I hope you'll take it to heart if you read it.

  46. You are beautiful, and I am not saying it just because I like you Claire. I know what true beauty is.

  47. My dad was a photographer, so there are literally thousands of photos of me - which was fine by me till I was at secondary school - I looked hideous as a teenager and my friends took bad snaps.
    So they were ugly photos of me looking ugly.
    I avoided photos for a long time, but I'm fine with them now. I think being called Mutant by my mum all through my teenage years inured me to my hideous widow-twanky appearance! Now when I look at those few school photos I am impressed by how much I resemble a human.

    Maybe you should build up a truly awful list of insults and physical flaws, then look in a mirror and think "fuck off! I don't look that bad" - maybe not :-s

    I think loving taking photos should be good training - Soon you will be able to look at a bad photo of yourself and just see a bad photo....They are just bad photos after all, you know you look nice to everybody else - you're just being wilfully difficult :-)
    lots of love xx

  48. @Alice

    Hey Alice, even though I put this out there, I still feel kind of daft for writing it, but it is honest and it is how I really feel. I really appreciate you taking the time to read my waffle, I sometimes wonder if anyone reads the 'about me' let alone find there way here.

    You are spot on with the teenage thing and bad snaps, which is never a good thing when we are in our fragile emo teenager like state. I thought my dad was bad, but he never called me a mutant, probably worse! But never actually meant it.

    Mirror work like you suggested is a brilliant tool! Even learnt about in college with the counselling thing, but I end up gurning at myself, haha.

    "Soon you will be able to look at a bad photo of yourself and just see a bad photo.."

    I love that!

    This comment made my day, really :)