Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Say Cheese!!!

Why do many people shy away from the camera and refuse to have their picture taken? Have you ever noticed this? Are you camera shy? Being an avid scrapbooker I take tons of photos; photos of everything, anyone, anywhere doing everything from the ordinary to the strangest things (all in good fun). I love to take pictures. I have a really good camera (Canon 40D), or so my hubby tells me (he bought it for me), and am just getting to where I feel comfortable changing the settings and playing to achieve different results. But I must confess, I am not the greatest photographer by any margin, an amateur at best. But regardless how good the photos are or not, I feel they are so important. Good or bad, in focus or out, smiling or not, photos are precious.

I rarely discard a photo. Really! If you were to look at my digital library you will see that I keep just about every shot. I just can’t bear to throw an image away. Throw away a memory? No way.

I take photos of strange things too. One year we went to Disney World and I walked so much that my big toe nails on both feet, having pounded up against the inside of my shoes for miles and miles, fell off. I took a picture of my beat up big toes. Ha, everyone thought I was nuts!

Then, when my favorite shoes finally bit the dust, I took a picture of them so that I would remember just what they looked like, before I threw them away (shhhh, don’t tell anyone, but if the truth be told, I kept the shoes, there are hidden in a box in my closet).

Or what about the photos of my feet down by the gas pedal in my car (wait, I just noticed something, I take a lot of photos of my feet, I wonder what that means), or the one of the note that my hubby left on my dash, the day after I backed out the drive way and hit my nephew’s car. Obscure memories? Yes. But they are my memories. I want to remember everything. Why?

Well for starters, I actually have a pretty good memory; it is just very short (big grin). So making lists, taking pictures, and creating reminders, is something I must do to survive the day.

Secondly, what if I can’t remember one day. What if I wake up one morning and cannot remember a single thing. Would not these photos be a reminder of my everyday life? Would not these photos be a reminder of where my feet have been? Just kidding y’all.

But seriously, what if I couldn’t remember my loved ones some day? Or worse, what if I lost my loved one?

When my Sister, Marlene passed away in 2000 at age 45 from cervical cancer, she left behind 5 beautiful boys that were desperately clinging to every memory they had of their mother and unfortunately she was one that would shy away from the camera. We struggled to find photos of her after her death. If ever you wanted to take her picture she would give you this disapproving look and would never smile. I never understood why, because she was absolutely beautiful. Every once in a while we would get her to smile and the results were stunning. We have very few photographs of her and I find myself everyday, wishing there were more.

Maybe you shy away from the camera because you don’t think that you are photogenic. I know that I used to feel the same way. The camera always saw things just the way they truly were and by gosh I didn’t want to know the truth. You can’t handle the truth. (She said in the authoritative tone of Jack Nicholson). I am overweight and that typically translates to unbecoming multiple chins, bulges in the wrong places, lopsided profiles, crumpled up clothing and the list goes on and on. But you know what…it’s me. Yep, that’s me, good or bad it is who I am. And let me let you in on a little secret. What you see in the pictures and what others see are two very different things.

We all have an image of what we look like, be it thin, fat, young, old, pretty, ugly, happy or sad. We look at ourselves with a critical eye. We scrutinize every inch. But think about it, if you were to see someone for the first time, in person or in photos, would you scrutinize every detail or would you see the big picture? Would you say, hey there is Heidi, or would you say, hey look there are Heidi’s chins. (Don’t answer that.)

A photo is not just an image of someone or something, but rather it is an image, overlaid by a memory, which is overlaid by an emotion. It invokes at response, a glimmer of a heartbeat, a fainted gasp, a whisper of a prayer. It touches our soul, our heart and our being. It can invoke happiness or pain, laughter or tears, silence or joy. It can make you feel faint or it can cause your heart to race. It is a place where you have been, or a place where we want to go. It is who we were when or who we wish we could be again.

It is a memory, simple yet complex.

So the next time someone turns to you and says, “Say cheese”, do it. Look at the camera and give it your best smile ever. Leave them with an image of who you are right then and right there. There is a reason why they want that picture at that precise moment. They see something in you right at that moment that they want to always remember. It is an image of you that they want to keep forever. So what if your hair is out of place or your clothes are crumpled. You look perfect to them at that moment. Don’t run from the camera. Embrace it, for you, for your family, for the years to come.


BriteCloud said...

That is a beautiful post, Heidi. Thanks so much for sharing about your sister. (And your feet, ha!)

It makes me want to take more pictures of myself, or let more be taken. You are beautiful, inside, and out.

rockin robin said...

You always have such thought provoking posts.
You're such a great writer!

Anonymous said...

I just LOVE your blog! You make me look at life in a totally different way! you may me see things in a way i never thought of. YOU are an AMAZING writer! Thank you....

Heidi Mansion said...

Oh my. You guys are so sweet. Thank you for the wonderful comments. Heidi

Jenny B in Indy said...

How true, Heidi. I'm one of those that hide from the camera and I feel horrible for doing so. I know that if something happened to me, Caleb wouldn't hardly have any pics of he and I together and I do need to make more of an effort to get in FRONT of the camera from now on.
Thank you for writing this and yes, your sister was beautiful, just like you.

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