Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Vanity, Thy Name Is . . . Me?

"Vanity" by John William Waterhouse

It's been 98% joy, but I have been a tiny bit troubled by an aspect of personal blogging. (Disclaimer: I tend to be a worrier; I am a thinker to the point of pain; I over-analyze, etc. etc. As I've written before, The opposite of my life's credo is probably, "Well, that's the way it is.")

My sticking point is all the personal photography. I don't mean the revelation of myself to my readers. That took about a day to get over, and you have been to a person nothing but kind, supportive and positive. And we are part of the Visible Us movement and we do want to be seen, heard and noticed. That is all good.

I think the niggling little worry is: the posing and the hair/makeup prep and the wondering "how I'll look" in the photos. I make internal jokes about it, and pretend I'm Madonna for the moment (I'm a little too seasoned to pretend I'm Lady Gaga, but I do love her flair). To get a genuine, non-real-estate-salesman smile, I sometimes think about ridiculous things  - dogs wearing dresses! Austin Powers movies!

But I still do fret over the "lousy" shots and the bad hair days. I don't edit my photos except for brightness, sharpness and cropping. (I use paint.net, a pretty good free program). Maybe if I were a skilled photoshopper I could make every picture pleasing to my eye. But I don't want to go down that road.

I'm a middle aged woman, not a Harper's Bazaar model. I am happy with the way I look. Blogging has caused me to pay a lot of attention to my face/hair, and I'm not sure how I feel about that. I love sharing outfits, ideas, fashion philosophies, life philosophies, shopping strategies. I am just a little bit worried about that extra bit of stress I give myself at photo-shoot time.

If I crop my head out, I eliminate the problem. I almost always like the way my body looks with clothes fitted over it. But then I feel a little cowardly. Sigh. I would love to hear from you, regardless of whether you have shared this little tic. Do you tweak photos? Leave out the head (sounds gruesome, huh?). Say damn-it-all and post yourself in all your glory?

13 comments:

  1. Patti~ I dont tweak my photos--and recently, I'm delving into how-i-look-on-casual-days photos. I take a couple of photos and if they aren't perfect--OH WELL. I mean, that's life. And really, have you looked at a crosscut of pedistrians lately? How people really look? I say, keep it real, GF! oh, and never crop out the head--we want to see a smile! This is fun, right?

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  2. I like to see the heads. If it's a bad hair day or if I just can't get a good photo (from the 30 I took!), I'll crop off the top of my head leaving my eyes so that you can see my expression. I always crop closely so that the emphasis is on the garment, but I think the facial expression is important.

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  3. Hi Patti!
    Just found you via Pam (Over50feeling40), and I really like your blog. It's so great to see another 40+ style blogger! (I am 47)
    I am a photo cropping nut! ( I actually want to be a photographer when I grow up ;)
    My images take up the most time than anything I do re: my blog. I am a "perfectionist' when it comes to my photos and I really wish I weren't!
    But, that just me, a cat-lady with OCD, LOL!
    Nice to find you and will be following you as well! Pop by sometime, I love to meet new bloggers!
    xXx
    Reva

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  4. Keep your head! I prefer the blogs of real women, where I can see their faces as well as their bodies, it makes them real and makes me care about them as people.

    Eh, there's all sorts of bloggers out there. have you ever looked at the dark blurry photos I had in early 2009? Or the pics of me next to a Bowflex in the early years? A GOOD blog is about the person, not the quality of the photos. :)

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  5. Blogging has been a rabbit hole for me and it is so much more interesting than watching sports with my husband! I found Sal at Already Pretty and then Une Femme and others. While most of these blogs seem to feature younger women ( I am 58), I am growing accustomed to seeing photos of "less than perfect" women! Recently I've been following blogs that are focusing on body image- some have been pretty powerful!
    I haven't found the time to take photos for visible Mondays, but might get around to it as it intrigues me.
    A change is happening in me as a result of exposure to real women - I'm beginning to ease up on my standards for myself (they weren't all that attainable anyway!)
    Last winter I loaded a lifetime of photographs into my computer ( and then the "clouds.") As I reviewed the previous generation, mom and mother in law, I couldn't help pondering what they were NOT thinking/worrying about at 58!
    conclusion: I don't look like a 30 year old- but I don't look bad.
    I'm still working on assimilating where I should have my priorities.

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  6. You brought up a topic I have been thinking about a lot. Are we being vain? I do crop some photos to get the backyard junki out of the pic and I also do color corrections, but other than that nothing. Funny, but I went to my Mother's today and she wanted to see the blog (she isn't very good on the computer.) I brought up the blog and on her computer screen I look postively skinny. Wow, who knew that is all it took 8-D !

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  7. Great topic first of all. I feel if I am going to put pictures on the world wide web and call it a fashion or lifestyle blog, then I should be somewhat concerned with how I look in those pictures.

    I am personally enjoying learning more about how to take a good picture and what looks good on me versus what I think looks good until I see the picture. (hah)

    I crop a lot of photos. I don't retouch them unless I need to get rid of a wall outlet or something. I pay close attention to lighting and take enough (usually 7-10 if I have help from my daughter)so that I can choose one or two good ones.

    I love blogs that have pretty pictures and I want to create a blog that is like what I like. ps I think grown women should be allowed to be as vain as they want :)

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  8. Ugh, I just typed a LONG comment that blogger lost. I'll try again: taking good pictures is HARD. It's not that you don't look fabulous, or that you're too vain, or anything. It's hard to get a natural, yet flattering expression when you're not trained as a model. And yes, it's a pain to bother with hair and makeup, when all you really want to do is capture the outfit.

    My new idea? Look down, artfully. I stole this from another blogger (can't remember who). Tried it once, and even though I didn't use the photo, it worked well. You get the sense of the face, but makeup and expression and perfection don't matter so much. And it looks cool! You could try it sometime when you don't feel like bothering. (I think Terri at Rags does side shots sometimes, too. If you don't hate your profile as I hate mine, it might be another way to go!)

    Otherwise, when I crop off my head, I feel like there's something creepy about that.....

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  9. Keep your head! However, I'm not a good person to ask....I always turn my head so that my hair covers my face :)

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  10. Patti--I can remember going through a brief phase of worrying about this last fall. I don't think blogging is vain at all. I've seen some of the younger bloggers that feel all "look at me, look at me", but at our age when the invisibility factor has set in, there is nothing vain about it. It IS about having healthy body image no matter how one is shaped. I often do nothing with my hair and rarely wear makeup. In my mind, it is about experiments with clothing and support from like-minded women.

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  11. Patti, I have gone through some of what you're feeling. I really just wanted to cultivate and explore my sartorial creativity when I started blogging, which has been a passion of mine for most of my life. But I spent most of this past winter overthinking it. I tried too hard to be like everyone else and I nitpicked myself to death! I got to where I really didn't like blogging and almost stopped altogether. But, then I completely took the pressure off. For many blogs, they've gone the way of the magazines and lost their "real appeal". They show a picture that is pretty much unattainable to the rest of us in their clothes, make up, perfect hair, etc... But I LOVE the fact that the blogs that I find the most interesting are blogs like yours, Teri's, Paula's, Vanessa's, Gracey's, et al. All of them inspire me because there is not pretense. They share the same passion for style that I do without worrying about perfection. Because that much I DO know. Style isn't about perfection, it's expression. I'm a real woman with real wrinkles, some pudgy spots, facial hair to keep under control and more that I won't even go into! If that shows in my pictures, that's just how it is. At the end of the day, you have to express yourself how you feel the most comfortable. I'm going to love ya anyway! Hugs! ~Serene

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  12. it's a question allright! i'm leaning towards Serene's approach, and Terri's ideas about visibility. in the end, i'd say do what you feel right about doing. to me, i'd feel wrong about hiding parts of myself because i felt they weren't 'good enough' or up to society's standards. what type of messag3e is that for me to send to other women, especially younger women? to me that would not feel right.

    but i also like to joke around and it's hard for me to take myself too seriously...(thus the occasional 'jammie' photo). thank you for your sweet comment about that and for starting an interesting conversation here! take care, steph

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  13. I crop out extra space around me, but that's it. I'm trying to present an honest picture of what I actually look like on that given day... whether it's a good or not.

    Just trying to see what I really look like so I can make improvements... and I can't travel around life with a Photoshop filter....

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