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Selfies: Documenting Life

“The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people’s reality and eventually in one’s own.” ~ Susan Sontag

day four

I have more time in my life for photography now, thank goodness. It’s a prescription for healthy living for me and other guests of the Half Century Mark: part therapy, part brain gymnastics, and a huge dose of joy. We encourage our guests to take lots and lots of photos, of themselves. Delete most and share a few with those you love, as well as those that love you, or complete strangers. Sharing with those that you only kinda like can get tricky. Should you hear snickers, find another playground. There’s a big world out there waiting for you to twirl.


My adventure into ‘selfies” began in the spring of 2011 with an on-line class taught by the amazing Vivienne McMaster. My first Viv class, You Are Your Own Muse (YAYOM) was a life changer for me, truly. A self portrait by a classmate triggered something so powerful within me that I began to truly examine myself, my life, addictions and afflictions. But that dear reader is a story, with photos, for another day.

Fast forward to late December 2012 when another YAYOM tribe-mate invited me to join a year-long, portrait a day group on Flickr, an on-line photo sharing site; it was an offer I couldn’t refuse.

My first two photos illustrate what I love about portraiture. You can tell the truth (day one, on left) or disguise it (day two, right).

day one and two

It’s your story, your truth and you are the writer, cinematographer, makeup artist and lighting crew. Make filters and Photoshop your friend one day and the next, go straight out of the camera, showing the real you. There are no right or wrong portraits.

Personally I enjoy dressing up my truth. Mrs. Crow (day four, below) is one of my favorites:

Mrs. Crow

The fourth person

I  also like the concept of a self portrait as ‘fourth person.’Jenny, writing for the photography blog Mortal Muses, attributes this concept to the artist May Ray: “Like other painters, I’ve made self-portraits, even photographic ones, but I’ve always been tempted to deform or alter the image in such a way as to erase any intention of seeking a resemblance. You might say – in the fourth person.”

Not I, You, Him or Her but someone else with a story to tell. Sometimes the person that shows up in my portraits surprises me. I’m not always sure where they she comes from or what she may need to tell me. I realize that shots of my body are harder for me. They come to me veiled in cloth or light.

new me

But no matter their origin, or their messages, all are made to feel welcome in my heart and imaginary hotel lobby. Sometimes they even sing.


 So what makes you and your heart sing?

Happy twirling.

12 thoughts on “Selfies: Documenting Life Leave a comment

  1. Thank you for allowing me to share in your “self” . All of them. It is always and has always been a “very strangetrip indeed” yet not so strange. Kindered spirits and like minds no doubt. Rock on Baby! Feeling the love. Miss Sue


  2. What a fabulous post this is! So many people in these images, so many stories. I think my favourite is Mrs Crow as well, along with the one on the beach (second-to-last). And thanks for linking back to my fourth person post!


    • Thank you, Viv. Truly, your class started me on this journey. Wonder where we will all go next? It seems so many of your YAYOM grads are coming into their own powers as of late. You created something mighty potent, my dear. xoxo


  3. Patti, these are fantastic! I especially love Mrs. Crow and the one with you wrapped in the curtain. So gorgeous. Viv and YAYOM helped me see the power in self portraiture as well. I haven’t been taking many lately but seeing these is making me itch a little to get back to them. Thank you.


  4. Patti, you have me blown away. Your honesty & vulnerability comes through in every word & every shot. There is something about taking selfies that honestly bring me such discomfort. I hadn’t given it a second thought as to why until this post came across my screen. The honesty, the vulnerability of it is so raw. This post has me a bit contemplative at the moment. Thank you for allowing yourself to be so transparent in such an open venue. You have me thinking….


    • Thank you for visiting, Desiree, and more importantly for sharing your reactions. Love contemplatives…keep thinking and maybe snap a few and share or not. That’s the beauty of self portraits; it’s all about you, in a really good way.


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