In my research for my illustration work, I often have to search out acquaintances to model for me, such as in my most recent book that has been published. (Faces and Expressions—by Walter Foster Publishing,). I’ve never had anyone refuse to be my “victim” for a photo shoot –in fact, my non-professional models are often quite excited and look forward to the event. But time and time again, I have noticed an interesting phenomenon that happens once the camera comes out. In spite of our Facebook/You Tube exhibitionist culture, people often privately share with me the unhappy truth on how they view themselves.
On one photo shoot, an extremely handsome young adult confided in me that his co-workers were so much better looking than him because of his crooked mouth. Another time, a woman with the beauty of a Renaissance face critically announced to me that her face was way too round. And just when I was ready to take some pictures of an elegant elderly woman, she quietly commented to me on how unattractive she was.
When I hear these types of comments from people, I am baffled by their harsh self-criticism. I only choose subjects who touch me in some beautiful way. I know I am going to spend many hours doing a drawing or painting of them, so I want to enjoy those hours as much as possible by drawing someone special. When the young man tells me about his crooked smile, I am taken aback because I only see his proud and creative spirit. When the woman declares that her face is too round, I am shocked, because I am sure Raphael would have loved to paint her as much as I. And my elderly friend? I only see how the years of living a life governed by kindness have given her a glow of sweetness and light that only age can reveal.
But when I photograph young children, a totally different picture emerges. Children invariably start dancing and posing and acting like they have been awarded super-star status. Except for maybe the most shy of children, the camera brings out that charming “I LOVE MYSELF” attitude that we jaded adults just adore in our children. So I pose the question to you, my readers. What if we free our vision from the prison of self-criticism and begin to look at ourselves in the mirror and see what every child knows and sees in herself. Can you see the child in you in the mirror?