I am not a Monster

When I joined the police, I was told to have a very ‘light’ social media presence. At the time, that really wasn’t very difficult for me. I had joined Facebook many years ago but never really used it. The only thing that came up when you goggled my name was my umpteen race results.

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I am not a monster

Over the last ten years I’ve been with the service,  social media has exploded and is being used by the millennium youth in a way we never imagined. The attitudes about accounts has certainly changed, where now officers on duty are expected to keep up-to-date media accounts, headquarters regularly uses twitter and people can now do reporting of crimes on-line. So when I started with photography back in  the summer of 2015, I was faced with a quandary. Do I just keep these photos in Lightroom with myself as my only audience or do I try and share these with others on photography platforms, like  Flickr and Instagram? Well, I decided I wanted to enter the realm of social media, and hence kvphotobug was born.

Then a dilemma came up for me. Two actually, at about the same time. I started a 365 project and I started this blog. Everything I read about blogs suggested you should have an ‘About Me’ area with a photo of oneself. And then it happened. The prompt for a selfie in my 365 day project. Now I had a conundrum because I was certain I did not want any pictures of myself on the web. Once out there, you can’t pull them back. Hence, I came up with the idea taken from other peoples selfie projects, of trying to be creative with this.

That’s when the problem surfaced. You see, after each time I took a self portrait, I found my editing of the photo would lead me in the direction of creating a monster. I mean seriously. I wouldn’t mean to go in that direction, but I would add fire, or dark colours, dead branches and thus, and by the end, I was looking at a photo that resembled me somewhat, except that I was a monster. When I was done editing, I would look at the photo and I could hear, Quasimodo’s words from The Hunchback of Notre Dame “I am not a monster.”

I have read that photography, and any type of artistic endeavour, is an outward expression of our inward journey. So, as I sat there one day with a friend, showing one horror photo of myself after another, she looked at me and jokingly said “What is wrong with you?” as we both chuckled over out cappuccinos. But it did stick with me and I wondered about this. Why was it, that each time I edited a photo of myself, I would turn myself into a monster? Another friend, a longer-timer like myself in Alcoholics Anonymous, had a theory on this. She believes that no matter how long we have battled our demons, or put them to rest or to the side, there is always a dark side, where our experience of our disease or addiction took us and that leaves an indelible mark on our soul forever. It surfaces during times of artistic creations, and sometimes during stress. Interesting theory, although it did not ring true for me in any way.

However, all of a sudden I felt like I needed a couch to lie upon while looking deeply into my soul with Freud listening in the chair next to me. So, I endeavoured that I would do the exact opposite. Turn each photo of myself into an angel. Now this was not a free flowing process by any means. This was a directed path, one chosen and visualized before even snapping the photo and then creating what I saw in my mind’s eye.

Now I found this endeavour equally as satisfying and fun. Whether monster or angel, I enjoyed the process of hiding my identity in creative ways. I decided I didn’t need the couch to figure this phenomena out. What I found out was that my main goal when taking a selfie, is to ensure I am not recognizable in the photo, it is only a representation of myself. And what I learned is that I like to ‘play’ while being creative. That means just applying different filters and such to photos and seeing where they lead. It truly is the ‘cool’ factor that draws me, as in “That looks cool.”

That was over a year ago and I used a cell phone a lot for selfies. I have gone through monsters and angels, to geometric designs, body parts, trapped inside shapes or under drapes and double exposed with tress and such. What I truely found out was that more than an outward expression of my inward refection, my selfies represented the new cell phone app I had just downloaded and was trying out. More recently, I have been turning myself into penciled sketches and cartoon characters and enjoying the results. I wonder what that says about me? I know, it means I just downloaded the new app Toon Camera. And I look cool!

Happy snapping!

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