From Outer to Inner Worlds: The Camera As a Window to Self Reflection

Ever since the “selfie” has been introduced (more like busted into) the social media scene and invaded our common vernacular, I’ve not been much of a fan.  However, a couple of recent events have encouraged me to think a bit differently about photography being used in this way.  For example, if we think of some of the self portraits that many artists have done throughout the centuries, we could say that those were a type of vintage selfie.

_DSC0706The other incident that changed my mind?  I recently participated in an exploratory, self-reflective, e-retreat, in her skin, lead by Isabel Faith Abbott, a woman doing many things in the world including writing.  For seven days we were given writing prompts and shared intimate thoughts within a closed/safe space.  I rarely am the photographer who uses my camera to do self-portraits or tell my own story through pictures.  In fact, I prefer to do that for the world outside of myself.  However, I took this recent opportunity with this e-retreat not only to expand upon some self-reflection but also to go beyond my comfort zone with my own artistic expression with the camera.  Using the camera as an opportunity and a window into self exploration.


_DSC0715One of the prompts in particular encouraged us to pic a body part and share thoughts based on what that part of our body would say if it could.  I chose my hair.  For me, hair has been quite intimate, difficult, and a connection to the complicated relationship with myself on a lot of levels.    If my hair could speak, this is what I imagined that it would say:

I am not sure what you would want
or have from me after you’ve
hot combed,
and dyed me

You’ve made additions to me during times you thought I was not enough
and cut me during times that you thought I needed to become something else

What would you have of me
and me of you after all of the ways you punished me for just being

However, I realize now that it is me you wanted to tame
because you were too afraid to allow yourself to just be the wild that you are
You were afraid of what they would way

Don’t you know
Don’t you understand
It through me, I can show you the way….
back to yourself

© Shanta L.E.

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