Taking a selfie Vs. Having my picture taken

I started photography when I was in high school, in 2006–2007, and between the photos of my dog and the ones of my bedroom,
I took many many self-portraits.
There are two reasons for this :
- I really didn’t know how to use a camera at that time, I was just trying things without knowing if it was “ok according to the photographic rules”.
For example, I remember really well how I used to enjoy the amount of noise on my photos…Well you can really see that I didn’t know anything about photography and because of that, I didn’t think about photographing other people.
- The other reason is that, for me, there’s something easy within the self-portraits making. Let’s be clear : I’m not saying this in the sense that it’s harder to make portraits, but in terms of immediate feasibility, it’s easier to make self-portraits since all we need is a camera, a tripod and ourselves.

And I have to say that when you’re your own model,
there’s a kind of game that’s coming together.
We say to ourselves “If I try this pose, what will the photograph look like?”,
“If I place myself in this way in this place, how will the result be?”.
In fact, without realizing it, we create new versions of ourselves. And photography allows us to explore ourselves.
Until now we didn’t know that we could look like that and/or give that impression.
In fact when I look at some of my selfies, it’s a kind of surprise and I tell myself that I’m far from looking like that in reality.
Frida Kahlo once said : “I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.” That pretty much sums it up.
When she said this, we can assume two things : she painted herself because she knew very well her physical expressions and mental what she had in mind and could express them easily.
But, I think she was also saying that because she was able to play with this : through her own knowledge, she could image and stage herself.
She had became her own tool, her own vector of transmission that she could manipulate and recreate without any limits.

The photograph in the middle was taken by Baptiste Howell (Regard Noir)

In my personal life, I also take selfies quite regularly.
I like to do them when it’s a day when I feel good about myself.
When I like my make-up and/or the clothes I’m wearing for instance.
That’s something I wouldn’t have said a few years ago, because I know that making selfies is sometimes frowned upon as some people see it as a symbol of a huge narcissism.
Personnaly, I know now that these selfies correspond to moments when I have (a little) self-confidence. Moments that help me and teach me about myself.
I now sometimes make images where I show myself without makeup, with dark circles under my eyes, with physical defects (vein, white hair).
That’s something I would never have done a while ago.
But it makes me realize that I accept myself more than I did before (even if I always retouch my photos with VSCO haha).
I also became aware that these images were images of self-confidence because at the time I had put on a lot of weight, I was taking almost no selfies.
Probably because I no longer loved the person I had become.

However, and this is the contradiction of selfie,
it’s pretty crazy to show some self-confidence in such a staged image, isn’t it?

That’s not the point of my article. Is it ?
For a few years now, I’ve been posing for photographers sometimes.
Either it’s me who ask them some photographs or it’s the other way around.
And I’ve notice, on several occasions, that the photographers wanted me to pose the way I do it when I take selfies or self-portraits (there’s a difference between both of them, and I explain why here).
But it’s really difficult for me to do so, in fact I’d say that I’m the most tense model in the world haha..
I quickly understood why there’s such a big difference between my selfies/selfportraits and the portraits sessions : in the second case,I can’t manage to let myself go as if I was alone with the camera.
I don’t dare to pose, I don’t dare to try things because I’m afraid of looking stupid. As if I were afraid of what the photographer might think of me (and these thought are completely unfounded thoughts).
Besides, as a photographer, I have never (and will never) pass judgment on a model because I know how intimidating the lense of a camera pointed at you can be.
In fact, there’s a huge contradiction : I voluntarily post self-portraits and selfies on the web and I accept to be judged by people behind their screens but it’s difficult for me to pose for a single person when they are facing me.
Well now I know that it’s precisely because I can control (and stage) my selfies from A to Z, that I accept this judgment.

Among my day jobs, I sometimes make money by being films and TV extra. And there’s the same problem : I don’t always dare to let go, to play the game. When someone asks me to do something, I feel like my heart is racing and my facial expression quickly becomes cold.
I really do have the “resting b**** face.”
I don’t think I’m the worst extra but I think I could do better.
As I said, the problem here is similar to the problem encountered in a photo shoot : I’m afraid of the image the director is going to get (even if we agree: as an extra, I would be more blurred than an actress in the foreground !).
In fact, I’m afraid of not being credible.

When we create selfportraits, when we take selfies, we do it with a total control over our image. We know what we should put in relief, we know how to look “good” and we also know what we don’t want people to see.
And this control takes place because we see ourselves directly on our screen phone, they’re are the new mirrors.
And also, if you’re like me, you often take your selfies when you’re on your own. So no one is there to judge you, to mock you or even just…to look at you.
Haven’t you ever been embarrassed after being caught taking a selfie?

While being photographed / filmed is daring to lose this control.
It’s about letting go, accepting the other person’s gaze behind his camera, taking the plunge and gaining confidence.
It means accepting that the other person will not necessarily see you the way you see yourself, but the way he/she, and perhaps many other people, see you. It means accepting a photo that is less fake, and more real (even if it can be staged).
I still have some progress to make, however I think that having your photo taken really is an exciting exercice.
It’s a challenge and a surprise.
Because by accepting the way the photographer sees us, we probably accept how people can see us in the everyday life.

French visual artist