|The Photographer Aged 14|
You tend not to see many photographs of keen photographers. This is not just for technical reasons - until the new generation of camera phones it was difficult to see the preview through the viewfinder and appear in the shot yourself. There is, I suspect, a deep psychological explanation as well. People choose to take photographs so as not to appear in them : they choose to shoot rather than be shot, to take rather than be taken. It probably has something to do with self-image, the visual equivalent to hearing your recorded voice for the first time and being convinced that you couldn't possibly sound like that. If I show my dog, Amy, a photograph of herself, she simply ignores it, convinced beyond all rational explanation that this ragged-haired, tatty-head couldn't possibly be the fine featured canine she knows herself to be. With humans, self-denial is more difficult : "of course it is you dear, I just took the photograph, your are wearing your favourite blue trousers, and there is your Uncle Wilf stood next to you". And when self-denial is no longer an option, the best solution is to retreat to the other side of the lens and become the family photographer.
Occasionally, deep at night and when nobody is watching, we might check to see if our self-image and our external image are still in mortal combat. We would sidle up to a mirror, click the shutter, process the negatives ourselves in the privacy our our darkrooms and hide any subsequent prints deep inside the brownest of brown envelopes. Fifty years later we may take the print out and hope that sepia-ageing has worked its magic, perhaps I really did look like that back in 1962. But no, I was a young Hercules; flaxen haired and taut-muscled I strode through life. Photographs are for others. The reward for the photographer is visual anonymity.
This post was prompted by the image for Sepia Saturday 169 which shows a photograph of a group of photographers. To see how other Sepians have interpreted the image simply go to the Sepia Saturday Blog and follow some of the fascinating links.