"camembert!" (xesce august 2004)

Photophobia is a morbid dread or intolerance of light, but I'm taking creative licence.

For most of my life, I've lived in fear of having my photo taken. If you've seen my websites, that might seem like a weird statement. I have ended up dealing with the phobia in my own way. I'm still not comfortable with the idea of anyone but me taking my picture, though.

Well I live with snakes and lizards
and other things that go bump in the
night 'cause for me halloween is every day
I have given up hiding and started to fight...

-Every Day Is Halloween, by Ministry

If you leave the house, you are likely to be photographed in one way or another. At the atm, at the grocery store or any store you visit, on your friends' or family's security cameras. There could be cameras in public toilets, hotel rooms, or hidden in people's shoes. There are cameras in mobile phones, and lots of people walk around with regular cameras, digital cameras and video cameras, whether they are tourists or not. I think it's becoming increasingly difficult to ignore appearance issues in daily life, to ignore the classism that relates to personal appearance.

In the yellow pages, it sort of surprised me to discover that there were significantly more ads for plastic surgeons than for any other kind of medical practitioners, although I suppose it wasn't rational to be so surprised. There are so many extreme makeover programs on tv that I only see the trend toward plastic surgery being accepted as the norm eventually. I don't see this whole issue just going away.

On this site and on my main site, there are lots of photos. I need to stress that the photos don't represent how I think others view me in reality, and they're very different to most of the photos that people took of me in the past. I think I've learned how to use a camera to capture fleeting moments, aspects of my personality that I don't think are readily apparent. Taking photos and processing them in different ways has been a way for me to take small steps toward learning what else there is to me besides the mousy, unassertive, frumpy person I suspect people think I am. I often wish I could take pictures of others, and show them that I see them in complex ways, that I see so many angles and aspects that I don't think all people see. But again, I'm a slow learner. I guess eventually I'd need to work with a higher resolution camera, and learn more skills, and try to move beyond the more obvious. Yes, there's a lot of scope to improve my level of expression. My learning pace is maybe so slow that it may take a very long time, but if people saw what I did with images of myself, and were open to the idea of me photographing them... it would be appealing to me.

Although maybe I'd be as welcome as Jack Skellington in Christmas Town.

Anyway. If I were more functional, and better able to adapt to human interaction, I would like to photograph others who feel unphotogenic. I'd like to see if I could capture elusive qualities of theirs, and maybe help them to feel less intimidated by the idea of being photographed. To feel less powerless in the face of images. To feel less powerless against the power of the photos of the photogenic.