Blog : Posts tagged with 'self-portrait'


We want information

In which FP gets described

Incidentally, K recently pointed out that the About Page on this site was severely out of date. And, indeed, it was. It was written when the site first appeared, and had barely been updated since then. In the time that this site’s been going a lot’s changed. I’ve met K, for one thing, moved across the country, been abroad a couple of times, learned a lot, and become slightly more optimistic about life in general. The old About Page really would have confused anyone who’d come across the site at random, read it, and tried to match the description there to the description of my life now.

So: the other day, it got rewritten. I’m still not entirely happy with it, but self-descriptions are one of the hardest things in the language to write. Next time I do one, I’ll just get other people to describe me instead, I think; it will probably be far more accurate.

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On Camera

In which FP speculates

I’ve written before about disliking pictures of myself. What I didn’t mention is that I don’t always look very recognisable in them anyway – depending on who you ask.

The other day, I was sitting around in a pub when a woman came, sat down next to me, and said: “I’ve talked to you online, haven’t I?” And she indeed had – I recognised her as someone who I’d talked to a few months back on a popular free Internet dating site.* We got talking; and, after a while, about photographs. “Do I look like my photo?” I asked.

“Oh, yes, yes, you do,” she said, very affirmatively. “I spotted you straight away.”

Fast-forward to a day or two later, and, in the same way, I’m sitting and talking to a chap who I’ve talked to previously in a chatroom. He’s seen the same picture of me. We haven’t introduced ourselves – I recognised him, and I assume he recognised me equally. And then he says: “I thought FP was going to be here – I wanted to meet him.”

“Um…” I said, looking at him. He’s completely serious. “I’m FP. I thought you realised.”

Really?” he said. “You don’t look a thing like your picture.”

Then again, one regular reader of this place,** who I haven’t met, has told me that I look completely different in every picture of me she’s seen. And I have had random strangers come up to me and start a conversation with: “you don’t look anything like your photo, you know,” which naturally leads to: “how do you know it’s me, then? And who do you think I am anyway?” Maybe I’m just some kind of mysterious shape-shifter who doesn’t show up on film very well.

* The one that isn’t called “Yes, cherub”.

** Hi Miranda!

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In which we hate the sound of our own voice

Almost anyone you ask will tell you: they hate the sound of their own voice. I have a similar relationship with my own face.

This is at the top of my mind, because I received an email today, with a couple of photos of myself in it.* They look horrible, I have to say. No fault of the photographer, just that I look terrible anyway.

The common connection with the sound of your own voice is that just as you rarely hear your own voice as other people do, you rarely see your own face that way either. When I see myself in the mirror in the morning, it somehow doesn’t register, because it doesn’t look anywhere near as bad in my mind as it does in photographs. I’m convinced I’m not the only person who thinks this way, though. I’m sure there are relatively few people who are pleased with the appearance of their own face.

It makes me wonder about artists: specifically, artists who produce a lot of self-portraiture.** What drives them to do it? Is it a narcissistic obsession with their own appearance? Or, as I’d prefer to think, is it instead more the reverse, an obsession with controlling their appearance because they’re never satisfied with it.

* And lots of other people too, of course – from when we all went out on Boxing Day.

** I’m speaking as somebody who takes photos of their own face on nearly every roll of film, and nearly always hates them afterwards.

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