Can You Tell Me Who I Am?

Botanical Gardens 186

Sherry Galey did a post where she shows the results of some post-editing on a photo, showing the before and after. I commented that I liked the result – that she had made it look like her. I don’t know Sherry well at all, but I have started to get a feel for who she is through following her blog. Sherry and I exchanged comments and it got me thinking.

I have heard people say that when someone says something about another person it says more about the speaker than the person being talked about. Is the same true for our posts. I do some posts that are about me – where I deliberately tell you about my experiences and my thoughts, my struggles and my triumphs, my pains and my joys. I always feel a bit of anxiety when I click that publish button when I do these posts. I question whether I want to tell you that much about me. If I let you see the real me, what will you do with it?

Do all of my other posts reflect who I am as well? I have chosen to follow a lot of photography blogs because this is an old interest that is freshly budding in me. And I like to post my photography and usually a few lines, a story, to go with it. I didn’t know I liked to tell stories until my doctor mentioned that he always likes to hear my stories. I didn’t think I was telling stories – I was just telling him about my fun experiences.

Maybe what we post tells people a whole lot about who we are. The brilliant people behind the scenes at Word Press are continually helping us think about how to set up our blog in a way that represents who we are and what we want to accomplish. In the same way, what we post not only presents what interests us, but also how we make sense of the world. We tell people how we make meaning of what we hear and see and think, and it is meaning-making that defines us.

All writers know that the written word represents the writer’s interpretation of his/her world. So my stories are telling you how I see the world. Does not our photographs do the same? Before the age of photography, paintings were commissioned to present reality, to record history. Now photography is used to record these same types of reality. Did not the discipline of science teach us that we can be objective – removed so that the scientist only records what is objective – not our subjective?

Botanical Gardens 111

More recent thinking brings objectivity into question. Our photos can never be the totally objective portrayal of reality. By the time we post them, we have already imposed our subjective choice of what to photograph and how we frame it. I do some post-editing – even as I tell myself that I am only attempting to make the photograph more true to what I really see. Chew on that one for a few minutes. I might change color a little bit, or clarity, light, dark, shadows, and of course focus of interest with cropping. I tell myself that I am correcting errors from camera processing or from my lack of skill in getting correct settings. Am I also not imposing my beliefs about what reality should look like? If I am doing this, then I am telling you how I see the world (or want to see the world) as much as I am showing you how my lens sees the world. I am showing you me, one world image at a time.

And when I add narrative, I am showing you me one sentence at a time. But that is a post I will leave to the writers.  I have shown you enough of me already – and I fear that showing you the depths of my thinking will bore you. For those of you who made it this far, I send you my deep gratitude. Now I think I’ll go back and read some of my previous posts to find out who I really am. A new take on reflecting on my belly button.

If you want to follow up on some of the WP tips on creating nice blogs here are some links I found useful:

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/01/30/visualbranding/

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2012/12/11/about-page-201-the-meat-grinder/

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2012/11/28/aboutpage/

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11 Comments »

  1. Really interesting, Pat. Sometimes I think I might reveal too much of myself in my blogs, but, oh well! I know that I am always interested in hearing another person’s story. (I always like hearing yours.)

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  2. Wonderful, thoughtful post, Pat. I love these types of posts, which are reflective and insightful. I totally agree with you on so many points, especially: “We tell people how we make meaning of what we hear and see and think, and it is meaning-making that defines us.” And I would say that our photos show people how we make meaning, even without words, just by what we choose to shoot, and how we present it. I think many of us are instinctively drawn to a strong visual style. But also, we are taught more to focus on words than images as we grow up so most of us are more word-literate than visually literate so we like the accompanying stories that explain a person’s stance and intentions on an image. I go back and forth on adding text to my images and letting them stand mostly alone to speak for themselves. Great food for thought here…

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    • Thanks for your thoughtful response! I hadn’t thought of the difference between our visual learning and literate learning. Do you think the visual is more instinctive so we don’t analyze what we see or maybe analyze outside of awareness? I tend to not add narrative when I am tired and just want to get a photo up. 🙂 I have been posting on Flickr and Pinterest and find that many of my photos have a hard time standing without narrative. Hummmm.

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  3. This is so true, Pat…I think the whole purpose of expressing ourselves here is to show who we are and maybe to learn to appreciate what we have to say…quite a powerful tool and you have expressed it wonderfully here…thank you!

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    • Thanks for the affirming comment, Meryl. I was thinking about this just before I opened your comment. This powerful tool is working for me right now and I feel a follow-up post taking shape 🙂 Thanks for adding some fuel to my inner movings.

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