by Adrienne Ryan, Brisbane, Australia
Recently I was assisting a photographer as he photographed some beautifully ordinary individuals. I noticed how relaxed and open the people were. As we went on I came to realise there was a question silently being asked every time the camera was raised: “how much will you allow of you to be seen?”. I felt this myself when the camera was on me and I realised:
We choose how much of ourselves we allow to be seen.
Standing in front of a camera is like standing in front of the world itself with every eye upon us. In the face of the world and all its expectations we make a decision: how much to hold back and how much to let out.
“To be or not to be?” plays out in front of the camera…
and in front of life.
We’ve played this game for so long that it has become normal. When the camera was lowered the tension of how much to let be seen was relieved and people relaxed, until the camera was pointed again and the measuring returned. It is not a huge change, but a subtle veil that falls between subject and lens.
When people let themselves go and seemed to say with their whole being, “This is me – here I am, you can look at me, I’ll let you see all of me, there’s nothing here I am holding back or hiding or keeping tucked away”, it was exquisite and powerful to behold – like the full sun coming out from behind cloud cover. It felt warm, effortless, mighty, clear, unimposing and inspiring. There was no ‘on’ or ‘off’ button – they remained this way when the camera was lowered.
“To be seen or not to be seen?” is the question we answer every day in front of life… and the question is the same when we’re being photographed. Facing a camera is an instant way to feel how much we let people in, allow ourselves to be seen by the world, capturing how present, accepting and appreciative we are with ourselves. It is not about looking perfect, but being perfectly yourself. It is an opportunity to let go, to not buy into hiding or holding back a drop of the ever unfolding beauty of who you are.