There was a time, back when I was still in middle school and even high school, where I was more than happy to get my picture taken. As a kid, I was an absolute ham and found just as much enjoyment in having someone click a pic of me as I was to find something to get on film myself.
In the Age of the Selfie, where we’re expected to show off ourselves virtually all hours of the day, I know I’m supposed to be all too happy to be clicking my phone and advertising my life wherever, whenever.
Except I may be the only photographer on the planet who has no interest at all in turning the lens back in my own direction.
The last time I voluntarily took a picture of myself was just over two years ago as I was sitting atop a ridge overlooking Banks Lake in the middle the Washington high desert and even that one felt like the emotional equivalent of pulling teeth.
Now one would think that for a person who loves photography as much as I do, I’d have a stockpile of candid snapshots of my own face large enough to crash most of social media.
But I don’t. In fact, of all the pictures I still have collected over the entirety of my life, I may have no more than thirty in which I appear. Before leaving the desert, I ran all my old high school and college photos through my paper shredder and I’ve reached the point where I have very little interest in even using a picture of myself as an identifier on social media.
In fact, if there’s one thing that puts my anxiety on edge more than being made to interact with people, it’s the idea of producing a photo in which I appear.
The reason why has nothing to do with ego or the need to be contrarian or anti-establishment, either.
The No Selfie Rule exists because they embarrass me.
In the 30 years I’ve been using a camera, I know all too well what amazing things they can produce and I’ve been damn lucky to be in the right place at the right time when I had my Nikon ready to shoot. It’s that pursuit of things that are worth immortalizing in an image which always inspires me to keep exploring and trying.
I am not one of those things worth immortalizing. I’m a pasty, pudgy, middle-aged guy with a gimpy chin and a hairline that looks like a pencil with the eraser bitten off. Instagram material, I am most definitely not.
My life being what it is has made it clear to me that when all is said and done, the better course of action is for me to fade into obscurity, that sort of person who maybe one or two people can say they knew, but there’s otherwise no documented record of existence.
And you know what? That’s okay. Not everyone is meant to be remembered.
I am more than happy to show you the world I see through my camera. I’d like to think that it’s something I’m good at and I can find things that go against the grain of who I am as a person.
But when it comes to my being in the frame, sorry, but I don’t do that anymore.
My eye is way too critical to find that an appealing photograph.