Behind the Lens

by Colette Bruneau

I grew up in the ‘80s, a time when cameras took real film and you’d have to wait a week to see how they turned out.  We took photos of special occasions or vacations and not much more.

I grew up with the belief that if you actually wanted someone to take your photo then you must be vain. This belief held as I grew older, and while there are many pictures of my children growing up, I still avoided the camera flash. If I did happen to be caught in the background, my first reaction was always to criticize the woman captured there.

I wasn’t consciously aware of this behaviour until recently when I was photographing a family memory and had the realization that I was actually deleting myself from my family’s history. The thought made me sad and I began to really reflect on the cost of staying behind the camera.  Of course, there were formal family photos but what about the fun, spontaneous silliness?

Imagine looking at a photo of women you love, what do you feel? Do you look at the dark circles under your friend’s eyes or the shape of her hips and think, “Wow, she looks awful?”  Do you project feelings of shame and tell her she should lose some weight or change her hair?  I’m sure you would never do this, so why do you do this to yourself?

There are many factors that have contributed to this mindset; the magazine covers of airbrushed women or TV shows with the bikini model housewives. This narrow view of beauty represented in North America has the vast majority of women feeling that we do not fit the criteria of being beautiful.

If we continue hiding from the camera, our families miss out on understanding who we really were at that time. If we step in front of the camera in all of our authenticity, we can begin to provide a counterbalance to the manufactured benchmark of beauty.  If we are kind to ourselves and create a new measure of beauty just imagine how stunning would those photos be!









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