50 Crazy Things in my 50th Year #38 – Be seen – Let Dani Photograph me


vesta beach 4

photo by Dani Johnson

Along the lines of Crazy Thing #37, Dani Johnson and I completed two crazy things when we were out at the beach by the airport. The first was the portrait (#37) and the second was to let her do whatever she wanted with me for interesting pictures. Not necessarily pictures that made me look good, but interesting photos. She could do whatever she wanted and I wouldn’t complain. I have a bit of a reputation as a slight (understatement) control freak and I am pretty skilled at controlling how I’m seen – or at least living under the illusion that I do. Even for the portrait / head shot, I knew it had to be outside, I knew the colours I wanted to wear and the type of photo I wanted it to be.

vesta beach 2

photo by Dani Johnson

Out in the world I am somewhat stubborn when it comes to not being seen exactly how I’d like to be seen. See Crazy thing #19 (Drive home in my pajamas) – this was mortifying. Having to sit still while Dani picked how I would be portrayed made me want to scream.

So I knew I had to just give up control and be seen. Now, I trust Dani and giving control over to her was a bit easier than it would be to a stranger.

vesta beach 1

photo by Dani Johnson

The results are interesting. Not the photos, I love the photos, buy my reactions to them. Oh sure, I have the reaction that most of us would have – still have some weight to lose, my hair looks stupid, my glasses magnify the lines around my eyes… blah blah blah. After I got over those reactions, or at least parked them in a different part of my brain, I started to see some other things – things I liked. I look like someone who likes to laugh, is strong, smart, and maybe a bit of a geek. I like the intensity of my focus, they way I notice small and simple things. I like the fact that I’m serious and quiet at times. This was the surprise to me in this exercise. I saw things I liked and Dani and her camera saw them too.

vesta beach 3

photo by Dani Johnson

I’ve included four of the pictures here. There are lots, and there are lots I like. I think these ones caught different parts of me.

Why was this crazy?

I had to park the controlling part of my brain and let myself be controlled.

Would I do it again?

Under the right circumstances.


50 Crazy Things in my 50th Year #37 – Have my portrait taken

For years I’ve been asked for head shots to go along with magazine articles and other things I’ve written. For years I’ve come up with creative excuses along the same lines as “My dog ate my homework” for why I don’t have one. My resistance to having my picture taken comes from not liking what I see, for one thing, and the other is not liking being vulnerable, or being seen. But I knew that’s what I needed to do. There is a difference between a great portrait and a picture. I needed to step up.

I asked a co-worker, Dani Johnson, who has tone professional photography in the past, to help me out. She takes great photos of people, and food. Not sure why but that mattered in my decision. We’re good friends so it’s a bit easier to stop moving long enough to be seen by her. She took her job very seriously

We got together February 8th, Family Day, and went out to the beach near the airport. I told her ahead of time I wanted casual pictures, think book jacket cover, something that accurately reflected me. I don’t like corporate headshots and I will never ever be a corporate type of person. I wanted something outdoors in settings where I feel the most comfort.

Getting there was easy. Staying there was hard. I really hate sitting for pictures so she had her work cut out for her. She’d get in my face with the camera and I wanted to run away screaming. She took a lot of pictures in a lot of different settings. Looking relaxed was not really an option. We were out there for a few hours, completing two crazy things (see the next one) and tracked about a billion tonnes of sand back with us. It was a great experience to give up control… something I need to do more often.

Me by dani 1

This is one of the ones from that day.

Why was this crazy?

I had to give up control, sit still, and be seen. A good photographer brings more than the skin to the surface of a picture. I had to let what’s under the skin be seen. Not an easy thing for me.

Would I do it again?

With the right person, yes. It would have to be someone I feel comfortable with, though.