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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Editing a New Self Image

I'm a Mac user after many, many years of owning a PC and using both at work and school. I'm a photographer and so getting my MacBook Pro was very exciting. I actually decided to make the switch after using my husband's MacBook to put together a video slideshow with music for a client I had done some commercial work for. Not only did I do stock images for their banquet hall, but I shot an event their and they played my slideshow on a bit screen. It was pretty damned cool that I got to stretch my skills and  it was one of many sessions I did for them.

One thing that is clear now compared to even then, is that the quality of the images I take has improved drastically, as had my editing.

I don't edit all that much really. White balance, contrast, saturation, sharpness, and conversion to B&W are my usual tweaks if I'm not playing around and wanting to do something funky.

What is interesting are the images of myself (not that there are many).

I will admit that when I take and edit an image of myself, I do edit out major blemishes in my skin, like this one:

(You can still see that they are there under the makeup, but trust me when I say they are not nearly as bad)


I've had hormonal induced acne since I hit I got my first period, which was at 15. It's been so bad that I have scarring on my face and I hate it.

Yes, it truly provokes such a visceral reaction in me because I find it has clouded my self image for so many years. Those who will remember my bitching about my cycles, may recall that I have annoyingly short cycles (21-25 days). In the 2-5 days before I start a cycle, I break out. Sometimes just a little; other times they are big and hurt and all I want to do is hide under a thick layer of makeup (which only makes me look worse).

So yeah, I break out roughly every 3 weeks or so, which means my skin has barely recovered from one cycle before I break out again. Ugghhh!

Now, I've tried so many different solutions. I've had prescription cleansers, birth control pills that were supposed to help skin too (and only messed up my hormonal balance worse- I can't tolerate BCPs at all). I've tried consistent facial cleansing routines using inexpensive drug store products, and even expensive all natural products. Nothing works for long…

Why? Because aside from the fact that my skin adapts to these products too quickly, it's hormonally induced and (I believe) related to the low progesterone that results in my LPD (Luteal Phase Defect). So until I have a solution for that (that I can afford), I don't foresee any magical cures for my acne. I should add though that my hormone imbalance is something I want to look into more…. at some point.

Suffice to say I cringe when I see myself in photos sometimes. So when I want to use an image for a profile here, or on Facebook, I edit it. I take that lovely little blemish brush on either of my editing programs, iPhoto or GIMP (three cheers for open source) and make those awful marks go away.

I look at the image I took recently, especially the B&W version I have up here, and go, 'gosh, you know, she's kind of pretty…' Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but my own beauty is hidden beneath a mask that for now, only a photo editing brush can reveal.

Perhaps I shouldn't care. But I do. My acne clouds my self-image and affects my self esteem at times. It has nothing to do with how I treat myself, but more the confidence I exude to the world around me. On the days where it isn't so bad or I get a small break from the acne, I wear makeup well and can see the same person in my edited images.

I have no illusions to looking anything other than I look. But I use that editing tool to show myself what I really look like, as opposed to creating some idealized version. That's not the point.

I just need a reminder of who that women in the photo is. She's there, if just a bit hidden at times.


Vivek said...

Nice Blog. Well written.Well designed. Keep it up

Mrs. Gamgee said...

I think we all have those things that we wish we could change about our appearance... that shape how we view ourselves. For me, it's my weight. I wish I could erase my double (*cough* triple) chins and all my roly-poly-ness.

True beauty isn't external. We always need to be reminded of that, given the world we live in. :)

St Elsewhere said...

I get you on the self-image/editing self-pics part. I have crazy dark circles...why, I might even audition for a koala at the local zoo...

And I am poor at editing. I just keep hiding the pictures...or look at ones that are a little merciful on me.

I am glad that you have improved as a photographer...you do take good pictures.

And oh, Vivek likes you... :-)

areyoukiddingme said...

I just refuse to be in photos. I never used to have acne, but it's set in later in life. It's still not terrible, but I'm always having some sort of breakout. Sigh...

MrsSpock said...

I always had terrible acne, and have scars left over from it. I never thought I'd hit my mid-30s and still get zits. Just started using L'oreal Youth Code recently to do something about the permanent red marks, and it seems ot be making my skin much better, though scars remain.

katery said...

i know how you feel. for a brief time during my pregnancy and after my daughter's birth, my skin was amazing, but now it's back to crap. i've just started my second round of accutane, the most powerful acne med on the market. it worked really well for me last time and the results are supposed to last a long time if not forever. have you considered taking it?