On the whole, I am not a confident man, especially about my looks or my body. This is slowly getting worse as I get older, and I move further away from an optimum version of my self-image that I never quite achieved, and is now beyond my reach for good. The background of that is typical, tedious, and not worth getting into, but the overall effect is that I generally hate seeing pictures of myself, as they tend to reinforce what I already think. I'm still curious to see them, though, because from time to time they turn out alright, and I get a glimpse of a version of myself that I don't loathe quite so much. Once in a while, a bit of external perspective makes me think there may be some promise left after all.
Last month, I had a chance to meet up with a photographer/artist/restaurateur named Martin, or Male®, as he goes by on the internet, while he was in London. Martin had contributed some great photos to Pink Mince a while back. We'd never met in person before, and he wanted to photograph my tattoos. We got on well enough, so strolled around a bit one afternoon and caught a show at the Barbican the next day, during which he'd occasionally stop me for a few portraits. (If you know me well enough, you can identify the expression I make when I'm self-conscious but trying to look calm, cool, and collected regardless.)
It's been startling to see the results as they've trickled onto his blog since then. While I still cringe a little at the site of myself, I don't actually dislike the composite portrait that is built up throughout the set. A little older, scrawnier, greyer than I'd care to see, but there's character there, and I tend to forget about that. It helps that Martin's skilled with a camera, and has chosen moments well. But that considered view from someone else who is seeing me with fewer preconceptions is refreshing. Maybe I'm not such a wreck after all?
Ask me again when I'm tired or particularly frustrated and I may change my thoughts altogether, but at the moment I'll cling to a bit of good vibes. I spend so much time in my own head, where the outlook is often rather bleak, that it's a pleasant change of pace to look in from the outside. Thanks for the brief taste of self-esteem, Martin!