A B & me (image obsession)

A, B and Me – the importance of being true to oneself in an image & celebrity obsessed culture.

When considering our route to ‘a better life’ it seems rather obvious to say that we should be ourselves – be true to our inner identity. But, in a society where we are increasingly battered & bamboozled by expectations, imagery and full on criticisms, it is not necessarily all that easy. Often a pressure builds up within us and we feel the need to present (and perhaps live) an image of ourselves that is not the real ‘me’. As a person I try to be aware of these pressures on me; as a parent I have tried not to be the cause of pressure upon my dear daughter.

Let us briefly consider some of the sources of this pressure:

  • Family – often unwittingly we are encouraged to follow in the expectations of our family. Take on the family business, provide grandchildren, etc.
  • Friends – peer pressure for us to behave a certain way. All the cool kids smoke or you don’t want to be the frigid ice maiden who’s still a virgin. It doesn’t have to be that obvious but expectations can still be there.
  • Government – the rulers of our land are responsible for setting the tone. Too frequently they hardly set a good example – obsessed with money & power – preaching productivity not happiness & fulfilment.
  • Ourselves – we can be our own worst critics. Learning to love yourself is a vital starting point.
  • Schooling – our preparation for adult life can all too easily prepare us for what society wishes us to be, not what we wish to be.
  • Media – magazines & advertising with pictures of beautiful (airbrushed) people; articles that implore us to diet or exercise or whatever.
  • Social Media – the current bane of many an individual’s well-being. Be it squabbling celebrities or insidious influencers, we are drip fed a constant barrage of pulp that can undermine all but the hardiest’s self confidence. Whether you are 7 or 70 there are always those whose lives are so much better than your own and you’d do so much better if you’d just follow their example.

Admittedly sometimes a little pressure can be a good thing. It can motivate us to step forward in life, improve ourselves and be brave enough to have a little adventure but all to often it just smothers who we really are. Let’s take a look at a case study as hinted at in the header photo above.


A. Scrooge

Money is king, your duty is to amass as much as possible. This might be for your own benefit but then again it could be to keep the wheels of capitalism turning and to feed the expected lifestyle of others. Consider that this perhaps isn’t the best indicator of ‘wealth’.


B. Barb

All dolled up, focused on parties & fashion. You look great on someone else’s arm and your job is to build their ego and further their cause. But where does that leave you, how do you feel inside; after all, there’s always a younger, prettier model for them to trade up to.

Please excuse my use of harsh stereotypes, but these are very real – I’ve experienced both for myself and from various different sources too. Curiously enough, one individual made me feel both pressures simultaneously; now that is a hard desire to fulfil.

Portrait Photography

Part of the function of the portraitist is to tell a story. That may simply be to represent an individual in a true & fair likeness, or to flatter, or to condemn. There are many different ways in which the final image can be influenced.

Taking the selfies for this article was a good laugh, even if a little over the top! There is a point there however. When looking at photographs in magazines & on social media, do be aware that real life may be a little different. Here’s a pointer to how the images were made:

A. Very harsh oblique angled light from a snooted flashgun with only a small amount of fill. Darkroom work emphasised contrast & structure whilst lightly remodelling the jaw line.

B. Soft lighting from a beauty dish with honeycomb attachment. Shot against green screen to facilitate background changes. Darkroom work added glow and more soft touch effects. Also contrast reduction on facial lines but no direct modelling via ‘airbrushing’.

Me. A fairly straightforward outdoor portrait. Sunshine as a back-light, softened flash as a fill-light. Very little darkroom work beyond the inclusion of the butterfly.

Of course the reality is that I am neither of those personas. The first important thing that we need to do, is to find ourselves, work out who we are and what we want. Whilst we should always try not to hurt others, it is also important to include ourselves in that consideration. Only from a kind, healthy & solid base can we best contribute some positivity to our society & world.

Having found ourselves we then need to remain true to the person that we have discovered; this will take strength and perhaps courage too.

It can certainly help if we make ourselves aware of the sources of conforming pressure that are exerted upon us. To put it another way, we can inoculate ourselves with knowledge about how we can be manipulated & changed against our will.

  • Take everything you see on social media with a large dose of salt – those perfect lifestyles probably aren’t what you think.
  • When confronted by trolls, ignore them or tell them to sod off, but don’t take their words to heart. Consider how sad their lives must be for them to do what they do.
  • Patiently explain to friends & family that you wish to live your life your way – if after a while they still can’t respect your choices, then perhaps they’re not the best of friends.
  • Look out for indoctrination be it in education, government or wherever. Be open to debate & learning but don’t just blindly swallow the utterances of others just because they are in a so called position of authority.
  • Be positive, look at the good things in your life. Don’t fall foul of always thinking that the grass is greener on the other-side of the fence.

I hope that this article will help some people to find / stay happy. At the end of the day sharing a smile and a little happiness with others can go a very long way. Oh and I guess I should post a straight picture of me 🙂 This was taken the day after the two studio selfies and to put it in the words of my daughter – it actually looks like me – lol.

Quite simply - me being me :)
Quite simply – me being me 🙂

Here’s an interesting opinion piece, from behavioural scientist Paul Dolan, for some further interest:


Social Media – Reflections On

Personal reflections upon social media and why I am reducing my use of it.

I guess it all started for me back in the early – mid nineties, before widespread access to the world wide web. Access to bulletin boards (like those on CompuServe) and to internet newsgroups, opened up a smorgasbord of discussion & debate. It wasn’t long before I became involved in multiple groups of geeky discussion. The discussions were, for the main part, well humoured yet passionate with topics like determinism & the nature of existence being rather popular.

Before long I was writing hypertext documents & publishing my first webpages (starting about 1995 as I recall). Different forum software became readily available for webservers and the discussions broadened further with many locations for idea cross pollination. But shortly after the change of the century Web 2.0 came along, the modern commercialised social media leviathans appeared. Along with these platforms came a huge dilution of quality content & ideas. Now there was a growing competitive rush for likes, +1’s or whatever; a rather narcissistic chase for self validation & proof of popularity – something that started to push me away from these platforms. Over the last decade I have ebbed & flowed in relation to social media – conventional advice is that the modern artist requires a substantial social media presence but I am far from convinced that this is true.

Over the last couple of years I have posted content for several reasons:

– A. Art. I love the process of taking photographs & creating art but at the end of the day, commercial or not, these images are for viewing. For putting smiles on people’s faces or provoking thoughts in their minds. Social media is a useful place to allow access to one’s imagery but it is very easy to lose focus on tha art and instead focus on social media posts. This is something that I strongly wish to avoid – I shall therefore be reducing my posting rate to re-enable an art centric focus. Over time I suspect my website galleries shall become the main online access to my photography, hopefully backed up with real world galleria & exhibits.

– B. Family. When my ex left us, Tamsin (dear daughter) was 16 and various folk expressed concern for her. I increased my sharing of family content to allow folk to be reassured and for not so present family members to stay in touch with a little of Tamsin’s life. As it happens the other family members have appeared somewhat uninterested & a few other people have even used my postings to negative effect. Now that Tamsin is 18, I feel no need to continue feeding trolls.

– C. Ideas & Beliefs. Anyone who truly knows me, will know that I’m an ambivert who finds fun in most of life. They’ll also know that my mind is almost always running at a million mph. I’m passionate about various topics especially conserving our planet for future generations. I shall continue to write the occasional article for dissemination across various online media.

To all the lovely people who have supported me through difficult times – thanks so much and I hope that you continue to enjoy my work, postings will just be a little less frequent. If you want to contact me, email is going to be the most reliable – easy to do from my websites.

Wildlife Tog Tamsin