Monday, February 26, 2018

awkwardly trying to take a photo of myself

My Instagram account exists in an awkward place.  Somewhere between artist, runner, hiker, professor, dad, husband, dog-lover, semi-professional eater and beach bum.  I see people on Instagram every day who have entire accounts dedicated to any one of these endeavors.  Some of my hiking friends only post hiking photos.  Some friends only post about food.  My running people may be the worst offenders in this regard, only posting running related photos every single day.  I'm not complaining.  In fact, I get why people do this.  Many of my running friends have separate accounts for their personal life where they only allow friends and family to follow.  A privacy thing.  They're active in the running community and have tons of running friends who scroll through only looking to find running pics and information.  Same with the foodies, the hikers and the mom/dad bloggers.

Sometimes I wonder what the heck people think when they find my Instagram account.  If you've seen it, you know it's a mess over there.  I don't have time to switch back and forth between accounts and I'm probably not smart enough to keep the two separate anyway.  Lord knows I couldn't keep a different account for all of my different interests.  I'd need one just for the dead animals and skeletons I find.  One just for waffles.  One for ice cream.  One for making fun of my students.  One for each of our 2.5 dogs.  One for my beard.  One for my running shoes.  Oh and one for fashion...white t-shirts and jeans.

So I have the one account where you'll find pics of whatever I'm into at the moment.  But of all the things there, you just won't find that many selfies.  I guess there are some, but you won't scroll through my account and see just my face.  This is part of the awkwardness.   I have a lot of running connections on IG and many of those accounts consist of selfies or photos of the runner (perhaps taken by a spouse?) with the running information (distance, pace, time, etc).  These are fit people, so I guess that's part of it.  They've worked to sculpt their bodies and maybe they're proud.  Or maybe they know they're interacting with an audience that is global and it helps to put a face with the persona.  It does help.  I've made some really good friends on IG that I've discovered through running.  

But I'm also an artist and artists, at least the ones my age, don't post many selfies.  I think there was a class in grad school that prepared us to openly mock the frequent use of selfies.  Of course, self portraits are ok.  As long as it's art.  That was sarcasm.  But there is something about our type that wants to make fun of the constant selfie-er.

Then there are students.  One of my favorite things about IG is that it allows me to keep in touch with students after they graduate.  I've connected with students from 15 years ago this way and I get to see them have amazing careers and children and it's fun to see their success.  I also have students on IG who just met me this semester.  This is another way to get to know them.  Students, past and present, are the best at selfies.  This is a fact I'm learning just now.  

A week ago Mia visited us at school.  She's a super person and she was my student worker for a while.  We were tight.  Before she left I grabbed my phone and snapped a quick selfie of us.  Mia smiled and looked like she was in a photoshoot.  I smiled and looked like I recently crawled out from under an overpass.  

I'll also attempt the selfie with the family when we are hiking or goofing around outside.  Each photo looks like the perfect little family with G and the kids looking like they're in a magazine and I look like the swatty toothed madman photobombing.  

Whatever skills everyone else has when it comes to the selfie, I don't have them.  I look wrinkly, hunched over, and more than a little insane.  I know there are actual skills involved in the good selfie.  There's a way you can tilt your head and position your body that is most flattering.  Maybe you have a good side and you know what side that is, so you make sure your face is angled appropriately.  I think G even told me that you're supposed to push your chin out toward the camera for something.  But when I see a camera pointed at me, I spend all my time just figuring out where I'm supposed to be looking and maybe trying not to blink.  That's all I've got.  Who has time for all that other stuff?  

Last Saturday I participated in a virtual run with an Instagram friend who also has a blog (  To participate, you were asked to run at a particular time and email a photo of you on your run and your run info when you were finished.  Running was easy compared to taking that photo.  I have no idea how other runners do it but all I could figure out was to prop my phone up and set the timer.  That wasn't that tough but once I tapped the button I had no idea what to do.  Full body or face?  What do I do with my hands?  What's the least ridiculous pose I could have?  How straight can I make my back without looking oddly uncomfortable?  Eventually I realized how ridiculous it all was and just took a couple of different choices and made G pick the least goofy one.  She thought they were all goofy, by the way.  This was the one she picked...

Pretty sure she picked it because I was so small it was hard to see me.  She loves me.

If you take a good selfie, my hat is off to you.  You possess skills I do not possess.  Post away my friends.  Maybe you'll teach me something.  

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