Partly, the fact that I am using a 10 second timer on the camera shutter is a help because in the time it takes to press the button and jump into position there is no time to smile at the camera. There is no person at the camera anyway to relate to and one`s mind is busy getting the right angle for this new set of lighting directions. The photos have a preoccupied air, the eyes are focused and the mind attached behind them is busy and not thinking about a nice smile. That kind of piercing look in public makes people shudder and turn away. It does, though, achieve the first important step toward a self image that is deeper than ‘a nice portrait’.
One dark overcast day I move my tripod and camera out under the still darker shadow of some big cedar trees. I will pose against the trunk of one while setting the flash unit to bounce off another trunk nearby. The light will come from the side, 10 second timer is on, I leap into position and turn my head just so and perhaps just because I am bored with the standard pose I cross my hands on my chest. Is that Tolstoyesque person really me? Next I cross the path to a bank of salal undergrowth. This time I use a big white reflector board to bounce the flash and dive into the salal. I have been visualizing a photo like this for a while. Flash! Oops, I was nearly out of the frame and somewhat out of focus. Next time I burrow into the salal right in front of the camera. Perfect! Well focused, well lighted. Only later when I can see these two images on the computer screen do I decide to choose the first. There is my dead self partially covered by the undergrowth, faded and shoved off into a corner. Lost and forgotten! A much more powerful image and one I had not seen coming. Unsettling is good.