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I don’t feel like I photograph well. I don’t like posing for pictures. I feel like I squint and end up looking toothy and weird. My teeth-to-gum ratio isn’t the greatest, and when I’m told to smile, it just comes out all gummy. I look like you caught me off guard and I’m smiling only to be polite. My natural instinct is to be goofy when the camera’s on me, but that’s not always an appropriate reaction. Like I have no idea what’s going to happen when it’s time for me to take engagement photos. Forget sitting in a field or on a bench or whatever people actually do. Let me walk around New York City with my fiancée and have someone following us like a private investigator. That’s how you’ll catch me at my most vulnerable. The most natural. To be able to see just one frame that captures just what has captured my heart. Plus, we’re all on camera now anyway, what’s a little more voyeurism here and there?

I used to take selfies all the time. Half my time in high school and most of college was dedicated to the search for the perfect selfie. I was gaining ground as an e-girl on forums, and I just wanted to show off my cute lil’ self more and more. I thought I had something to show, but a lot of it was casting my net and fishing for compliments. And while I still want to show off like every girl does from time to time, I feel like I don’t do myself justice these days with a simple snapshot. I’d much rather be in motion; to be recorded so you know exactly what I’m saying and feeling in that moment. It just makes it more real to me. It’s why I like livestreaming so much. I can be off-the-cuff and goofy but still have the awareness that I’m responsible for absolutely everything I say. There’s no way to edit out a bad take or a misunderstanding or a barrage of trolls. I have to take it and be with it right at that very moment. I find that’s where I thrive. Other people have mastered the art of the pose, and that’s okay too. I’m just more interested in being master of another medium.

A photograph can reveal anything and you can take any meaning from it, especially when it’s a carefully crafted set-up. There’s a natural skill to it, as you have to capture a moment in time that will be successful in essentially selling something. Everyone gather round for a family photo so we can remember how much fun we had here. Let me stand against this influencer wall so I can shoehorn in these new sneakers against a cool backdrop. We got engaged, this is how much he spent on me. It’s a bit cynical of me, I know. I’m really not trying to go for cold. I just feel a much warmer embrace from the candid than I do from the artfully arranged.

It’s going to be damn near impossible for me to go my whole life without having to pose for a picture. There will be circumstances where people will ask and I can’t very well diva strut to the divan and faint. That would be absurd. I’ll do what I need to do in that moment because it’ll be what’s asked of me by those who care. And that’s one of the nicest things I could possibly ask for.

I can have any reservations I want. Maybe it’s even a little camera anxiety. Perhaps the more comfortable I can get in person, the more natural I’ll appear on camera. Now that we’re post-pandemic, it’ll be much easier to see each other, won’t it? I think so. I am taking a few more photos of myself these days. Working on my selfie game. But right now, they’re just for me. And who am I to deprive the world of more me? Get over here and take the photos yourself, already.

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