Photograph Yourself

“I was looking at the photographs and I started thinking that there was a time when these weren’t memories.” ~ Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
I was chatting with my friend A the other day.  We met in 2001.  He was a tourist that had been visiting DC, the city where I was living at that time, and we met at the airport on my return trip from Europe.  We became instantaneous friends, and although he lives in another country, we had managed to stay in touch all these years.  He had stayed in DC for about a week during his stay in 2001, and I had spent some time with him, showing him around the city and introducing him to my friends.  
Since that time, we had not seen each other again.  When we spoke the other day, we realized that it has now been twelve years since we’ve seen each other.
I had asked him if he had kept any photos from when he was here.
“No,” he said.  “I’m not a big fan of photos, especially of myself.”
I was never really a big fan of photos of myself either.  At least, I was not, until just recently.
During a recent visit to my brother’s new house in DC, he showed me a box of old pictures that he had found during his move.  They were boxes of my old belongings — mostly my old journals and photos from an era long gone.
I found this photo, along with many others from when I was much younger.  I might have been seventeen in this photo.  It’s not a particularly flattering photo of myself, but when I came across it, I was immediately transported to a time and place that I can barely even remember now.  I looked through all the other photos, and sadly realized that there were blocks of time from my life that were missing.  I later determined that for most of my 20s, I failed to photograph myself and my life.  In fact, it was not until I was nearly 30 that I developed a love for pictures, and it was the death of my sister that actually had pushed me to even start.  I remember too that my Mom had once told me that “you will never look as good as you do now, as time and age eventually will get to you.  So document yourself as you are now.  You will regret it if you do not.”
So now, I take photos of everything, and even have myself photographed whenever I can — even if I have pimples on my face, or even if I am having a bad hair day, because in twenty years time, none of that will matter.  I will look back on the photos that I take today, and someday, I will say, “Look at me when I was younger” and I will have proof that once upon a time, I actually was young and beautiful.
7 April 2013