What Photography Means To Me

What Photography Means To Me

Every photo has a story. A story that leads to a specific place. At least that is the way I look at it.

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These days, social media has given everyone an equal chance to show off their pictures and their perspective of life through a simple click of a button. Then there are the mobile editing apps that many users to edit those photos to enhance the image or create a consistent theme or aesthetic for their Instagram feed. It seems to be about being like everyone else or making it look like your life is bright, fun, and a ray of sunshine that others wish they had. It has become a way to mask reality and fix the errors in life so no one can see the real you.

Now, I'm not saying everyone is like this, but I have definitely seen this while scrolling through the many pictures on my feed, feeling as though I am seeing the same thing over and over again. Noticing while people are trying to be like everyone else, they are losing sight of who they are outside of social media. There is no app for covering up reality. We must learn how to enjoy our raw and unique lifestyles when we take pictures. Knowing you are special, unique, and accepting where you are at instead of trying to fake like life is a daisy, makes you stand out from everyone else. Anyone can pretend to be okay, but what about being able to recognize life is tough but even in a blank stare, there is beauty.

I have been taking pictures of myself for almost a year now and I have truly come a long way. For such a long time I hated being in front of the camera and it was very hard for me to smile or even act like I wanted to be in the picture. It had nothing to do with anyone else, but for me it was about the fact that I believed I looked ugly. I just didn't want to see my face in a picture. I was so embarrassed by my skin and teeth that in every picture I just looked really uncomfortable or just angry.

This lasted up until last year around this time. I realized that I was more than my skin and my teeth. I believed that I was beautiful. So I just decided to start forcing myself to be in front of the camera. Being in front of the camera gives you the opportunity to be confident in yourself and that doesn't mean show more skin, or have a gigantic smile in every single one. Confidence in a picture can be captured no matter what you look like or what is happening in the photo. You, being the subject, allowing your inner beauty to be captured will shine through any blank stare or what you may think is boring. Being behind the camera has wonders of its own.

Learning the ins and outs of a camera to then gain the ability to understand how to take a picture with a story in mind changed my who perspective on what it means to be a photographer. When going through my Instagram feed (@mya.wea), starting from the bottom leading to the top, you will notice the difference in the images. You'll see where I was taking pictures to recreate someone else's picture or what I consider a story to make it my own and gain as many likes and followers like them. It leads to comparing myself and wishing I had their life until I approached the camera as a challenge to capture my life in one picture.

No one can have my life because my life is mine and unique to me. So, taking pictures with my life as inspiration, changed everything about my images. When I take pictures of myself or others, my ultimate goal is to expose the genuine beauty of reality. Whether it is a sad or happy picture, they each have their own raw reality that can be seen as beautiful.

My life may not be the most exciting or adventurous but it isn't about measuring up to what I think society would like. Photography for me is a way for me to allow people to see my life and my story one frame at a time.

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11 Great Books For People Who Don't Like Reading

If you don't like to read, this is the article for you.
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I’ve mentioned it before, and I’ll say it again, I am no reader. My twin sister, on the other hand, is a huge curly-q bookworm.

I always see her flying through novels for pure pleasure. I'll be honest, the sight of it makes me cringe. My body won't stay still after I get through 20 pages (unless I'm hooked). You can consider me the girl who doesn't finish anything (like Professor Calamitous in Jimmy Neutron...I even have the short stature down).

Maybe my dislike of reading stems from teachers force feeding us excruciatingly boring summer assignments.

1984? Straight up diarrhea

Fahrenheit? Vomit vomit vomit.

Animal Farm? Excruciatingly yuck.

The only thing I enjoyed about Animal Farm was laughing at how awful the movie was. On the other hand, give me a young adult novel, and you can count me in. I guess I have Vikas Turakhia to thank for introducing me to J.D Salinger and provoking my drive to become a better writer--after he made me cry and gave me a B- for a report regarding a book about Polenta. High-School was a time... amiright?

Anyway, even though I am not a big reader, there are still a few books that have stuck with me throughout the years. Here is a list of novels I highly recommend to those who associate reading with chores...this time it won't have to be.

1. Looking for Alaska

"Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words–and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet Francois Rabelais called the “Great Perhaps.” Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young. Clever, funny, screwed-up, and dead sexy, Alaska will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps." -JohnGreenBooks.com

2. Eleanor and Park

"Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

Eleanor... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough...Eleanor.

Park... He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises...Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try." -Goodreads.com

3. City of Thieves

Written by the writer and producer of Game of Thrones... enough said. Another book that I was forced to read thanks to Vikas Turakhia and one I will never put down.

4. Paper Towns

"Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life–dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge–he follows. After their all-nighter ends and new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues–and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew." -Johngreenbooks.com

5. Franny and Zooey

"FRANNY came out in The New Yorker in 1955 and was swiftly followed, in 1957 by ZOOEY. Both stories are early, critical entries in a narrative series I'm doing about a family of settlers in twentieth-century New York, the Glasses. It is a long-term project, patently an ambiguous one, and there is a real-enough danger, I suppose that sooner or later I'll bog down, perhaps disappear entirely, in my own methods, locations, and mannerisms. On the whole, though, I'm very hopeful. I love working on these Glass stories, I've been waiting for them most of my life, and I think I have fairly decent, monomaniacal plans to finish them with due care and all-available skill." -Salinger

6. The Catcher in the Rye

"The hero-narrator of The Catcher in the Rye is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days.

The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it.

There are many voices in this novel: children's voices, adult voices, underground voices-but Holden's voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain too, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep.

J.D. Salinger's classic novel of teenage angst and rebellion was first published in 1951. The novel was included on Time's 2005 list of the 100 best English-language novels written since 1923. It was named by Modern Library and its readers as one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. It has been frequently challenged in the court for its liberal use of profanity and portrayal of sexuality and in the 1950's and 60's it was the novel that every teenage boy wants to read." -Goodreads.com

7. The Westing Games

"A bizarre chain of events begins when sixteen unlikely people gather for the reading of Samuel W. Westing's will. And though no one knows why the eccentric, game-loving millionaire has chosen a virtual stranger - and a possible murderer - to inherit his vast fortune, one thing's for sure: Sam Westing may be dead... but that won't stop him from playing one last game!" -Goodreads.com

8. Milk and Honey

"milk and honey is a collection of poetry and prose about survival. It is about the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. It is split into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose, deals with a different pain, heals a different heartache. milk and honey takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look. " -Goodreads.com

9. Room

"To five-year-old-Jack, Room is the world....

Told in the inventive, funny, and poignant voice of Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience - and a powerful story of a mother and son whose love lets them survive the impossible.

To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it's where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it's not enough...not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son's bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another." -Goodreads.com







10. Replica

"Two Girls, Two Stories, One Book"- Goodreads.com

11. Mother, Can You Not?

"In Mother, Can You NOT?, Kate Siegel pays tribute to the woman whose helicopter parenting may make your mom look like Mother Teresa. From embarrassing moments (like her mother’s surprise early morning visit, catching Kate in bed with her crush) to outrageous stories (such as the time she moved cross country to be near Kate’s college) to hilarious mantras (“NO STD TEST, YOU WON’T BE GETTING SEXED!”), Mother, Can you NOT? lovingly lampoons the lengths to which our mothers will go to better our lives (even if it feels like they’re ruining them in the process)." -kateesiegel.com
Cover Image Credit: 123RF

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The Peculiarities Of A Photograph

We're all dynamic characters in the stories of our lives.

amrojas
amrojas
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It is interesting how you can look at a photo of yourself from years ago and decide that the person forever captured and embodied there was immensely happier than the person you are now. You might have had a different friend group, you might have attended a different school, and you might have been more involved in activities that you used to enjoy so much (but can't seem to find the time to partake in now). We tend to reminisce about how life was much simpler during those times, and perhaps, we may even wish we could return to those times.

What is also interesting, however, is how a photo can also remind us just how miserable we were at a certain point in our lives, despite how happy we may look in the photo itself. It may be a cynical way to view it, but sometimes a photo can remind us of how differently we can choose to portray life from our reality. A photo could be deceiving, a glamorous story we've made up as a method of coping with some atrociously messy emotions we are dealing with in our lives. We are all-too-familiar with this phenomenon with our social media usage as well.

However, despite how we may feel about who we were in the past, I think it's important to recognize the significance of that timeless saying, "the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence." Perhaps we are always romanticizing different times of our lives (apart from the ones we are currently living in) because we only remember the idealized versions of those times and can only presently dwell on the negative aspects of our current circumstances. In this way, there is no winning, but if we reverse that principle, perhaps we can feel more fulfilled in our current lives. If we could think of the present as "ideal," no matter the state of it, accept the past with whatever flaws were prevalent, and hold a profound desire to continue ahead and never look back, we would probably live much more happily.

As beautiful as people may be in photos, they only capture an instant of us. We are much more than that. We are peals of uncontrollable laughter, stubborn tomato stains, random trivia facts, the songs playing non-stop in our heads, breathlessness after an unexpected sprint, the stars pinned delicately to a deep, dark sky, the peace you feel on your way home. And we can always strive to remember that our lives are as ideal as they can be right now, in this present moment. And if we don't like how it is, we can always start moving towards something better.

Attempting to live without idealizing our past selves can be very difficult. Frankly, it makes me a little sad to see photos of me in years past and remember the good qualities I possessed. However, I can acknowledge that a lot of those good qualities I can strive to regain or build upon. I also like to think that the present version of me is a better and wiser person than before. So, I am thankful for the person I was, but I also am even more thankful because she served as a vessel to help me evolve into the person I am today.

And I'm confident that I'll always be evolving, no matter when a photograph was taken.

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