The written word can often be as destructive as it is empowering. Without the face being seen and the voice being heard, an off handed comment can be turned into a dagger that stabs unintentionally through the heart of the reader. When I am writing, whether it is here, on a social networking site, or a note to the teacher, I am always editing myself so that intentions of my words do not come out wrong. But even in doing that, sometimes things can still be interpreted wrong.
I do not wish to minimize bullying because I believe it is a very real concern in the world today made even easier for the bully because of the ease of access created by the internet. Bullying comes in different forms and affects so many. I cannot offer suggestions on how to end bullying in the world, but I do know I can control it in my own life. If only it were so easy for others.
I recently had someone who knows absolutely nothing about me, call me down the lowest and I will admit that I reacted poorly. I was verbally attacked and bullied on the phone because of some comments made on a social networking site; comments not made but me but became associated with me. I do not know what the comments were, nor does that really matter to me. The comments were most like taken out of context because of poor wording and misunderstood intent. What matters is the drama that ensued, drama that could have been minimized and left where it was. I chose to let the bully’s words affect me. I could have easily ignored those comments because none of what was said about my character is even close to who I am but I chose to dwell on them instead of focusing on who I really am.
I grew up as an outcast among my peers, bullied by the “cool kids”, made to feel stupid, ugly and worthless, left on the outside of the social circle. Today I still remain on the outside of the social circle and that is a personal choice. I don’t know how to fit in with a group of people and I am afraid to be singled out and made fun of or worse yet, excluded from conversation or outings. The pain of being overlooked and left out still weighs heavy on my soul. On a personal level, I am shy, quiet and insecure. I do sometimes worry that my stand-offish appearance makes me seem to be arrogant and un-approachable but there is nothing I can do about that. I am friendly, I try to find the good in everything and I really just hope to be allowed to be a part of something, but my feelings of inadequacy keep me from being able to fit in. At work, I am detailed orientated, deadline conscious, an excellent organizer and secure in my abilities. I am a digital press operator and in charge of quality control and colour management. I know that I am at the top of my game and one of the best in my field. That confidence is something I wish would carry over into my personal life.
So, how does this relate to photography you ask?
Photography has become my outlet. I am able to take my work personality and use it to interact confidently with people on a personal level. I enjoy wedding photography because it is a happy time and I am thrilled to be able to capture the beauty, emotion and excitement of the day. My shooting style is to use my 70-300mm telephoto zoom lens so that I can be close to the action, yet remain out of the way. It allows me to be part of a group but to stay casually on the outside. I play an important role and it one I take seriously. My aim is to capture all the details but to be virtually unnoticed by others. I don’t want anyone to remember that the photographer was in their way as they shared these special moments with family and friends. I am confident and professional and always strive to do my best. After the events of the day I rush home, excited to begin the long task of sorting through and processing the images. The hours fly by and I barely notice them passing because I am so captivated by the process of creating lasting memories and I can’t wait to provide the first sneak peek to the bride and groom.
In the weeks that lead up to the wedding, I spend a lot of time preparing for the day, going over the shots list, planning the schedule for the day, cleaning camera gear, charging batteries and keeping in contact with the couple. And for several weeks after I am still involved with the couple as I process their photos, print images and create DVD’s for them. This whole process has validated my existence, but once the contract has been fulfilled, I am left again on the outside, alone, waiting for the next project to give me purpose.
I keep my camera close to my side as it had become an extension of my personality, my best friend, my protector and a reminder that words are only words. It reminds me to always be looking for the beauty in the ordinary and that what I think and feel are all that I need to be happy.
I have no answers for the victims of a bully, only a heavy heart hoping they find their solace the way I have found mine through my photography.