Photography has become one of my favourite ways to relax. After countless travels of being lazy with my then digital camera, I promised to myself that I would be better at “documenting” what is going on around me. When I look back at all my travels, I really regret that for the most part, I did not take many pictures. Imagine I would have captured my walks in Beijing’s original “hutongs” in 2007. Many of these traditional residential buildings have not survived. Instead, the only pictures I took where the ones when we went out partying – mostly blurry and unflattering (or both if I am lucky). Whether it is a trip to a foreign country, exploring my neighbourhood or a walk in the forest, I made it a mission to capture moments. I also started to take more pictures of my family and friends. However, what I absolutely hate is being in front of the camera myself. I have no idea why. It just makes me feel really uncomfortable and artificial – maybe it is the fake smile.
I often watch aspiring “influenzas” with a certain envy. They are so natural in front of the camera and they seem to be able to completely forget about what is going on around them. Even the busiest Bangkok traffic cannot hold them back from taking a picture in a great pose. If I take a picture, I tend to do it fast. I hate it when people watch me pose for the camera. In my case, you cannot even call it posing. There is no thinking whatsoever about the angle in which my body would look great and I put on what I call the “signature late 90s smile” which is often not the most flattering and I definitely do not put my hand on my waist like Paris Hilton used to.
Nevertheless, I decided to enter the fashion space and to also create online content which forces me to overcome this uneasy feeling. Being in front of the lens has become part of the game – whether I like it or not. Recently, I started to film videos about fashion and the stories behind trends and share them on YouTube. At first, the thought of talking into a camera by myself and then uploading a video was scary. Sharing knowledge like this, also means that you have to expect that people will criticise you and your content (the latter is probably easier to deal with). And once it is out, it is on the internet forever. I really struggled with that thought. If taking pictures was already hard, how would I talk in front of a camera without knowing who watches these videos?
But then I remembered that during my teens, I aspired to be a journalist or news anchor. I also remembered why: I admired the journalists on TV because they shared information, I learned about world events through them. Frankly, I was not interested in the news anchor as a person, it was more what they stood for. They passed on knowledge.
I recently had dinner with friends and when talking about fashion, I got really passionate and started sharing some findings of my recent research. They asked my why I did not start a podcast or Youtube channel to share everything I know. There it was. Maybe I never became a news anchor, but they hit a nerve. For months, I had been contemplating a video series, why not give it a try?
On the day when I filmed the first video of my recent series about Karl Lagerfeld’s Orientalism I sat in front of the camera. The first half an hour was terrible – I kept checking what I looked like on screen, how I talked and I spotted every single detail which I annoyed me like when my hair or the neckline of my dress moved around. I was totally overthinking it and, hence, could not focus on my content.
Suddenly, the thought of the news anchors came to my mind. Like them, I was not here to win a beauty contest or a perfectionism competition. I did this to share knowledge about fashion: What are the stories behind trends? Who are the designers? What was their source of inspiration? How can fashion be more sustainable? Are fashion items a good investment? All of these topics reflect my personal interests, I could not really find many channels covering these topics in a way I enjoyed and, therefore, started my own series. That was why I sat in front of that scary camera.
After making the same slip of the tongue for what felt like the 100th time, I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. I imagined I would sit back at the dinner with my friends and have a discussion about fashion. I – almost – forgot about the camera and just started talking. There it was. I did make mistakes, I had to stop, go back, record again. But it did not matter, because I actually started to enjoy doing it.
I am not sure if I will ever be 100% comfortable in front of a camera. I know that models, celebrities, journalists and news anchors train themselves to feel at ease. I am sure that with a bit of practice it is something we can fix. My journey on video has just started but I am curious to see where it will take me. What about you? How do you feel in front of a camera? Are you a natural or do you hate it?