Recently, the photo above was used on social media by someone I don't know. Without permission, she used it to promote herself and her brand as a Social Media Expert (Ironic, isn't it?). She doesn't live near here (not even on this continent), nor do we have any connections. She used it because the image aligned with her brand colors and it was pretty. I think this is where I struggle.
This seems kind of inauthentic to me. In my life, I really try to be as authentic as I can. While I may not be super vocal about my opinions, I try extremely hard not to edit myself too much. If you ask me for honesty, I will happily give it to you. But you can be sure it will be presented in a kind, selfless and sympathetic manner. That's just me being me. Ask anyone who has known me for a long time.
Most people know when someone is being inauthentic, even when they can't articulate it. There is an underlying feeling you get when something doesn't quite add up. I equate it with the Used Car Salesman feeling. Steeped in disingenuous gestures and iced with stolen parts. It just feels icky.
This holds true for photography as well. I can see when an image is forced or chosen for the wrong reasons. Mind you, I am not talking about a staged shot in alignment with a brand (like a 1950s themed shoot for a kitchy fun diner). Nor am I saying you can't edit a photo to make it the best version of itself or wait for the perfect lighting before you click that shutter. All of that is important. I am talking about things that don't align with who you are. I am talking about too posed. Or stolen from someone else.
In our disposable world, it's hard to remember to be authentic. We can change anything with a few dollars and a new focus - your look, your home. You can become your own new brand new at any moment. And it's so tempting, since the world tells us we aren't enough as we are. Open any magazine or turn on any TV and you are sure to be met with a product that sells how you could be better.
But what if we just were as we are...just as ourselves, as authentic as we need to be. Being authentic takes less effort than you think. Like most things in life, I find authenticity comes most easily when you just let go. Release. And be yourself.