The Pictures We Take

The camera is unscathed, but when I hooked it up to my laptop it automatically started downloading pictures that Terrell had taken during this few days of “ownership.” It was sad, really, peaking into his life in that way.

Most of the images were shots he had taken of himself reflected in the mirror as he posed flexing his muscles and flashing a West Side gang symbol. Other shots were of a star he fashioned out of folded bandanas that he seemed quite proud of. There are a few pictures of kids at school and a teacher, and one of his foster family’s dogs.

The one that sticks out the most, however, is the silly one: he must have taken all the red bandanas he had and unfolded them, then flopped them loose-like on top of his head. They hung below his eyes and covered his face. Then he put his hat on and took a picture of himself looking into the mirror. A joke, surely, to see what he looked like when he couldn’t see himself.

Joke or not—I couldn’t help but wonder if anyone has ever really seen that boy in his entire life.

The metaphor came to my quickly—what does he see in himself? His own reflection? What are others seeing? What image was he trying to create with that camera, if he could fashion any version of himself that he wanted?

  • alessa

    Sounds like he’d be a good candidate to pair with a local photographer, for work on self esteem issues and creativity. Self-portraits have been a staple of artists from the beginning, right? It’s sad what neglect does to children.

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