Melle Mel

photo essay 4/4

Melle Mel aka TILL DEATH

Why is it that most of us fear having our photo taken? Screen theorists propose that cinema and photography can act as both a mirror, which serves a subjective and interpretive reflection of reality, and a window through which to frame an objective representation of reality. So is it the fear of seeing, or the fear of being seen?

Though I make a career out of pointing a camera at peoples faces, I’m not immune to this fear. When Tasj asked me to sit for her portrait project, I was nervous and intimidated by what she would she would expose. My initial response was to hide, to layer myself in protective armour; fancy clothes, makeup, perfected nails and freshly done hair, a curated version. To express an illusion of confidence that masked my inner vulnerability. To have control. To decide – window or mirror?

Yet through the process, I learned that these two things aren’t independent, one flows into the other and back again. Through making a conscious choice of how to show up and be seen, I projected what I wanted, and then by seeing, I became. Through Tasj’s portraits I created a narrative that became part of my identity. And then with this hindsight, I realised I had nothing to be afraid of to begin with.