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Creating a public image #psychology #photography #life

I grew up in an oppressive era when children were supposed to be ‘seen but not heard’. I don’t find it easy to attract attention to myself but in the 21st-century, that is a useful skill. I have photographed a lot of people who are performers of some kind. They get up in front of people and attract attention to themselves and I have noticed that they all have one thing in common. They are all fairly image conscious. They dress the part and act out a role. I tend to attract attention to myself as a photographer and even I dress the part to a certain extent. The camera is part of my dress code and I’m not comfortable without it. I tend to wear the same style of clothing and although the hat is to keep the sun out of my eyes, it is part of the image.

public image

Subtle image

The image we create can be quite subtle and we often have the right clothes in our wardrobe. I’m going to an event this evening which is part of the Blast festival of photography, walks and talks and I am sure the local poet laureate will be wearing his red coat which he brings out for special occasions like Christmas and television appearances! That is less than subtle, of course, but does the same job. It makes it easier to be out there in front of people.

Public image

My public image is presented more through writing and photography and I realised this week that my style of writing and my humour was also influenced by my childhood. I listened to the Goons as a child. I listened to Spike Milligan a lot and have a similar sense of humour. His humour could be shocking and sometimes silly but always quite sharp. He never missed an opportunity to say something funny. He saw the irony of life, the pathos and he turned life itself into humour. I don’t think to be the centre of attention felt comfortable for him and he used humour to deal with that. His physical appearance was less important because his humour acted as a barrier between him and his audience. It made him larger than life.

Barriers

There are a variety of barriers that people use to protect themselves. I have the ultimate barrier of a website and social media so I rarely have to face the audience. For others, the barrier is often clothing that says something about them. It might be a business suit or a football kit or even a tattoo! In Boris Johnson’s case, his clothing is important but so are the mannerisms. The bumbling, stumbling mannerism belies a certain uncertainty and lack of confidence. They say fake it until you make it and he is still faking it. He doesn’t feel confident in his role.

Clothes shopping

Creating your public image often starts with shopping for clothing. For some people, the designer label is part of the image they want everyone to see. The image isn’t always an upmarket image. Jeremy Corbyn often wears a cap that is reminiscent of a Russian revolutionary. He wanted to be seen as a revolutionary but of course, with the thought of achieving power, his image has changed to a more middle-class image. In fact, his image has become quite bland which could be his downfall. He needs to look like a Prime Minister but what is a Labour Prime Minister supposed to look like? He has been reading about Harold Wilson, perhaps he should be studying his style?

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