to be real

This week's FBFF questions are about 'authenticity' and I have chosen to illustrate my post with more self portraits from Joshua Tree, in California. While most shots from that time were taken by me, with my tripod and a timer, I can tell that these were taken when the then-boyfriend went with me. Why? Because, artist/perfectionist that I am, I would usually focus on a spot - say, put my shoe on that spot - then replace it with myself (that's why I shot myself: I knew no friend would be that patient).

I can tell the ex shot these, because I'm out of focus. And I manipulated these in photoshop - thus making them 'unauthentic' photographs - about four years ago (pre-blog, basically).

Thank you to Katy Rose of Modly Chic: I haven't read her post yet - I like to do my answers before I read anyone else's - but you'll find her post here. And my title is a reference to an 80s disco song that they played on the S&tC episode when Carrie tripped on the runway ('little acts of bravery') and now I can't get it out of my head. Again.

1. Most readers and fellow fashion bloggers value authenticity in the blogs they read. How would you describe blog/blogger authenticity?
Great question. I've been thinking about this all week. I can't describe it: it's just a feeling. I only know when someone isn't being authentic. I can think of some of the more 'famous' style bloggers : even before I met them, I could just tell that they weren't as nice, or modest, or cutesy, or whatever personna they were trying to be, and meeting them confirmed my suspicions. Conversely, more often, I've met style bloggers, especially some really popular self style bloggers, (FrouFrou, for example) who seem more austere and intimidating and are in reality just the sweetest, bubbly, generous spirited, modest, girly girls. In fact FrouFrou and I were talking about that this week, over lunch: how you do, as a blogger, tend to take on a persona that sometimes is a slight variation of your real self. It's like with an actress playing a role. There's an element of you in it, but it's not exactly you. Your blog persona can kind of take on a life of its own.

And sometimes the person you meet is exactly what they claim on the tin.

I'd say that every blog that I love - and there are so, so many - I am relating to the person behind it for being 'real'. It's the same criteria of authenticity/honesty that determines how I relate to people in my real life.

2. When it comes to your blog how to you infuse it with that true/authentic feeling?

It's simple: in my blog, as in my life, I find it easier to be honest and, ugh I so hate this cliche, 'be myself'. Whatever myself is.

Actually, that's the reason that my art, pre blog, was what I called 'self portraits', what is now called 'self style'. I had no clue who I was - and I still don't - but my challenge as an artist was, and still is, to try to peel off the layers - to take off the mask.

So for me it's about being honest, being vulnerable: when I'm having a tough time, I try to focus on the positive, but like this week for example, when I can't act perky, I find it easier to just admit I'm having a crap day.
Believe me: if I could find a way to lie without giving myself away, or come across as someone different, 'better', than I am, I'd do it. I just find that being honest, 'authentic', in my posts or in my real life, is easier: there's less to keep track of. Tangled web, and all that.

3. Have you stopped following a blog in the last three months? What made you lose interest?

If you mean 'unfollow', no. I just don't get to visit all the blogs I love - again, time factor - but over the two years that I've been blogging and reading others' blogs, yes, that handful of 'famous' ones, absolutely what made me lose interest was that realisation - which happened pretty quickly - that they were showing off, pretending to be modest when they actually possessed huge egos, and disguising it as 'oh lucky me, I just happened to be invited to Paris.' For me blogging is about community and friendship, and I have no interest in hero (or, heroine) worship, or in being anyone's fan base.

4. We can't communicate effectively on our blogs, something we don't live in real life... what are some ways you try to live an authentic life?

See above. ; )

5. Give a shout-out... Which bloggers do you think are truly genuine and why?

Oh, so many.. there are the ones who I sense are genuine but haven't yet met (everyone on my 'friends' blog roll) and anyone who I've met and am friends with in real life, I can see from their blogs that they're doing what I'm doing: posting their 'truth' without using their blogs as emotional dumping grounds. After all, that's what spouses and friends and family are for ; )

The most genuine real life blog friends I know are.. Oh really I can't choose even three top ones. I don't want to leave anyone out. Everyone on my top few blog rolls. Stephanie (Style Odyssey) and Sabine ('Psynopsis') - both of whom I've met and are closer to my real age- spring to mind first. And of course, the usual suspects, and you know who you are.

But of the bloggers I haven't met, there is one who tops the list for me. I don't know her real name. I have never seen a photo of her face. She doesn't often write much, but what she writes feels absolutely authentic, from the heart. She has a strong sense of humanity, and compassion. But most of all, she speaks her truth through her art, and her heart: her compelling, incredibly moving photos. She is The Photodiarist, and I feel she sets the bar for me, as a photographer, and as a real human being.


Thekla said...

great post sweetie:)x


A Daily Mishmash said...

I've really enjoyed your thoughts on authenticity and blogging (particularly your comments on your personal challenge as an artist)

I just started my own blog (adailymishmash.blogspot.com) recently after reading others for years, and I'm constantly struck by how weirdly difficult it is to just write your authentic voice (I find myself deleting stuff as I'm writing because I think: hey, I'd never say that in real life! Why am I writing it here?)

Hannah said...

such an insightful post, I really enjoyed reading it. I think on occassion it can be easy to tell when blogs aren't genuiene, especially if they have a twitter account to go with it. it's the way the writing flow as if you were talking is when it (or lack of) gives it away. For me I like to think my blog is 100% geniuine (or near enough) I write as I go along and never pre write posts and come back to them later like you would an essay. I say what I'm feeling and the writing makes me relax. if you think about it to much it wont be fun anymore, at least that's my motto

Hannah xx

Unknown said...

Gorgeous photos :)

Heather Fonseca said...

I think my blog is very genuine. I don't really know how not to be genuine. Of course I do censor myself. My blog isn't a place to whine, it's a place to shine! My blog acts for me as the PR part of my freelance design business, or at least that's how I think of it.

Like you I love the Photodiarist. I follow her on Bloglovin and on Facebook. Her color photos are wonderful as well. I'd love to meet her in real life. She seems like a cool person.


Style At Every Age said...

Great post! Like you I have stopped visiting some where I feel they are showing off but disguisng as "lucky me" also the ones where I get the feeling they are "up their own arse"! Hope the weekend finds you well. I wonder how some blogs get the recognition they do and I have come to realise, it is "who you know, not what you know" but never mind, I am happy to blog on and in no way am I bothered about hanging around with the "cool blogging kids" - I am old enough to be their Mum anyway!

Style Odyssey said...

Jill, I am beyond honored. Thank you, friend. :)
I got a kick out of your photo-shopped images of you in flower petal "gowns" exiting some port-a-loo in the middle of the desert! Talk about random!
Reading your authenticity list, I see myself in much of what you say; it re-confirms that we have much in common.

Shopgirl said...

Totally agree about stopping those blogs where someone is mock humble but really "look at me, look at me"!!

Loved these questions and your answers are spot on - as always Jill :)

Happy weekend, xx

chinadoll said...

I think maybe if we're talking about authenticity in blogging you always need to look at purpose, the most authentic and true-to-self blogs will always be those with no ulterior motive. Bloggers motivated by some form of profit or desire for recognition will never be able to truly be themselves or risk losing their audience (possibly).
Like you know that yourself Lady Dot, your shooting less street style caused a bit of kerfuffle which, if you were a profit-seeker, might have made you switch back - with a definite loss of kudos and truth to self.
That's what I reckon anyways :)


The Photodiarist said...

Aw shucks, Jill! You are making a girl blush over here!

Phyllisa said...

Very interesting and thought-provoking. And, I've been to that very outhouse! Cheers!

jill said...

These are all fascinating comments, thank you. I'm replying to each of you in my head - will have to visit your blogs when I'm not being dragged by Mr. Dot to Brompton Cemetary in the rain to photograph an idea he has for his conceptual art series (that's how it works: he has the ideas, I'm the human tripod).

Fab: me too. re: age, I mean!

Daily Mishmash: that will come. That's what I've found: that the quicker I write (and I don't pre-write, either: my posts are basically like my comments, or emails: just type and click send) the more authentic my voice.

BUT.. I do feel there really isn't anything wrong with having a blog persona especially if it's an interesting or amusing one! I really did start out with the intention of being a kind of tongue in cheek Miss Manners voice a la early 1960s, it's just over time I found my personality coming thru.

I love what Heather said about blogs being places to Shine, not Whine. I'm definitely stealing that quote! ; )

And Stephanie Odyssey: How random is it that Phylissa KNOWS THAT VERY OUTHOUSE! Unbelievable that it's still there!

Happy Sunday everyone! xoxo

styleeast said...

'community and friendship', I could not agree more. It's not why I started my blog (because I never thought it could exist in this online world!), but it's what I found and why I'm still doing it x

Chuck said...

I'm probably less snappy/sarcastic online than I am IRL but that is because I don't think blogs should be a place for bitching. I don't think that necessarily makes me 'inauthentic' though.

The calla lily is especially beautiful btw.

jill said...

Chuck: Me, too. And I agree: it's like an unwritten code: when we post, and when we comment, we're trying to be supportive/positive/perky. We all know we've each got our dark sides, and yet it isn't false if we just try to be nicer online than perhaps we'd be with our family, spouses, closest friends. And thank you ; )

Style East: and that's also how our real life friendship started! I agree: that's not why I started my blog. I can't even remember why I started: probably because Mr. Dot told me to, haha. x

SabinePsynopsis said...

Aaah, Jill, after not having looked at blogs for a few days I'm doing funny rounds today. Caught up with some of your 'older' posts 3 hours ago and here I'm back to read some more and see my name. THANK YOU! I'm so happy to have met you through the virtual world! xoxo

Matthew Spade said...

you're bonkers jill. it really is tricky keeping up with your fav blogs

the nyanzi report said...

Now that's real talk Jill.

Anonymous said...

Hi, again, interesting discussion. I don't have a blog, so my view can be more as a public view, considering a blogger as an artist and us as a public. However, I don't know if bloggers work for public. Sometimes, it sounds more like bloggers live their own life; hanging out with other bloggers, interested in blogs and other bloggers, and perfectly ok with this. Is it so? Do bloggers work for public or only for other bloggers?
Anyway, my comment gets too long.
1. Authenticity – don’t know really. Maybe by sharing some of your personal stuff, ideas, opinion, even taking risk that it can be misjudged or criticized?
2. Again – share some personal stuff. Don’t be afraid of making fun of yourself, identify yourself with your public, in order public understands you.
3. yes, when the updates are not frequent. It is sad, but we are “public”, we are selfish, we want “bread and show” every day. I consider only blogs which are of interest to me (only one unit of public) – either purely styling tips (like Northern light) or discussions, thoughts, ideas – like yours.
4. Don’t know. Be honest with yourself?


Andie said...

Just saw this so sorry about piping in late, but I just had to pipe in!

One of the reasons I started reading your blog back in 2009 (yes, I remember when) was because you seemed very sweet, and always took the time to respond to readers. You seem like a genuinely great person, someone that you'd want to have a coffee with, and that makes reading your blog very enjoyable to me.

One of my biggest pet peeves with bloggers is when they never respond to readers. I understand some bloggers get hundreds of comments a week, but does it really take that much time out of your day to just respond to maybe a couple readers? Especially if you are specifically asking your readers for comments or suggestions.

This especially irks me when certain bloggers (not to be named) post "outfit" shots and then neglect to let others know what they are wearing, even though at least 10 people have asked in the comments section. C'mon, it's just fashion—share the love! If you don't want others to wear what you are wearing maybe you shouldn't post pictures of your outfit on the INTERNET for the whole world to see?

Just my two cents. ;-)