I only like the photographs of myself that I take. When the photograph is taken by someone else, I feel the burden of the pose, the forced smile, the uncertainty of how things look. In the end nothing ever works for me. Maybe it’s a matter of mood; I have to be in the mood to be photographed to feel comfortable. Maybe it’s because I can never trust the other eye behind the lens – do they see what I would see?

A couple of weeks ago I noticed that the theme for February’s photo competition on’s RAW was “Loving Portraits”. The competition is for amateur photographers and the theme sounded intriguing. The idea was that the photos submitted should show the love of the photographer towards the subject. The good thing about this contest was that the photo did not have to be taken in this month, which was extremely convenient, since I wanted to to submit a photo I took back in September. And it was a… self-portrait. I wasn’t sure if self-portraits were allowed so I asked the site’s moderator, while jokingly saying “cuz, ya know, I really, really love myself”, and she said yes.

It’s not the “self” part that makes this photograph special to me. I think it’s the best portrait I have ever taken. It’s not that I look perfect (my nose is its usual big self), but I feel that the photo captures my mood, which was something like “things sometimes get tough and I am tired, but in the end I’m gonna make it alright”. I remember the day I took this picture. I went for a walk on the Minuteman bikepath and when I got to Spy Pond in Arlington, I sat by the pond for a while to enjoy the low early evening light. I had my point and shoot camera with me and with the sun bathing my face I started taking photos of myself. I was feeling comfortable, although I could hear people walking behind me all the time. But I didn’t care. Everything felt right, everything felt good: my mood, the light, my skin, my hair. I have made photos from that shoot my avatar pictures on twitter, facebook, flickr and here. And for a while now I abide by the rule that my profile photos should be only self-portraits.

After posting all the entries galleries and the final 50, today they finally announced the winners of the “Loving Portraits” contest and my photo made it to the Top 10, at number 7.

And if you think this is shameless self love, I am fine with that…