Self-Portrait, Phantom Ranch | Mark Lindsay

As a self-conscious young man I never photographed myself. I was so painfully aware of myself and my camera I didn't even want to be seen let alone captured on film. With a camera dangling from my neck I felt more like a clumsy voyeur than an artist. It took me years to feel comfortable with a camera in my hands.

Now I become oblivious to the ambient world when I'm in the flow of photography. I adore the responsiveness of today's digital cameras. I love the sound of the shutter clicking in rapid staccato. I get lost in the process.

During my photo sessions I now often and unexpectedly turn the camera around and photograph myself. I rarely plan on doing it, it just happens. It seems like a way to balance things out. If everyone and everything else are subject to my photography, then I should bare scrutiny by the lens. I care little these days about my appearance or how I'm feeling when I push the shutter button. I simply turn the camera around and click.

Most of the resulting photos are, to my eyes, rather unflattering. When I was younger I enjoyed looking at photos of myself. Now it's a matter of endurance. For some reason I feel it's important to capture a moment with me in it. I don't know why. I just do it.

The attached photo was taken of me, by me, in the canteen at Phantom Ranch. The canteen is a wonderful oasis at the bottom of Grand Canyon. We had just walked thirty miles over three days, drinking hot water (the sun heats the water bottles to near bath temperature) from our backpacks. I'd been dreaming of a tall cup of iced lemonade which the canteen offers. I was sore, dirty, unshaven, hot, parched, a just a bit cranky. Time for a photo.