Friday, December 13, 2013


I was a tomboy growing up. I was also always out playing with the horses, stray cats, or just making a general mess of myself. I also had an on-going battle with my mom as to how long I could go without brushing my hair- could I get away with it for two whole days? This may seem odd but I had very thick curly hair which got very tangled. It wasn't until my mother received my set of photos for the second grade (many many months later) that she finally cracked down on me. You see, I had managed to convince her that my babysitter would brush my hair for photo day. I also managed to convince my babysitter that my best friend was going to brush my hair. The photos reflected my disheveled appearance: missing front tooth and wild hair. I looked straight out of the Grapes of Wrath. My mother was mortified. 

Needless to say I have always been a bit camera-shy. You know those girls that look like a million bucks anytime someone snaps a photo of them? Yeah, that's not me either. Even with perfectly (or as perfectly as I can manage) coiffed hair I never manage to turn the right angle for the camera. I think 1 out of every 60 photos is pretty decent and those photos will represent me for years at a time.

I had come to a place of acceptance about this until I started going grey. This was the time in my life I became completely photo-obsessed. And thank you, iPhone for making the selfie pic all the easier to take! At first I measured every millimeter of growth. Then as I became convinced the my hair was recessing back into my scalp, I began to take selfies of my grey in different lights, sharing all these photos with my very patient sister who is so far past faking enthusiasm over the subject. This is where I encountered my ongoing war with different lighting. 

Lighting never mattered too much to me as a ginger. Even when my hair photographed traffic cone orange (as I'm realising more and more of my pictures reflect) I really didn't mind. In my version of reality everyone who saw me automatically adjusted their saturation to see the perfect color of red on me. Eye rolls an imminent welcome. So when I was called blonde the other day I was taken completely aback. After all, did I really look blonde? Or was this some 'polite' overlooking my grey? I don't know nor care but I DO care that I was seen as a blonde. That left a bad taste in my mouth and severe annoyance that my silver just "isn't there yet." 

This is when I really understood the importance of lighting. One woman on CafĂ© Gray stands out to me as really understanding this and coming to peace with it. She's a makeup artist and has embraced the many shades and hues of her color, celebrating each play of light on her unique shades of grey. I am not so evolved, I still want to look like Tinkerbell's sister Periwinkle. 

So in the past 15 months I have been learning not only the art of the selfie but also in what light to take the picture. Here's what I've found: indoor fluorescent lighting will yellow; overcast lighting outdoors will show brightness; too much direct sun will usually was out your hair and you'll look like a beacon of light is coming from your head; and low lighting will bring out the dark colors making you look like you don't have any grey at all. Here are a couple of snapshots taken within two minutes of each other. The first pic looks yellow and was taken in my office. The second was taken outside two minutes later in the shade on a sunny day.

What a difference all around! Although still not great photos of me, they are in fact great photos of my hair, which is more important in my view. But another thing to remember is that your hair is also picking up color from the dyed ends (mine are pulled back) so that can also impact your photo. Alas, the selfie is still a challenge for the silver sister because color and light are so important.

Ugh, now another thing I need to learn- how to photograph my hair and what is the best lighting. This will be saved for another day. But I hope those of you who are exploring the silver can see what a difference silver makes in giving a fresher appearance. I think my skin and complexion look so much brighter and more youthful now that I've gone silver. Maybe I'm reverting to childhood now, just with brushed hair.


  1. This explains why, when I ran into an old acquaintance at Ulta (hello, fluorescent lights!) she said, "Oh, you look great as a blonde!" I didn't bother to correct her, b/c I had no idea if she was being "polite" using blonde as a euphemism for gray or what! Guess it was just the lighting. Ha! - K

  2. I'm so used to autocorrecting my hair color in my mind ("No, it doesn't really look orange, it's the perfect shade of red!") that I've been doing this with my grey too. I guess we'll just have to accept that we have chameleon hair for now. :) And maybe when all our ends are cut off there will be no more mistaking (fingers crossed).