Lately I've been finding myself in the middle of some sort of weird contradiction. It's not a big, life changing thing (and often I wonder why I bother at all), but still it occupies my mind. It has to do with houses, with interiors, with blogs, with images, with the love for beautiful things and creativity on the one hand and with a dislike for too much materialism and maybe even keeping up appearances on the other hand. Let me try to make myself a little clearer.
Houses, interior decoration and design have always been something I love, and magazines, books, blogs and all kinds of beautiful interior images are a great source of inspiration. In fact I'm sort of 'eating' images: I never seem to get enough of looking at inspiring interiors, and in particular since I started following interior design blogs years ago (and Pinterest more recently) I have access to an ongoing flow of this particular kind of 'eye candy'. I guess this large and constant flow of images must be partly causing my issue (I'm probably overdosing!), though maybe some of it is also inherent to this term eye candy: it's sweet and attractive, it offers easy satisfaction and is maybe even a bit addictive, but it isn't very healthy and it might leave you feeling a little sick and not fulfilled on a deeper level.
So there's something about interior styling and photography, and all the blogs and magazines dedicated to it, that both attracts and annoys me. It must have something to do with the gap between image and reality, and with the feeling that a real life interior can never compete with the perfect image that is shown on the blog or magazine picture. All of us who love interior photography know that these images are being created, finetuned, manipulated. There's a woman sitting at the table, supposedly flipping through a magazine, supposedly nipping from a beautiful cup of tea, supposedly she's just eaten a perfect little bite from a yummy looking sandwich that has been carefully put on a lovely plate. There are like six small vases with lots of different flowers on the table, some well-curated small piles of books and magazines (with one or two casually laying open on top of the pile), some chairs 'randomly' placed around the table. It all looks random, if it's been done well, but everything is in the perfect place. It's like playing real life, but in a better, more beautiful way.
And of course that isn't wrong. This isn't an accusation, taking good pictures and trying to make things look beautiful isn't a crime or anything. We like looking at beautiful interior photos, at least I do. In fact my own home has been in some books and magazines, and I've been that woman at the table supposedly bringing that cup of tea towards her mouth, moving slowly to avoid blurry pictures, repeating the movement at least five times till the picture was right. It's awkward, it's fake, it's fun.
Then what is it that I grow more and more uneasy with? Maybe it's the fact that in my own house, with two young kids, the gap between picture perfect and 'real life' is becoming larger and larger. Maybe it's just some kind of jealousy because I can never have it the way I'd really want it here anymore, interiorwise. But maybe it's also that all these images of 'styled real life' at a certain point start interfering with your view of 'actual real life'. I regularly find myself looking at my house almost as though I'm viewing it through a lens, checking it for things that 'disturb the image'. Sometimes I see the kids playing on the sofa with a mess of blankets and pillows, and then I almost want to step in to move some of the pillows because in a different arrangement they'll look nicer together. That's weird! I know that I'm not the only one who gets crazy sometimes because of the mess the kids make, but while most people don't seem to like mess because it's disorderly and all that, I find myself worrying more about the mess ruining some sort of imaginary picture...
I know we're all supposed to say that we're not being influenced by perfect pictures. Seeing beautiful people in magazines and on tv shouldn't influence our self-esteem (because we know that we can't all be like them), seeing people on social media live great lives shouldn't make us worry about our own (because we know that they mainly show us the good parts), seeing people live in perfect houses shouldn't make us question the place we live in. We know, I know. But it's also known that, just as people in advertisement very well realize, images are often stronger and more powerful than knowledge. And beautiful images are all about seduction, about creating a desire. My home would look so much better with that quirky vintage chair, such great new tableware, those posters on the wall...
So sometimes I wonder how I can say yes and no at the same time. Say yes to beauty, to creativity, to inspiration and to being inspired. To a bit of dreaming and a bit of longing. But to say no to unrealistic views of daily life in an ever-lovely looking house. To say no to wanting new things all the time. And in particular to say no to that in interior photography omnipresent silly 'casually-thrown-on-the-sofa' blanket that never stays in the right place for longer than three minutes here ;).
This kind of thing is what usually happens to nice accessories such as throw blankets round here ;).