Tom Hussey is a photographer whose work has started popping up in viral Facebook and Twitter messages. Particularly his “Reflections” series is quite riveting. What would a photograph look like if you had the present-day elderly and the lost to time young adult version of the same person? You can get a glimpse of it at FStoppers.com. Imagine yourself looking forward in time into the elderly you, or looking back into the younger you from a few decades ago. Projecting yourself into the images leaves you with a most surreal emotional impression. For the biohacker in me, it also got me reconsidering yet one additional technique I used to engage in but no longer do.
For the past several years all of my biohacking has been about metrics: calories in versus calories out, micronutrient profiles, percent bodyfat, body measurements, performance measurements. These sorts of quantifications are essentially a history of my lifestyle and how my body is responding to it. However the old cliche “a picture is worth a thousand words” really comes into play too. Even with relatively constant and planned metrics I still will have an evolution in my body over time. Wouldn’t it be beneficial and interesting to capture that as well?
Back in the early 2000’s I was still struggling with yo-yo weight loss/gain. One of the best programs that I found to help iron that out and get in shape was the Body For Life book by Bill Phillips. It was the first book to introduce me to the concept of it being okay to having a free day and to break out of the concept of crash dieting to achieve a goal and then not doing anything for changing lifestyle. Granted, I never successfully migrated from one 12 week fitness program to another, but the concepts were there and they are concepts that I carried forward to this day.
Part of the schtick of that program was the annual competition for a grand prize to see who showed the most improvement. That had a before and after picture component as well, as is typical of many of these types of programs. I took it to the next level and did weekly pictures. It was with a crappy digital camera, in not great lighting, and not scientifically done for consistency, but it still showed the dramatic progress.
Looking at the pictures he put together I began thinking of the value of doing something similar for that same sort of documentation at this point, on a weekly, or maybe monthly basis. I’m not in a radical fitness program, nor do I plan do be, so weekly may be too frequently. However there is nothing against oversampling. The bigger trick I think will be consistency. I’m not looking to gin up some before/after shots. I’m looking for coming up with a process where the lighting, positioning, et cetera, is consistent. That way I can do an apples for apples comparison of what my body was like when I was in my late-30’s and compare it to what it’s like in the coming decades.
There are people who do those “snapshots everyday for a year” type things. There are also standard photographing techniques for doing compositions. I have some friends in the photography field who may be able to shed some light on possible techniques as well. From my botched former tries at photography as a hobby I have lights, backdrops and a pretty decent DSLR camera. That’s probably a good enough starting point for trying to get this concept flight tested. Once honed, it will then be just a question of aggregating over a few decades to see what’s what.