Masking As a Way of Life

Definition - Masking is where a person acts in ways others might consider “normal” in order to be accepted by them. 

Definition - Masking has evolved and is now defined as concealing one’s emotion by portraying another emotion

I am interested in observing people that mask, photographing them and talking to them to understand their why and how they have successfully done so without suspicion. I guess this is in a bid to understand what reality has forced them into hiding - what society has enforced that because if there is one thing society loves, it is uniformity. In looking for the definition of masking, I came across a number of examples formed with various words but they all had the same meaning behind them. A difference in being. In my own words, to mask is to wear a face that is not yours.

People mask for all sorts of reasons - men mask because that’s just what men are meant to do to appear ‘strong’ all the time - they only ever wear their firm manly face - the never shifting out of control face, while the I’m-not-so-strong- today face is concealed lest they be considered weak.

Women mask in an attempt to find the right level of being - to not be too much but also to not be too little - why are you so sad? Smile! - why are you so all over the place - be still - why are you so loud? Who will marry you? - so women mask - one face a day in search of the perfectly acceptable by society face - the ‘this-is-just-alright’ face.

I have been curious about masking as a lifestyle and I am currently working on a series for ‘Masking’ with all sorts of interesting people from different backgrounds and it has been a blessing to behold. 

Today I realised that masking on it’s own is not sufficient. If a stranger wears a mask and comes into your home, he is still a stranger and that instills fear. For masking to be a successful outcome - one has to perfect the art of Blending. How well can you fit in even when you stand out?


My favourite definition of blending - “is the technique of gently intermingling two or more values to create a gradual transition or to soften lines”.

Here are some questions I have with regards to Masking

  • Where do you keep yourself when you are playing the role of someone else?
  • If you have several you’s then who is the authentic you?
  • How long do you have to shift yourself before “they” decide not to show up again?
  • How is it possible to hide in plain sight?
  • When you mask so much that you change who you are so successfully, can true joy be found in that new identity or will you always look for you? 

  • Before I look at others, I prefer to start with myself so I made several self portraits of figurative masking.

    Welcome to my masking series

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