Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Photo Challenged

First, I apologize for dropping off the face of the blogging world. My only excuse is that I've been really busy with kid stuff and Christmas just like all of you. My main excuse is my inability to write these days.

But, in case you guys are out there, here is an article I wrote for my local paper some time ago. Hope you get a laugh:

Recently, while visiting my parents, I understood the depths of my inability to take a good picture. As I produced my drivers’ license photo for my mom and sisters’ review, I unleashed a bout of hysteria to rival all those had in my parents’ kitchen. That kitchen is over one hundred years old and has seen four generations of my family. This was a pretty good laugh fest.

In my lifetime, I have taken only a handful of decent photos. Many of these were snapped when I was a baby and oblivious of the need to pose while still looking naturally cute. A few days preceding the above-mentioned outburst, my younger, very attractive sister stormed into my parents’ house claiming her new license picture was horrendous. Let me put this into perspective.

My sister is the most photogenic person I know. She also loves to have her picture taken. If there is a camera in the room, she is ready with a pose. Hair tossed and straight teeth flashing her fabulous smile. Throughout our childhood, she has produced multitudes of fantastic pictures.

I recall one such photo session. My grandmom had taken my sister and I to a professional. The pictures of my sister were so terrific, my grandmom had one blown up to poster size, framed and prominently hung.

My photos were snarly and unattractive. Apparently, all pictures including my mug were ruined. I think I forgot to be happy while the photographer made us smile and pose for thirty minutes. My hand fell asleep while resting oh so naturally on the side of my cheek. No pictures survive today which include my rebellious face on that very important day.

So, when I heard my sisters’ recent photo was terrible, I had to see it. After viewing what I would have considered an excellent picture, I went for my wallet. Why did I do this? I now wonder. I remember wanting to cheer up my sister. Give her a quick laugh. Even if at my own expense. After all, I was photo challenged. I knew how to handle the teasing. But, as the three of us stood in my parents’ kitchen, I quickly realized the harassment would not end quickly. The margaritas we had consumed that night didn’t help my case.

I have to say, I was eight months pregnant when the license picture was taken. Round faced and ponytail included. Also, the DMV had decided to add a nice red tan line to my neck. What is that about anyway? Do they have that built into the camera? Just in case you aren’t as nice as the DMV personnel, they can turn on the Red Circle of Doom for payback? They stand back and laugh to themselves as you’re walking out the door looking at your new license, shaking your head.

That night in my parents’ kitchen, my mom and sister kept passing the picture back and forth. “Let me see it again”, my mom had tears running down her face. My sister laughed so hard, I thought she might fall down and hurt that perfect set of teeth. And, I admit, I was laughing pretty hard myself. Especially, when one of them suggested I looked like Charlize Theron. In the movie Monster. Their advice was to have my picture redone immediately. What if I got pulled over for speeding? The cop would look at my photo and immediately take me in thinking I was a serial killer. That picture would be my demise. All three of us were crying and holding our sides.

My most recent photo experience was only a few weeks ago when I entered the Times Democrat offices to take the picture that accompanies this article. I was close to calling the paper and telling them to forget running that first article, unless I could get out of having my picture taken. I called my husband at work. “Don’t worry, you’ll do fine,” were his encouraging words. I called my mom. “Just do your best. That is all you can do,” were her encouraging words. So, I held strong. I wore a turtleneck.

Anxiety ran high as I entered the front door and met the doomed photographer in charge of snapping my shot. I quickly explained my inability to put a decent smile on paper. Poor soul didn’t seem to believe me. However, after snapping only a couple of shots of my extremely tense face, he came around. I was convinced the picture to be printed would be my very worse. Fake grin, glassy eyes and double chin.

Somehow, it didn’t turn out as badly as my driver’s license. Perhaps the graininess of the newsprint helped disguise my mug. More than likely, the photographer is to be celebrated for managing a decent photo from the photo challenged. I’m unsure of the reason, but am glad that at least the picture doesn’t humiliate me as much as my drivers’ license.

Maybe I could take this picture to the DMV and have them superimpose it on my license. I wonder if DMV will give me another chance at that photo, free of charge. Maybe I should take them some home baked cookies or perhaps just bring my kids and threaten not to leave until I have a satisfactory drivers license photo. I bet my sister would be willing to take the picture for me.

As the holiday season approaches, I have begun to prepare myself for the onslaught of picture taking that will occur. I have turtlenecks in holiday colors. My hair has been recently trimmed and well, shall we say, my natural color has been brightened.

Instead of staring straight at the camera, I have discovered my photos look more realistic when I am smiling at my children. I shall use my little darlings as props. No more than one cocktail and one glass of wine to avoid the glassy eye syndrome. And, my best finding yet, hide from the family member who has the camera hanging from their neck! There is one in every family and they are to be thanked for their work as the family historian. However, for those of us who are photo challenged, they are the grim reaper in a sports coat and tie.

1 comment:

  1. Great article, Jen! Your picture couldn't be any worse than mine. Our DMV won't let us smile anymore, what's up with that? Merry Christmas and enjoy this beautiful Virginia snow!!!!!