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C09P18 – Forgotten

C09P18 – Forgotten published on 20 Comments on C09P18 – Forgotten

Ah…family photo time. Was that the best smile you could manage, Tama? Really? Or did you just refuse to participate other than being present?

I’ve always hated photos. I know, I know, they’re important for chronicling the past and all that, but I’m the least photogenic person ON EARTH. In part because I cannot for the life of me generate a genuine smile. This is in large part due to how family photos were done when I was growing up. Step one would be to gather everyone in an awkward group, arranged so that you were looking directly into the blinding Colorado sun. Step two would be my father insisting that we weren’t smiling right, and the only correct way to smile would be to show ALL of your teeth. Step three would be squinting and grimacing for what felt like half an hour while the person behind the camera would hit all the wrong buttons, or someone would blink, or they’d take untold extras “just to be sure.”

As a result, my hatred of photos has resulted in the only record of my existence that exists of my own volition as an adult are all the reference photos I take for my comics. That face Tama’s making on the last page? Yeah. Have that on film.

What about you? What do you like or dislike about capturing the moments of your life on camera?

20 Comments

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I had an aunt who discovered the joys of 8mm film on camping trips. You know, when you’re covered with dirt and bugs and sleeping on the ground. Her chief joy seemed to be trying to catch the teenagers doing something that involved not being fully clothed.

There are some of those reels I could cheerfully burn, but they’ve been digitized and lovingly burned to DVDs now. My only consolation is that no one cares enough to ever view them.

My father loves taking photos, and he’s pretty good at it, too. Even though he was only home a month or two out of each year, we still have probably hundreds or even thousands of photos of me. Because I grew up with that camera around, and was encouraged to take photos myself and read books on photography, I’m incredibly comfortable around them. I’m also keenly aware of them – I make subtle adjustments to look good in them when I detect their presence, so candid shots of me look extra good every time. We also did posed family photos at every Christmas, but being Quebekers, we shout “Sex!” instead of “cheese” and someone is probably getting poked in the ribs from behind and trying desperately not to blur the shot while the cameraman (usually my dad) skedaddled to his spot while the timer counted. Outtakes were a hilarious treat when the film was developed. On my wall I have a photo of my grandmother and her kids from the 70s, and in it my aunt is in the middle of telling one of her brothers off – it looks kind of like an angry yawn.
Ironically, getting a non-candid photo of my dad is like pulling teeth. I also know a lot of people who claim to not be photogenic – candid shots of them prove them wrong. *Everyone* can look lovely in a photo, if they feel comfortable around the camera. My husband does this weird closed-lip smile the instant he notices a camera and it makes him look terribly sullen in photos. But in candid shots he’s got his usual generous smile and looks like a great person to be around!

I wish I was more comfortable around cameras. I can relate to your dad! I’m always aware of a camera when it’s around. I try to give them “good” candid shots, but it usually just results in a stiffness.

I love your description of family photo out-takes! I think I’d rather just have images that are just the out-takes. Captures the essence of the people and relationships more.

A crash course in becoming photogenic:
1) Remember the cameraperson almost never wants you to look bad. When they do, they’re probably waiting for you to have your mouth full of food or something, so you’re doomed anyway.
2) If someone’s taking what they think is a candid shot, it’s because they want you exactly as you are in this moment! You are already looking great! Just carry on!
3) If you really feel the need to do *something* or you’ll feel self-conscious, keep adjustments small and subtle. Improve your posture a notch, or surreptitiously fix your skirt. Don’t do things like turning to look at the camera or try to change your position drastically.
4) If you’re very close to someone (say your newly official other half), transfer that nervous energy brought by discomfort to making *them* look better for the camera. Looking all scowly? Tickling or rib poking is in order! Or maybe a quietly spoken joke! Looking limp and uninteresting? Hold hands! It can require more flamboyance and bursts of abnormal extrovertism for friends rather than family and S.O.s.

And for posed photos where smiles are required, think of something that makes you extra happy or laugh, and hold that in your mind while one person takes too many photos or 10 different people want to take the same photo all in a row. With my Mid-Western inlaws, all I have to do is imagine their reactions if my mom were there and shouted “SEX!” instead of saying “cheeeeeeeese”. Actually, I think this is part of the difference – if you’re saying cheese, your mouth and teeth are in a smile-like arrangement, whether you like it or not. But if you’re saying sex, you’re probably making a cheerful expression despite the word not being conducive to the toothy-smile look. In other words, one induces the expression mechanically, the other emotionally. I think the latter makes for better photos.

I hate it when people take my picture. I hate seeing pictures of myself. I flinch every time any lens in my vicinity even seems like it might possibly end up pointed in my general direction at some point in the near-ish future.

And then I take a gazillion pictures of all the things and spend hours in the darkroom lololololol.

My mother is losing her memory. For Christmas I made her an album of pictures of family members and friends, each labeled with their name in large letters. I looked hard for shots of people with natural smiles, preferably laughing. Not easy. Actually exhausting. Amazing that there were enough pics in the end.

A good thing to do for any older person. I just wish I had known earlier that I would need those pix . . .

I destroyed every photograph I could find of myself in my family’s photo collection when I was left alone with it for a couple of hours in my thirties.

I grew up with the firm belief that I was as ugly as people told me I was. :`P I still hate having my picture taken, which makes Mal sad. He thinks I’m beautiful. But he respects my wishes most of the time. :`)

So you see I can sympathise. <3

I'm wondering who that small bloody hand print belongs to… I'm imagining it's Zhero's, but that's just a wild guess.

I don’t see myself as very photogenic either…so I purposefully make the most ridiculous face I can when it isn’t a serious photo. Otherwise I would force the photographer to retake my picture until I was satisfied with it. Who wants to deal with that?! However, serious pictures where I don’t have the luxury to preview a photo are a different story -_- VERY RARELY am I ever satisfied with a year book picture or any of those random middle of the year photos the school feels like taking. Either I feel like my smile isn’t big enough or my eyes are too small or not bright enough or I think I needed to actually wear makeup to accentuate my features a little better. I also don’t like it when my mom insists on taking pictures of me when I’ve gotten ready for a dance or for any formal occasion. I often feel quite uncomfortable because I know she wants what she calls a “nice” photo with no fancy angels or poses and while I’m uncomfortably standing still as she’s trying to figure out how to take a picture or turn off the flash, I’m just itching on the inside to bust a move or make a goofy face XD

My family normally has quite a few retakes because we insist on bringing our dogs into the picture. The dogs insist on not cooperating, so it’s pretty funny. We can normally get genuine smiles because of the pet shenanigans, but when we don’t it immediately becomes a challenge of who can say the funniest thing. The hardest part is to keep from moving while laughing really hard.

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