The camera and I, we're not close.
I'm just not photogenic.
Really. You can disbelieve me and say I'm too self-critical--that I lack confidence--but in my mind's eye, I look great! I'm a regular hotty for sure! The problem: photographs never capture the hottiness that appears so evident to me in my imagination.
I figured out a long time ago that if I avoid the camera, I can persist in my happy fantasy world. In the service of that fantasy, I have run from the camera my entire life--even in childhood.
And the stray pictures that some paparazzi-like friends manage to capture against my will? I write off the results as a problem of light, of focus, or the all-encompassing excuse that you've already heard: "I'm not photogenic." (You will notice that the phrase suggests that photography diminishes the otherwise very acceptable appearance of some people, thus preserving all of my self-aggrandizing delusions).
And so I have lived in this state of perpetual photo avoidance until a few years ago when I FINALLY got on facebook. I needed a profile picture. First, I used my dog (who is way cuter than me, even if she does have a bigger nose).
Eventually, however, I succumbed to the inevitable need to present myself as a human being.
I searched and searched through my digital files for a picture, but I couldn't find anything where I'm not either in a big group or wearing a bike helmet.
I guess that's what happens when you run from the camera your entire life.
So I cropped myself out of a picture with my little niece and nephew. It's at least 5 years old, and I've used it for my FB profile pic ever since.
Here's the original:
It's not bad at all, but when I sent it to a website that needed a profile picture of me last year, they rejected it on the basis of crazy eyes that also happen to be red when you zoom in.
Oops. I hadn't noticed that in the FB thumbnail.
I could fix the red eyes, but I don't think I should bother, because guess what? It doesn't even look like me anymore. I have short hair, and as you may or may not know, once you hit 40, a lot of aging can happen in five measly little years.
More important than my appearance, the need for a FB picture made me realize that I've created a photographic record of our family that doesn't include me. That's not really fair to my kids, right? They couldn't care less if my profile is weird or if my hair is flat. So I decided to grow up and dispense with my fears. If I'm not photogenic, who cares? I deemed it irrelevant, and perhaps, overstated.
For the past two years, I have forced myself to sit still and smile at the sound of those dreaded words, "say cheese!"
What could happen?
Well, in the age of digital cameras, the photographer can see the pictures right away. Repeatedly (repeatedly I tell you!), I have smiled for pictures and had the photographer say, "thanks!" then, looking at their digital screen, "oh," with voice dropping, brow furrowed, "that wasn't a good one. Let's do it again!" with feigned optimism.
You can imagine that I'm never too excited about the second try. So despite my efforts to rise above the unforgiving tenets of light and composition, I find myself two years further along in my life and still largely absent from the family album.
Enter Listen to Your Mother. As you may know, I'm in the show. Hooray! But guess what? Those pesky producers have wanted pictures. Bio pics, "spotlight" pics, family pics, they even expect me to stand in front of a video camera this Sunday!
First, they wanted a bio pic for the website. Pronto. All I had was my crazy-eyed FB picture. Could I use that? Would they rename the show, "Listen to Lunatics?" No. It wouldn't fit with the professional, well lit, clever, and personality filled pictures of the other cast-members that populated the page.
I needed one of those artsy pictures--immediately.
I got frustrated.
Imagine, just me and my old nemesis, the camera, spending a little quality time together, on a too-bright sunny day in my house where every room has at least one window and lots of reflective glass (mirrors and framed pictures). Those are really nice features for a house, unless there's a tornado warning, or equally disastrous, you need to create a self-portrait in soft natural light.
When I finally got one that was at least in focus, our wonderful producer didn't even reject it. Wew! I was so happy that was over.
Except then she wanted to do a "spotlight" for the website. They needed more pictures (sheesh!). I didn't want to republish my first disaster pic, so I did the whole thing again--this time only taking just a few hours instead of many. Would they notice that this is the same picture I gave them before?--just with a different shirt and better light?
I think I look a little drugged, but I was trying to kill the crazy eyes, so I had to pick between stoned and mad. I went with stoned.
Now I'm trying to work out a rehearsal time for the show. Since the director and I live far apart, she wants to SKYPE, or do FACETIME! Noooo!
I have never Skyped (surprise).
And Facetime? Well, I didn't even know it existed until I accidentally made Olivia a Facetime contact on my new iphone a few months ago. I didn't discover my mistake until one day, while showering, I realized that I'd forgotten to give her money before she left for the mall with friends. Hoping to get in touch with her quickly, I hopped out of the shower, grabbed my phone and hit "Olivia."
Imagine my shock when, instead of her number, an image of my wet and naked breasts shone back at me from my dialing phone!
Naked facetime with your tween and her friends! That is the way to get over your fear of cameras!
Luckily, Olivia does not have an i-phone, thank-you-almighty-powers-of-the-universe-for-that-piece-of-brilliant-parenting, because, in my panic, I could not figure out how to shut the damn thing off. Finally, dripping with water, hysteria, and profanity, I just turned it away (please somebody turn it away!), until the call ended automatically.
Was I being too coy? too camera shy? Perhaps that would have been a good time to snap a profile pic for twitter? I do need one of those, you know, and I did say I wanted more personality in the shots.
Or maybe not.
Ah well. I'm sure I'll survive my Facetime rehearsal, and even the show on Sunday. I can't make any promises, however, about how I'll look in the video, or how I'll look if you snap an unauthorized photo of me while I'm on display, but it's okay. Go for it, because I plan to steadfastly ignore what I saw during my naked Facetime chat and focus instead on an image of you, dear audience, in your underwear. That's fair enough, isn't it?
I hope so, because despite my fears, I hope to "see" you on Sunday!
If you haven't already, you can order tickets here!