Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A moment of embarrassment a lifetime of memories

Anyone who has ever held up a camera to snap a photo of someone has heard these words;

"Please don't. I look awful!"

"Put that camera down. I hate having my picture taken."

These, and other similar remarks, are usually followed with some desperate move to block, or otherwise obscure, the lens. The resulting image is a failed attempt at what could have been a nicer picture. All because the subject felt self-conscious or embarrassed by being in front of the camera.

The reality is that your picture is going to be taken. Most likely that image is going to be shared. Because of the (failed) attempt to avoid having a photo taken the resulting image is going to make you look terrible. Is this the kind of photographic legacy you want to leave behind? Remember, these photos may actually outlive you.
I have a friend who lost his grandfather a couple of years ago. He received a request from a family member for photos to share with other relatives and to put a small memorial together celebrating his grandfather's life. In looking over several albums he was hard pressed to get anything more than a half dozen or so good images. My friend realized the majority of the photos of his grandfather's face were either blocked by a hand, a newspaper or some other object or simply turned away from the camera. The remaining photos that did capture him further proved how much the guy avoided having his picture taken as all of them showed him with a scowl on his face. The only really good pictures were the ones where his grandfather was in the background, not the main subject of the photo. Unfortunately many of them were slightly blurry or at the wrong angle to make for a compelling image with clever cropping.

I learned a valuable lesson from this experience; no matter how bad you think you look or what your personal feelings are about having your picture taken, always smile at the camera. Personally, I don't want to be remembered as someone who always looks grumpy or unsociable when they look back on the images of me.

This has more meaning today because of the prevalence of cameras in our social circles. Remember, everyone has a camera today. Don't dismiss it just because it's a cell phone camera either. It's still a camera and one that can share that image with the world in an instant.

So if you feel embarrassed or uncomfortable when a camera is pointed in your direction keep in mind that the length of time it takes to snap a shot is mere seconds compared to the years in a lifetime. That split second will last and you determine the emotion that split second will record. Make it count and you won't be embarrassed by it. Hide from it, try to ruin the shot and you're guaranteed to get an embarrassing shot.

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