My lovely wife and I recently had our portrait done; an exercise in humility we have not heretofore endeavored to achieve in our almost twenty-two years of wedded bliss. And for good reason. You know how photographers sometimes say to their models, “Oh, the camera loves you!”? Well in my case the camera hated me with all the passion and zeal of a Boston Red Sox fan at a Yankees game. It was so bad, at one point I heard it muttering under it’s breath, “What is that I’m looking at? I thought Jabba the Hut was imaginary!” Yes kids, I’m kidding. Cameras don’t talk. The Presidential teleprompter talks, but cameras can only sing.
Speaking of singing cameras, how about that modern digital photography equipment, huh? In the old days of the drugstore 110 instamatics the picture quality was such that even the most aesthetically challenged persons didn’t look half bad. That’s probably why George Washington always looks so good. But I hear he had this mole on the side of his face the size of Mt. Rushmore, which ironically, was left out of the Mt. Rushmore sculpture. Probably because the artist was using an instamatic picture as his model. And by the way, The Instamatics would be a phat name for a band!
Anyway, we’re standing there with the picture-taking person trying to look natural as she instructs us in how to look natural while holding unnatural poses. She had us turn our heads, chin down, eyes forward, do the secret handshake, and sing Kumbaya. I wasn’t sure what I was doing but I could hear the camera laughing its little digital head off. It didn’t matter how we posed, that thing was gonna make sure it was a rotten picture. And it didn’t disappoint. Not that the highly skilled picture-taking person was no good at what she was doing…she was highly skilled. It’s just that it’s difficult to make middle-aged suburbanites with a limited income look like they’re young again. Come to think of it, there are a lot of Hollywood celebrity types with unlimited income whom we can’t seem to make look young either. I guess old is old.
So we’re standing there, striking poses similar to the ones on the covers of supermarket romance novels, and I begin to wonder why picture-taking persons put us through such a regimen. Then it dawned on me it’s probably the only stress release they can get after spending four hours with a mother who wants the “perfect picture” of her son, who incidentally, has the energy and discipline of the Tasmanian Devil after slamming down a Red Bull. A room of ill-behaved youngins’ is enough to cause any picture-taking person to want to manipulate and control his or her subjects. By the way, stand back ‘cos I’m on a roll here. Ill-Behaved Youngins” is another awesome band name!
After our portrait session ended, it was time for the highly skilled picture-taking person to go back to her studio and practice her picture manipulation skills. I’d like to think there wasn’t much for her to do, but I’m smart enough to know my portrait will never be confused with anyone even slightly more attractive than say….Medusa. At least she has those awesome snakes sticking out of her head! Me? I’ve got wrinkles, lines, and those “unsightly blemishes” I was warned about repeatedly in my teen years. So much for acne just being a puberty thing; though I suppose that’s too much information.
When the pictures finally arrived I was stunned at the manipulation skills of our highly skilled picture-taking person. She was able to make my lovely wife and me look like we were still in our twenties. So much so, that what started out as two middle-aged persons standing against a gray-ish background became three very attractive young people sitting together on a couch. Imagine my disappointment to find out we’d been given the wrong portfolio! I suppose it’s for the better though. I would have had a hard time explaining who that third very attractive young person was, especially being that she was of the female persuasion. Maybe I’ll keep that portrait anyway as a spare I can pass off to complete strangers. If they must look at me in my current state, let them at least believe I was once a good looking specimen of manhood with ladies on both arms.
Now that everything is said and done, we (and by “we” I mean my wife) have the portrait we wanted; ready to hang on the wall and post to half-a-dozen social networking sites. Sometime in the coming weeks will have a billion wallet-sized copies made so we have something to stick in next year’s Christmas cards. Those of you ho receive them in December can feel free to laugh heartily before feeding them to the neighborhood pit bull.
But… who knows? If we’re really lucky the picture will wind up in the hands of someone who sells stock photos to non-profits who can’t afford their own highly skilled picture-taking persons. We could even end up being the poster children for the America Association of Middle Aged Suburbanites Who Don’t Photograph Well. How awesome would that be!?…..And then there’s Mount Rushmore.
Move over George, you and your conveniently missing mole are hogging the spotlight.