Thursday, 6 February 2014


Hello Friends.

Have you seen your Facebook Movie? I haven't watched any yet, or had mine made, because I could barely sit through the other Facebook Movie where some hot twins got mad and Justin Timberlake was like, "I'm the founder of Napster" in a totally believable performance. But I would imagine the conceit of the Facebook Movie is that a bunch of your status and photos glide by set to music. If that's true, let's skip it, as a good picture of me existing somewhere is as rare as a solid Timberlake acting performance.

I had to have my picture taken at work today, as part of a "Meet the New Guy" feature in the corporate newsletter (which, funnily enough, will fall to me to write). I knew the photo was to be taken today, so I put on a clean suit and put product in my hair instead of bacon grease (you can't beat the shine and hold). I am clean-shaven and free of noticeable blemishes, but 'twas all for naught. As soon as the gal taking the photo set up all her stuff, sat me down and said, "Okay, smile!" I knew we hadn't a hope of creating everything good. It's like I forget how my mouth works. I went, "bohhhh?" and exposed by bottom teeth. Then I said, "nuuuu" and puffed up my cheeks real big. Then I said, "yipyipyee" and made my neck veins pop out. Frightened, the photographer took a few snaps and scurried away, and I'm certain the only feeling she captured was one of intense awkwardness.

Dream: Take a good picture.

Goal: Achievable. Look, I know I'm not a mythical Horsebeast of Ugliness or anything. My lengthy canvas of face can be arranged somewhat presentably. My friend Dan is a photographer who managed to coax a good picture of me simply because we were hanging out and probably laughing about something, thus rendering an expression organically. But I can't rush to Dan and make jokes about boners every time I need a snap done. This is a task that falls to me.

Plan: Determine just what makes a good picture. Feel free to use this yourself.

Capturing the genuine feeling of the person being photographed. This advice seems like a no-brainer, but rarely happens. The burden falls on the subject here, I'm afraid. The best photographers in the world can't make a good picture out of a false sentiment. When  I was taking Theatre in University, all of the acting students would put on shows there. We had a great rate from a professional headshot photographer who would print out professional-looking, black and white 8x10s that were displayed in the lobby outside the theatre space. Anyway, the results were slick, but often hilarious. My fellow actors and I took ourselves extremely seriously and most of us opted for a penetrating, dour stare. This particular brand of faux-intensity is quite popular among young actors, but also popular among young actors is drinking, wearing sweat pants, and behaving like a cat or dog as per class instruction. My old headshots are embarrassing facsimiles of a gravitas I never possessed as an actor. Plus, I was eighteen and happy, what did I have to be so stern about?

Find your "side." Most people don't have the perfectly symmetrical face of a movie star, but that's no reason not to have their vanity. I think we all have a side of our face that photographs better than the other. Barbara Walters, for instance, insists on being shot only from the left. Tina Fey prefers to be filmed on her right side to help conceal a facial scar on her left. Who would begrudge these famous ladies their preference. I have one side of my face where my features seem to come together proportionally, but another side where mouth and eye holes seem to have been punctured onto a large kidney bean. The trouble is, I always forget which is which, and my instinct is always wrong.

When it comes to pictures of yourself, less is more. We all have that friend on Facebook or Instagram who posts way too many selfies. I don't mean people who posts pictures of their family and friends all the time, or the people that have pictures of themselves enjoying activities like mountain-climbing or watermelon-deseeding. I mean those folks who position a camera above or across from themselves, make a sexy/pouty/smiley face, click, and post. I understand that Facebook is literally meant for our faces, but I don't have to see so many of yours. I think my least favourite selfie of late is the one where the subject makes a fake, "My life is so wacky!" expression. You know the one. Usually, it's big (sometimes rolled) eyes and a small, straight-line mouth suggesting sentiments like, "Oh brother!" and "Here we go again!" I don't like the contrived exasperation because it seems to say, "Everything is so crazy but I still had time to take a picture lol j/k omg!" At least the duck-facers and the come-hither poses are more obvious in their vanity.

Other people. The best pictures that exist of me are shots of me with other people. I guess I'm at my happiest and most relaxed with friends or family, and that comes across. In fact, for many profile pictures on Facebook or Twitter, I have taken a picture of me with someone else, cut off their head and replaced it with my own--just as vain as a selfie but with hilarious results!

I really like the idea that the best pictures of me are part of pictures of someone else. It complements the idea that I'm happier with people than alone and I'd rather be a part of something bigger than myself instead of being the sole focus. Keep your fancy equipment and your Photoshop, I get by with a little help from my Friends.  

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