Okay, so the title of this blog makes it sound more interesting than it really is. My hair was getting long and grey. I coloured it red and cut most of it off yesterday. Hopefully I will soon have a publicity shot where I don’t look like a deranged psychopath, but seeing me smiling might be even more frightening for some. I’m getting nagged by people these days that they want to see a picture of me smiling. Hmmm. I’m not sure if that will be good for anyone’s state of mind, and nightmares may ensue, but they’ll only have themselves to blame for that. For the rest of you who weren’t nagging me about it, be afraid…be very, very afraid. This will be your only warning of the dangers that lie ahead for your delicate psyche.
What is it about some people that they can take great pictures and others take horrible ones? I’m talking about normal-looking, or even good-looking people. You point a camera in their direction and they look like someone else. You’re not allowed to smile in a passport photo for good reason. They want to be able to digitize your facial structure without the distention caused by flexing your facial muscles, whether it be a grimace, a grin, or a gape. You also have to remove your eye wear, even if you require it to see properly. After all, you don’t need to be able to see to be a passenger or cross a border (although you’re advised not to walk into border patrol as it makes them suspicious). The pictures with your glasses on are strictly for your other identification, particularly your driver’s licence.
Thankfully I lost a fair bit of weight, and thankfully again I’ve put some of it back on. I was beginning to look kind of sickly. I was overweight, and then underweight. Now I’m some sort of weight that has no real definition. Even still, less facial fat is always a plus when it comes to getting your picture taken. I’m getting my daughter to do it whenever I get around to it, because she has a better camera than mine, and she knows how to use it better than I ever will.
I learned about cameras back when there was no such thing as digital, and the auto-focus was an option. Hell, I had to adjust the f-stop on my first good camera – not that I would remember all the details about doing that kind of thing now. My current camera is strictly automatic, and I can’t seem to change a damn thing on it to make the pictures come out any better. There is no manual option, which I find frustrating, but it wouldn’t matter if there was. Taking a picture of myself just isn’t going to work, even with the tripod. Counting down the seconds for the timer to go off makes me look even weirder when the thing clicks at a time I wasn’t expecting it to, because my mental timing was off by a millisecond.
I’ve brushed up on camera-ready make-up and clothing, but when I was researching it I was doing it out of curiosity and had no intention of having any publicity shots done. I just wanted to understand the basic concept. If you’ve been reading my blog at all, you’ll already know that the instant a question pops into my head I desperately need to know the answer. It’s that Wikipedia addiction I’ve mentioned. If I don’t have internet I feel like I’m adrift on the ocean without a paddle, never mind up a river. With vast quantities of information so readily available, it’s like feeding gas to a flame. I guess that kind of curiosity isn’t really a bad thing, though. There are worse things than being addicted to learning.
Still, I admit my current head shot looks more like a mug shot, despite the fact that I’ve never even been brought into a police station to be questioned about anything – not even once, and I kind of wish I had because it would be great research material for me. (There goes that damn learning addiction again. I must have been born a writer.) I lied to someone when I was a teenager, though, and told him I’d been brought in and questioned. He was kind of stalking me, and I was trying to avoid him. It seemed the kinder, and far less dangerous, thing to do. It’s a long story that maybe one day I’ll babble about, but which has nothing to do with the topic of haircuts and weird pictures. Not that it should necessarily matter to me, seeing as I don’t always have a point.
Now there’s a question. Do I actually have a point this time? I’m not sure. Maybe I’m just whining because I think I look crappy in pictures, and so I hate having them taken. I avoid cameras now. When I was younger I think I used to be flattered when someone wanted to take a picture of me, but I learned after a while that I was never going to look normal so caution turned to avoidance. So, I ask again, why is it that some people take great pictures and others look like idiots? Why do dimples turn into weird shadows that taken on the odd appearance of facial cellulite?
Dark circles under my eyes make me look like a zombie, but I kind of expect that part – it’s genetic, so I’m stuck with the circles. What I don’t expect are the three chins I don’t actually have, no matter how much I bend my head down when I look in the mirror, among other things. I’m a normal-looking person. Men have found me attractive, and some women, too, I suppose. A picture of me conveys absolutely nothing of the sort. I don’t know if I’ve ever taken a really good picture, or at least one where I thought I looked good, but then that’s the ticket isn’t it? It’s all perception. Maybe most of us hate our own pictures, thinking we should look much better and wishing we did.
Or maybe it’s something simpler than that. Have you ever noticed how unattractive a person becomes if you’ve gotten to know them and they turn out to be a terrible human being? The expression you see on their face makes them ugly. People who have personalities that are beautiful will start to look beautiful to us, even if the aesthetics aren’t quite there. The problem with pictures, is that you see none of that. There is no life or animation, and what makes people attractive eventually comes down to their spirit. If you can’t see their true spirit in pictures of them, you will never see them at their best. You also tend to see them doing weird things with the shape of their mouth, especially in candid shots where they’re caught in the middle of a sentence.
Appearance is still important, however, no matter how we try to deny that part of our natures. If someone doesn’t know me personally, so that they already know what I look like, they want to see a publicity shot to see where the thoughts are coming from. It’s human nature, and one I expect and understand. It’s like trying to deny the most basic of procreation laws. It’s biologically ingrained in us that we should mate with someone we find to be attractive. Why? Because beauty is perceived as health in the mating dance. We want healthy genes combining with ours for reproductive purposes. We are hardwired to pay more attention to people we find attractive.
Of course, attractive is very subjective. For instance, I’m not attracted to pretty-looking men – the ones you would expect to date the Homecoming Queen, I mean. Not necessarily jocks, but the guys that are far too gorgeous to be real. The last pretty boy I found attractive was when I watched Dukes of Hazzard as a child and thought John Schneider was hot based on his appearance. Generally I’m more of a Tom Wopat girl, though, when it comes to physical appearance.
There’s nothing wrong with John Schneider, near as I can tell, and I’ve never heard a bad word about him – I’ve actually heard lots of good things, so his personality does make him attractive to me knowing those things about him. Before knowing he was likely a decent guy, though, I had the incorrect perception that he was a jerk, based on his looks. Reverse discrimination, I guess. I knew far too many typically good-looking guys who treated me like I was beneath them – until I grew breasts, that is. By that time it was too late for them to get back into my good graces.
I guess what it all boils down to is that life itself is the beauty in us. Only someone who is really good with a camera can capture that essence in us appropriately, so I suppose I will continue to avoid getting my mugshots – I mean head shots – taken, inasmuch as it is possible to do so. Seeing as I have the hope that one day soon there will be a dust jacket with my name on it, however, there will come a time when I will be forced to go the professional route and cave in to the need for real head shots. I guess it’s not a legitimate excuse for not finishing my book, though, is it?