You know those people who remain calm and relaxed when a camera lens is directed at them? Who happily put an arm around the shoulder of the person next to them and flash a beautiful, natural smile? I am not one of them. The camera hates me. And the feeling is mutual.
Let it be said, that I am not often pleased with my appearance. But even on the rare occasions where I am even slightly OK with my reflection in the mirror, one can be certain that if a photo is taken of me, it is sure to reveal triple chins, a goofy smile, a weak profile, hair from hell, big teeth and/or hitherto unknown wrinkles. Naturally, I am no fan of the expression “the camera never lies”.
Photoshop, you say? I already have one full time job, thank you very much! One horrid picture at the time, I get more and more reluctant to leave the house, as I feel certain that, any day now, small children will point, stare and laugh. And eventually it is inevitable that the villagers will chase me back to my castle with pitchforks and lit torches, and demand that I leave town.
My childhood belongs in the pre-digital era. Thus the number of photos existing of me from age 0-18 is probably somewhere in the range between 100 and 200. In comparison, when Linus was born, we had recently bought a new digital SLR camera, and we probably have 100-200 photos of him from the first month of his life.
One early photo, taken of me when I was 3 years old, encapsulates my feelings about having my picture taken. In the photo I am wearing a red plastic apron. I was making Christmas cookies with my parents. What should have been a fun family event was ruined for me, as my parents insisted on shooting rolls and rolls of valuable film in order to perpetuate the moment. At least that is how I recall it. The photo captures me in the seconds where the camera flashes for the umpteenth time and I cry the hysterical tears of a blinded toddler about to OD on cookie dough. As all normal parents would, mine chose this picture to be the Christmas card of the year and it was therefore widely distributed to family and friends, some of whom had the picture of my chubby dismay displayed on their pin boards for decades. Literally.
Some years later, when my parents had decided to stop making Christmas cookies with each other, fate would have it that my dad found a girlfriend who worked in advertising. And she desperately wanted me to model. I know, I know, apologies to those of you who know me now and have therefore just snorted coffee/coke/cola/milk out of your noses at the thought. But back in the ’80s I had braids, a freckly nose and big front teeth in that way that makes people want to buy ketchup. Or apples. My stepmum and my dad convinced me and my stepsister (whom the camera adores) to pose for a Miracoli photo competition. Tons of cutesy pictures, including the below and several Lady and the Tramp inspired shots, were taken. At this point, the camera and I still had not developed our full blown hate-hate relationship and I think it helped that my stepsister was in the shoot with me. All the cuteness won us an expensive camera. The Miracoli tasted horrible and our parents would never have dreamt of serving us something like that but I guess that was lesson one in advertising: You don’t have to like it to sell it.
When I was old enough to want Converse, blue mascara and Walkmen, I decided that the money my stepmum’s modelling jobs could offer was too good to turn down. So I did some catalogue work. Kudos to the poor photographer who actually got something out of the shy, miserable girl, squirming in front of the camera. I hated it. And I was much too self conscious to flirt with the camera or even just goof around in front of it. So I’m quite sure I was not the only one who was relieved when that money making scheme was dropped.
Ever since, it seems that nothing good ever comes from me having my picture taken. It is doomed. Perhaps my discomfort casts some sort of spell over then lens? Like the time when Anders and I were in Israel and bought some body mud masks. Why it seemed like a good idea at the time to take a silly self-timer photo of our only-covered-in-mud-bodies, I will never recall. What we hadn’t taken into consideration was the third degree questioning from the teenage soldier at the airport as we were leaving Israel. How were we to foresee that she would demand to see all the holiday snaps on our digital camera to make sure that we hadn’t spent two weeks in a Hamas bootcamp?
In this day and age it is next to impossible to stay away from cameras completely. So rather than trying to pose for the camera, hoping for an exceptional, successful shot, I tend to pull an ugly face. So to those who kindly try to capture a moment spent with me, I apologise if this is what you end up with. I can’t help it. Neither can the camera. It never lies.