M. and L. have been married a few years; they have a couple of darling little girls; they live a happy life. It reminds me of that Beatles song (this is where I'd normally include a link to the song, but the Beatles being what they are, those songs aren't available on the internet; you'll have to find "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" in your i-tunes and listen to the preview--but dont do it unless you're prepared to have it stuck in your head).
And it's true, life does go on. See it from my perspective.
You start out--third grade maybe--tall kids in the back, short kids in the front, and you're finally glad that you're older than most of the kids in your class because you get to stand in the back and don't have to crowd in the front like Robbie; you get to do what ever you want in the picture because you are virtually invisible...so you think. Then Mom gets the print which she sacrificed going out to dinner in order to buy, and there you are with your eyes crossed on the back row, and you will never hear the end of it: every time a camera is on the scene, she announces that everyone has to watch and make sure your eyes are straight. Like that would make the picture better, everyone looking at you.
So it begins: portrait making is to be endured, yearly if you're lucky, more often if you're not.
Pretty soon mom's not the only one picking on you for the way you look in pictures: Polly just found your picture in the yearbook and is pointing out to everyone how squinty your eyes are--it's not your fault the picture guy blackouts the cafeteria every time his flash fires; one has to protect one's vision, after all. Your middle and high school years are now ruined, however. And the school actually sanctions this practice!
This is why everyone has a camera smile and camera eyes, as well. The smile usually resembles something like a man with super sized jowls on a motorcycle doing 85, and the eyes are...well, "saucers for eyes" is an understatement. If the eyes were wrist watches, they wouldn't be an attractive little piece with jewels...they'd be those enormous Fossil appliances that require pulley systems to lift the watch into view. Or something.
Fortunately, by the time you get married you've come to terms with pictures. All the exciting looking wedding photos you see on blogs everywhere get you thinking that if the photographer can make you look half as good as Betty and Ralf did in their wedding pictures, then there may be hope for you. You start praying to the wedding gods to make you look good on your wedding day. Your Fairy Godmother casts a spell and your wishes come true, and you love your wedding pictures. A real Christmas miracle.
Unfortunately, you know that you only get one such intervention in your life time, and your pictures will never look good again.
At least, that's what it seems like everyone thinks. The fact is, you do look good in pictures--even if your eyes are crossed (granted, if you're halfway through a blink, you still look pretty terrible, but otherwise...). The important thing is to not look at your picture and criticize the way you look. When I'm talking with you, I never think to myself, "Geez, I bet he has a double chin in pictures." Pictures are not reality. They are an interpretation of a split second in time hat doesn't even exist anymore. Don't sweat it.
And certainly don't put on your bright eyes and toothy grimace.
That was really my favorite thing about working with M. and L.'s little family (well, besides making pictures of good looking people): they never told little S. to smile, and they were relaxed. Well, they were willing to relax, at least. After I helped them relax and showed them some pretty good looking images on the back of the camera they fell right into the groove and showed some pretty confident looks to the lens.
In fact, the relaxation showed in their whole bodies. Eventually, even when they knew the camera was watching, they interacted genuinely.
So, they got wedding pictures a few years ago, and now we've just had another fun time making pictures. S. hasn't been scarred by Mom's shattered hopes for the class portrait, and at this rate that will never happen. Break the cycle! It's just a picture. Let life go on.
Let it go on, and look back at it frequently, and remember that the glass is half full. Be in lots of pictures so you can look back at when they were taken and think to yourself not, "My, I'm so fat-bald-dopey looking-fill in the blank," but rather think, "oh, that was right after I had my darling little Mike, " or oh, that was right after graduation when we were getting started together," or "That was that time I drove seventy over through a school zone." (do they let you keep mug shots? they should--it would prevent a lot of crime if people frequently saw how bad they look in those photos.)
If you let it happen this way, then you'll score karma with your Photo Fairy and she will bless you with good looking pictures for the rest of your life...