Tales of the Photographically Impaired

To fully appreciate this post, I recommend a visit to my friend Reese’s blog to read her delightfully humorous post on taking pictures with boys. If you are a Cliff’s Notes (or, for the younger generation, Wikipedia) type of person, you’re in luck. I’m going to quote the relevant parts here. I also want to note before we begin, for no other reason than that it seems noteworthy, that this will be the very first time I have ever posted a picture on my blog. I hope you’re as excited as I am.

Reese has blogged previously about her trouble with getting the men in her life to take decent pictures, and if she is able to secretly snap a picture at a moment when they are unintentionally looking completely normal and (dare we hope?) even mildly attractive, it’s usually on her twenty-seventh try that said acceptable-looking picture gets taken. I have to say, I empathize with her completely because I have made similar such attempts, which is why I have pictures of my boyfriend that look like this:

I realize I look crazy in this picture too. Trust me, this was attempt #8, and nobody can keep their good face on that long.

This is what I have to work with.

Reese’s chief complaint is that, as a twosome, she and her husband, in their newlywed state, have no easy way to photograph themselves doing all the newlywed things they do. To quote her:

Option #1: Ask a stranger to take your picture.
Am I the only one who is secretly afraid the stranger is going to take off with my camera? I’m not even kidding. It crosses my mind every single time, and now that I have a “fancy” camera, I’m even more concerned. The other problem is that 90% of strangers don’t know how to take a decent picture. Why is this?

Dear strangers, All I want is a centered photo that isn’t chopping off our heads and doesn’t have your finger in the corner from accidentally covering the lens. I don’t feel like this is too much to ask. Oh, and yes, you can zoom in sometimes. I don’t want a photo that’s mostly sidewalk from half a mile away. Thank you.

To this, I say Reese, you are not alone. I too get nervous about strangers taking off with my camera. But if you think about it, I mean, really, where are they going to go? They’re standing just a few feet away. There’s no possible way they can take off and get far enough in a space of two seconds that I can’t catch them. I mean, what are these, track and field Olympians plotting to steal my camera? I figure, in the event that a stranger tries to steal my camera and happens not to be an Olympian, I’ll have enough angry adrenaline and indignation to catch the guy.

See? Adrenaline.

However, on the other hand, I have been that stranger asked to take someone else’s picture. Do you people realize how much pressure this can be? Everyone has different photography goals and hopes as well as different photographing implements. I have no idea what is expected of me when strangers place into my hands a camera – the specific model of which I have never held before that precise moment – and ask me to take their picture. So my thought process, as I struggle to meet the strangers’ demands, usually goes somewhat like this:

What kind of background do they want? Do they want a landscape photo or portrait? How much zoom is too much? Do they want any skyline? If so, how much? Where is the lens, so I can be sure my finger isn’t covering it? There is some pretty cool stuff in the background around here. Will they get mad if I put them on the side of the shot for the sake of capturing some of this cool stuff, or do they want to be the complete, absolute center of the photo? Do they appreciate artsy, or are they traditional? Where the heck is the “take picture” button anyway? Is the flash on? Should the flash be on? Uh-oh, now my hands are shaking. Crap, the picture’s going to be blurry. Cripes, I’m taking way too long to take this stinking picture! They probably think I’m contemplating how to run off with this stupid camera. Ahhhhh! Just snap the dang picture and be done with it!

And that is why 90% of the strangers’ photos I take come out looking…however they look.

Reese also complains about the idea of using the timer.

Option #3: Use your camera timer.
List of concerns: Let’s be honest. This usually either fails completely or takes no less than five tries, during which time Jordan gets sick of posing and starts complaining. There’s also the issue of finding a good spot to place the camera so a) everything is centered and b) your camera won’t fall and break into a million tiny pieces.

I have to say, I have no rebuttal to this one. Reese is right on. Personally, I’ve completely given up on using the timer. In fact, I get even more concerned about my camera being stolen while I’m using the timer than I do when it’s actually in a stranger’s hands. I mean, someone could just get a running start and swipe the thing while the ol’ bf and I are busy trying to time our blinks before the flashing red light gets going too fast and we get stuck with our mouths open and our eyes closed. I am fairly confident I would not be able to catch up with a camera thief who got a running start, no matter how much angry adrenaline fueled my pursuit speed.

As if these inherent struggles weren’t enough to make us want to quit, LF and I have our own pathetic issues to add to the mix – like, for instance, the fact that neither of us owned a camera in the beginning of our relationship. Even though that issue was remedied somewhat early on (LF bought himself one, and I got one for Christmas), LF gained two new problems:

1) His batteries don’t hold charge, and he’s unwilling to buy new batteries that would hold charge because he got “such a good deal” on these batteries that don’t hold charge.

2) In the event that we do get some working batteries, the camera invariably gets left at home.

And, even though I was given a camera for Christmas, I have yet to snap a single picture with it, also for two reasons:

1) The memory card I found in the bottom of a drawer was full of all the Australia pictures I thought I’d lost forever when my last computer was stolen the day my house was broken into a couple years ago. It wasn’t until last week that I finally transferred all the pictures from the memory card to the computer I have now and wiped the memory card clean.

2) It wasn’t until last week, after transferring the pictures from the memory card to my computer and giving the new camera a whirl for the first time, that I discovered I can’t figure out how to actually work my camera. I gave up in frustration after several failed attempts and haven’t tried again since.

And so, these obstacles (plus the aforementioned frustrations that accompany two reasonably intelligent and competent camera-wielding people [i.e., not LF and me]) are the main reason we go to great lengths to get other people to take pictures of us with their cameras…

…which is why we I consider any and all pictures we are both tagged in on Facebook to be pictures of us as a couple, even if said pictures were taken six months before we actually were a couple (or even friends)…

Photo Credit: J.R. Caines

Photo Credit: J.R. Caines

…and how we ended up entering (and winning!) a contest for a free engagement shoot, even though we are not engaged.

But, even though we are complete camera losers and are to be pitied (and perhaps ashamed of ourselves), and even though we go to this much trouble just to get a cute picture, don’t you think those last two prove that it’s worth it?



Filed under bloggy, experimental, irreverent, sentimental, writing exercises

14 responses to “Tales of the Photographically Impaired

  1. 1. You guys are both ridiculous.
    2. awwww!

  2. raisingconn

    so, so, so cute! (and a little ridiculous, but not for getting your pictures done!) ;)

  3. okay. here’s the thing. this was quite funny. i have some comments, which will be (to follow your lead) numbered as follows:

    [DISCLAIMER: i am typing in all lowercase again. i am really sorry, but it’s too late to stop now.]

    1. i honestly wasn’t even sure the original post that ignited *this* post was any good. i considered scrapping it no less than two times. so for you to write a response post makes me beyond happy.

    2. this made me lol: “he’s unwilling to buy new batteries that would hold charge because he got “such a good deal” on these batteries that don’t hold charge.” i love this. and am equally as infuriated by it.

    3. i cannot understand this statement: “I discovered I can’t figure out how to actually work my camera. I gave up in frustration after several failed attempts and haven’t tried again since.” i want to know where you got stuck. after turning it on and…pushing the button? i’d like to see what these failed attempts look like. or is it that you forgot to put batteries in and so it doesn’t even turn on?!

    4. i fully appreciate any picture with arrows and additional commentary. well done sans photoshop.

    5. your non-engagement pictures are awesome!

    6. now to commence my uprising due to the fact that you are using (gasp!) PHOTOS IN YOUR POSTS! for shame.

    • Reese,

      You no longer have to make disclaimers regarding your choice of lowercase vs. capitalizing. I am strangely okay with all lowercase and often do it myself (on Facebook), except for with “I,” which I for some reason cannot bring myself to lowercase. I don’t know if it’s out of principle or habit at this point. Likely habit. Anyway…

      1. I am SO glad you didn’t scrap the post. It was so great. And helped me propel my blog forward out of its Franny & Zooey review slump. I probably consider that to be the worst review I’ve done here so far, so I was glad to have a reason to move past it.

      2. The batteries thing…sometimes I just don’t know how to talk to him, really! I mean, what do you say to someone who is determined to hang onto old, useless batteries just because they were a bargain?

      3. What happened with my camera is that basically it confused me right out of the gate. I don’t know why. It did have batteries in; it did turn on. I DO think I took a picture or two with it, but then the main problem was that I couldn’t figure out how to view the pictures I’d just taken. If you think you can figure it out, you’d be welcome to try.

      4. Thank you, but – confession. I STILL had trouble, so in the end, J.R. helped me out. A lot. As in, he did the whole thing for me. :)

      5. Thank you. We think so too. Rachel (our photographer) is very, very good.

      6. I guess I’m letting this one slide, for the obvious (and I assume intentional) hypocrisy. Adding pictures to your blog doesn’t make you a sellout, does it? Doesn’t it just make me more human? And therefore more likable? :)

  4. katie savage

    I am of the “Bring my camera everywhere but forget to take a single picture with it” camp. It sits in the bottom of the diaper bag, adding weight. Sometimes, I remember to take one picture at the beginning of the day, but usually: nothing. Thanks for the funny post. Just so you know, I’ve never thought your non-engagement engagement photos were weird.

    • Katie,

      I’ve been there too. For a while there, before my old camera went kaput on me, I finally got used to having it and to the idea of taking more pictures. But I never got used to the idea of being “that” person, the one always pausing the fun for a picture. I realized that I’m just not a good person to be carrying a camera because the camera carriers (and picture takers) usually get left out of the photos themselves, and I want to be in ALL of them! I’m not narcissistic at all, though…

      Glad you liked the post; thanks for reading. And thanks especially for not judging our pictures. I always knew you were one of the good ones!

  5. Marissa

    It wasn’t until Mike and I decided we should have a slide show in our wedding with pictures of the two of us that we realized we had NO pictures (except for J.R.’s…thank goodness for him!). So we went through a brief picture-taking phase and captured our lives for the month leading up to our wedding. Now we’re back to no pictures except for rare pictures taken with his iPhone and pictures from when we’re around our more enthusiastic relatives. I have just accepted that not everyone can be a gifted photographer. On the other hand, our families are going to murder us when they realize that we have only 5 pictures of our children throughout their childhood and they were all taken on a camera phone.

  6. b longfellow

    Reese and Audra- i just used those batteries last week! and i didn’t even have to charge them first! i took eleven pictures of myself, using the timer feature effectively. the pictures pretty much sucked though.

    Audra- this post is funny and fun. nicely done. my only complaint is that you failed to mention you have a bf fast enough to catch any camera stealer. what would happen after that i’ll leave you to imagine.

    • Congrats on getting the batteries to work, LF. I’m so…proud? Eleven pictures, huh? Have I seen these? Was this another beard-to-no-more-beard sequence? You crack me up. You’re right. I *did* fail to mention your speed abilities. You might not believe this, but it was in the post originally. It just didn’t make the editing cut. Sorry.

  7. Pingback: The Thing About Adult Breakups | A Literary Illusion

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