05 August 2009

Can't I just write you something instead?

This week I needed to get together a biography and photo for an organization I belong to.

The biography wasn't that stressful. Actually the toughest part about it was keeping it down to the 100 word maximum. That's about three short paragraphs, or two long ones, if you've never counted. We writers can go on for a very long time about anyone, selves included, so it took a lot of muttering, deleting, and rearranging to fit everything I wanted to say in just 100 words.

The photograph was something I put off as long as I could. Like some others that work at home, I've gotten used to letting my words speak for me, more than my face. I can edit bad words; the skills to edit really bad photos are largely beyond me. But I don't have any pictures of me taken this decade that look like me now. Between weight fluctuations and hair changes, every picture of me I could find looked nothing like what I look like today. So it was time for a photo shoot.

Being on the subject side of a camera intimidates me. It's gotten a bit easier for me since most of the world has gone digital - I know (hope?) that any horrifically bad pictures of me will end up in the virtual trash can without ever being committed to paper or shared in an online album. But even so I'd much rather be the one behind the viewfinder than find myself in the target frame.

Having put it off as long as I could, I ended up enlisting the help of my seven year old daughter last night to play photographer. She's got the eye of an artist (proud mother? who, me? If you could only see this paper doll and clothes she just whipped up without any templates besides the pictures in her mind) and some pretty good skills. The hardest part was getting her to keep snapping away instead of stopping to critique each picture as soon she took it. But we had fun with the impromptu photo shoot. Then more fun laughing over some of the silly pictures she talked me into.

And after some judicious use of red eye removal, we have author photo. (See top of this post.)

It won't win any awards, but it's me. Shiny faced through the powder, crooked smile, frizzy hair and all.

I'm not embarrassed to admit that I'm glad I can forget about the pictures for a while now and go back to what I love - writing words. I know my comfort zone, and being in front a camera isn't part of it. But it also felt good to suck it up last night and get it done. And I've found a new favorite photographer too. Maybe in another decade I'll be ready to let her try it again.
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