No Photographs Please

By Terveen Gill

A picture says a thousand words. I refuse to believe that horrid idiom. My picture says only one: ugly. Looks aren’t the problem here. I’m quite handsome for a man with thirty-two years behind him. Black hair, a full head by the way, brown eyes, dreamy some say, straight nose, strong jawline, firm mouth, makes the ladies sway.

But my picture. Now, that’s an embarrassing story. I was thirteen. Puberty made me do the strangest thing. Conscious of my morphing face, child to adolescent, I spent hours in front of the mirror, inspecting it from every angle. Didn’t care for the big ears, couldn’t stand the wide forehead, wished my cheeks weren’t inclined at such an odd angle.

To make it more bearable, I’d crease my eyes, push out my chin, and open my mouth, not too much. It was symmetry at its best. I had found the perfect look. And I pocketed this glorious discovery in a corner of my mind, whipping it out whenever someone said – photograph please.

My stiff face prevented me from smiling. Forget about saying cheese, it looked like I was dying. My mother never thought her boy could look like an orangutan. I tried to see the logic and listened to various opinions, but no matter what I did, my face always resembled a goddam mess.

Some said it was nerves, I was convinced it was a curse. How could handsome turn to ugly with a press of a button? I now shy away from the camera.

Photograph? No thank you, please. It’s against my religion. It makes me sneeze.

Apologies to my future wife. No photos at the wedding, no photos for life. She may or may not agree, but I refuse to be mistaken for a creature that lives on a tree.

26 comentarios sobre “No Photographs Please

  1. I love this story, Terveen. I have also tried – unsuccessfully – to come up with a photogenic facial expression. Something that looks dignified or perhaps even pretty. No chance. I gave up on the contorted orangutan, though and now simply offer my naturally goofy face whenever photographs are required. Doesn’t look chic, but hey, it’s me. It’s what I look like and that’s fine.

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    1. If I may say, Britta, you look very charming and bright in your photos. I think we all go through phases where we scrutinize ourselves too much. There’s a bit of everyone in this story. Gazing at the mirror and wondering what’s wrong. But eventually accepting and appreciating oneself is what really matters. I agree with you one hundred percent! 🙂

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  2. Two dimensional photographs can distort the three dimensional person just enough to subtly change the look. I know people who rarely look good in pictures. On the flip side, I generally look better in a photograph than I do in real life, not that I am anything special either way. I have overheard comments where people are surprised how good I look in certain pictures, i.e. they do not remember me that way. This always makes me wonder whether I would like it better the other way around! Of course, the point is now moot at age 74. The camera is no longer helping me so I concentrate on being the photographer!

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    1. Thanks for such an honest comment, Geoff. I know what you’re saying. It can be both ways. I guess the camera can be flattering too. Imagine someone wondering why you look good in a photo and not in real life. Would that be more hurtful and rude? I don’t know. I can look at a few of my photos and wonder why I don’t look (good) like that all the time. Oh well! Let’s enjoy what we can and move on. I like being behind the camera too. 🙂

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