I get asked to take pictures at events and because people know I have a decent camera and have sold my photo art. I always say yes, but it is not a particularly fun job. Aren’t you dying to know why?
I’ll tell you. Even though people want pictures to remember events, they don’t want their picture taken. When you hold a camera up and aim it at people, half of them try to duck behind someone else like a child hiding behind its’ mother’s skirt. The elderly, obese, and even crippled will take off running like they’re doing the 50-yard dash if they see me raise my camera. They will risk broken hips and worse in an effort to keep me from taking a picture of them.
On the other hand, there are people who know how to strike a perfect pose. They know which side of their face photographs well, where to put their hands, how to angle their feet, and that looking slightly down will make their eyes look bigger. These people can sense a camera from across the room and always manage to look good. The camera “loves” these people. That’s because they don’t treat the cameraperson like s/he’s got the plague.
I try to get everyone in at least one picture, which is hard when they see me coming and show me their backsides, or hide behind pillars and drink carts. So I’m forced to take “candid” shots. These are a CURSE. The general public is UGLY in a candid shot. The general public is stuffing an entire sausage in their mouth just as the camera clicks the shot. They are raising their arm so that the cottage cheesy divots are accentuated. They have a spiteful look aimed at the person beside them, like they intend to stab them after the event. Some of them are even scratching that itch that can’t be scratched in public.
When they catch you taking a candid shot, some scowl at you. Perhaps they don’t take good pictures and they feel they can compensate by contorting their features, as if saying, “I always turn out ugly in a picture, but if I look like I’m being ugly on purpose, no one will notice that I photograph so poorly” This does not help the poor photographer who simply wants to impress people with her talent for making even the hideous among us attractive. We can accomplish this anyway, in many cases, thanks to the magic of Photoshop.
Photoshop is the photographer’s best friend. It allows us to turn everyday images into art. For instance, if you hire an artist to paint your portrait, and he includes your double chins, pimples, the wart on your jawbone that has a six-inch wiry hair growing out of it, the gunk in the corner of your eye, and so forth, if you’re like me, you’d probably smash the canvas over his head before you smacked him with a dining room chair. He is going to downplay your imperfections if he wants to come out of there alive and with a check in his hand.
A skilled photographer can also “paint” people in a more positive light using Photoshop to make our subjects look their best. I had one guy tell me that a headshot I took of him was the first time he had a decent picture in his whole life. Little did he know that I spent about two hours taking him from a Frankenstein into a less-than-a-Frankenstein. Many of his individual teeth were so tobacco-stained they blended right into his skin, making him appear like there were missing teeth and thus giving the mistaken impression that he came from Mississippi. I smoothed his dents and pocks which helped to make his squinty eyes more becoming.
You, the general public, need not be afraid when approached by a photographer if you will PRACTICE IN FRONT OF A MIRROR. RIGHT NOW. No, not later. NOW! See what’s your best side, and when I come at you with my camera, you can say, “Oh, Suzanne, I’m so HAPPY to see you are here taking my picture.” Then hurry up and swallow that sausage.