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The art of being photographed.

I observe that the children of people that I know, if judged entirely on photography, would appear to be all stunningly attractive. Photographs that I own of people that I know from their own teen and childhood years, and photos of members of my own family suggest that by comparison, humanity up to about 20 years ago was largely composed of odd-looking, grumpy-faced or mad-looking and somewhat furtive trolls.

Either some sort of alien intervention has taken place unnoticed, or nowadays, people get photographed so often, and get to see the results so instantly, they have on the whole, got a lot better at being in photographs.

I expect Future Historians to come up with a complicated theory about nutrition and dentistry. Or to go with the alien intervention thing.


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
20th Jul, 2014 16:55 (UTC)
Hasn't worked yet for my child, who is the inattentive/grumpy-faced one in all school photographs. Maybe it only starts working at age 13 (or whenever it is they are allowed to use Facebook).
20th Jul, 2014 21:22 (UTC)
Perhaps at the stage where selfies become expected...
21st Jul, 2014 17:33 (UTC)
I have to say that from quite an early age, if you take a picture of him he rushes round to the back of the camera saying "Can I see? Can I see?" And if he is not happy with the result, he forbids me from sending it on to relatives.

He does not however think it is cool to smile for photos or to attempt to look (what I think is) attractive. It is much better, according to him, to be brandishing a light sabre and pulling one's most scary-looking face at the photographer. The little girls in his class, meanwhile, are much better at smiling sweetly in photos.

Which tells you a lot about gendered ideas of "looking attractive in photos".
25th Jul, 2014 13:11 (UTC)
I think that two of the photos I took of him yesterday are pretty good. I will send them to you when we get home.
20th Jul, 2014 17:28 (UTC)
I wonder if it's more that we can afford to be pickier about the photos that we keep/share - digital photography means it's no longer a horrendous waste to take 10 photos for everyone that you keep.
20th Jul, 2014 19:10 (UTC)
Yeah, this is more or less what I was going to suggest. Having said which, even pre-digital my sister has always been way more photogenic than me...
20th Jul, 2014 20:01 (UTC)
I have to take ID photos of people for my job, and one of the things I've noticed is that there genuinely are people who take more flattering photos than others, given their appearance when you're not looking at them through the camera system. It doesn't seem to be age-related, though I'm not taking pictures of children, so that may skew the results.
21st Jul, 2014 00:23 (UTC)
I was so horrified at the bags under my eyes in one passport photo that my sister counselled and applied foundation before taking some herself. Recently, I've seen that I had bags under my eyes when I was five, though not so pronounced; I looked a serious child.
20th Jul, 2014 21:21 (UTC)
Although there's an element of that, don't you think there's also the fearful inevitability of photography and its shareiness?

I mean, it used to be that mostly the photos you'd see would be *your* photos, of other people. If you got unlucky, then photos taken of you by other people would be handed round at some point, but with a bit of luck you would rarely see yourself scowling crossly into the camera. Whereas now, other people's photos get everywhere, usually without a prior veto...
20th Jul, 2014 21:34 (UTC)
As an adult, yes, I was usually the one behind the camera - but as a child/teenager I was fairly used to being photographed, and those I expected to see again and possibly to be public.

There's no doubt that pictures are more public and more common these days, but I know that the act of pointing a camera at me would always have had me doing my best to look cheerful and presentable. (I can't guarantee I always succeeded but I was trying, at least.)
21st Jul, 2014 06:10 (UTC)
Given the photos in existence of myself and my sister, I can safely say that this excellent attitude sadly did not pervade to us...
21st Jul, 2014 02:03 (UTC)
I hate having my photo taken and always have. I'm self-conscious as hell in front of the camera. There are very few photos of me I'm willing to share with anyone.
21st Jul, 2014 05:08 (UTC)
I think people are way more relaxed in photos and babies get used to it almost daily from birth.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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