Monday, August 27, 2012


I have a hate-hate relationship with cameras. I hate the pictures they take of me, and I hate taking pictures. And I hate it when someone says, “Oh, that’s a good picture of you!”

Seriously? I look like that?

I think I peaked, photogenic-wise, in my kindergarten year. Oh, my wedding photos aren’t hideous, but really, who can resist baby teeth smiles and curly blonde hair?

Because of my dislike of photos of myself there are precious few of them in existence. Fewer photos to hate, of course, but also fewer chances of that rare good one to appear. Someone got a decent shot of me looking up adoringly at my husband, back when I thought he could do no wrong, even when he acted more like a boss than a husband. He’s a recovered bossy husband now, taking it one day at a time, but sometimes he says, “Remember when you had me on that pedestal? I miss those days.” Cling to those memories, honey. Those days are O-V-E-R.

I’m not a fan of taking pictures, as I said. When I was a child my dad manned the old box camera, taking pictures of distant, squinting children in a wiggly row. When I got married I naturally assumed my husband would follow suit. And he did, if you can call shots of little girls in backwards dresses with uncombed hair photography. On major holidays I’d come down the stairs with a hairbrush in my hand hunting snarly-haired little girls, and John would greet me with, “I took their pictures. We’re out of film.”

So I took charge of the camera.

My kids accuse me of forgetting the camera for every important event of their neglected, sad little childhoods. It’s easy for them—those smartphones are never farther than a pocket or purse away. In the old days we had to remember to bring a whole ‘nother piece of equipment. And be sure we had film. And flashcubes. And get the film developed. And we had to walk uphill both ways to the photo lab…

I’ll stop. You get the picture.


  1. I love the image of you on holiday mornings! I'd love to see those pictures. I grew up with a father who had his own dark room set up and took pictures on the side professionally. Unfortunately, after he died we realized he was usually BEHIND the camera not in front! Wish we had more pictures of him. Also, I hate having my picture taken now because Dad knew how to capture the right light and angle. Most people don't so I don't like most of my more recent pictures. Of course, I'm the one behind the camera now. Dad did teach me some of his skills.

  2. Just found your blog, and I love it!!! You are extremely talented, I could only hope to string my thoughts together in print as well as you do Val.

    The picture thing, OMG, I so remember how pretty you were when we were all in school. Looking back in our yearbooks, you were gorgeous, one of the "pretty girls" I had wished so hard to be like. I, on the other hand, was one of the geeky dork girls that needed braces badly and my mom needed to stop sticking the sponge rollers in my hair so I looked like a poodle most of the time.

    I look back at the family pictures and find a million of Mike, the oldest, and the first son. Makes me sad to realize that although Mom must have loved us, it is so evident by our picture history who counted most to her. I have a total of 4 that I am in, and of course there are only 4 or so of brother Gene. The two youngest sisters, there are many. A lot of them taken on my Instamatic, as I loved that little camera. I used to take hundreds of pictures but never had the money to develop them. As a gift one Christmas, Mom had 17 rolls developed, and although some rolls were at least ten years old, the pictures were great.

    My best picture? My senior picture and one government ID picture taken for a badge when I was working out in D.C. and Baltimore. Taken on my 45th birthday, and I don't look like a dork.

    I eventually grew out of my dorkdom, but always hated what my pictures looked like. A lot of that had to do with thinking and feeling ugly. Siblings can be cruel and I grew up thinking my brother's opinion of me was true, I was ugly. When I finally figured out that I wasn't, I was no longer that fresh, young, cutie. Who said it, youth is wasted on the young?

    Keep writing Val, you make me laugh and are truly gifted. I like that we have reconnected after all these years and consider you to be one of the gifts in my life!

    1. Wow! Your memory of me in high school is WAY better than mine. I think I'll take yours. I already told you I always envied your blonde hair. Mine was dishwater blonde. My brother Tim always called me "Chub" in high school. Years later I said, "I wasn't chubby!" He laughed and said, "I know." I didn't know!

      Glad you like the blog! Keep reading!

  3. Aunt Val! I hate pictures of myself and learned why about a month ago. When you see yourself in the mirror (the only image of yourself you're used to) you believe that to be what you look like. However everyone else sees the reverse image...the image that also shows up in pictures! You're seeing all your characteristics backwards and you look 'funny' because it's not how you're used to seeing your image. Most faces are not perfectly proportionate on either side, so there's bound to be subtle differances. Try loading your pics onto your computer and then reversing the image - you might finally have a love/hate relationship with the camara. Hope this helps.

    1. Thanks, Melanie! I just read that recently, too, but haven't tried reversing my photos to verify. Mostly, I'm still avoiding the camera. Took it to Michigan recently and never took it out of the suitcase. Sigh.