I didn't make any resolutions this year, but if I had, this would be one of them. Take more pictures of us.
I go through phases where I really like pictures of myself. It's usually centered around events, like weddings or vacations. I used to think that it was due to the lighting in a particular spot, or that I'd taken extra care with my hair and makeup. It didn't occur to me until now that it was a matter of practice.
I have a friend, we'll call her Lazzie, who never seems to take a bad picture. She always looks good, never a weird look on her face, a droopy eyelid, never a head tilt that gives her three chins. Now, granted, she's taller and she weighs about a hundred and twenty pounds soaking wet, but that's not why. I figured out how she did it a few weeks ago. We were out on New Year's Eve, and I said that we should have someone take our pictures.
"Oh, wait!" she said. "I'll take it. I take the best pictures of me." She held her phone out as far from us as she could reach, and damned if she didn't take a really cute picture of herself. Me, not so much because of the aforementioned chin/eyelid combo, but she looked adorable and casual. She took a few more, and I started to look better by the third shot as well.
I watched her for the rest of the evening, and noted how she was doing it. When a camera pointed at her, she smiled, then adjusted her smile a little bit so that it wasn't overwhelming. She looked straight at the camera, then tilted her chin down just slightly so that it wasn't jutting forward toward the camera. She made tiny adjustments, not enough that you'd call it a pose, but enough that it wasn't completely candid. I don't know if she even knows she's doing it anymore, or if it's become second nature for her. Whichever the case, if she knows she's in a picture, she looks good in it.
Last weekend, we went wine tasting with Lazzie and her fiance. The first day, we took a series of "well, it's cute of everyone else, and it's a memory of the day, so...
The next morning, I took a few extra minutes getting ready. I put on the sweater I felt the most confident about, the reliable old Simple Knitted Bodice, and my favorite necklace. I made sure my lipstick was solid, brushed my bangs out of my eyes with a little bit of wax, and we were off. I felt good.
"Honey, quick! Take our picture before we go to the next winery." A.B. pointed the camera at us, and in the couple of seconds that it took him to find shutter button (I don't have the fancy iPhone with forward-facing camera), I took an quick inventory of my facial features and made a few adjustments. I smiled a little more softly so that I wouldn't look too gummy. I tried to keep my head a little more level so that I would look less like a really short person craning to get into the picture, which is usually how the A.B.-and-me self portraits turn out. I put a tiny bit more thought into it, instead of grinning like a fool and hoping for the best. It made a difference! I love this picture.
Now, if we can figure out how to stretch A.B.'s arm so that he doesn't look like he's leaning back to get in the shot, we'll be in business. I guess we could let other people take the pictures, but, you know, baby steps.