why pictures of me suck

Take a baby's picture and they look pretty happy. Somebody says smile and that's all the reason they need. They'll look right at the camera and ham it up. Some adults do this too, like my wife who looks great in every picture, not least because she's pretty to begin with.

I'm probably considered less attractive than my wife and most babies. But even bearing this fact in mind, I take disproportionately poorer photographs than they do. What can account for this gaping, uh, gap?

A surfeit of mirrors surrounds me at home and work, and the difference between what I see in them and in photographs has made me flinch with aggravated incomprehension. But then I looked at the fridge today and a little light went on. Not the one that helps you see the food. A metaphorical light.

There's a photograph of a baby on that fridge, the son of a friend, and he looks at the camera with what might be considered a mild joy. This can partially be explained by that he doesn't know what he's looking at. He also probably doesn't comprehend what mild joy is either, but that's neither here nor there.

I, on the other hand, DO know what I'm looking at. On the other end of that camera is a practical infinity of different people in different scenarios, some of whom will project fondness upon the image of me, and others who might project something very different from fondness. I see millions of possible pairs of eyes staring back at me in that silent, inky circle that leads to a future whose potentialities baffle and confound me. A bottomless pit of perspective. Smile!

The camera extrudes, flattens, and transports a person, and being aware of this steals moments from me. And that's the look I have in photographs; someone who's just had a moment of his life stolen away. This even extends into self-portraiture, and I'm not sure what I can do about this, or if it's worth doing anything about.

There's a picture of me finishing off a texas fifth of Jack Daniel's on the wall across from the kitchen, and I'm flipping off the camera. And maybe it's because I'm drunk and have removed this painful perspective from my mind entirely, or maybe I saw the light of love in photography, but it's not a bad picture.


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