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Just let them take the photo

Jeanne Sager - Columnist
Posted 3/8/21

It's the sort of thing you're not supposed to admit to when you're a photographer, but here goes. I hate being photographed.

But I do it anyway…because I don't want to be selfish.

Hate and …

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Just let them take the photo

Posted

It's the sort of thing you're not supposed to admit to when you're a photographer, but here goes. I hate being photographed.

But I do it anyway…because I don't want to be selfish.

Hate and selfish are both strong words. They rank right there with “never” and “pineapple on pizza” in the reactions they garner.

Still, as one of the 28 million Americans who've battled an eating disorder, hate may not be strong enough to describe my discomfort when I'm forced to step out from behind the camera and put myself in focus. My preference is to hide away, make myself disappear.

This is the same me who just this past summer called a dear friend and photography colleague and asked him if she could hire him to take photos of her family — myself included — to help mark her 20th wedding anniversary.

Why would someone like me do something like that?

Because photos aren't just about the people who are in them.

This has struck me myriad times over the years as I've toted my camera around events, as brides have begged me to try to capture an elusive family member, even if I had to sneak up on them, as wives have had to beg their spouses to just, please, cooperate just this once.

Photos are about the people who are in them in the sense that they're about the people who keep them, who treasure them. Photos are about the ones who look at them when those photographed are far away and the ones who stare at them longingly when we're gone.

They're about the ones who want to remember the moments captured in time, the “you” captured in time.

The desire in me to avoid people just like me, people with cameras in hand, is strong. But I've seen enough disappointed faces, heartbroken that a beloved grandmother refused to show their face to the lens or a favorite aunt went AWOL the moment they were called to join the group photo.

I've seen those faces, and I don't want to be the one to cause them. Do you?

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