Don't fall into the Preservation Trap.

October 04, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

 

 

Should we celebrate beauty, or should we celebrate life?

 


 

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I once saw a comedian tear the house down with this...

 

"You know what we women should do? Instead of losing weight for our wedding photos, we should gain weight... that way, when we return to our normal size, people will look at our wedding photos and say, 'Wow. You look amazing!' "

 

We like to enjoy things at their peak, don't we? Fresh coffee; new cars; in-season peaches and tomatoes. It goes for our image, too. There's that "gotta preserve the moment" thing, right?

 

Which is great for travel, if you have no plans to return to the Amazon basin for a few decades. But don't take photos to preserve yourself. Take photos to celebrate yourself. For kids... yes, I will grant you: they really are only that age once. But you? You are the age that you are.

 

How's that for crappy, dorm-room metaphysics?

 

It's far better to look like you—wearing every history-soaked year of your life—than aim for the image of an unrealistic ideal that will sit in a frame on the mantle, reminding you of what you are not. The honesty in a true image is unmistakable, and far more powerful.

 

Some names to consider: Helen Mirren, Judy Dench, Meryl Streep, Susan Sarandon... Those women own it. They don't need, nor do they want, headshots from 1993. Like the overcrowded ranks of "distinguished" and "character-filled" male actors, they have been granted the privilege of growing old on their own terms. (And, they're not even old. Shhh...)

 

 

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At the risk of redundancy—there are whole bookstores devoted to this topic, after all—here's a lyric to consider. (Notice how Mick Jagger dresses up future-body-shaming as the far more respectable "carpe diem".)

 

Who would believe you were a beauty indeed
When the days get shorter and the nights get long?
Lie awake when the rain comes
Nobody will know, when you're old
When you're old, nobody will know.

-She's so Cold

 

The singer is counting on a woman's insecurity to get her into bed, but the vibe is pretty familiar to anyone who wistfully remembers how much more amazing they looked at 21. "Nobody will know," right?

 

Are men immune? God no. For a quick peek at male insecurity, dust off your T.S. Eliot from grade ten...

 
Time to turn back and descend the stair, 
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair — 
(They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”) 
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin, 
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin — 
(They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”) 
 
-The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
 
 
Yeah, I got those thin legs too, Alfred. Don't you worry about it.
 
 
 
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There's no time like the present? Yes. 
 
Fabulous people should get good photos taken? Yes.
 
But... you should never think that you owe the world something which you are not. It's too much work, anyway.
 
 
I have taken some great photos of people 90 years old. Capable, confident women and men who don't give a damn about grey roots, crow's feet, and baggy eyes. Or, maybe they do care... but they sure never show it. 
 
Yes, I can "fix it in post", and yes, there are some tips I can show you that will give you your chin back. But, seriously. Don't sweat it. 
 
 
Wear the thing that makes you happy.
Put your shoulders back, and stand tall.
Makeup? Sure, if that's your thing.
But, above all, have fun.
 
 
 
As the poster says, "Be yourself. Everyone else is taken."
 
 
 
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