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« Minutia | Main | Supermodel »


I don't photograph well. I never have and I'm not upset about it anymore. The camera loves Chris, Mother, and my brother Mallory Joe. It doesn't love Dad, or me. Our three sons are somewhere in the middle. They're good looking boys and sometimes I get wonderful photographs of them, and sometimes I don't. Any photographer will confirm these facts. Some people are more photogenic than others. I'm not fishing for compliments, nor am I saying I'm SO much better looking in person.

When I post a picture of myself, trust that I've gone through as many options as possible before I've shared it with you. It's as good as it's gonna get, but I've put thought into it. Except that one time a friend called and said, "Your eyes don't look right in that picture. Did you do something?" The answer was yes. I overdid the Botox and had a Melissa Rivers, scary smile for a few weeks. It's gone now.

I was tagged in a photo on Facebook recently. It was taken at a high school reunion five years ago. I'd seen the photo prior in a friend's album, cringed and thought to myself, Don't be so vain. I hadn't been tagged with it at that point so I let it go. People who visited his Facebook page and albums would see it, but the overlap of our circle of friends was small. The majority of my Facebook friends would not see it.

Chyna01I didn't like the picture because it highlighted the features on my face I've been the most self-conscious of my entire life. It was not flattering of my nose and was taken prior to my Nasal-Surgery-Not-A-Nose-Job. I was wearing bright red lipstick and my lips were curled under so they looked unusually thin and non-existent. The angle of the photo, my side stance, and the great! sleeveless dress I wore made one arm look disproportionately big for my body. The picture was taken at close range and was very unforgiving. The two other people in the picture looked great. I looked like Chyna, the female wrestler.

When I was tagged, the photo appeared in all it's huge glory on my profile page and populated one of my albums. I saw it, gasped, nuked it, then frantically typed a note to the friend who tagged me, apologizing for my vanity and over-explained the situation. [This friend is a very nice man who I've had no contact with in 25 years, other than the brief hello and photo at the reunion.] We had several exchanges, with me continuing to over-explain and over-apologize, resulting in him deleting the photo from his album too. [This man is busy—job, wife, kids, etc.,— and I sucked him into a babbling email exchange about how I looked like Chyna the wrestler in the picture, but I'm not THAT vain. I'm NORMAL DAMMIT! PLEASE BELIEVE ME!]

QUESTION:  My initial thought was I want veto power over all photos of me that others might share on Facebook or blogs. However, I've enjoyed seeing 30-year-old class photos with 25 kids and a teacher. A notification "rule" seems unnecessary in some cases. What are your thoughts on photo sharing etiquette?

Reader Comments (26)

Yay! The first to comment! (unless I take an usually long time typing this, in which case, I lose again!). I feel strongly about this one - no one should post ugly photos of me EVER and I should get to not only have 'veto' power but also 'kill the person who posted it' without any legal repercussions. There - I said it - I'm THAT vain.
April 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCorbie
Chris, have you been reading my mind??

I find one in 100 still photos of me is acceptable, one in 200 good and 1 in 500 great.

I want a nosejob. boo-hoo.

Yes, you are tres normal. And altho I know you are very pretty - I love you most for your scintillating writing. And humor. And authenticity of spirit.
April 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJannie Funster
AUGHHHHH! I've NEVER been photogenic... a chubby kid with too many cowlicks (and my mom always cut my bangs so I had HORNS!), I've always hated having my picture taken. Most of my life I'd look at those and cringe, "do I really look like that?" I've come to decide that I really DO look like that.... at least the ones where my eyes are open and I have a relatively normal expression... I've also discovered that if I go along and try to smile, they're a little better than the sneer I used to give. Daughter Liz is EXTREMELY photogenic.... pull out a camera and she's all smiles... makes me sick. Kill the sucker. I'll visit you in prison... I'll even bring the file.
April 1, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterpam
Your post made me laugh out loud. Hard. I love the comparision to the wrestler, but I love that email exchange with that guy even more. You made my day! HAHAHA!

I agree - VETO power/kill the person who posts ugly photos of you. Definitely. Definitely normal and not too extreme.

And full disclosure: this is coming from someone who was once voted Miss Photogenic in high school. Seriously - I can (NOT always - not even MOST of the time - and NOT nearly as much I used to) look much better/prettier/thinner in pictures than I do real life. It has it's pitfalls. A good friend saw my wedding photos and her jaw dropped and she actually said (NOT thought to herself, which in my opinion, she should have done) WOW you look amazing. So thin. Me - to myself - UGH! I'll never forget when I learned I was photogenic - it was in 7th grade, and my best friend at the time and I were reviewing our photos from the previous summer and she kept commenting on how pretty I looked, even prettier than in real life. Me - to myself - UGH! ANYWAY - sorry to sound vain - I'm really not, and I'm quite insecure about my current looks since I'm the heaviest I've ever been so you won't see a full length picture of me anywhere until I'm done shredding it.
April 1, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterchristy
I think you need to chill and realize that no one will look as closely at the picture as you will. You can always add a self-deprecating comment if you feel the need. Then again, this is coming from someone who has clearly been in denial about -- what was it -- my bulbous nose and baggy eyes!. :-)

April 1, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjudy
Corbie - I promise to never post an ugly picture of you (assuming one exists, gorgeous). My friend wasn't trying to be unkind. He sincerely thought the picture was nice and was gracious about removing it. Thank you for making me feel "normal" though.

Jannie - I HAVE been reading your mind! I've not noticed your nose... I'll pay closer attention next time I peruse your blog and pictures. I'm sensitive to noses because of my own.

Pam - I've had that realization too... that's just how I look! Like I mentioned to Corbie, this man is one of the nicest people - he would never intentionally embarrass anyone, and he removed the photo without my asking. I've heard of people NOT removing a picture per someone's request. Like college pics where you were doing things (Michael Phelps) and didn't know there was a camera. Ouch!

Christy - It's nice to hear from a photogenic person that understands what I'm saying! (Again though, I don't want to "kill" anyone. I was the goofball in this situation. Not this poor man who was bombarded with RIDICULOUS emails from me.)

We're all a little vain.
April 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChris
I am extremely vain. I didn't let my mother take pictures of me for most of my childhood (once I was old enough to keep this from happening). As a result, the only pictures of me extant from early years are "official" ones from teams, school pictures, etc.

I don't know--even people who aren't vain are sometimes weirded out about pictures on the internet. I tend to think the person should get to have a say about how they look/when they appear on the internet. That said, when someone tags themselves out of a picture I tend to think, "get over yourself." Yes, I am a hypocrite.
April 1, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterabdpbt
I TOTALLY agree. Someone I went to school with has been going nuts posting pics from elementary school and beyond. I hate it. It's like, um.... I've grown up, and anyone who needs to see those can get them out of their attic and if they don't have them then they weren't in our class and don't need to see them. SO QUIT POSTING PICTURES OF ME DAMMIT! I actually quit facebook b/c it's like a pit of quicksand- it sucks you in deeper and deeper and then you see crappy pictures of yourself, everyone else knows every move you make and it's just too nosey. I wish, too, that people would ask permission before posting pics, but that probably won't happen.
April 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMrs. D
Bobbi has a picture of me on her facebook page that was taken last April in which I look ENORMOUS! It doesn't even look like me! I untagged myself so it doesn't show up in my pictures. It didn't occur to me to ask her to remove it.

OH Bobbi.....
I am NOT photogenic at all. I've often wished to have the oblivious confidence other non-photogenic people have -you know, they KNOW they don't photograph well but still give a big, huge, toothy smile anyway. Not me - as the flash is going off, I'm busy repositioning myself so that only the left side of my face shows because my right side always seems... off.

Anyway, I think that whomever is on your friends list and sees the photo already knows what you look like, so it shouldn't really matter, right? I do think, however, that Facebook should enable the same system of notifications that MySpace has - where you can choose what appears on your profile, such as comments, photos, etc from other people.

Recent blog post: Pirate Skulls And Bones
The fact that I'm never in any pictures anymore really simplifies things for me... But like your boys - I sometimes look great and sometimes look terrible. My nose is a little crooked - so that's usually the problem. I literally DO have a bad side.

And I'm incredibly vain when I have time to think about it. Case in point, you will find no pictures of me from age 11-12. There was a year of bad boy haircut that my teenage self erased from all photographic history.
April 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKate Coveny Hood
Judy - You're right! (I love your bulbous tip - it's the perfect size.)

Anna - Therein lies the dilemma, balancing vanity and hypocrisy. I hear you on the "get over yourself". I felt completely hypocritical writing this man, saying, "I hate THAT picture, but I'm not one of those vain people... honest." I sounded like an idiot, but the picture made me want to throw a rock at my monitor.

Mrs. D. - You're about to have a baby and you work outside the home. Social media is a total time suck. You're wise to pull out.

Connie - I'll call Bobbi too... OH, Bah-beeeee...

Sherri - You make a good point, but in this case, my fear was that there were people on my friend's "friend list" who knew me years ago and their first and possibly only picture of me would be the Chyna shot. I know... I need to get over myself. Stupid. I'm mid-life-ing, man. Make it stop!

Kate Coveny Hood - "...when I have time to think about it." That's part of the problem too. A little too much time to think... I'd love to see you as a little girl with a boy haircut! I bet you looked cute.

April 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChris
I love you. I love how you overachieved at getting your photo deleted. Bless you. I understand.

I got tagged in a photo on someone's Facebook page (I swear to you-know-who that I don't understand Facebook, but I think it is somehow or other in my album or "photos with my tags album" or something). Anywho, in that photo I look absolutely demented. The fact that I am absolutely demented in real life notwithstanding, I don't like photos of myself looking demented. Oh well. I suppose that if it bothered me enough, I'd deal with it. Is there a Facebook way to untag yourself in photos? Hmmm. Still, I suppose I could walk the Earth (like Caine in Kung Fu) to get all the bad photos of me out of circulation. ;-) But when would I blog? Would there be wireless connections across the Earth as I walked it? How would my bad toe do with all of that walking? These are important considerations.

True confession: My Blogger profile photo was cut from one that Jamie took at a gathering at katydidnot's house last year. I really liked it, and I NEVER like pictures of me so I used it. Then Trish snatched it away and Photoshopped out the green thing she saw between my teeth, and sent it back to me. I love Trish. And now I have a profile photo with no green thing between my teeth.
April 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCheri @ Blog This Mom!
Yes, you CAN untag yourself in a FB pic, BUT the pic remains unless you beg the poster to remove it. Of course, someone could probably REtag you later on, so it's an endless cycle.

And you are so right, Chris. I had to make a clean break from FB before it consumed me. lol.
April 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMrs. D
I have a couple sensitive areas, and Icringe each time these sensitive areas appear in a photo.

I think if someone is tagged, they have the right to delete on the spot.
April 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSam
Connie did not look enormous in that picture, it was a lovely picture of two sisters hugging. She never told me it bothered her, but I would've untagged it for her if she hadn't done it herself already.

But I'm with you, only tag if all people in the photo look awesome!
April 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBobbi Olson
that is a tough one. I am not photogenic at all, the one on my blog was professionally done and trust me there were not a whole hell of a lot to choose from .For some reason when the camera gets too close, my nose gets HUGE and I am sooooo self conscious about it.

What to do on Facebook? I would do it on a photo by photo basis. I guess for me it would be b/c there are not that many photos out there of me anyway. i wasn't very popular back in the day
April 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJessica
I've been tagged in numerous dreadful pics from the 80s on Facebook. I immediately detag myself.
April 1, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterthe mama bird diaries
De-tag yourself if you don't like the picture... Otherwise, just laugh!

FYI - you're much better looking than that female wrestler! I'm glad you told me she was female...
April 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLady Fi
That was funny. I'm with you about the fact that I am no photogenic- it sucks when there are shots out there that are horrible!!

However, i try not to sweat it.
April 2, 2009 | Unregistered Commentervodkamom
Your post made me laugh out loud (as did a few of the comments).

The funny thing is that I just had a friend call me about a picture I put of her on facebook from our 20 year high school reunion. I thought she looked pretty but she didn't like it and called me to ask if I would delete it. I told her absolutely and deleted while we were on the phone. I think you should have the right to tell anyone on facebook to delete a picture of you that you don't like and they should be happy to oblige no questions asked.

People say I'm photogenic all the time. What I tell them is that it's not me, it's my "technique." My friends and I joke about it all the time, we have turn-your-head-this-way and look-into-the-camera-that-way techniques and they really work. Without my technique I look terrible, with it...a totally different person.


April 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnastasia
Chris, email me at mrsd.lifeasiknowit@yahoo.com please. I am starting something and would like to add you.
April 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMrs. D
I don't photograph well either. And there are usually 50 photos I've sifted through before posting one on my blog or Facebook. My daughter can just roll out of bed and look like a supermodel at every angle. My sisters are all like that too. Even they tend to say, "Um...can we take another one?" when they snap photos of me. I am told ALL the time that I look better in person. The thing that bothers me the most is not that I have a crooked face (I'm seriously like Shannon Doherty) or that my teeth turn in or that there's a huge scar over my eye that makes my eyes look completely different. It's that THOSE are the things I actually like about my face in real life, but they don't translate well in pictures. How can you catch animation and a twinkle in somebody's eye without movement??

Also, when I was younger, I was skinny. I'm not fat now, but it bothers me when people comment about how gorgeous I looked...THEN! Not a good thing to say to somebody!
April 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSimplicity
you are normal, Chris...i can count on one hand the adult photos of me that i like (and don't get me started on photos from the teen years...scary and unforgiving). i'm ok with friends posting FB photos of me as long as i have a delete option...or at least an un-tag option.and i agree, you are one fine-looking family...mary included :)
April 3, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterkel
Women spend time looking at OTHERS in their photos, too, before they post them.

I once heard an interview with Lisa Kudrow about how she hated photo shoots, because she knew the absolutely ridiculous contortions she needed to go through to get one that looked good enough for a magazine. Maybe you should think of those Facebook photos in terms of whether you look like you were having fun?

Also, the acquaintance guy? You could have e-mailed: Dude that picture of me sucks. Could you crop me out? The results would have been the same, probably.

GREAT topic.

Love, Claire
April 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMiddle-Aged-Woman
I'm totally unphotogenic, and I guess I just got used to it.

I try to post semi-normal photos of myself on my own blog (except when I posted those pics of when I burned my face), but if others post hideous pics of me, I just chalk it up to unphotogenicity, and don't care too much.

Then again, I don't always wear clean clothes, so I'm not what you would call someone who cares what she looks like. (Maybe I should?)
April 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSan Diego Momma

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