Given the time of year, I thought I'd resurrect this piece from the archives. It was written some years ago (before the age of digital photography.)
My wife and I have just returned from a family vacation, and we have some wonderful photos. Actually, the ones of me are awful, but the ones of everyone else are great. My wife says that the ones of her are awful, but the ones of me are great. Her mother, who vacationed with us, called up to say that she has some great photos – except for the ones of her, which are awful. Our daughter called to say that she has scissored herself out of all her photos. They’re awful, she says -- but she has some great ones of the rest of us.
It’s funny how everyone thinks the photos of themselves are awful, and the photos of everyone else are great. It’s probably because we think we look so goofy in the photos, when to everyone else, that’s the way we always look. That’s the thing about vacation photos – everyone looks just the way they always do, except you. You look like someone who got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and wandered into the photograph.
How many times have you looked at a photo of yourself, thinking you might slip it under the couch cushion, when someone looks over your shoulder and says, “That’s great of you.” That’s what people do – they look at a photo of you that might have been taken by the coroner’s office, and say, “You look good in that.” Makes you want to find a really rotten photo of them and say, "That is sooooo good of you." But you can't find a rotten photo of them. They all look great.
Personally, I have this thing in group photos where I’m the only one saying cheese. Everyone else has a broad happy smile on their face, or else they’re poking each other and giggling, or mugging for the camera. And I’m standing there saying cheese.
Our neighbors just vacationed with their kids, and they have some great photos. There’s one of their 5-year old standing on the beach, next to a giant sand castle, looking proud as can be. I said to him, “That’s a great photo of you.” He looked at the photo and screwed up his face like you wouldn’t believe. “That's awful,” he said.
-- Robert Brault