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Empathy

Updated: Feb 22


To keep up my shooting skillz, I'm presently taking an online class in the art of portraiture that has required me to torment everyone in my household but especially Reed. For two weeks. With the camera.


Much to my dismay, one of the lessons emphasizes the importance of sitting in front of a photographer so you know what it feels like to entrust your vulnerabilities to another person.


Vulnerabilities? On a good day, I'm made of insecurities and water housed in bones and skin. Facts: I'm fifty, and I've aged a fuck ton over this last horrible year.


But okay. I will walk the walk. Or try. While I am rich in photographer friends, I haven't seen most of them in a covid moon. So I set myself up with the remote shutter and the tripod.


However, my kid surprises me by wanting to help. And by taking an excellent photo. "You're going to say who took it, right?" Damn straight I am.


Photo credit: Reed Cummiskey


Although I don't necessarily recommend his tactic for getting a genuine laugh--"Mom, don't hold your face like that, you look stupid"--it is effective.


He gets bored, and I take over.


Do: brush your hair. Enlist a good moisturizer. Straighten your sweater, which is a pretty color but looks a little like the dog bed, especially since the dog was just on your lap. Don't: go for a straight-on photo if you're insecure about your incipient jowls. Try not to: look like the camera is about to shoot razor blades.



That is NOT a new wrinkle. That is the shortest distance between two points that ran out of gas in the middle of the road.


All right, wardrobe change.



I thought we discussed straight-on shots. And the merits of hairbrushes.



When in doubt, grab a friend. Preferably a cute one. Cover up some of the danger zones while you're at it.



The fact that your mouth is crooked? Adds character. But your mother would probably say, "You look like you lost your last friend." Your mother-in-law would definitely tell you, "You look tired."



This one is okay. I'd rather have my eyes open, because I like my eyes, but I appreciate the quietude. I look like I've made peace with myself.


Although it's a purchased sort of peace, because as I've worked my way through this post, it has cost me two glasses of "alcohol causes cancer" cabernet and a regrettable quantity of "I know better than this" potato chips.




But truthfully? My eleven-year-old got the best photo.


So, the moral of this story?


Trust the person on the other side of the camera.


Because I get it.


I really, really do.



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