Picture Imperfect

Right now there are about 15 twenty-something “kids” posing on the triangle where Broadway and Fifth Avenue converge, just north of the Flatiron Building. They’re being photographed by someone, and they’re all sort of frozen into position as if they’re doing some sort of 2002 version of “voguing”. They all look like they think they should be in a Benetton or Gap ad. I have no idea what they’re doing, but I can’t stand it.
The thing is this: I just hate seeing people posing for pictures. I don’t care if it’s professional or it’s amateur. I don’t care if it’s tourists. It doesn’t make a difference. Just seeing people turned toward the camera in that way that makes them look thinner, quite possibly sucking in their cheeks, and definitely exhibiting only the most artificial of smiles is enough to make me want to take the photographer’s camera and tear the film out of it like they do in stupid movies when someone doesn’t want his picture taken, accosts the person responsible, and destroys the film. (And don’t worry. If the camera is digital, it’s even easier to keep the pictures from ever being born.)
What I like is a candid shot. I like a picture where the person isn’t ready or doesn’t even know his picture is being taken at all. I like pictures where the guy’s head is sort of turned and we can see him wiping his mouth on his hand. Where a girl’s adjusting her shirt in preparation for the pose she’s anticipating and constructing. Where the dog is chewing his “flippy” with such concentration and adoration that nothing, not even the sexiest of poodles, will distract him.
And pictures where the subjects’ smiles exist only because they were told to say “cheese” are the cheesiest of all. On the extremely rare occasions when I’ve told people to stand still so I can get their picture, I’ve had them say “fuck” instead.
So if you see me with my camera (and I’m never without it), and you ask me to take your picture, I’m terribly sorry, but I’m just going to have to refuse. When you’re sleeping and your face is angelic against the pillow when in “real life” you could quite possibly be Satan’s spawn, that’s when I’ll do it.
And if you don’t like it, you can shoot me.
(But wait until I’m not expecting it. I won’t pose for you either.)