Comfortable in my own skin. (Even if it's bloated, wrinkled, sagging and pimply)
I have a theory. This theory goes with Mike’s Portrait Theory Number 1, detailed two blog postings ago. To refresh: the subject had one picture, at least 30 years ago, where they liked their smile. They have been trying to reproduce that smile ever since, in every photo (unsuccessfully) looking like a crazy person with a contorted face. This leads to Mike’s Portrait Theory Number 2: people think they look the same as when they were 18, except thinner and better.
Don’t believe me? We do the AARP convention every year. Every year. In fact, we have groupies that visit us every year, and get their photo put on the cover of AARP Magazine. More, they send Matthew and I Christmas cookies, birthday cards, “thinking of you” notes throughout the year. No lie.
These groupies don’t suffer from the affliction detailed in MPTN #2. In fact, they are totally comfy in their skin. But by definition, the AARP Convention caters to ….
those of us over (what is the age now?) 40? 50? Anyway, no high school teenie boppers. And, I have heard more than once…
“Oh, honey, I LOOK SO OLD!”
This coming from an 80 year old.
News flash: you are old. Period. So what?
You think you can’t look good AND look old? Where did we get this notion?
“Oh, honey, I LOOK SO FAT!”
Guess what: you are fat. You weigh in at 500 lbs. You ate an entire roast last night as an appetizer. You ate 3 dozen donuts on the walk from the refreshment stand to here. Nothing I can do, NOTHING will make you look like you did when you were cheerleader for Wi High, and before you started a 10,000 calorie a day diet. Plus, if this was the 1800’s, you’d be considered HOT! Just sayin’.
Contrast that with people who enjoy how they look: fat, thin, old, young, they totally don’t care. They are happy in their skins. Happily, I fall into this category: though I do go into complete meltdown at one pocket of fleshyness hanging anywhere on my body.
The AARP participant approached the photo area dressed head to toe in a leopard jump suit. There was a pink belt around her waist, and long, silver earrings dangling from both lobes. Here nails, painted hot pink, with small diamond studs embedded into each perfectly sculpted claw.
I posed her for the “magazine cover”: in every position imaginable. She did cat claws, scratching toward the camera. She looked over her shoulder, winking at the camera. Everything. And when she was done?
“You are so much fun!” I said, “my favorite of the day, baby!”
“How old do you think I am?”
Ohhhhhh, dangerous question. 50? 60? I had no idea.
“I have learned never to answer that question.”
“Baby, I am 93.”
NINETY THREE? NINETY FREAKING THREE (and wearing leopard?)!? Who would have guessed it? I looked at her again. Her eyes sparkled. Her smile was million dollar. She looked totally happy, relaxed, engaged with life. She looked young.
“I’ve never had a nip and a tuck,” she said, reading my mind, “and I never will.”
She couldn’t TAKE a bad photo. And not because she was Angelina Jolie. No. Simply because she was happy.
That 93 year old women taught me how to do portraits. She taught me the most important lesson ever: a photo will be great if people look happy. People will LOOK happy if they are having a great time.
So, if I’m up dancing around, blasting music, talking while I shoot — now you know why. And, here’s Mike’s Portrait Rule #3: if Mike is happy, participant is happy, photos are good. As soon as I forget that, things become work, and the photos become average.
Now, where’s my Xanex?
PS — you don’t really look fat or old. Honest. Let me just crop off that half of your body, there. Oh, and hide behind this plant. What a nice picture! I’m done here.
This isn’t the cat woman (I couldn’t find her) but is a great example. This is just your average person. She isn’t 22 years old, but what do you think? She looks happy, right? Doesn’t she look like someone you’d want to have a cup of tea with? A cookie? Doesn’t she just look like a nice person? If so, doesn’t that make her beautiful?