The following article first appeared on January 9, 2010 for my The Humor of It…Through a Different Lens column for Shades of the Departed magazine. footnoteMaven has graciously allowed me to reprint my Humor of It articles here on What’s Past is Prologue.While these were my “top ten photo resolutions for 2010”, they can apply to 2011, too. Besides, who keeps the resolutions they make? We can merely recycle them from year to year!
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Beginning a new year is a time for reflection when most people think back on the previous year and try to challenge themselves to improve various faults and foibles. Of course, before beginning a new year we have to end the previous one, and that’s usually a time for partying. Therefore, most of our resolutions to change ourselves may have been half-heartedly assembled in the throes of a party-induced hangover, which is why these great ideas tend to fizzle out quicker than a cheap sparkler. So take your time before making resolutions – think about it! To help you out, I’ve decided to come up with my top 10 resolutions specifically for Shades of the Departed readers, so they are all related to photographs. But they are also written by me, the resident humor columnist, so…let’s just say you might want to think about these as well before making any final resolutions!
10 – If you are photographing a group of children, add a “silly face” photo in the session. It will keep them interested, less cranky, and may even make them smile for more photos. Plus, they’ll be laughing at the silly photo for years to come. That is, until they reach the age when they begin dating and you share it with their prospective paramour…then it’s not so funny.
9 – Don’t wait – get all of those damaged photos restored. I recently had a professional restore an old photograph of my mother as a child with her older sister and parents. My mother commented, “I haven’t seen the photo look like this for sixty years!”
8 – Pay attention to the background in your photos – or even the foreground – so your shot doesn’t have any distractions from the main subject.
7 – Remember to “strike a pose” for a memorable shot!
6 – Be creative and have fun with your photography! Consider creating optical illusions with some forced perspective shots to liven up your vacation album.
5 – Remember that pets are people, too. They really don’t enjoy dressing up in costumes any more than people do – except they are less vocal about it. Come to think of it – your babies are people, too. They will show their displeasure by their expressions, but remember that they will get vocal about it once they’re old enough to talk!
4 – When it takes forty or fifty tries to get the kids to a) sit still, b) look at the camera, c) smile, and d) do a, b, and c all at the same time, it is okay to delete some of those motion-blurred, crying, and cranky shots. Save a few though – they could prove useful to embarrass those children fifteen years later. (Also see #10)
3 – Since you are always the one taking photos, make sure you get some of yourself. Only ask someone else to take it – unless you have very long arms or a timer on your camera, most self-portraits are not very flattering.
2 – Keep shoes in shoeboxes, not your photographs. Get them out of the boxes – and off of your hard drives – and into frames or albums to display around your home or office. Don’t be too busy taking photos to remember the joy in looking at them and remembering the fun.
And the number one photo resolution is –
1 – Forget mug shots – mug your relatives for copies of family photos! Are you, like me, tired of waiting for family members to dig out those precious photographs you’ve heard so much about but have never seen? It’s time to take matters into your own hands. I resolve to sit on doorsteps until they find the photos and reveal them to me. I have a feeling some of my cousins may be entering the Relative Protection Program, a distant cousin of the Witness Protection Program, that seeks to protect the innocent from a hungry photograph-hound like myself. But hey, I’m a genealogist, so I ought to be able to track them down!
All photographs from the collection of the author except as noted.