Not all Photos Belong in the Family Album

People are supposed to learn from their mistakes. I don’t.

Once, I photographed a gorgeous male model without realizing his fly was wide open, a tribute to my purity if I may say. One might think that, considering the disastrous experience, I would make a conscious effort to check out these things before the beginning of a session… but call it whatever you will, manners perhaps, I can’t bring myself to cast a prolonged stare on my subject’s crotch.

My hard drives are full of images which never make it to the family albums of my clients. These are some of the reasons:

Charlotte and her stallion. I did not notice a thing until I saw the images on my computer screen. I had to photoshop the offensive member out of all the portraits. By the time I was done, I had had enough equine intimacy to last me a lifetime and the bad boy got castrated.

Nothing makes a guy more uncomfortable than being asked to get closer to his friend for a photograph. He first looks at you with incredulity: “You want me tooo… er, really?” When he realizes you are dead serious, he obtemperates resignedly, contorting his body in all kinds of ways not to make body contact with his buddy. Both men have a frozen look on their faces. Disconnected. Unusable.

The subject escapes.

The child suddenly feels compelled to emulate Bill Murray.

Tears? Not for the family album. When I look at my own childhood photographs, It seems as if I never cried. Always cheerful, always smiling.

I think it’s a ploy. Parents engage in a concerted effort not to leave traces behind. Then, much later, when confronted with their sullen teenager, they can always evoke the happier times when their brood’s sole emotion appeared to be one of complete content. “What happened to you? You used to be such a jovial little kid!”

The Boozer. No matter how artistic the image, if it involves a bottle of alcohol and a rather enthusiastic little child, it just never makes the cut.

When your clients get arrested for disorderly conduct, chances are they will not want to be reminded of the sad turn of event. Ok, ok, this one was a pretend arrest. The cop got called for noise disturbance and I asked him to arrest my client for giggles.

The case of the “oeil qui dit merde a l’autre.” Parents frown upon including photographs of cross-eyed children in the album.

Slightly deranged expressions. The above photograph represents the typical look of a child asked to open his eyes a little more. I generally keep these to myself.

Little Jeanne expressing herself will remain in my archives.

So will Joanna and her Freedom Fry.

Meet Gladys, Mr. Shinn’s 89 year-old mother-in-law. Mr. Shinn had decided to re-do a bathroom in his house, just days before the arrival of out-of-town guests. Complete obliteration.

The last time Mr. Shinn had taken upon himself to renovate a room, the project had lasted 18 excruciating months. Threats of imminent divorce proceedings had finally brought the project to completion. I thought the surprise portrait of Gladys, Belle of New Orleans, should be taken in the brand new area of contention. In the end, the Shinns opted for a much more traditional portrait.

Ah family portraits! This one was never an option.

Neither was this one.

The first shot. Never quite makes it to the mantle.

Ultimately, I am guilty too. This photograph represents my nephew expressing his ardent love for his girlfriend, and I chose not to include it in my mother’s 75th birthday surprise album. I guess I’m not a romantic after all. Bitterness is a terrible thing.

19 responses to “Not all Photos Belong in the Family Album

  1. O holy herring! This is fabulous. Almost as fabulous as obtemperating men. Is there an odd odor attached to such men?

    Seriously, what a great topic and organizing idea. PS. I have been to the post office, priority.

  2. That stallion is fabulous! hehe. It reminds me of one morning at uni when my friend and I opened the curtains to discover it had snowed in the night. Someone had built a snowman right in front of our window. “Awww – how sweet” we thought. Took us a little while to noticed the carefully sculpted snow appendage. LOL.

    That little girl with the hat is gorgeous – cross eyed or not! And the little guy with the alcofrol!

    Do you photograph straight in B&W or do you convert afterwards?

  3. I think some of these would definitely make my family mantle. Hell, not some, most.

  4. those are the kinds of photos that fill my family album.

    loved them.

    even your ‘mistakes’ are fabulous. excellent work as usual.

  5. Nice pics H. Apparently the horse was feelin’ frisky! Uh…and apparently so was your nephew…

  6. Midlife Slices

    Thanks for the laughs. I thought these were great!

  7. The horse shot reminds me of when I was at the Calgary Stampede years ago. The Canadian Champion Clydesdale Stallion was brought out for display. It was a big black magnificent beast that was more of a destrier than a workhorse.

    Everything was cool until they brought the champion mare.

    The stallion showed it’s instant approval and just shook off it’s two handlers and chased the mare around, trying to mate with it.

    All in front of a huge crowd. It was hilarious.

    I love the Bill Murray look-a-like.

  8. A great theme and oh so funny use of discards.
    What you toss is better than most final proofs.

    I relate to Charlottes’ state of unawareness.
    Visiting a neighbor island some years ago, I stopped to coochy coo a roadside feral donkey. While I whispered stupid human utterances, my car mates were howling at what I couldn’t see- the donkey was a vision of hap-penis.
    ( can I get away with this on your blog- I mean, it just fits so perfectly…- edit if you must ).

    A very amusing series.

  9. Believe it or not, I was at the Calgary Stampede. I think in 1989!! Can’t believe I’ve been someplace Razz has been. And, that BL is donkey nip. Oh, what one learns on natcrack’s site.

  10. Pat, there is nothing better than an obtemperating man (even though WordPress does not recognize the existence of such a thing!) Thank for the Post Office trip! The Object will be in very good appreciative hands! Thanks!

    Nezza, snow debauchery in front of your window? A message perhaps?
    I shoot raw, but for portraits I work from the B&W images and for landscape (meaning cemeteries), color files than conversion.

    Magnum and WarriorWitch, coming from you two, nothing can surprise me. I’d like a photo of your respective current mantles and/or a peak at the family album.

    Alan, my nefioo’s middle name is frisky. He was heading the Front of Liberation of the Garden Gnomes, Belgian faction, you know. What do you expect?

    Thanks Midlife Slices – what happened to your blog? On strike or something?

    Razz, I knew someone would come up with a horny stallion story. Of course, it had to be you… Isn’t there something profoundly stupid to parade such an enormous stallion and bring a mare into the equation. What were they thinking?

    Bonnie, you were coochy cooing (?) a donkey and whispering sweet nothings in his donkey ear and… what is it exactly you were trying to accomplish, sista? What a splendid photograph that would have been! Of course, if such picture existed, you would share it with us, right?

  11. Midlife Slices

    What happened to my blog? Nothing that I’m aware of.
    http://www.midlifeslices.com Try again and see if I’m there and if not, I don’t know where I am or why others can see me. I’m stumped.

  12. Midlife Slices, your username is not linked to your blog. If you need help with that, I’ll be glad to email you directions.

  13. I plan to put up photos soon.

  14. I must agree with Warrior Witch, they too are the pictures I have throughout time.

    My mom actually took a picture of me throwing a tantrum when I was 3 or 4 years old. She submitted it to my high schools yearbook. They had a section for parents of seniors to put in baby pics and a message. She wrote that even though we had our rough times, we made it and I’m so proud of you.

    It still one of my favorite childhood pics.

  15. I like little Jeanne 🙂

    but …

    I’m always a sucker for the “I was born on a pirate ship” pose 🙂

  16. Midlife Slices

    On any other blogs I’ve left comments on it asks for a url and email address. This one just shows me logged in as Midlife Slices. Not other options. If you’d like to email the instructions just send to midlifeslices (at) yahoo (dot) com.
    Thanks,
    Janie

  17. I know there’s probably not much use for the “real” photos like those you’ve shown above, but I prefer them for my own personal collections. The images I value most happen to be those that show life as it happens, as it exists for most people. Not the best way to make money from professional shots, I’m sure, but certainly preferable IMHO.

    And while the guy friends trying not to be too friendly shows a great deal of male stoicism that I find entertaining–very entertaining!–I have to say Gladys is my favorite! She’s darling in person, yes, and quite the Louisiana matriarch, but that picture spins me ’round and ’round. You can feel the disdain that’s left unsaid. I somehow think she gave Mr. and Mrs. Shinn a good deal of grief about the unbecoming nature of that bathroom…

  18. The Boozer and the Deranged little guy are plain great!
    Maybe not 100% politically correct, but … I’m not a politician! 😉

    I would have kept the horse pic too.
    “Phar Lap really loves Charlotte”… Cool caption, no?

  19. I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you down the road!

    Большое спасибо Алекс

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