Say Cheese
Digital Age



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October 4, 1999

For me, a large part of how good or bad I look in a photograph is directly related to how I feel about the person taking the picture. That, combined with quality-of-hair-day issues, presence or absence of sleep, and presence or absence of makeup.

Growing up I wasn't too crazy about having my picture taken. My father always had a camera and snapped his fool head off. There we were, me in the middle, #1 on the left and #2 on the right. About 25 million pictures with us pretty much always in that same order. I was OK with it (or less un-OK) during the Tall Years--those years when I was actually taller than my younger sisters. Then, starting at about age 16 I entered the Short Years. Suddenly both my sisters were taller than me and I always felt a bit like a midget. I don't like many of those pictures.

And there were the braces years. OK, I actually lived through that period twice. Once at the normal age when kids have braces--early teens. But then there was that second time around. I was in college, 19 years old. A really difficult age to be in the first place, compounded by a mouth full of silver. Don't even come near me with a flashbulb.

I would guess that there is at least a ten year period where I do not like myself in one single picture taken of me. Too fat, too blonde, too red-headed, too short, too this, too that.

I've mellowed about this to a large degree.

We are a camera-crazy household, we Atkins'.

It all started when Chuck got a hankering for photography. OK, at least these weren't going to the one hour photo. I could have him destroy what I didn't like. Pretty low financial impact. Too many chins in this one. Into the shredder it would go.

Digital cameras are great. You look like hell, you hit the delete button. All it costs is a few more seconds of life on those AA batteries.

My dad got a digital camera when they were brand new about four years ago. That's his M.O.: new technology, must have immediately. Why wait until the prices come down and the technology improves? Get one now and get another one later. So, in his case I've generally been able to pick and choose what gets saved for posterity.

Now my daughter does not, can not, will not, take a bad photograph. Face full of food, hair full of yogurt. No problem. She looks delicious. All gussied up and saying Cheese. All the better. With me, it's not so reliable.

Lately, though, I haven't had a bad picture taken of me. I am waiting for the ax to fall.

Before we left for Saturday's journaling fiesta Chuck had to go and get a digital camera. No more black and whites or one hour photo for us. Instant gratification, baybee.

Actually, we've been coveting a digital camera for some time now. The thing I kept saying was: wait until we sell the house. Well, we sold the house. Nothing stopping us now.

Off to Fry's he went.

The clock was ticking and it was getting close to the time when I thought we should be leaving to get to Nancy's house. No Chuck. I call him. "Did you get one?" No, he didn't like the choices and didn't know what to get so he was just going to come home. I then reminded him that he could always return it tomorrow so he toddled back into the store and picked one.

He came home with a smart metallic blue Agfa digital camera and lots of AA batteries.

Pretty much as he walked in the door we headed out again. No sooner do we get in the car than the man starts snapping pix. There will be no ceremonial reading of the directions. He never reads directions. Directions are for pussies. Just dive right in. And dive he did. Here's me driving to my dad's house. OK, not the world's greatest pic-too dark, but well within the range of acceptable. (You can't really see my smart new haircut here, but believe me, it's adorable.) say cheese!

The future Ansel Adams? As long as Zoe has been aware of pictures being taken of her, they've been taken on digital cameras. She always wants to "see Zoe," and doesn't quite get that the Nikon doesn't work that way. She's fascinated by cameras and has mastered the digital camera. She spent much of yesterday using it taking pix, willy-nilly. Chuck picked her up a little 90's version of the Instamatic so she could very well be the next Ansel Adams.

So, we're picture taking maniacs. No subject too small and insignificant to escape the eye of the lens. Takes a lickin and keeps on tickin!

No moment too cute.

. my sugar plum fairy

So I guess I've decided that getting my picture taken isn't so bad. But, friends, family, beware: we're maniacs with that camera. Just when you thought it was safe to visit us you might just find yourself on these pages. Or, I could hit just the delete button.

Until next time. . .