Friday, July 04, 2008

It's time for your close-up Mr C

I hate having my photo taken. It's not a dislike or a lack of fondness ... it's absolute hatred. When younger I had quite bad gum disease that stained my teeth. So I learned to smile with my mouth firmly shut. More of a smirk really. In fact, I tried (badly) to copy William Shatner's smile. And failed, of course. I've since had veneers done but I never really developed the muscles for smiling so I actually can't do it without it looking forced or scary.

And I'm not in the slightest way photogenic. This is not false modesty or self-loathing. I quite like me. But I'm genuinely not photogenic. You watch shows like America's Next Top Model and these stick-thin apparently plain young women somehow turn into gorgeous divas as soon as a camera is on them. Some people just look great on film. Others don't. I'm one of them.

All of which leads me to tell you about the horror that was ... my photo shoot. About two months ago, I realised that the book needed an author photo so I tried taking some shots myself. I just looked like some old perv with a pout (see below).

Then Dawn had a go and somehow the camera made me look like a pensioner. I'd have asked my brother Simon as he's an amazing photographer. But he's also 350 miles away in Cornwall. So, instead, I asked another professional. Andy Nimmons is an old friend who runs his own photography business - North Kent Weddings.

Andy was great. He took me out into St James's Park near Buckingham Palace because the light was so nice and we tried lots of shots in different poses and locations. Anyone who says that models have easy lives is talking out of their capacious bottoms. It's hard work. I was soon sweating like a pig in a sausage factory. Andy made me feel as relaxed as I could be in such odd circumstances but, no disrespect to his photography, I looked like a tit in every shot. Plus, because I have sensitive eyes, I was squinting so much that my face was in danger of imploding. Sunglasses would just have increased the tit-factor by 100.

The situation was made all the worse by the parties of kids who kept walking past and taking photos of me too. I guess they saw a guy having his photo taken by a man with a camera the size of a small car and reckoned I must be famous so they took their own photos on the off-chance.

After half an hour, we decided enough was enough. The wind was starting to pick up and there was a threat of rain in the air. So Andy suggested one more location with me leaning thoughtfully on some railings by the lake. Snap. Snap. Snap. 'I think we have it', said Andy, 'The very last shot looked good to me.' And as the words left his lips, the Heavens opened. If rain could be said to have a measure of acceleration, this rain did 0-100mph in about 3 seconds. It was torrential. We barely had time to run to a nearby snack bar before the water was falling like Niagara. And it went on and on and on ... and more and more people tried to cram themselves under the awning of the snack bar. Eventually, we had to choose between rain or suffocation. So we walked briskly back to Victoria, Andy cradling his camera inside his jacket and walking hunched over like Quasimodo. We were soaked. But Andy was right. The best shot of the day was the very last one. This is it.

And that's why I hate having my photo taken. Because if this was the best ... imagine the rest.

8 comments:

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

The American Indians thought that having a photo taken robbed them of a little bit of their soul. Perhaps that is somewhat of your problem. I do think you got a good result. And hearty congratulations on the book!

Stevyn Colgan said...

I'm not camera shy as such. It's just that the results are so dire. I look better in real life. So maybe the Native Americans got it right? Maybe the photos show a diminished Stevyn ... if only it did the same with weight eh?

punk in writing said...

It's hard to pose for photos. Some of my best portraits were taken when the person was unaware of the camera.

Of course, that's almost impossible to arrange when you've got a deadline and need a specific photo by three this afternoon.

Stevyn Colgan said...

Punky - as a photographer yourself you're bound to have met other non-photogenics like me. We're just a pain aren't we? Ha!

Thank Heavens for Photoshop.

punk in writing said...

Actually, it's the people who think they know what they are doing and won't listen to any advice that drive me crazy.
Because they always come back and complain, and I have to tell them "I told you so, but did you listen?" and that never ends well.

Stevyn Colgan said...

Oh hell yes. I've met more than a few of those!

Lavinia Ladyslipper said...

Nonsense, your photo is wonderful. Your pensive expression makes you look as though you are pondering the all-important issues of the day, and your indubitably intellectual air gives your appearance a suitably authoritativeness. I rather like it!

Stevyn Colgan said...

You're very kind LL ... but what's actually going through my head is 'Get that camera away from me!!!!' Now!!!!'