To be out of picture


“Say Cheese” is the phrase I dread the most. Wonder why it has never occurred to anyone that ‘cheese’ can be said without stretching our lips to form a curve that resembles a pretentious smile!

If there is a phobia for being photographed — whatever it’s called, I have it. No bad traumatic experiences in my life — it’s just that I’m not photogenic at all. To quote my diplomatic friends, my pleasant personality is not justified in print — still or motion. And so, I hate being shot through the lens.

The camera can be really cruel, like in cases when the subject is caught unawares. The funniest proof of this is in the videos of people eating at weddings. The success of the TV show America’s Funniest Videos is based on this unique quality of a camera to catch the right things at the right time.

I envy people who are camera-friendly and come alive in front of it to show their best profile and pose in the nick of time just before the camera goes click.

A rich and glamorous socialite I know is quite the opposite of the likes of me. Every party or social event she attends has her requesting and paying the photographer to click her in different angles. These snapshots are added to her collection. Her ghost-written columns that appear in a tabloid have a different photograph of hers with every article that appears!

A source even revealed that she has chosen a few of her best decade-old pictures and left instructions for them to be sent for printing along with her obituary reports — different for various newspapers, when death comes calling. That’s narcissism at its peak — carrying it even beyond life.

Social networking sites have proven to be a boon to self-obsessed people who use them to flaunt their pictures during each and every outing and during eventful occasions of their life — from naming their cats to breaking up with their flames. The latest fad, of course, is taking selfies in changing rooms in clothes they can’t afford to buy.

A few years ago, the joy of seeing my first children’s book was subdued when the publishers asked me for my portrait picture. I reluctantly went to a studio and braved myself. On knowing the purpose of my requirement, the photographer chided me for not having used minimal make-up. Getting some thrills at playing God, he flaunted his Photoshop skills and air-brushed my moles and dark circles away, made my lips rosier, dark-lined my eyes and even added a glow to my skin.

One look at the picture-perfect photograph and my children exclaimed, “Very nice snap — but it doesn’t look like you.” Though appreciative of the artwork, I decided to let my book come out without the author’s face.

I wish I could use the passport size version of it for my Aadhaar card though — for, almost all of us look like the criminals who peep out of the pictures on the bulletin boards at police stations under ‘Wanted’, in these cards. Don’t believe me? If you want to have a good laughing session, just look at the pictures on Aadhaar cards belonging to your kith and kin.

As for me — I have left instructions that my obituary should go with just an outline sketch — like the ones used in some people’s profiles on social networking sites.

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