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School Picture Day

April 27, 2012

I don’t like cameras.  I don’t like them one bit.  At least, not when they’re pointed at me.

I don’t know where this whole thing got started.

Oh, wait.  Maybe I do.

Oh, yes.  Now I remember.

Okay, there’s that.

And then there’s this other thing.

A long time ago — and I mean a really long time ago, like when I was 4 (see above) and cameras were flat, heavy bricks that people crammed film inside of — I must’ve been wounded by someone’s camera flash.  Actually, it was more likely one of those studio cameras consisting of a huge box on a tripod in which a person hid under a curtain and then a ball of fire was emitted by a lightening rod and everyone held their poses for fifteen minutes while appearing to be possessed by demons and then a year later the photo was processed on card stock so you could cut it out and put it in your locket.  Along with a lock of unwashed hair.

Or maybe that was 1880.  No, I’m pretty sure it was 1980.

Because by the time I turned five that year, I could barely look at a camera.  Not one with a flash.  Not without a Pavlovian response occurring.  Except instead of drooling (or sniffing my master’s bottom), my eyes would start watering.

Massive amounts of tears.  Puffiness.  I couldn’t see at all.  I’d look just like Rocky Balboa during his first Apollo Creed fight.

I can’t see nothin’.  Cut me, Mick.

So then came my first school picture day.  I was in kindergarten.  I was scared.  So I sat down.  A camera was in my face.  And lights were being moved and carefully positioned in order to more effectively drill into my optic nerves.  And then it started.  The waterworks.  The Rocky eyes.  I couldn’t see.

I can’t see nothin’.  Cut me, Mick.

Only Mickey wasn’t around to cut me.  Because Mickey had died.  Yeah, don’t you remember?  Okay, not until ’83.  I was just testing you.

But then the photographer had a brilliant idea.

Why don’t you close your eyes?  And why don’t you just keep them shut for awhile.  And I’ll count to three.  And when I say three, you open them and smile and I’ll take your picture.  



Here we go.


One . . . two . . . three!  


They say that a photograph can capture a person’s essence.  I don’t know about that — but I’m pretty sure this one captured my retinas.

76 Comments leave one →
  1. April 27, 2012 6:35 am

    I also hate the taking of pictures. I still have to sit on a stool with a bunch of lights aimed at me in a school hallway for school picture day. It never stops being mortifying. The demon possession analogy is right on.

    • April 28, 2012 2:23 pm

      I can relate to those cultures that believe photographs steal your soul. I felt my soul leave my body during many school photo sessions. Lucky you for getting to keep on with that torture every year.

  2. April 27, 2012 6:47 am

    That’s a cute picture! I also hate pictures of myself. My husband likes to take them from horrible angles of me, like below while I’m standing, and all that does is ensure that he gets a great shot of my double chin. That’s why I’m holding my chin up in my picture here. No double chin. See, aren’t I clever?

    My kids’ school pictures are always horrendous. I hate to even spend money on them but I often do only because I know in high school, we’ll be able to whip those puppies out and get some good laughs when their boy/girlfriends come over. It’s part of my payback plan.

    • April 27, 2012 7:41 am

      You and I are on the same page. We’re not even done with elementary school yet, and already I’ve got some doozies. So worth the money. I couldn’t possibly take a photo that bad, even on Christmas morning with the crazy hair and boxer shorts.

      • April 28, 2012 2:44 pm

        My husband has a photo of his sister — taken with their family for their church registry back in the ’80s. The “I hate church” and “I hate photos” and “I am a teenager filled with angst” could not be more apparent. I would do anything to have a photo like this of myself — I would earn millions from it if I could put it on the cover of a book.

    • April 28, 2012 2:30 pm

      Wow — all this time I’ve been wondering why my mom ever saved the horrendous photo that I use as my gravatar image. I’m certain now it must’ve been just to torture me.

      I love your photo! But I assumed your fist was under your chin because you are a Muddled Mom and so exhausted you can hardly keep your head up. Or because you were drunk. That’s okay; most of us around here are. Ask Darla of She’s A Maineiac. Or Jules of Go Guilty Pleasures. I could go on and on but I’m about to pass out at this very moment.

  3. April 27, 2012 6:51 am

    So cute!

    • April 28, 2012 2:34 pm

      Really? It’s shocking to me that so many of you find that picture cute — I guess you can’t see that my eyes are as bloodshot as Shaggy and Scooby-Doo’s.

  4. April 27, 2012 7:27 am

    I have an album of bad professional portraits of family members and loved ones that I started when I was a teen. It’s really good for a laugh. Lots of myself in there, too– I probably took some of the worst ones! School picture day was a day of mixed emotions. Excited not to be class… annoyed to be in alphabetical order… happy that I got a free comb… sad that I was wearing a jumper… I feel so sad for you, smiling through the tears. Were you at least pleased with your cheap plastic comb?

    • April 28, 2012 2:39 pm

      I love that album idea, Nicki! What a fantastic thing to have around. I would open it often, whenever I needed a pick-me-up. How did I forget the free comb part of picture day? I don’t think we got them every year but I remember getting one a couple times. Clearly in my first photo I never received a free comb. Although, a comb would be no match against that awful cowlick.

      I think you’re the only one who picked up on the fact that I’m crying in this photo! The smile is really misleading.

  5. April 27, 2012 7:45 am

    Awe, you look so cute! I think the camera may have a secret crush on you ;)

    • April 28, 2012 2:49 pm

      You all are blowing me away with your assessments of what “cute” is. You see cute — I see suffering.

      • April 28, 2012 4:16 pm

        Hah! Well then either I have some secret latent sadistic tendencies (would be as good an explanation for my career choice as any – although I think masochistic would fit the bill better) or it’s one of those no pain no gain moments – plus ever since birth of the cuddly vampires I’d think that red blood shot eyes would be all the rage?! ;)

      • April 28, 2012 4:19 pm

        I think I look more like Shaggy on Scooby-Doo. Especially if you could combine the bloodshot eyes from Photo 2 with the messy hair and droopy expression in Photo 1. But I don’t know that this look was cool until at least junior high.

      • April 28, 2012 5:55 pm

        Well I guess there’s no accounting for taste – is there?! ;)

      • April 29, 2012 9:14 am

        Nope, none. ;)

  6. April 27, 2012 7:56 am

    That is quite the adorable photo of you! And it’s a school photo? A rarity indeed.

    I was inexplicably drawn to your blog by the photo of that poor child obviously forced into an uncomfortable situation in a dark, seeded past. It took me right back to a memory of the SPCA adoption center. That sweet, scraggly little dog just needs to be loved!!I *sniff sniff*

    It’s possible I would not be following your blog with a happy, adjusted child as your gravatar. Nope. I’m certain of it. Make people feel sorry for you and you’ll go far in this world.

    • April 27, 2012 8:39 am

      Meet Avery, who is in my little gravator photo with me. She was one such scraggly little dog. It does work, it really does.

      • April 28, 2012 2:57 pm

        What a sweetie! Kudos to you for choosing a shelter animal.

    • April 28, 2012 2:56 pm

      Okay. I get it, Shannon. The “adorable” photo at the bottom of this post would not have drawn you in like my awkward blog photo up top. However, if you look closely at the bottom photo, you’ll find the same matted eyes as you’d find on a feral cat. Melts your heart, doesn’t it? “Don’t take me back to the shelter, Shannon — I promise I’ll stop peeing on the rug.”

      I fought a hard battle against myself when I started this blog last year. I knew that blog photo was a money shot — but I also knew that to use it would require me to purge myself of all dignity. Dignity — who needs it.

      • April 28, 2012 6:07 pm

        But, your hair! It’s so perfectly coiffed! Like you whipped out your pocket comb did a little work right before the snapshot (I’m assuming you to just came in from recess and were all sweaty, ’cause 80’s school photographers were always timely like that).

        No, you look too well-adjusted. No feral cat in sight. But I’d keep you anyway; just too stinkin’ cute. :)

      • April 29, 2012 9:15 am

        I have been known to cough up a hairball or two.

  7. April 27, 2012 8:13 am

    You are adorable! (but not necessarily in the jaw-drop photo).

    • April 28, 2012 2:59 pm

      It’s hard to believe these are of the same kid, am I right? It’s like a Before and After. The Before photo was from when I wasn’t groomed or taken care of or allowed to sleep. It’s amazing what hot rollers and sleep can do for a person’s appearance.

  8. April 27, 2012 8:34 am

    I had an odd reflex where I automatically flopped my head to one side, so there are tons of pictures of me grinning away with my head flopped over to the side as if I am about to be pulled by the hair out of the picture by an unseen hand. I am certain that someone somewhere is looking at those old class photos right now and thinking, “isn’t that Quasimodo’s kid?” There was no photographer’s trick to cure this affliction, aside from having the person behind me prop up my head by the ears. Oh well.

    • April 28, 2012 3:02 pm

      Lori-Ann, we may be related. Or, at least, we have the same head-flop gene. I used to do this same thing in photos all the time when I was in junior high. And I think even on into high school. I have no idea why. Maybe I saw Justine Bateman do it a few times too many on Family Ties and thought it was really working for her. I have an entire decade worth of photos where my ear looks to be sewn onto my left shoulder.

  9. April 27, 2012 11:11 am

    I used to always have this sort of pucker expression in school photos. They’d say, “smile” and I’d, in my best sulky kid way, would reply, “I look stupid when I smile.” They’d hit the shutter on “Stu”. Every time.

    • April 28, 2012 3:05 pm

      I’m sort of embarrassed to admit that I felt compelled to act out this scenario while reading your comment — just to better understand what your expression might have looked like. I can now concur you looked like a freak. As did I.

      • April 28, 2012 5:04 pm

        It’s really only most effective to understand through pantomime.

      • April 28, 2012 5:16 pm

        Actually, I had hoped to enlist a puppet to assist me, but my daughter was using it at that particular moment.

  10. Clover permalink
    April 27, 2012 12:24 pm

    My daughter’s eyes tear up at bright lights too. The dr says it has to do with being fair skinned, fair haired and having light eyes. You too are fair, but it appears you have brown eyes. So what the heck is your major malfunction?

    Anyway, I hated pictures too. Not because of the flash but because my grandmother who raised me insisted on doing something stupid with my hair. Typically a perm the day before or rollers the night before. You know, so I look nothing like myself in any of my childhood school photos.

    • April 28, 2012 3:10 pm

      Yes, I have brown eyes so what the heck is my excuse? I think it’s mental for me. I was at a no-big-deal work meeting once, and I got it in my head that the lights were too bright. I spent most of the meeting dealing with leaky eyes. When the meeting was over, everyone left and I felt instant relief. Maybe I’m just allergic to people?

      What you’re saying about your childhood school photos not looking like your normal self could not be more true. I can say that about the bottom photo in this post — I never wore my hair this way. Maybe for weddings or church. But most of the time my mom couldn’t even get a comb through my ratty mop. So this leads me to worry that I always looked like the gaping-mouthed kid in my blog photo.

  11. April 27, 2012 12:27 pm

    I’m with you. To this day I hate to have my picture taken. I think it’s the traumatic result of the suffering I endured as a result of forgetting picture day in the 10th grade and showing up in a “Charlies Angels” t-shirt and bed head. That picture was the WORST.

    • April 28, 2012 3:15 pm

      Charlie’s Angels t-shirt? I bet you looked badass! Bratass at the very least. I have a school photo where I’m wearing an iron-on kola bear t-shirt. I can say with all certainty that this did not look bratass.

  12. April 27, 2012 12:36 pm

    What an adorable picture!

    School picture day was always a blow to my self-esteem because they always lined us up from shortest to tallest. I was always, always, always at the front of the line. It hurt.

    • April 28, 2012 3:16 pm

      Too bad you didn’t go to school with me. I’d be the cowlick-haired runt lined up in front of you.

  13. April 27, 2012 12:39 pm

    Watery eyes and Pavlovian responses to flashes aside, you’ve got some darn cute pics! My brother is the same way with cameras, he over-thinks what a good smile looks like and it just ends up being creepy… poor kid.

    • April 28, 2012 3:17 pm

      In recent months my daughter’s smile in photos has morphed into that of a serial killer. It’s so forced that her face looks like it’s in pain. I should just enjoy it while I have it because I’m sure by the time she’s 14 she won’t be smiling at all.

  14. April 27, 2012 4:15 pm

    Aw!!! So sweet, Angie! You were absolutely adorable!

    I have these pale blue eyes that spontaneously combust in the dimmest light so I know what you’re talking about with the watery eyes. It’s a curse I still have to this day. In most pics I’m squinting like a moron (I take horrible pictures without the squinting!)

    • April 28, 2012 3:20 pm

      Maybe if we were smarter we would’ve used our delicate eye conditions as an excuse to wear sunglasses. How cool would we be? The only kids in school allowed to wear sunglasses in their yearbook photos! I think that would’ve reset the entire course of my life.

  15. April 28, 2012 9:49 am

    Lovin’ the first pic of you!!! The second one, though, should have a halo on top…too adorable!!!

    • April 28, 2012 3:22 pm

      I don’t think I could’ve ever pulled off wearing a halo over my head. I was a raging brat. But thanks for giving me the benefit of the doubt, Cathie.

  16. April 28, 2012 9:50 am

    I wish my grammar school had taken regular individual photos. We always had the full class and since nobody liked me the person sitting next to me always looked like they were afraid of getting cooties from me. Or that I might wet my pants during the photo.

    I still have cooties.

    • April 28, 2012 3:25 pm

      I just wet my pants when I read this and thankfully no one was standing next to me for a photo. But I’m proud to say I effectively rid myself of cooties in 1984.

      • April 28, 2012 3:33 pm

        You just THOUGHT you got rid of the cooties in 1984. They’re still there, lurking.

        And I LOVE your Gravitar photo. It makes me laugh every time I see it. You azre your own warmup act.

      • April 28, 2012 3:40 pm

        Thanks, Elyse. I still can’t believe my mom ordered copies of that photo. She must’ve had a vision that I would one day need to exploit 1979-Angie for blog content.

        Now that you mention it, I am feeling a little itchy in my scalp. Or maybe that’s just head lice.

  17. April 28, 2012 10:58 am

    That’s a GREAT picture! I don’t think parents should be allowed to have their kids pictures retaken, at least not in grade school. Kids don’t need to look like Gap models. Those shots with the collar flipped up, the eyes shut, the hair sticking up in back and the goofy smile – they’re wonderful reminders of how spontaneously silly childhood is SUPPOSED to be.

    • April 28, 2012 3:28 pm

      Good point, Peg. And I agree. The “perfectly cute school photo” kids look like cyborgs to me. Most likely they were robot children filling in for their human counterparts who were off getting Kool-Aid mustaches and smearing peanut butter in their hair.

    • Emily permalink
      April 28, 2012 3:29 pm

      Really? I remember when I was in grade one, there was a girl who had a massive scab on her face on picture day (playground injury, I’m sure), and she was granted a retake, to be done after the scab healed.

      • April 28, 2012 3:34 pm

        But just think how cool she might’ve been to be able to claim the nickname “Scab Face”. Scabs were like badges of honor in 1st grade, and I’m sort of jealous now that I didn’t have a scab to sport in any of my grade school photos. (Sigh.) Cowlicks were all I had going for me.

  18. John-Paul permalink
    April 28, 2012 3:43 pm

    If only they had picked the blue sky back drop with soft back lighting you could have pulled off the heroic communist look.

    • April 28, 2012 3:52 pm

      This is why I need to start paying you for your comments, JP. You always take the discussion to a whole new level. I certainly would not anticipate communism to be brought up here. Now if this was my blog post on The Muppet Show, then yes I would.

      I had an old driver’s license picture that I called my Ellis Island I.D. card. I looked just like a turn of the century immigrant posing for her government-issued photo, taken right after she came off the boat and was still suffering from scurvy. If only I had tied a scarf around my head that day.

      • John-Paul permalink
        April 28, 2012 4:04 pm

        Yeah, I guess pro communist poses weren’t big in America in the early 80s. Strange considering how many school portraits look like they were taken in a gulag.

        I have an old passport photo that simply screams “do not let this man into your country”.

      • April 28, 2012 4:12 pm

        Oh, wow. I bet that picture is really something special. Not “kid in a tracksuit riding a cat” special — but special nonetheless.

  19. russelllindsey permalink
    April 28, 2012 8:56 pm

    Wow. I may have to dig out my third grade picture from 1989. I’m all hair and glasses. My Mom still makes fun of that picture and it ends up on our Christmas tree every year. Yep, in third grade we made Christmas ornaments with our school pictures in order to ensure decades of torture.

    My only consolation is that my Mom taught for 32 years and she has some doozies herself.


    • April 29, 2012 9:21 am

      Your mom sounds awesome! I think now I’ll have to start that tradition in my family.

      • russelllindsey permalink
        April 29, 2012 9:29 am

        My Mom is awesome <3 .

        My Mom definitely has the "teacher" look. LOL


      • Emily permalink
        April 29, 2012 8:46 pm

        Well, you could always make photo ornaments with pictures that weren’t taken at school……or, if kids have to use their school photos for the Christmas tree, adults have to use their driver’s license photos. Only fair.

      • May 1, 2012 8:28 pm

        Christmas project! The hot glue gun is already in my hand.

  20. russelllindsey permalink
    April 28, 2012 9:15 pm

    Reblogged this on Ramblings of a Misguided Blonde and commented:
    Maybe it is time to dig out a few of mine? Nah.

  21. April 29, 2012 11:23 am

    Yeah, I have never had a good picture of me taken, ever. My eyes are usually closed because I’m anticipating the flash, or maybe, just maybe, I’m no photogenic. Could that be it? I can honestly say though, that I wouldn’t put up one of my school pictures on my blog. Wait, you’ve given me a story idea. Maybe I will…or maybe not.

    • April 29, 2012 11:58 am

      You can put up that photo along with the story of when you first saw a dead body. Both would be well worth the sacrifice of self-dignity.

  22. April 30, 2012 8:15 pm

    If it’s true that a picture can capture a person’s essence then I’m in trouble because most of my pictures look pretty horrible. Yours, on the other hand, are adorable. I watched this show on how models are supposed to stand to look best in their shots so I gave that a try – scary! In the end I decided pictures and me don’t mingle well.

    • May 1, 2012 8:27 pm

      My essence must be “awkward as hell with a touch of cowlick”.

      So is that why some models’ clavicle bones protrude from their chests? It’s a modeling stance they’ve learned? I’m in awe of their amazing talent.

  23. April 30, 2012 11:38 pm

    I don’t see the problem Angie. Those are good pictures. Where are the bad pictures? I want to see those. I am not photogenic except I have noticed that when I smile I don’t look like a serial killer.
    Sweet post!

    • May 1, 2012 8:21 pm

      Did you really see the first photo there, Les? The one I use as my gravatar? If so, please have your eyes evaluated immediately. Even serial killers need to have regular eye check-ups.

  24. May 1, 2012 12:52 pm

    <—— there is a reason that is a pencil guy. Dint want to scare you all. Lol

  25. May 1, 2012 1:13 pm

    LOL! Cute..Seriously!

  26. May 24, 2012 1:58 pm

    Was trying to catch up on my blog reading over lunch, but my work computer blocked this post because it was “found to be in the following content category: Pornography.” Apparently, pornography must be capitalized. Now I’m going to get fired. Hope you’re happy.

    The more I think about it, the sicker my work’s internet filtering algorithm seems. Disturbing, really.

    • May 25, 2012 9:02 pm

      Weird! If it was my post on Underoos, I’d say there was nothing wrong with your work internet filtering algorithm — it’s an ancient post I wrote this summer about my Wonder Woman Underoos, and having it on my blog sort of freaks me out, based on the search engine terms that bring people here to read it. Eeeek. But, yeah, School Picture Day? Very strange.

      I need a blog intern — so seeing that you’re about to get fired, let me know how you feel about making experimental Shrinky Dinks.

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