Picture Perfect Plan

In four months I will be sitting captive in front of a camera.  For only the second time ever, we are having family photos professionally taken.  (And both times it coincided with a son’s senior portraits or it may never have happened.)  I am, of course, already obsessing over planning for it.  What to wear and how to coordinate four people’s outfits; if I will change my hair style; perfecting “natural looking yet enhancing” makeup application since I rarely use it; how much I hope to weigh.

I should not only be at my goal weight by then, but well on my way to a lifelong practice of maintenance:)  I know that I have been been preaching that the journey for me is not about the weight anymore, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I will feel better on picture day if the scale reflects a lower number.  That’s just the reality.  And me being honest (with myself and with you).

Coincidentally, the photos will be taken almost a year after I posted (only my fourth post ever) about how I had avoided being in pictures in the past and how I was trying to change that.  What I said then still holds true, so, since most of you had not discovered my blog back when I first posted these words, here they are again:

Picture Imperfect

From December 31st, 2009

Yesterday I was choosing pictures for my scrapbook.  I tried hard not to pick any that made me look (particularly) fat and to find some that were (most) flattering.

I have always hated having my picture taken; not liking how I look.  Too old, too fat, too tired, too pimply, too frizzy, too something.  There are certainly photos of me as a kid, smiling and mugging for the camera.  Probably I was too young to be self-conscious yet.  I remember a conversation at a holiday gathering when I was in my teens and my uncle was trying to photograph me but I kept avoiding him.  He told me, “Someday you are going to wish you were in the pictures.”  He was right!  I don’t know when the light bulb went off – probably when I had kids or when I started scrapbooking and realized how few family photos we had.  But just because I want to be IN pictures doesn’t mean I like how I look in them!

A few years ago we had our first professional family photos taken while my son was having his senior portrait done.  (Pathetic, I know.)  I honestly told the photographer that my husband and I were both self-conscious about our weight and that we wouldn’t buy any shots that made us look fat.  Can you believe that she actually told us how to hold our heads to minimize any double chin?

Over the years I have relied on various tricks to make myself look more acceptable (to me) in photos – stand with one leg in front of the other, hug closely to another person, actually put on mascara and eye liner, sit.  Sometimes the tricks work; sometimes they don’t.

I suspect that I am too sensitive about what I perceive as my un-photographic self and a bit skewed in my perception of reality.  My guess is that my family would look at pictures of me and see me differently than I see myself.  I see the flaws before I see the memories.  The new and improved me is going to just smile for the camera and say “(low-fat) cheese.”



Filed under appearance, weight issues

55 responses to “Picture Perfect Plan

  1. Oh pictures. They are the devil! [WHich is funny, cause I kind of have an art degree focused on photography…] I’m currently 25lbs lighter than I was at my wedding… and will be like 50lbs lighter when I reach my goal. And I already wish I could have them redone 😦 I bet yours will look amazing though! Im happy you’ll be at goal weight so you won’t have to hate them later on ;-). [That sounds tacky, but you know what I mean…]

    • Karen

      I know exactly what you mean! And chances are there will be something I won’t like, especially since there are four of us trying to fake natural smiles at the same time. I was tiny when I got married. TINY.

  2. sunnydaze

    What a wonderful motivator! I’m sure the pictures will be beautiful. 😉

    • Karen

      Thanks Sunny. This is one time when having a boy is very different than having a girl. The girls are so into this whole thing with different hair styles and outfit changes for photos. My teen is like – why even do it?

  3. Have you seen the Modern Family episode about having the family portrait made. It’s hysterical, but it also has a great lesson.

    • Karen

      I did! That is a cute show:) Actually, some of the “best” shots from 3 years ago were when the photographer had us lay on a bridge and the boys pig-piled on to and we all laughed.

  4. I have always found photos to be helpful to me in seeing how I really look. It was a photo that sent me to Weight Watchers some years back. I didn’t realize how big I had gotten until I saw myself in a photo! Talk about shock.

    Photos also help me see what I look like today. Sometimes when I look in the mirror I see the over weight lady looking back at me. When I see a photo of myself I see that I am now thin. It is a strange thing that it takes the mind so long to catch up to where the body really is.

    I think it is a great motivator for you to take charge and make healthy choices so you can achieve your goal and be at the weight you want to be for that photo shoot. Think how proud you will feel that day being where you want to be!

  5. Genie@dietof51

    I have always been self-conscious about being photographed. After Sonny was born, we took at lot of pictures of him. A couple of years later, when I was organizing them, I realized that most of our pictures were of Sonny with our two dogs.

    Did the cute baby/toddler have parents? Or, was he being raised by a pack of dogs?

    After that light-bulb moment, I started getting into the photos and insisting that my husband did, too. We look how we look. Not photographing ourselves is not going to change that.

    Of course, don’t ask me about the terrible family picture we took for our parish’s directory…..

    Good post! Bravo!

    • Karen

      We did have professional ones of the boys done several times. Not as often as we should have, but at least we did it. When I started scrapbooking I realized how bad we were at taking photos. Now on vacations, we try to do at least one family shot with a self-timer.

  6. Okay Karen, we’ve both put it out there on our blogs – reach goal in four months. For me, that is somewhere between 16 and 20 pounds depending on how much damage I can undo between now and 9/1. As you say, very doable in four months. Maybe we should sponsor our own challenge!!! At the very least, let’s encourage each other. I’m in!!

    • Karen

      I had intended a whole post coming next week about the next four months. Haven’t figured out what I will say yet… but I will think about it this weekend. And we will hit what is for most the toughest time of year as we head into Halloween and the holiday season.

  7. I’m still not 100% comfortable having my photo taken, but I do it willingly now. After a friend passed away, another friend remarked that it was especially sad that we didn’t have any photos of her. I can still remember how sad and wistful she sounded, “I’ve almost forgotten her beautiful smile…” I no longer hide from the camera. (Neither do I actively seek out photo ops. LOL) Next month, I’ll be having my first professional photos in 20 years. I’m hoping they’ll give me some tips to help me be more comfortable.

    Whether or not you’re at goal, you’ll certainly be sitting straighter for having given it your BEST effort.

    • Karen

      In the back of my mind I keep thinking that someday I will unveil my real face on here instead of that caricature. Maybe on my blog’s anniversary? But only if I think it is flattering!

  8. In 2000 we did a family reunion and big family portrait. I had lost weight and was feeling very good about myself. I was still bigger than all my sisters, but just the fact hat I felt good showed – actually shined – through.

    So prepare and then relax and enjoy the event!

    • Karen

      Oh I am sure I will hate very minute of it! That whole trying to smile thing. Sigh. But fingers crossed I will get at least one great family photo out of the session.

  9. Whose idea was this photo thing anyway?? Probably the same evil person who invented photo shoppe! It’s like cigarettes and Nicorette 🙂

    • Karen

      So when we did our family photos three years ago, my younger son was around 15 and really did not want to be there. And it was like pulling teeth to get him to smile. I actually had the photographer see if she could take the one decent shot of him and superimpose it on the best one of the rest of us. She could – but it looked bad. Sigh.

  10. woa, Karen!
    give yourself some grace
    let your inner beauty
    be who you are

    what about Little Karen
    ask her what she thinks
    about the family portrait
    precious and innocent LK
    beautiful at any weight
    in any clothes
    with or without makeup
    can she stand in your place
    when the camera clicks?

    • Karen

      You are such a wise woman! I never thought to step outside myself and discomfort in the moment. Remind me of this in 4 months!!

  11. A couple thoughts. 1st I accidentally removed you from my blog roll. Way BAD of me…Sorry you are back now..shwoo.
    I could totally cut and copy this post for my own. It sounds like my life. I know all the tricks to trick the camera…lol Now even at my current size I am doing the same silly tricks. Will I ever feel good in front of a camera? Probably not but now with the digital world I can always crop and with Photoshop I can make a great photo of me. (haven’t learned how yet but I have the program just need a teacher). Oh the possibilities are endless. Love the Low fat cheese got try that smile.

    • Karen

      Funny you say that because in your pictures that you have posted you are always radiant – smiling so broadly, looking so happy. I love that:)

  12. Karen, this could have been me writing this post. This: I have always hated having my picture taken; not liking how I look. Too old, too fat, too tired, too pimply, too frizzy, too something. And this: He told me, “Someday you are going to wish you were in the pictures.”

    Right out of my life.. honestly!!!!!!! I still hate my pic takes. I gained weight very young so I never liked my pic taken & it is hung over to this day going on 53 pretty soon.. sad! I try to get in some pics but sometimes I don’t & get mad at myself. And now, I am having major hormone issues that leave my face a total mess so I am st it again.

    Thx for this Karen!

    • Karen

      Why do we have to have hormone issues at our age!? Seems puberty should have been enough dues paying. Sigh. One good thing about these photos – they will be in the winter which means less humidity to frizz my hair:)

  13. Remember this is a family photo – the emphasis is on your family unit. You all will be beautiful, and the picture will be cherished. Trust me. I even value the fat pictures of me with my Mom from 2 years ago just because the entire family was all present. /sniff

    • Karen

      Oh that hits home for me. When my dad died, his company put together a beautiful dvd of his life. (He was a big wig.) They asked for family pictures and I had one of the two of us with our arms around each other that I loved for the memory and hated because I really looked fat. I wish I had more photos of us. And now that makes me think I need to be diligent over the years to keep up with family shots even when my boys are long gone.

  14. Oh I feel your pain- it makes me sad there are so little photos of me- but as I’ve lost weight I’ve had more and more photos taken- and I don’t cringe when I see them because I realize one thing- people don’t see the imperfections I do.

  15. i’ve always hated getting my picture taken, even as like a three year old, my mom has pictures of me running away from the camera. (seriously.) now though, i avoid the camera because i just don’t look good, all i see is this big huge JAW which doesn’t even exist in real life! (funny how that works.) and you’re right – no one else sees the “flaws” WE see. i guess the trick is to learn to not be so hard on ourselves, but it’s a process for sure 🙂

    • Karen

      It is strange because some things do indeed look different in photos. I noticed once my eyes were always unevenly open in pictures. Weird!

  16. I feel the same way about pictures! Good luck-
    Visiting from the LBS tea party

  17. Dreaded pictures! We are our own worst critic though. I’m sure from everyone else’s perspective, your pictures are beautiful.

  18. Growing up my mom always told me and my sister how to stand to look as skinny as possible. How to stand behind my brothers… how to hold our heads… etc. I’ve constantly thought about pictures since I was a child.

    Don’t psych yourself out for these family pictures… just eat well and exercise leading up to it… and the way you feel about yourself will be seen in the picture!!

  19. Thought provoking post. Thanks. I’ve done so well at avoiding the camera and rebuffing family efforts to include me in pix that I find myself having to prompt them to take pix of me now. We too are heading for a first ever family portrait in late Nov. All the chickies will be here and all the grandkids. A first. And I plan to be at or very near my goal. For the first time ever the stars will be perfectly aligned to get a good picture. I’m excited about it. Hmmm–I hadn’t even thought about outfits. Maybe I’ll get my daughter involved in thinking about it.

    • Karen

      You always look so happy in the pictures you post:) I love your smile. If you are getting the portraits done professionally, I’d suggest you talk to the photographer now and get ideas/suggestions for things that work or to avoid. Or look at some online – which is what I have done already.

  20. Grif (my almost ten year old) listed me as his hero on a school project. He needed a photo. It took me FOREVER to find one! I had being photographed. If the grandparents didn’t take the kids to get pictures done, they would never get pro pictures. Lol.

    I am getting better with liking the camera as the pounds come off.

    • Karen

      I wish I had been better about professional photos of the kids from way back. I think it is easier now with the whole digital thing. And, yes, I do wish I had more family photos taken, regardless of how I looked!

  21. photos are interesting — I always pick the one of me apart — and I think it is time for me to try to let that go 🙂

  22. I don’t mind having my picture taken nowadays with a digital camera making it so easy to delete those photos that look appalling. I hope the photos are everything you want.

    • Karen

      Yes, digitals do make it much easier. One thing we never think to do is stand there and look to see if we got a good shot. I tend to just try to take at least two and hope for the best.

  23. I, too, avoided and have avoided being in pictures. I was always the picture taker. Now that my daughhter in law is a photographer I am ensured of being in pictures, whether I like it or not. She is good at editing!!

    • Karen

      For many years I took most of the photos so was hardly in them while my husband did the videos so was hardly in those. We should have worked harder to trade off now and then. One of the best pictures of me in the past year is one my brother took of me, from the side, sneakily, when I was laughing. Natural is better than posing most of the time.

  24. I think a lot of us have felt self-conscious and avoided being in photos, but sometimes they can be really motivating. And I’m sure your photos will be great!

    • Karen

      Thanks Mary! I think that the younger generations, you included, are more comfortable with all sorts of technology and this includes the idea of photos being used for more than a family album.

  25. Blog award over at my blog for you. come get it!

  26. I usually hate the way I look in photos. Thankfully (?) I’m quite proficient in Photoshop and basically retouch almost every photo I’m in. Minimize the bags/shadows under my eyes, tighten up my jawline, skim a little off my arms and reshape my tummy just a smidge. I honestly can’t look back at photos from the last couple years and know whether I looked like that or I retouched it. And if I did retouch it, I have no idea what it looked like originally.

    I want to stop doing that. I want to be happy and confident enough with how I look that I don’t have to do that anymore. And I will get there!

    We are our own worst critics, though. I think everyone thinks they look far worse in photos than anyone else does.

    • Karen

      I wish I had that! About all I can do is a minimal reduction of red eye. I can’t tell you how often I wished to take out a zit or two!

      • That’s how it started for me – a zit or two – which was great. My friends are always excited when I take photos at get togethers because they know I’ll go through and retouch them before I upload them anywhere. haha. If magazines can do it, why can’t we?

  27. It’s hard for me too not to obsess over photos, now that I’m 44! All I see is turkey neck and undereye bags. That said, I’m sure you’ll be so thankful you have the pic done. Keep your chin up 🙂

  28. I love getting my photo taken, but i hate how i look in them. Something about that doesn’t work. You are clearly inspiring a lot of people. Keep doing what you’re doing! I will definitely be back!


  29. I really hate getting my picture taken. This is a great post Karen. I tend to see all my flaws and nothing good.

  30. Last year when I stopped wanting to have my picture taken, I realized that I had to do something about my weight and self image. I think it would be sad to have no pictures of myself for my kids, grandkids, great grandkids, etc to enjoy when they’re older, after I’ve “moved on” from this life. Great post, it’s just another reminder for me of all the little reasons why I am on this journey!!!

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