I’ve always kind of hated looking at pictures of myself. I’m one of those people who is always surprised by how awful I look, and think “it must be the lighting” while simultaneously trying not to notice that every else in the picture looks exactly like they do all the time. I probably have some unconscious self-perception that I look like Robert Downey Jr, when in reality I look closer to a disheveled Philip Seymour Hoffman. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. (And as an aside, go see Charlie Wilson’s War – it’s quite good and PSH steals the film.)
Today I was chatting with Barry, our head of design, and he has a theory that helps rescue the tattered shreds of my self-esteem. He’s noticed an age-related gap on social networking sites like Facebook in personal photo quality – anyone under 25 looks really good in all of their pictures, while the rest of us look pudgy and a bit stunned. His theory is that it’s because those of us of a certain age grew up with pictures being taken mostly on special occasions like birthdays and holidays, and usually with some warning of “say cheese.” We never really learned how to have our picture properly taken. But with ubiquitous casual digital photography, the young ‘uns grew up being used to taking and seeing many more photos of themselves, and have learned to quickly throw a pose in any situation. They are photo-literate.
So that’s why I look so awful in pictures. It’s because of the digital photo divide. At least, that’s what I’ll keep telling myself.