Metro-East Living

Smile, it’s time for a new photo

Terry Mackin’s First Communion photo, circa 1966.
Terry Mackin’s First Communion photo, circa 1966. Provided

Every few years, I get a note that it’s time for a new photo to go with my column.

The newspaper implements a new design. That means new, updated photos for columnists. I’d just as soon they keep using the old photo. Not that I like my old photo much. But I get used to seeing it after a few years.

My friends at the newspaper know I’m never in a hurry to get my new picture taken. I’ll wait until the last minute. Or be a day or week late.

I’m OK with getting new photos but I’m more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it.

I’m not from the Facebook Generation. You know them. In an instant, they pose glamorously. Hands on hips. Cute smile. Posted. Every moment is their Kodak Moment.

(Kodak Moment. Wow. Remember when?)

We didn’t take many photos growing up. Our Kodak Moments were formal dances, holidays, maybe a birthday. That’s a good thing. We got away with a lot of fun and mischief because there were no photos around. No photos; no proof.

Photo Day at school was a fun day, overall. We’d line up alphabetically. Girls first. Girls shined on Photo Day. New dress and hair perfect, with a red bow. Boys were boys on Photo Day. Chocolate milk stain on a brand new shirt.

One by one, we’d sit on the big stool. All the other boys made bathroom noises and monster faces to make me look as goofy as possible. It worked.

The best thing about Photo Day was we didn’t have to wear school uniforms. We visited Robert Hall’s over the weekend. Bought a paisley, oxford shirt with a cool white dickie underneath. Or a snazzy argyle sweater vest. Some guys wore a white shirt and tie. We made fun of them until Sister Theodoretta threatened us with her dreaded ear-pull across the room.

Year after year, I sat on the big stool and ignored the requests of the photographer or his sidekick to say “cheese” or “smile like a movie star.”

Let’s just get it over with, OK ?

Some years, the photographer handed me a small black pocket comb from a jar of blue antiseptic. He asked me to comb my curly, red nest of hair. No way.

A few weeks later, Mom would open the large envelope of my school photos and say, “One of these years, you’ll smile. I just know it.”

Then she’d laugh.

I’d laugh, too.

“Just like that,” she’d say.

Once, while going through old high school yearbooks, a friend and former classmate said to me, “You always look like you have a stomach ache or something.”

I laughed out loud.

Laughed like I should have laughed in the photo, right?

Unmemorable photos have followed me in life. Schools. Sports. Driver’s licenses. Work ID cards. Yes, newspaper columns. There are no favorite poses, or bad sides or good sides. Just take the photo, will you?

A common reaction to my mug shots from friends, family?

“Hmmm. Did you feel OK that day?”

And I laugh.

Like I should have laughed when the photo was taken.

I showed up at the paper last Monday morning to get my picture taken. Of course, I was a week late.

I haven’t seen the photo that was chosen. I trust the editors chose the best photo of the bunch. I’m sure all my photos looked pretty much the same.

Look closely. Yep. You’re right. It looks like I have a stomach ache, doesn’t it?