Ready or not for my close-up

A good thing about living in a household with artistic people is that there is always someone around to sing a song, pick up the guitar, give technical assistance with Photoshop or Audacity, draw a picture or diagram, edit a draft.

This morning, before she headed to camp, I asked Grace to take a photograph of me for a post I was writing for my blog on A Sweet Life. I gave her a few suggestions: I wanted a close-up of me; fatigue or frustration would be the emotional message; and I didn’t want my facial expression to convey the message — it had to be posture or color or something else.

We sat in the kitchen at the table, she across from me. She stage-directed me. “Use two hands.” Then, “Try one hand.” Or, “Too much hair.” She’d look at the camera display screen. “Smile a little so your face is smoother, but not so much that you’re smiling.” “One more time, and sit forward.”

She picked one. Wow, it looked so stark and real. I could see a ligament in my neck where it meets the collarbone and the nasolabial fold that improves when I’m smiling. But I wasn’t smiling. Did I really want to look this plain? Couldn’t I get this junior artist to put a visual spin on it?

“Could we try Toon Camera?” I asked.

We tried again, same poses but this time with the effect that smooths out detail so that reality is lighter, more colorful. Grace added a juice box to one take because the post on A Sweet Life, called “The Weakness in Me” (read it here), is about a hypoglycemic episode, which requires a form of sugar to counteract it, and juice is my go-to sugar.

The Toon Camera images are the ones you see here, above and below, and I like them.

To illustrate “The Weakness in Me,” however, I chose the plainer, unfiltered and un-photoshopped image of me. You can’t illustrate the truth, after all, with a cartoon.


Toon Camera images by Grace Guterman.

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