Taking pictures of the kids when they’re not looking

I take a lot of pictures of the kids, too many, probably, but most of them aren’t anything special. One or both of them is standing there, standing still, posing, or they’re making a funny face or giving each other rabbit ears, or they’re holding up a hand to block the lens, like they’re a movie star and I’m a paparazzo.

That’s why I like this picture of Thing 2, who’s 6.

We were on vacation, and at that moment, his mind was someplace else. He wasn’t posing. He wasn’t being silly. He was just being himself. I noticed the moment, leaned over the rail and took a picture. Once he realized I was there, he posed for a proper picture, but it wasn’t the same. He wasn’t being himself. 

Of the hundreds of pictures I have of him at 6, this crooked, slightly out-of-focus snapshot may be the best.



‘Let’s take a picture of a bikini model wearing a penguin head!’

I saw this ad today in Southwest’s in-flight magazine. It’s for a bar in Las Vegas:

In case you can’t see it, it’s a picture of a woman in a bikini, wearing a penguin head.

I saw this and I thought, that’s weird, and then I thought, this picture didn’t just happen by accident. This was a conscious decision. This was an artistic choice. Someone at the ad agency had to say, “Let’s take a picture of a bikini model wearing a penguin head!”

And the client — a bar where everything is made of ice — had to say, “Yeah, that’s a great idea, because who wouldn’t want to hang out in really cold bar with a bikini model wearing a penguin head?”

And no one had to listen to the guy who said, “Guys, this is weird. We’re trying to convince people to see a bar where everything is made of ice! Shouldn’t we just show the bar?”

And everyone else had to say, “No! Bikini girls are a great way to sell things to guys, and it’s cold, so she’s wearing a penguin head! It’s a strong visual! It makes you stop turning the page and read the ad!”

Which is true. I read the ad then took a picture of it and blogged about it, but only because I think it’s weird, but, then, what do I know about advertising?

Taking pictures of strangers and 5 other things to try in 2012

These aren’t resolutions. These are suggestions, things you might want to try in the coming year:

  • Take pictures of strangers. When we take family trips, I usually take the pictures, meaning I’m not in the pictures. So, in the hopes of creating good karma, whenever I see a family taking a picture in front of some landmark, I ask if they’d like me to take a picture of all of them. Some people think it’s a trick and that I’m going to steal their camera, but most people are glad to have at least one picture of the whole family.
  • Don’t talk politics or religion. Our mamas were right. Unless you know everyone at the table agrees with you, talk about something else. Talking about politics or religion is pointless. You’re not going to convert anyone, and they’re not going to convert you. Besides, everyone who goes to a different church or doesn’t go to church thinks you’re in a cult. Everyone.
  • Vote. I know people who don’t vote. They say they don’t like either candidate, but here’s the thing: One of them is going to win, guaranteed. If you don’t want to vote for somebody, vote against somebody, but vote.
  • Sushi. You should try sushi. You can’t really hate sushi, because you’ve never tried it. You hate the idea of sushi. You think all sushi is raw fish. You’re wrong. Don’t be one of those people who make up their minds based on gut feeling rather than facts.
  • Don’t argue. People disagree, and that’s fine, but don’t waste time debating someone who ignores the obvious. Life’s too short. If someone truly believes “Whitney” is better than “Community,” you’ll never convince them otherwise.
  • Understand that nobody cares what you think. Sometimes, people genuinely care about your opinion, but usually, when people ask your opinion, they’re really saying, “Back me up here.” They’ve made a decision, and they’re looking for validation. Try to avoid commenting by saying something like, “Hey, don’t suck me into this. You’re on your own,” but if that’s not appropriate, try something gentler, like, “Wow. That’s a tough question. I don’t think I can help you with this.”