I turn my camera off

gaga flipping off cameraI used to roll my eyes at the women who would giggle and scream and put their hands in front of their faces whenever anyone brought out a camera at any type of gathering.  That was before yesterday when I fell on my FACE on my way to a get-together.  I arrived scraped, bruised, and swollen with no desire to have my busted up face be in any pictures of the day.  After politely declining (twice!) to get in a picture, I finally had to firmly say to my friend, “Seriously. No. Please don’t make me ask it again.”  It was uncomfortable for everyone and it led me to wonder, what is the etiquette for picture-taking at parties and gatherings?

In my embarrassment and frustration yesterday, I decided that the etiquette should be that anyone who wants to be the “photographer” should have to individually ask everyone if they are ok being in pictures.  When I was discussing it with Mr. Furious, he disagreed, saying that if you go to an event like that there is an understanding that there is going to be at least one person who wants to be the historian of the event.  I know that, but truth be told, I was wary of going to this event in the first place because I didn’t want my picture taken and I wanted to avoid the type of encounter I had with my friend.  For some people this is a really foreign feeling, they don’t know what it’s like to not like the way you look and to have picture-taking factor into a decision about whether or not they would attend an event.  For the rest of us, it’s all too familiar, and I’m sure there are many of us who have feigned illness or a death in the family to avoid being at an event where people would be taking pictures.

So why is there no set etiquette for this?  A quick google search and I couldn’t find anything that was not related to wedding photography.  So, maybe asking each person individually if they want their picture taken is impractical.  I think ultimately, declining politely – versus bringing everyone’s attention to oneself with antics about avoiding a picture is appropriate.  As is accepting immediately if someone says they don’t want their picture taken.  Chances are, this person does not want to get into all the reasons why they would prefer not to have a picture.  So, as a plea for those of us who are photo-phobic, just let us be!

2 replies on “I turn my camera off”

I dunno. My in-laws are Japanese, so I have no choice. I really, really hate being photographed, but cannot avoid photos, so I try to find a spot where I am somewhat hidden. In printed pictures I put post it circles over my face.

Yes, the stereotype is true for my husband’s family, friends, and community.

Were you at a wedding or big social event, Luci? If so I would have to side with your spouse.

In your specific case you already had reservations about attending the event, were bruised and sore, then had to argue with the photographer/friend. A trifecta of social awkwardness. You have my sympathies.

It was just a baby shower with close friends, who I had hoped would be a little more understanding.
At my sister’s wedding this summer, I sucked it up even though it was tough because I’m a little more accepting of the social norm of picture-taking in that case. Plus I was maid of honor so there was no avoiding it.

I think the cultural piece would be tough to deal with because, much like my friend, the desire to not be in a ton of pictures may just not be something that makes any sense. You have my sympathies too!

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