Monthly Archives: October 2012

The Fifteen Second Rule

The camera hates me.

Why? Because the instant a camera points at me, I freeze faster than ice cream laced with liquid nitrogen (think Dippin’ Dots). This is why I love digital cameras and DON’T miss the old days of “point-shoot-develop.” Horrible images can NOW vanish with the click of a button.

You know the kinds of pictures I’m talking about.

  • Where you’re caught taking a huge bite of a messy burger.
  • Or talking, with hand gestures in full force.
  • Or making a horrible face as you describe the sugar, fat and gluten free brownies you hoped would be your diet savior.

History has shown me that my best photos happen when I’m relaxed, thinking “happy thoughts” and then flash a squint-eyed, tooth-filled smile.

On a recent trip to Gettysburg, while trudging the sidewalks in near triple digit temperatures, we stumbled into the photography antique photo studios of Rob Gibson and agreed to have a family photo taken.

Mr. Gibson motioned to his antique 1860’s camera and held up piece of flat, rectangular metal. “You’ll need to stand still for fifteen seconds so the picture doesn’t blur. I’ll take the photo on a tin plate and then apply chemical, which I mix myself, to get the picture to appear.”

Fifteen seconds. My entire family agreed…we could stand still that long.

For a nano-second, I considered my relationship with today’s cameras then shoved aside any worries since my family was pretty excited. The photographer’s wife found me a civil war period gown that would rival the wardrobe of Scarlett O’Hara. I tossed my fears out the window and raced my daughter to the dressing room.

The photographer posed us in a stance reminiscent of another era; my husband dressed as a Union officer, my daughter and I in our gowns.

As I was about to utter, all breathy, “I do declare, I think Rhett Butler entered the party,” The photographer caught my eye and said “Only a little smile.”

I did my best to imitate the Mona Lisa, all the while considering every bad photo from my past where I didn’t go full-front smile.

“Perfect.” He lifted the dark cloth in front of a vintage camera.

Thus began the longest click of a camera I’ve ever stood still for in my entire life.

About three seconds into it, I felt the ‘freeze-frame’ tenseness of my muscles. Like when I’m waiting for my husband to take a picture and he’s adjusting the dials. Wild thoughts raced through my head. How’s my hair? Did I move from the pose? Do clothes from the nineteenth century make me look fat?

Are you wondering how the picture came out?

My inner-angst magnified under the camera’s eye. In other words, take my usual stiff “on-camera” expression of this century and multiply it by the fifteen seconds.

Let’s leave it at this statement…I love owning a picture of what my family would’ve looked like à la 1860. But I’m quite thankful to live in a time when there’s no fifteen second rule for taking pictures.

Below is how I FELT getting my picture taken. You’ll never see how I actually looked. Sorry.

Anybody other camera-phobics out there?

Scarlett O'Hara

How I “felt” during my 1860 photo session.