I hate being photographed. I have always hated being photographed, so living in the time of the camera phone, and trying not to be the miserable Sasquatch in the group photo, has been challenging to say the least.
My mother started it. She had an incredibly beautiful younger sister called Fay who had been a showgirl and model in the Fifties, and Fay loved a photo.
Her daughter, who was also very beautiful, and Miss New Zealand or something at some point, loved a photo too. So at every family gathering, the Kodak would come out and we would be forced to pose endlessly while Fay and Roxy flashed their winning smiles.
Mum, who had normally had more than several white wines, would start hissing in my ear, “Oh they’re so bloody vain, for God’s sake. I hate photos, Fay makes me look bad on purpose because she knows she looks good. Sit up straight, don’t let your cousin show you up!” There were clearly some deeper psychological issues at play which may or may not have had to do with an ex-boyfriend, but Mum was right: no one wants to be photographed next to the professional model.
And isn’t it always the attractive, photogenic people who want to spoil every moment, every meal, every party for their chubbier, older, less attractive friends by announcing, “ Wait, everyone, stop, group selfie!” and pulling out the camera phone?
I largely managed to escape being in photos most of my life, but in an ironic twist of fate I became editor of Vogue and work became a constant series of red carpets.
I would see a media wall and duck behind it, which was not exactly what the PRs had in mind, but I truly find being photographed painful and invasive. I was really in the wrong job if I wanted to avoid that. It was like being a celebrity, without the massive paycheck.
I recall once being told to go down to Martin Place to be photographed for the Sunday paper, standing between supermodels Megan Gale and Jennifer Hawkins for some department store promo, so that was a top day. It was excruciating.
It may be pure vanity, but I have an image in my mind of how I look and it is better for my self-esteem if I just go with that. I hate the way I look in photos.
As I get older, I don’t even like to look in mirrors. I prefer to try to live in the moment, rather than capture myself in the moment, but that does not seem to be the popular mindset. I wince when I see I have been tagged by someone on their social media.
If you voice your displeasure about being in a group photograph, your anxiety is always brushed off by someone very attractive saying, “Nooooo, you look great” when they actually mean, “You, not so much, but I look fabulous.”
I often wonder if I had looked like Aunty Fay, would I have liked being photographed? Or can beautiful people be camera shy? Anyway. Don’t tag me.