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Philip Maramba: Get shots from the good side

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Say cheese!

As the graduation months wind down and summertime ramps up, picture-taking season is getting into full swing.

In an age where everyone's a photographer thanks to the inexpensiveness of digital media, it's hard not to get your picture taken.

It doesn't cost much, so why leave memories to your memory when you can have it in pixels?

Back when every click of your camera was an actual shutter mechanism releasing and every exposure cost a few pennies, photos had to count for something, so you saved them for occasions - birthdays, recitals, weddings and the like.

That might explain why my mom's snapshots from that time were few and far between. Efforts to take candid images of her in everyday life were met with scowls and protests - and you can see them in the pictures. So it was rare indeed to just have a pleasant shot of her in, say, her pajamas after Saturday morning breakfast with her hair up and her face unmade.

It may not have been a special occasion to her, but a moment like everyone being home from college was something I wanted to capture, whether or not she was "ready" for a photo.

Twenty years down the line, I have the same problem with my wife, Kris. If I want to take a picture of our children and she's in a T-shirt and warm-ups, she will order me to keep her out of the frame.

At some point I began applying sentiment and guilt to loosen her up: "One day, your children will want to see pictures of you and them when you were young and they won't have any."

She began lightening up.

I, on the other hand, think I feign a lack of concern about how I look, but I know I care.

We had some impromptu promotional shots taken for a newspaper house ad and I showed them to Kris. She didn't like my mug shot because she said I looked like I was laughing about breaking wind. I didn't like it because my clothes were rumpled and I had stubble on my chin.

My colleagues thought it captured my personality, so I relented and chose to not have a re-shoot. (I still think I should do it, if not for my own sake then to make my wife happy.)

Now my press card from when I started at the paper has a regrettable image of me taken after I'd gone a few weeks without shaving.

(I had a bad case of poison ivy on my face that had healed to the point where I was ready to finally ditch the facial hair.)

If I'd only gone ahead and done it the morning I'd thought of it instead of planning for the next day, I wouldn't still have a press card with the visage of a dorky Asian pirate with horn rim glasses and a goatee.

The image gracing today's column was taken almost 10 years ago. Make that 10 years and 20 pounds ago. If I can't be toned and svelte in real life, at least I can be in print.

It's probably time for a new picture, but I'd like to wait until I'm ready.

Contact writer Philip Maramba at or 304-348-1248.


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