If I had a dollar for every time someone said to me, "I hate having my picture taken," I could take an extra week's vacation each year. As a portrait photographer I strive to calm subjects' anxieties. Nervousness about having one's photograph taken is not a new worry. I was paging through a book of Ogden Nash poems recently and ran across this poem written in the 1930s.
Waiting for the Birdie by Ogden Nash
Some hate broccoli, some hate bacon, I hate having my picture taken. How can your family claim to love you And then demand a picture of you? The electric chair is a comfortless chair, But I know an equally comfortless pair; One is the dentist’s, my good sirs, And the other is the photographer’s. Oh, the fly in all domestic ointments Is affectionate people who make appointments To have your teeth filled left and right. Or you face reproduced in black and white. You open the door and you enter the studio, And you feel less cheerio than nudio. The hard light shines like seventy suns, And you know your features are foolish ones. The photographer says, Natural, please, And you cross your knees and uncross your knees. Like a duke in a high society chronicle The camera glares at you through its monocle And you feel ashamed of your best attire, Your nose itches, your palms perspire, Your muscles stiffen, and all the while You smile and smile and smile and smile. It’s over; you weakly grope for the door; It’s not; the photographer wants one more. And if this experience you survive, Wait, just wait till the proofs arrive. You look like a drawing by Thurber or Bab, Or a gangster stretched on a marble slab. And all your dear ones, including your wife, Say There he is, that’s him to the life! Some hate broccoli, some hate bacon, But I hate having my picture taken.