How Not to Take a Picture of Your Wife

(especially when she asked nicely, and you’re not doing shit)

I occasionally ask my husband to take my picture like when I've just given birth to our first child, or I just got my haircut. It’s a rare request and here’s why. He acts like a big baby about it and doesn’t do a very good job.

So, when there is an urgent need to document a moment and a random stranger isn’t available, I take a deep breath, quickly lower my expectations, and say, “Hey honey, can you take a picture with my phone?”

A perfectly fine and nice way to ask, right? I think so but...

I know what’s going to happen next. First, I get an eye roll. Next, he puts his hand out like I’m giving him a dirty diaper. And then, I have .2 seconds to get ready. Sometimes, he’s not even looking at me or the camera. I know going in that he only has the energy to take one. It’s like it’s 1987 and we must conserve film to avoid another trip to Rite-Aid in the Taurus. So, before he halfheartedly clicks, I make a little wish to the universe that it turns out okay. It never does. Let me show you.

Below is the picture he took last Saturday of me and my lovely friend and neighbor, Jen. At least, I’m pretty sure it’s Jen. It’s hard to tell because it’s WAY too dark. No filter is going to fix this. Our other neighbor’s house looks great though.

Here’s another example. Now, I should have set this up better and just swiveled around on the stool. I blame both Brian and sleep deprivation for missing this chance to document baby Linc and I bonding over our love of stripes.

Aw, here’s one with me and my girls after hiking up a large-ish hill to see this waterfall. It’d be an okay picture except my eyes are closed. Of course, that’s not technically his fault either. But can anyone explain why he is only capable of shooting a single picture?! Asking for a tap, tap, tap is apparently too, too, too much.

Here’s one of me and my friend Liz getting ready to run a half marathon. I specifically asked him to get the start line in the background. Check. But in the excitement, I apparently forgot to ask for her lower jaw, as well.  She has a chin but I guess you’ll just have to take my word for it. 

An actual photographer told me once to be careful not to indiscriminately cut off limbs in pictures. Subconsciously, it makes people uncomfortable. I see his point. This picture makes me squeamish, but that might be because I look like a hard-boiled egg. 
 
Let's move on.

Here’s a recent shot of the extended family heading out for a wedding. It’s not often that we’re all together in metallics. Let me be clear about my issue with this picture. Yes, my daughter Baya was distracted by something on TV. Annoying but no problem. Kids are kids, and they’re notoriously difficult to pin down for posed pictures. I have 7,256 pictures on my phone that prove that point. 

No, my issue with this picture is that a large sea creature appears to be either sucking my brains or telling me a secret. Either way, I don't like it.

Again, I take responsibility for not anticipating this problem with the background in advance. However, a little input from his vantage point would have been welcomed. He doesn't robotically execute any of the rest of my commands so, why just this?
 
Brian didn't actually take this last example. (I’d already cropped the fuck out of the similar ones on my camera.) However, they're worth including because they illustrate a common problem: WAY too much background.

My otherwise darling brother-in-law, Mike, took these pictures of my sisters and me after lunch (and a lot of rose) at their house. Mike is very smart and has an actual Ph.D.-- just obviously not in photographic composition.

He took a couple pictures and proudly handed the phone back. Upon getting clear and immediate feedback about the amount of brick wall, he did something interesting though. He smiled and took the camera back to try again. He then shot 22 more identically bad pictures, but I appreciated the effort. He’s Canadian.

In the hopes of getting a different reaction to my most recent request, I tried a different tactic. I told Brian that the picture was for his mom. I was thinking he'd see the obvious value in having two women he cares about happy at the same time. No such luck. The words he said back were deeply concerning. “No need. I send her pictures of the kids all the time.”

So, Lynda. Mrs. Camarote. I’m sorry. I didn’t realize that was happening. If you don’t mind, please delete everything he’s sent you over the years. I'll forward a new batch straight away. Forget whether they’re too dark, too far away, or oddly cropped, you shouldn’t be receiving any pictures that aren't prescreened for cuteness and cleanliness. If any made you think the carpet needing vacuuming, I assure you that’s not the case. It’s an optical illusion created by your son’s crappy photography.
 

How to Love Your Job Again

You want to love your job but you just don’t. On top of that, you can’t quit—at least right now. Perhaps your job was better when you first started and the environment has changed. Or maybe you’ve changed and you’re now struggling to get motivated to do the same work. Maybe you got a new boss who you’re not that crazy about. Whatever the circumstance, not loving your job AND not feeling able to quit can leave you feeling really stuck.

This easy-to-follow worksheet was designed to help you better your immediate circumstances while keeping your eye on your long-term vision and dreams. By completing these simple lists and questions, you will identify what you like about your current job, what you don’t like, and what you can reasonably change. Do this with the intention of:

  • Finding out more about yourself and what you’re looking for an
  • Identifying some practical ways to bring more of those work experiences into your current role

what are you talking about?

No, really. It's an honest question. What are you talking about?

I came across The Good Men Project during a typical click to click to click browsing session. I was curious to learn what was meant by "good men" and why the hell this too had to have the "project" bit at the end. (I think PMI's relentless marketing is to blame for the runaway use of this term for anything and everything people want to say, do, or explore on the Internet. Time for a universal find and replace!)

Anyway, I got sucked in and spent a good hour or so clicking around trying to understand what good men are talking about. Scanning the site, I saw stuff on social and family issues, professional challenges, and personal values. This are thoughts on how to raise good children, achieve work/life balance, and improve relationships.

I was surprised. I guess not surprised that men were talking about these things (after all there are men's opinions all over the place) but previously unaware that they were swapping views within a circle of other men.

Prior to coming across this site, I'd imagined that most man-to-man conversations (outside of work or direct father to son type stuff) were focused on sports, maybe a little politics, and on the one slow sports day each year, you might get a a calendar review that went something like, "I went to X, then ate Y, then sat in traffic back to X."

To my knowledge, no such site exists for women. In fact, women have been trying to un-have the conversation about what makes a "good woman" for more than 50 years now.

It made me wonder what people are talking about within their circles of same-ness.  For me? I have a pretty good handle on running conversations among federal management consultants (procurement is broken), working moms (there's never enough time), and half-assed vegans (green smoothies count, right?)

Reflecting on what people are talking about with others they view most similar to them (in life stage, circumstance, interests, race, religion, and so on) provides a lot of insights into their worries and priorities. Understanding these ongoing conversations is important-- not so that we can parachute in to solve them-- but so that we can better understand each other, be more empathetic, and more helpful when the opportunity presents itself.

It's sometimes difficult to answer the question-- what's on your mind? To get to the same place we might instead ask, what are you talking about?