Gaby Soutar: No photos please, Generation X are rubbish at posing

I’m the least photogenic person around

Pic: adobe
Pic: adobe

I’ve had a new byline picture taken.

The process was slightly traumatic. In common with many people, I’m not a fan of being photographed.

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My default expression is to gurn like Les Dawson, or look irritated when someone - my husband, so slow - is taking an eternity to press the shutter button. I don’t want to say cheese. Instead, I just want to ooze away, like an over ripe Morangie Brie.

Still, I obediently followed our excellent staff photographer to Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens - ‘where the light is better’.

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I put a hand in one pocket, then the other on my hip, then swapped. Hey, macarena, ay!

“Try clasping your hands together,” she said, and I adopted that reverend-like stance.

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“Actually, no, definitely don’t do that,” was the verdict. Certainly, my child.

I thought about embarrassing myself by winking, crouching as if I was in a boy band and we were shooting a Smash Hits centrefold, or doing a Bargain Hunt-style kick, then changed my mind.

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I stared into the blank void of a lens and wondered if it was too late to go home and swap my outfit.

We’d already decided against the journalist classic - an authoritative pose with crossed arms, which is also beloved by chefs - since, as the picture editor said; ‘this isn’t a business column, is it?’.

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If it is, I did not get the memo. To me, the FTSE 100 is similar to a centipede but with fewer legs.

Unfortunately it seems that casual is the hardest pose to strike.

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The photographer crouched down beside a bush, so they could take their picture from ground level, and I wondered how nostrilly and chinny this shot would actually look. Maybe you’ll be able to see my brain - a tiny grey Tic Tac, suspended in space.

My late dad was a GP, and whenever he used to examine childrens’ ears, he’d tell them, to their total delight and astonishment, that there was a rabbit living there. Maybe our photographer would see that cranium-dwelling bunny, and capture Bright Eyes for posterity.

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My hair, which I’d straightened and styled for the occasion, went frizzy in the haar, though the layers of thick make-up, like the toffee on an apple, stuck firm. When I got home later, I had to secure my head in a vice and slough the foundation off with a Black & Decker Orbital Sander.

The passers-by were all goggling. I didn’t know where to look, and couldn’t extinguish the fear in my eyes.

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It does seem that Generation X is probably the last to be awkward in front of the camera.

Anyone younger than me knows exactly what to do - a dip of the chin, pout and exhale, right leg forward, and one of those ring lights for selfies.

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I am slightly jealous of those generations, as I only have about five awkward photographs of myself in my teens and twenties and, without them, I don’t really remember what I looked like at all. In contrast, they’ll have thousands to reference, and weep over, when the jowls eventually drop.

We were also the last lot to scoff at vanity and had to pretend we didn’t care what we looked like. We listened to grunge, didn’t brush our hair and appeared to have applied our cosmetics in the dark.

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These days, nobody ever says, ‘if they were chocolate, they’d eat themselves’. It’s now a null and void insult.

Self love and body positivity are seen as good things, as they absolutely should be.

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However, even if I was a Ritter Sport, I probably wouldn’t take a bite. I’d think it might have expired and I’d worry about food poisoning.

I do have a bit of awareness that a camera rarely captures someone’s essence. I have some highly attractive friends who look like the peat bog man or a freshly regurgitated owl pellet when you take a photograph of them.

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They’re not really like that in person. Their beauty just can’t be static, and it has to be seen from all angles. They have charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent in three dimensions.

At least I’ll never be as self-conscious as some of my relatives.

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I had a great aunt who would give her hair extra volume by sketching additional strands on top of black and white portraits.

Then there was my lovely granny, who was always very bonnie, and lived well into her Nineties.

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However, once she was past the middle age mark, her take on self-deprecating crafting involved using a pair of nail scissors to neatly clip her head out of every photograph that she would appear in. It was like the execution of Mary Queen of Scots, but in the front room of her Glasgow flat.

Her album was full of pictures in which family and friends were smiling at the camera, and she was decapitated, with a coupon-shaped bubble that was the same colour as the backing page. I assume that she chucked all the snipped heads, like pruned rose blooms, into the bin.

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Of course, you can’t really do that when you work for a newspaper. It’d take hours for me to chop my face out of thousands of copies of Scotland on Sunday. I’d create a morbid confetti of mini mes.

Anyway now that I’ve seen the finished picture, pass me the scissors.

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