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Upon her return from a band trip to Chicago, Daughter was showing me the photos she took of the scenery and her friends. In many of the friend photos, the kids have purposely made silly faces. Daughter informed me that this was The Face Game, a good way to relieve boredom if a digital camera is handy.

This led to a family discussion about how photography has changed since Hubby and I were kids. It wasn’t all that long ago that cameras came with film that had to be taken to a photo shop to be developed. With the physical limitations of film (only so many pictures per roll, cost of developing), people didn’t waste too many shots posing in silly ways. We wanted to look good in pictures, so we posed properly, which naturally made us look unnatural, stiff, goofy, non-photogenic. Hubby and I both are of the mind that we don’t look good in pictures and are thus reticent to be in them.

If you go back even farther in time to examine photos from the late 1800s, early 1900s, people in photos rarely smiled and most portraits were taken in formal studios. There weren’t any throw-away snapshots because everyday people didn’t own cameras. The cameras themselves were big box affairs with shutters that stayed open longer than today’s typical cameras. The benefit of this was that these cameras captured an amazing amount of detail, but it also meant that people had to hold perfectly still while having their picture taken because the slightest movement would blur the image.

With the shift to digital photography, the nature of the form has changed considerably. People are much freer to experiment, to play, to push the technology without being concerned with the results. An ucky photo can simply be deleted, no prob. Digital cameras allow for The Face Game. They also make it easy for people to take pictures of themselves (with the typical single shoulder forward self-portrait that will become the signature of our age).

From personal experience, when you have the opportunity to snap pics of yourself without an audience, you gain a certain comfort with the camera and with posing to best effect. I never had a chance to do this with film cameras as a kid. It goes a long way toward alleviating that crushing feeling of not being photogenic, especially when the purpose is to look as ridiculous as possible. (Really, I meant to look that way!)

Me, playing The Face Game, looking as ridiculous as possible

Me, playing The Face Game, looking as ridiculous as possible