Editor’s note: Annie Lane is off this week. This column was originally published in 2018.
Dear Annie: I have a problem I do not know what to do about. As I am getting old, I terribly dislike having my picture taken – especially when I am asked to pose. I get beet red from embarrassment and start feeling sick.
Last Sunday, my husband and I attended a religious ceremony for his granddaughter “Bridget” (my lovely step-granddaughter), and afterward my stepdaughter “Wendy” insisted we both pose with Bridget for a photo. I told Wendy, “Please, not me. I really hate having my picture taken.” Wendy kept insisting it was “for family use only” but eventually let it be. Later, while we were all together at a restaurant, I saw her using the camera, and I am pretty sure she took photos of me, as well. Because we were a relatively large group, it would probably have been difficult to avoid me, so I did not say anything. Besides, I love my husband’s children and grandchildren.
On the long drive home, I asked my husband what he thought, and he indicated he could see both sides. I think that as a good hostess, you should not insist on doing something that makes a guest uncomfortable. At the same time, I understand she tries to include me. Wendy takes selfies all the time, so I do not think she can relate to how I feel. What do you think? – Camera-Shy Grandma
Dear Camera-Shy Grandma: I agree that no one should insist on taking someone’s photo against his or her will. The problem is that to some people these days, the phrase “I don’t like having my picture taken” might as well be gibberish. They simply can’t comprehend it. Your stepdaughter seems to be in this camp. Maybe she mistook your request for polite modesty. In any case, spell it out for her. Say, “I really, truly am uncomfortable with having my photo taken, and it causes me anxiety.” Perhaps you could offer to take on the role of photographer so she’s less concerned with needing to document memories.
For what it’s worth, your attitude is refreshing in the age of the selfie stick. May we all live more for the present and less for the pictures.
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