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Photos, and How I Don't Like Them

Yesterday I took profile photos for the website.  I have always hated photos of myself, and have avoided them since I was 12.  A camera was glued to my mom’s hand like one of those people born with two thumbs, and she always found that moment when food was being shoved into someone’s mouth to get her best shots.  I think it’s because she knew we weren’t moving from the table until we were done eating, and like raccoons in a trap, she could do whatever she wanted with us. 

I blamed my mom for years for looking like I just got punched in the stomach mid sneeze while stoned in every photo.  It was later in life when I discovered that, while I believed my face looked like a normal person’s face when I looked in a mirror, any time someone pulled out a camera, the demon of cracked out asthma kids began to mold my face like a deranged 2 year old with his first fist full of Play-Dough.  I’ll add some of my more relevant photos so you can see the phenomenon of which I speak. 

Luckily, my wife, Amber, was around yesterday, and not averse to seeing my photo face; and not opposed to taking 250 shots to get three decent ones.  She has a way about her that makes it much easier for me to look like a normal person, which I assume is a sign of a good marriage.  It was apparent in our wedding photos.  When she was in the photo with me, I was far more likely to take a decent photo.  When she was out of the frame, my dumb face seemed to revert to pre-Amber face.  Of course, she was beautiful in every picture, and always is.  She has that perfect smile that models work for years to perfect, but she refuses to take photos.  I have two of her since our wedding 4 years ago. 

Needless to say, we have very few photos of either of us in the last four years, though I have hundreds of the dogs, chickens, house, etc.  I try to sneak one in every once in a while of her, but she gets pretty upset with me. 

I should also say that if I had to list my most prized possessions in this world, it would be Evi (my dog in the photos) and my truck.  My dog Buckley has to rank up there as well, but I haven’t had him for 12 years.  Evi is getting old.  She’s 13 or 14 now, and while I have photos of her, I don’t have many of me and her together.  Like Amber and me, she really hates having her photo taken.  That’s not being humorous. Every time I try to take a picture of her, she turns her head, or gets up and walks off.  If she’s really not feeling like putting up a fight, she gives me a look that tells me she’d much rather I put the camera up.  You can see that look in the new profile photo.  That’s just another reason I love this dog so much.  We are a lot alike (too much alike Amber says,) and we relate to each other in a way that is unspoken and entirely understood.

Yesterday, the only reason she stuck around for a photo shoot was because she got to sit in the truck, and thought she would get to go for a ride.  You know how there are those things that make it seem like everything outside yourself at that moment fits everything inside?  Putting Evi in my truck and Del McCoury on the radio, pulling the manual choke and waiting for it to reach running temp, then pushing through the gears on the steering column and feeling that you can revive some small part of a time when quality and simplicity were prized over mass production, and trucks were meant to haul things, not to be a substitute for a sports car… that’s when I feel the most like myself.

My aunt created a scrap book of my family from old photos she had over the years.  There is one in particular of my grandad standing next to his truck in a button down white T-shirt smoking a cigarette.  I’ve never seen a more magnetic photo.  It also doesn’t hurt that he looked like a mix between Paul Newman and George Clooney.  I think of this photo a lot, and while I don’t think I’ll be idolized by posterity like I do my grandad, I like to think that, if I can take a photo where I don’t look stoned, maybe my kids will one day think I had a life worth imitating.

I think you get the idea when I talk about Evi and my face. Buckley always wants to be in the middle of it

I think you get the idea when I talk about Evi and my face. Buckley always wants to be in the middle of it

Kory Russell