Wednesday, July 11, 2012

You oughta be in movies. (Or at least professionally shot stills.) After all, you are YOU.

I don’t own a camera.

Oh, I have an old cast off – a pretty good Canon – that my brother-in-law gave me years ago when he upgraded.his And I used it for a bit. But then when I started using  Windows 7, there was some compatibility problem with uploading pictures that I was never able to resolve. So the camera just sits there.

I take an occasional good-enough  (good enough for Pink Slip, any way) picture on my Blackberry.

But mostly I don’t “do” pictures.

Not that I don’t have some regrets about having to rely on memory to revisit vacations past. I have an excellent memory, and can vividly recall people, places, events, and sensations. But I wouldn’t mind having a picture of what I looked like buzzing cross-country with my roommate in Joyce’s Karmann Ghia in 1972. Or hitchhiking around Europe a year later.

So, yes, sometimes I do have picture envy.

But being camera-less means I never have to worry about recording an event. I just have to experience and enjoy it.

Well, there’s good news for travelers who want to cast off the burden of taking your own travel pictures. For the right price, you no longer have to worry about little Maisie’s blurry face or the top of Uncle Joe’s head being lopped off. (Come on, Joe, just bend your knees a bit. There ya go!)

The Wall Street Journal had a recent article on this new trend:

A growing number of hotels and resorts are offering sessions with photographers to chronicle guests' vacations. Travelers want to record memorable moments without ruining them stressing about focus and flash. They want more sophisticated shots to share on social media. And vacationers realize that an iPhone may not catch that perfect surfing or skiing triumph.

And, let’s face it, who doesn’t crave perfect?

Jumby Bay said it came up with the "Together Package" [which includes a two-hour professional photo-shoot] because its employees were getting so many requests from guests to take their pictures.

Nice one!

Why should an employee be bothered to take 5 seconds out of their busy day to show a bit of generosity and courtesy to resort guests when you can turn it into a commercial opportunity?

Disney World sells $350 an hour – prints extra – that includes retouching. I’m all for professional photographers getting work, but I wonder what part of that $350/hour the photographer actually gets.

But $350 an hour is really nothing much:

The Four Seasons Resort Hualalai in Hawaii, for example, charges $800 for an hour. A half-day shoot is $3,200.

Well, what’s an extra $3.2 grand if you’re having fun and want to look really good on Facebook.

But if you really want to go all the way:

Abercrombie & Kent, the luxury-travel outfitter, occasionally has clients who hire photographers for their entire vacations. "They just want to enjoy the destination without anyone [in the family] being responsible and having to worry about missing a shot or a memorable experience," says Rob Veden, manager of private travel at A&K. Mr. Veden says many clients hire a photographer for hours or a day.

What well-to-do narcissist traveler wouldn’t want to have every waking moment of their pricey adventure chronicled? I mean, come on, if you’re paying for this:


You don’t want to settle for:

One of the advantages of going pro is, of course, that most will do all the digital retouching you want.

Remember those high school graduate portraits where everyone’s zits were air-brushed out?  Even though I had a relatively blemish free adolescence, this was the right thing to do. Kids outgrow that acne, and who wants to be perpetually reminded of it?

But the retouching as gone well beyond a bit of photoshop Clearasil or tooth brightening:

Tara Leigh, a photographer in Nevis in the Caribbean, has had some more involved requests. For a recent maternity shoot with a pregnant vacationer, the client said, "I don't want my thighs to be that big," Ms. Leigh recalls. Ms. Leigh, who had worked as a fashion photographer in Toronto, was used to digitally shrinking models. Afterward, the client was thrilled. "She said, 'I look like a supermodel pregnant lady,' " Ms. Leigh says.

I don’t get it.

You want to have pictures for your maternity album, but you don’t want them to make you a) look like you; b) or like you’re pregnant. Because those thighs are one of two things: the thighs you have all the time, or the thighs you’ve gotten with pregnancy. In either case, if you’re self-conscious about them, how about just foregoing any pictures in which you’re in a bathing suit or short-shorts? Why not just some “hey, world, look at me, I’m pregnant” side-view shots while you’re wearing a cover up?

Oh, well, why settle for reality if you can look like a “supermodel pregnant lady.”

Wonder if supermodel supermom will have Leigh airbrush any parts of her baby that don’t look quite right. Are chunky thighs and dimply elbows on an 8-month old going to be okay? Or will they need to get the anorexic carve out, too?

 All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close up. Just make sure you get my good side. And if you want to take off a few of those wrinkles and that jowly thing I sometimes see in the mirror, please do. I’m on vacation. That’s the Eiffel Tower in back of me. I don’t just want to look good, I want to look super.

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