Posted in Lessons by The Books Production Team on December 5, 2008


typewriter2          If I were to change one thing about my family from back when I was growing up, I think it would be this: I would make us a more picture-friendly bunch.  You see, it’s not as if the Webb family is a completely non-photogenic clan of people – my parents are fairly well-constructed folks for being in their early 50s, and I don’t think I’m likely to break your camera lens if you take a picture of me (in either the metaphorical sense, or in the literal Alec Baldwin or Kenny Rogers sense) – we just don’t take any pictures.  How bad is it?  Well, believe it or not, there’s a seven year gap between my eighth and fifteenth birthdays where there’s not a single picture of me in a family photo-album.  In fact, I have no idea what I looked like when I was thirteen, and therefore just sort of assume that I looked like a brown-haired version of Ron Weasley from the first Harry Potter movie – because that’s what most thirteen-year-olds look like.

          Luckily, genetic evidence suggests that this problem is not insurmountable.  Somehow, my little sister has overcome our family’s inability to take photographs – in fact, today is my niece’s second birthday, and there are already more pictures of her from her first two years on this planet than there are of my entire twenty-eight – but for some reason I can’t seem to climb the hurdle.  You see, almost every time I get ready to go anywhere, I look at the camera on my desk, and I think about taking it with me…but I never seem to get around to actually bringing it.  The problem is that I never know what to do with the damn thing.  Do I put it in my front pocket?  Do I put it in my back?  I don’t carry a purse, so do I just kind of carry it around and leave it sitting on the bar table or one of my friend’s counters?  And if I do bring the camera, I always feel awkward (quite honestly, what I want to say here is that I feel “a little gay” – not in the homophobic sense, but in the sense that “this seems counterintuitive to my Midwestern hillbilly orthodox masculinity”).  These are the tremendously difficult camera questions with which I struggle.

          Yet, I don’t want it to be this way, because every time I do take a look at one of the rare pictures from my past, it always makes me extremely happy – even if the moment in which the picture was taken was actually quite sad.  And, this is doubly the case with photographs from college.  As has been touched upon in other lessons from the Dr. Wizard canon (which updates way more regularly than Dr. Wizard’s Canon-Minolta), we live in a world that highly romanticizes the undergraduate experience, and, consequently, as we age and move further away from our own collegiate days, we tend to do the same.  But it is much easier to feed this romanticization of the past with photographs.

          Twenty years from now, when I look back on my life in 2008, thanks to my tendency to write prolifically, I’ll have a very good idea of what it was that I was like, and what it was that I liked (this project alone, in addition to serving as a hopefully valuable tool for undergraduates, has over the course of the last four months become a de facto patchwork biography of my own life and a testament to all of the pop culture things that I love), but I won’t have a very good idea of what I looked like.  Unfortunately, because we are such visual creatures, I am certain to feel this absence strongly.  Then again, all this reflection does is lead me to an obvious answer – I should surmount my hesitancy and just take my camera with me when I go places that are unusual, or important (like Europe, or Christmas dinner).

          Will I do this?  I don’t know.  But like the two-pack-a-day-smoker who grounds his son for a week after catching him lighting up, I’ll use the old logic of “do as I say, not as I do” (which will, incidentally, be more or less employed again on Lesson #49: Them Smokers Will Test Ya).  So, today’s lesson is this: Don’t Be Like Dr. Wizard.  Bring your camera with you and use it to take pictures.  In the long run, it’s so much easier than writing a thousand words (even if you are Mavis Beacon).


8 Responses

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  1. The Uncle Jesse Fan Club said, on December 5, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    Where’d all the pictures go?

  2. drwizard said, on December 5, 2008 at 10:18 pm

    Seriously. Just looking at the post without the visual aids is eating me alive. I had no idea how dependent I had become upon the pictures to help tell the story each post. But I have made an artistic choice, and I will back it up with integrity. Shit.

  3. Carlin said, on December 6, 2008 at 12:02 am

    I’m sure I can find a pic of you suffering through the Cleavland marathon if you’d like?

  4. LU said, on December 6, 2008 at 5:09 am

    Yet another piece of great advice from the wonderful Wizard. I lovelovelove my pictures from college. It’s great to go back, look at all the crazy pictures I have from undergrad, and remember what a nut I was. Some of the pictures, however, are a bit embarrassing. There’s nothing like trying to explain to your two year old (and husband) why you’re kissing some random dude in a group photo. But, if undergrads take the advice in lesson 15 to heart, they might avoid some of those awkward moments in the years that follow college.

  5. Laura said, on December 7, 2008 at 12:37 am

    Although, not forget that being that person who takes 5,000 pictures every time they step out the door is extreeeeemmmely annoying. Sometimes I feel like people place taking pictures of their event over experiencing the actually event.

  6. CS said, on December 8, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    I’ve said it before, but that pic from the RFT article is as good a shot as I’ve seen (and, dear readers, I have the advantage of seeing the Wiz in person on a weekly basis. And I catch myself gazing from time to time…).

  7. MS said, on December 19, 2008 at 4:56 am

    I got to use the Wiz’s camera, uh, er, that sounds a bit dirty. Be on the lookout for my kickin’ press pick.

  8. JJ said, on January 15, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    Do you have a camera phone?

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