Overcoming the Fear of Your Own Smile

He’s got a camera – RUN!!!

Prior to a few months ago, if you ever wanted me to clear out of a room, all you’d need to do is start taking pictures.  Camera’s freaked me out almost as much as spiders did.  I looked just fine in front of the mirror that morning, but ever picture I was in somehow looked worse than Nick Nolte’s mugshot.  I couldn’t understand what the problem was.

I went Zoolander and started trying different stuff.  I did the dumb MySpace kissyface thing, I did the tongue out crazy shots, and sometimes I’d just plain hide my face.  I figured, as long as I look like I’m not trying to look good, then there’s a good chance the photo will come out funny, and people won’t notice how ‘Camera Unfriendly’ I am.

It drove me crazy.

When I was younger, I dated a lot, and I was very fortunate that every girl I was with had these room-stopping smiles.  The world would light up when they smiled, and I’d be hiding behind them instead of getting some ‘prettiness’ points by standing alongside them.

I let this fear of smiling absolutely defeat me and chalked it up to just not being ‘camera friendly.’  That was my excuse and at the time I let it validate myself.  I’d look around and see all these gorgeous photos of people looking so happy with their big smiles and glowing complexions.  Oh well, it was just something I don’t have going for me.

Then, something hit me like a dentists drill.

My problem was my smile.  Subconsciously I never smiled because I always had a problem with a slight gap I have between my front two teeth.  My teeth are straight and fairly white, but I had this slight gap.  In my mind it was the size of an airplane hangar, in all reality it’s not very noticeable unless you were standing very close to me.  Nonetheless, it was a devastating imperfection to my ego, and I gave it so much power it was the main cause of my camera fear.

I validated my problem.  It became my truth.  I’m not taking good photos because I was afraid of my tooth gap.  If I found myself in an unavoidable camera situation, I’d lock my lips, and get a big no-tooth grin on my face.

What was the result?  Well, honestly some pics came out okay, but most of them came out really bad.

Really, really bad.

I looked very unhealthy.  Not vibrant.  Very out of shape and unhappy.  What was happening was that my grin was forcing the skin on my face into funny places, giving me a bad complexion, double chins and a ridiculous look.

My turnaround came this year, about 5 months back.  It was a friend’s wedding, that he had asked me to stand up in.  I was going to be in the spotlight…  with…  lots of pictures.  Oh Christ…

What was I going to do?!?!  Option 1 was drop 30lbs so there was absolutely no loose skin on me – but I knew that probably not going to happen.  Option 2 was to actually start smiling.

I finally had to have an inner discussion, and face my fears.

The reality was both the bride and groom are very close friends of mine, and I didn’t want to be the ugly duckling that ruined their pictures of that special day.  I didn’t want to see a shot of the wedding party, with one idiot looking stupid wearing a sh%t-eating grin with no teeth showing.  I’d stand out more than the married couple would – in a bad way.

And that was my catalyst.  My smile wasn’t for me, it was for them and I no longer wanted to be ‘that’ guy.  I dumped my chips on the table, and I decided to show them.    Show the world my gap, my teeth, just for the happy couple.  The day, the pictures and my gap was for them.  Bring on the experiment; let me at that camera girl.

What was the result?  Take a peak yourself.  Experiment successful. J

So, after 29 years, roughly 18 of them being completely camera shy – I’m now at the point where I’m ready for some paparazzi.

My New Rules of Camera Photos

  1. Run for the god damned hills.
  1. Look slightly past the camera.
    Gets you to turn your head a little, exposing your jawline, making you look a bit skinnier.
  2. Go over the top.
    Smile big, let yourself ‘glow’ a little.
  3. Head out and down, just a tilt.
    Helps define your face, and jawline better.  This is important because of what you’re doing in step 1.
  1. Shoulders up, butt in, stomach sucked.
    Skinny / Muscle up.
  2. Be Happy
    If you don’t want your picture taken – it shows.  Right before the shot make sure you’re convinced this picture is going to look better than a dolled up Charlize Theoron / Brad Pitt magazine shot.