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A Good Self “Image”

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  By Betty Killebrew

We all know the camera doesn’t lie, so a good picture of me might not be possible; but I recently was asked for a picture for the website ( where I began posting articles earlier this year. I resisted, but the editor insisted; so I started looking through hundreds of unorganized pictures that are in my computer. Among those hundreds of pictures of family members, I found only a couple that had me in them. One, quite old, was in a format for which I no longer have a photo processing program.

I finally found a picture only a couple of years old that I could use. In the picture, I was nearly full length, standing alongside one of my grandsons. I imported the picture to a processing program and cropped the picture to show only my face. Okay—there I was with my head severely tilted. I used the “straighten picture” tool to align it on a slight slant to the left. Oops. Wrong direction. I canceled that and aligned it with a slight slant to the right. That was better but now so much of the picture was gone that I couldn’t crop it in the rectangle I needed without picking up pure white space.

I killed the whole process and went back to the original picture. This time I tilted first, then cropped. Better, but there was still a white place in the top that had to be included in the crop. I went to “paint” to try to fill in the background but I couldn’t make it look real. I left it as a minimal, incomplete correction and moved on.

Now I’m looking right at one of my major defects. A life-long thyroid disorder has left me with no pigment in a triangular area of my neck. Add that to my aging sags and wrinkles in the area and it was pretty bad. (How I wished the camera person had been shorter so I would have been looking down for that photo!) I tried a scratch remover on the neck area and my neck looked firmer—and totally unreal. I cancelled that and gave up on my too-visible neck.

My hair looked really bad. It was either a trick of the light or a bad dye job. The left side of the photo showed mostly grey hair. On the right it looked brown. Both sides, seen at once, looked a little weird. I tried painting some color in the gray. What was previously hair became a brown blob the color of a milk-chocolate bar. Cancel-Cancel-Cancel.

So I played around with contrast and brightness and eventually figured out a combination that made the grey look darker. Finally I was done. It wasn’t a good picture, but it was a picture. I sent it to the website owner. He said it would do for now but that it was “a little blurry.”

I promised to get another picture–and I did. A professional newspaper photographer snapped one of me just today. My hair looks okay in this picture but when did my left eye start drooping that way? And does my expression look a little smug?

I look from the old picture to the new one. At least in the one with my head back, I am obviously quite happy, because, as you may recall, in the original picture I was standing beside my wonderful grandchild. I guess I’ll stick with that one. I’m getting used to it—and I’m glad it’s blurry.

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