A little more than a year ago, the good pictures from my brother’s wedding began to surface on the web. I say “good” pictures because the “official” wedding pictures didn’t turn out great, but fortunately there were plenty of amateurs snapping away throughout the evening who managed to take some superb shots.
I was excited to see these photos for a lot of reasons, but I also had a personal one: I had wanted a decent photo of myself playing piano–an “action shot,” if you will–to post on the website for months. Sarah, a bridesmaid, had taken some particularly exceptional pictures throughout the night which she edited herself and posted online. I clicked through them hoping to find a good one of my sister Courtney and me performing “All You Need is Love” that I could use. I envisioned a black-and-white snapshot of the two of us smiling dreamily while I casually yet gracefully glided about the keys. It would capture the joy and exuberance of the moment that we had so effortlessly communicated through the music. One look at it and the melody would drift into the background of your mind.
In reality, here’s the best one Sarah was able to get:
This is quite an emotional moment, and judging from the look on Courtney’s face as she belts her very soul through the lens of the camera, it’s not hard to believe. What is hard to believe is that I’m actually quite happy in this picture too. More than happy. My heart is actually bursting with rapturous joy for my brother and sister-in-law at this moment in time. I just for some reason happen to look like I’m heatedly writing a manifesto for the eradication of love and peace. The only possible explanation I have for my Calvin-ish glower is that we experienced a slight glitch at the start of the piece, but we recovered from it easily like the professionals we are and I didn’t have to concentrate too hard to get past it. I dunno. It could also be that I just need more fiber in my diet.
I had hoped this was an isolated incident, but unfortunately, I seem to have a habit of looking emotionally unstable when I’m playing. Here I am at another wedding just six months ago:
This one is marginally better. At least I don’t look pissed off. But in many ways, it’s even more of a shame because I had the makings of an excellent photo stacked in my favor. I was playing at an art gallery on an extraordinary looking grand piano. The bride, being a photographer herself, hired another professional for her wedding. And best of all, my sister wasn’t juxtaposed next to me making me look worse by comparison. Still, it wasn’t enough. I look a mixture of three parts sleepy to two parts clinically depressed.
The hardest part for me is that in actuality I know I’m not who these photos say I am. Playing piano is one of my favorite things in the world. So is showing off. So why don’t I look like I’m having the time of my life when I’m doing it?
That’s difficult to answer. All I know is that it has been a habit of mine for quite some time. When I was prepping for my senior recital in high school, my teacher would hold a mirror just above my hands while I played so I could see the look on my face while I was playing. I would frown during difficult passages or just look vacant if it was something I knew well enough to be playing on auto-pilot. It made me self-conscious enough to get through the recital looking like a half-way normal human being, but I seem to have just let myself go in the years since then. Although…
Doesn’t everyone have a face they make when they’re concentrating? Who could forget Michael Jordan’s “Slam-Dunk” face?
And what about–this may be a new one for some of you–Claire’s “Game Face?”
I guess the fact that we all do it makes me feel a little better. Anyway, I know I’m supposed to write for the edification of others in this blog instead of whining about how much I hate pictures of me, so lemme get down to it: remember to smile, boys and girls. Life ain’t so bad. And to prove it, I’m going to leave you with the only decent photo I have of myself playing the piano.