“Can I hold the bus?”
The privilege of holding the bus having gone to the fastest requestor, the rest gaggle up quite quickly, posing against one of the bleak concrete walls of the Canadian War Museum. Considering that it’s for a picture on behalf of someone they don’t know at all—me—and a cause they have no reason at all to care about—my campaign for an appointment to the Senate (hence the bus)—these munchkins look to be good sports.
As I crouch down for the more interesting shot, I wonder exactly when teenagers started looking like munchkins to me, and whether I will be able to get back up without grunting.
As the phone cameras finish their first round, one of the gaggle asks, “Now the silly one?”
They get the nod from their chaperon—my former colleague, in town with this school band from Alberta—and these polite-looking teenagers release their inner silly.
I continue taking pictures, because this is part of the deal: A deal now so standard it doesn’t require negotiation every time.
One serious; one silly.
When did that become the protocol for taking pictures of kids?
Not back when a photograph required both a professional photographer and a long exposure, dictating infrequent, posed shots. Then the protocol was for serious, not to say blank, facial expressions that could be held for a long time without moving.
Not back when lots of families still didn’t own a camera, because they were expensive and complex to operate. As weddings and anniversaries, first days-of-school and graduations, and Christmas were captured, the protocol was for line-ups and fixed smiles. And one take.
Not back when my children were young and cameras were more affordable and easier to use, but film processing was still expensive. Candid shots came to rival posed ones in numbers, but the protocol still precluded anyone from deliberately ruining a photo by making a silly face. I mean, who would even have had that thought?
But sometime between Back When and Now, the protocol has changed, and long enough ago that even I know about it.
Digital photography was likely the driving force. Released from the need to pay for film processing by the roll, we were likewise released from the need to make every frame count.
Who knew that we’d discover that both serious and silly behaviours were of equal value in recording our lives?
One serious; one silly.
I wonder what photos I’d have of the old-timers—including myself—if that protocol had been possible Back When.