Being photogenic during a pandemic | Mark’s Remarks


I can’t help it. When things get really serious, I often retreat to a silly or humorous place. 

There are all kinds of poignant things I’ve thought about or experienced in the past couple of weeks: people coming together, family bonding, a new sense of community, renewed reliance on God. I usually take notes as thoughts come to me, and this virus thing has given me enough material to write columns well into the summer months; but why would I do that?

So I’m going to write about some of the lighter things that have happened. Let’s start with  a little self deprecation.  

Why didn’t anyone tell me I look so old and saggy?

I’ve been participating in a lot of video conferencing and such. I turn on that camera. No matter the angle, lighting or anything else, I look like the silly putty man. My face looks saggy and tired. My neck is flabby and I have dark circles under my eyes.

It isn’t pretty.

I mean, I’ve known for a long time I’m not too photogenic. I look better in real life and even then it’s hit or miss. My only good school photo in 30 years of teaching is in a frame and when people look at it, I say “Isn’t that a good picture of me? My only one in 30 years.”

Indeed, I would like to find that photographer and hire them for all my photos.

I’ve tried wearing hats. I’ve tried wearing shirts and jackets with tall collars. I’ve filmed myself from every angle. Nothing seems to work. I look like I’m about 120 years old – and always very tired.

I’ve thought about having Michelle do some stage makeup for me, but people may begin to talk.

I got ready the other day for a big video call with school administration and a bunch of teachers. I actually combed my hair and had Michelle do the wife thing with inspection and hair rearranging. I put on a nice, pressed shirt. I sat in a well-lit place where my face looked nice and smooth. I turned on the lights just so and sat with really good posture in front of the computer. 

When I turned on the camera, I still looked like a kid who was looking at his reflection in the bumper of a car. My nose looked way bigger than it actually is. I looked like I had no hair. 

At this point, I figure why bother?

It used to bother me when I’d see people using those camera filters to make themselves look so good. But I’m starting to understand it now.

Apparently there are all types of neat filters you can download to “brighten” your appearance. However, the ones I use seem to make my large forehead shinier, diminish my receding hairline, or make me look pasty white and ghostly.

But I’ll keep trying.  Maybe I can just start covering up my face with a cartoon character or something.

One of my best pals saw me on a video chat the other day. “Oh, there’s Mark Tullis. Hi, Mark Tullis. You look so funny!”

I mean, even my friends aren’t supporting me.

One of my best angles is to film myself from above, but if I lean back too far, I get lightheaded. Plus, my voice sounds funny. People ask me why I’m filming myself from above.

Michelle shakes her head at me. She says people don’t expect someone who is 52 years old to look camera perfect. She tells me I am vain. She chastises my self-centered whining about looking unattractive on camera.

And then, she says the thing all husbands like to hear: “Besides, you look just like yourself.”

During a videoconferencing call the other day, one of my colleagues “phoned in” and remarked she didn’t look very good at the moment.  “My hair is a mess and I am not wearing makeup.”

So, she called in instead of appearing on camera.

Dang. I didn’t know that was even an option.

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