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12 November 2006 @ 04:35 am
At The Reception After Mike Ford's Memorial Service  

Do I always look this stiff? Is it perhaps that I'm acutely conscious of interrupting a conversation among all those Important People, the only one of whom I really know is Neil? Or maybe it's that Memorial Services do that to me. Oh, wait! I'll bet it's because I work nights, so the middle of the day (which is when this was) is like the middle of the night to me! At that moment, I was totally exhaused and about half-asleep! That explains it!

people talking
Photo by dd_b.

A monstrous ramblingbibliofile on November 12th, 2006 10:48 am (UTC)
I'd say it was likely all of the above, especially the exhausted thing, plus being in a suit. Any occasion that requires me to wear semi-restrictive clothing (suit jacket and pantyhose, for me not you) usually means less comfort. That and/or having less-than-extroverted day will make me look stiff any day.
Fred A Levy Haskell: Fredcritter eyes onlyfredcritter on November 12th, 2006 02:31 pm (UTC)

It's a remarkably well-tailored suit, so it's less uncomfortable than you might think, but now that you mention it the shoes are less comfortable than my normal ones. That, plus everything else…

Diplomatically brutal since 1999tuluum on November 12th, 2006 12:25 pm (UTC)
you look like your icon! :D
Fred A Levy Haskell: Fredcritter eyes onlyfredcritter on November 12th, 2006 02:31 pm (UTC)
Thanks!! :)
dd-bdd_b on November 12th, 2006 03:30 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it's not the most flattering conceivable shot, is it? I wish I could get better at timing my shots for candid groups; I've seen people with remarkably much better results consistently.

I hadn't thought until that day how useful a wheelchair in a group can be -- gives an angle where you can see most of the faces.
Matthew B. Tepper: Minneapolis with plaid shirtasimovberlioz on November 12th, 2006 05:34 pm (UTC)
Caption, please?
dd-bdd_b on November 12th, 2006 05:53 pm (UTC)
Like, who are they? Since Fred already said where the photo was taken. Otherwise not sure what caption-type info you're looking for. So, Fred, Neil Gaiman, x, Katya Pendill, Harriet McDougal, Jim Rigney/Robert Jordan (back, seated). My apologies to "x", who I believe I was even introduced to.
Fred A Levy Haskell: Fredcritter eyes onlyfredcritter on November 13th, 2006 02:25 am (UTC)

In the background, between Neil and x, are Patrick Nielsen Hayden and Felecia Herman. (Or should that be two "n"s?) Patrick's the one with the beard; Felecia has her back to the camera. I can't identify the woman sitting at the far right.

Fred A Levy Haskell: Fredcritter eyes onlyfredcritter on November 13th, 2006 02:22 am (UTC)

I don't believe that the most flattering conceivable shot has ever been taken by anyone—we're only human after all. Or maybe I should strike "only." Part of the human condition is that our ability to conceive usually exceeds our ability to achieve—some times considerably. I reckon this is a good thing; for one, it keeps complacency at bay. Or, as Mike Glicksohn once so poignantly put it, "A man's retch should exceed his gasp, or what's a heaving for?"

That aside, perhaps it could have been more flattering to me, but I believe it was an accurate photo, and certainly not unflattering to everyone else in it. Neil's characteristic "explaining something" affect is true-to-life, Katya Pendill and Jim Rigney look appropriately engaged, and so on. I likely was just that stiff, for reasons we've touched upon.

I've always found the timing of phtographs of groups to be remarkably difficult. It's hard enough to capture (shall we echo Cartier-Bresson?) the decisive moment when working with one person; I've always felt that each additional person increases the complexity geometrically. It's so hard to pay close attention to so many different things at once! And candid groups … I guess they're easier in some ways (there's usually less nervous attention toward the photographer) and harder in others (people will stand and move as they will, at unpredictable times). I reckon luck plays a great part in how well candid group photos turn out and that people who appear to be consistently good at it have been successful in courting lady luck (as well as making good use of The Photographer's Friend—the trash can). Of course, if you're not out there trying you can't get lucky. Me, I have in my files far too many candid photos of people's backs &hellip but that's probably in part pyschological—I'm hesitant to intrude or, you know, "get in people's faces."

Mmmmm. Interesting. I hadn't given any thought at all to the effect people in wheelchairs have on photography—your mention brought it to my attention. I suppose if we started thanking people in wheelchairs folks might take it wrong.

dd-bdd_b on November 13th, 2006 07:44 pm (UTC)
I'll go so far as to argue it's *worse* than geometrically worse. Just locating a moment when everybody looks the way you want gets geometrically worse, but *on top of that* it's harder to watch everybody at once in hopes of *seeing* that moment in time to use it.

One guy on a photo mailing list I'm on uses the sig "The better the photographer -- the bigger the wastebasket". That's good advice, and my snapshots especially suffer from too small a wastebasket -- I get too much push-back from Pamela and Lydy when they see me pruning drastically.

The new camera will shoot as fast as 5 frames per second, and I think the burst length is up around 40 somewhere, so I certainly *could* play for a lot more pure luck (though not so much when shooting flash, because of course it can't keep up). I've even learned more useful ways to use my viewing/sorting software to deal with large piles of similar pictures.

I hadn't really noticed the wheelchair thing until this discussion; I don't recall *noticing* it as a specific opportunity at the time I took the photo, though clearly I *used* it. (Is everybody else following this rather eliptical discussion? People standing around in a small group tend to form an inward-facing circle, which is not terribly photographically appealing.)
Peter Hentgesjbru on November 12th, 2006 04:00 pm (UTC)
In my selective recollection of widely scattered observations, you look that stiff (an generally stiffer than normal) in social situations where you are nervous or otherwise ill-at-ease. Contrast this with your posture and animation at the wake when talking with tnh and me; much more relaxed and animated. I find it a fairly useful "state of the fredcritter" metric.
Fred A Levy Haskell: Fredcritter eyes onlyfredcritter on November 13th, 2006 02:36 am (UTC)

Ah, interesting. So part of the reason likely was that I knew but one of those people. And your general observation that I tend toward stiffness in social situations where I'm nervous or otherwise ill-at-ease shouldn't be that much of a surprise, but I guess it's easy to forget how thoroughly I physically manifest my mental state. This is a good thing when I'm having fun—I've noticed that when I'm in the middle of a good song, for example, my joy tends to be infectious—but I can see how it might exacerbate an already uncomfortable interaction. I must ponder this.

gomeza on November 12th, 2006 06:05 pm (UTC)

I have never known you to look stiff, but the ability of photography to flash-freeze brief moments of time often distorts reality-in-motion.

I've never seen you in anything remotely that formal - was the mode of dress perhaps making you feel stiff?

And is that Neil?

gomeza on November 12th, 2006 06:06 pm (UTC)
Or, I could read comments first.

PS: nice shot, DDB.
Fred A Levy Haskell: Fredcritter eyes onlyfredcritter on November 13th, 2006 02:27 am (UTC)

"Sigh."? Oh. Right. Not the most festive of occasions.

aszanoni on November 13th, 2006 08:32 am (UTC)
Well... being totally biased, *I* think that you look very spiffy, Fred. I can see the weariness, which I took that you had very good cause for, and which I associated with the grief for the memorial itself. -empathy-

The way pictures freeze certain people bothers me extremely, since some people don't look *right* when still. I don't dislike photographs. Just that effect.

- Chica
Fred A Levy Haskell: Fredcritter eyes onlyfredcritter on November 13th, 2006 10:42 am (UTC)

Thanks. Yeah, the freeze is not always good, which is why DD-B and I were ruminating above about the whole issue of timing, which can make all the difference.

Marybraider on November 14th, 2006 01:54 am (UTC)
*squee* You're talking to Neil Gaiman!

That is all.