Friday, August 10, 2007

The Way We Were


August 10, 2007

It's not just an ordinary picture, you must admit. It's a photo made when I was in my late 20's, by Roy Schatt, the show business photographer whose biggest claim to fame was that he had palled around with James Dean when they were youngsters struggling in New York and gotten some great shots of the kid.

I was a young hopeful when someone recommended Schatt to me as one of the best to get some good headshots. Abysmally unphotogenic, I was pleased with a number of the pictures he got. This one was the best of the lot and probably the most astonishingly flattering picture ever made of me. I thought, when I get old I'm gonna want this one. Not that it looked that much like me, but that I could at least tell people it did.

Then it went missing. I submitted it to be used in a brochure and the printer lost it in the early 1970's. Years later I tried in vain to find it. I was living in Geneva and felt a yearning for a look at that picture that showed me the way I wasn't and had never been except for that instant that the shutter snapped. I got a friend in New York to call Schatt and ask him if he still had it on file. He said he didn't keep pictures that long.

I had kept the contact sheet, waiting, I suppose, for personal computers to be invented. Yesterday I looked through the box of old pictures of myself to cull the best to keep and I remembered this one. I remembered the whole story, but was sure I still had the contact sheet.

Long story short -- here it is, folks. That was your author. Something happened over time; the eyes got smaller, the lips got thinner, the face got considerably fuller, the nose got a little bigger; that girl got swallowed up by the passage of time, lost to her own self-obsession. I try not to dwell on what I used to look like, so let's just say that's it. Once and for all.

2 comments:

Bert Bananas said...

Hey, when you're lost in self-obsession, you're sometimes in very good company.

I have a photograph that I consider rather iconic of who I was and who I wanted to be. It's somewhere in the house and next time I come across it I'll scan it and post it. It will explain a great deal.

But back to your self-obsession: who better to be obsessed with? Do you remember those occasional moments when you'd actually take time to think about others? And how you couldn't understand why they weren't as obsessed with you and you were? Somethings always remain inexplicable.

sinjap said...

my mom was organizing some old photos the other day when my daughter and i stopped by...so we jumped in and found one of my mom about my daughter's age (4 or 5) standing outside an old barn...my little one said "who's that, it can't be grandma, she's too young!"
my mom laughed, then we came to my mom's high school graduation ca. 1954...my daughter said "that can't be grandma, she's too beautiful!" and my mom loved it

btw, that is a great picture of you!