Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Camera Never Lies? (but has it a sense of humour?)

 Okay, so I got a bit exasperated. . .

You wouldn't know that ten minutes earlier, I'd felt really good about the outfit I'd put together for our night at the opera (Madama Butterfly -- a superb production). I've worn this All Saints dress before with nude tights and ankle boots, but this time I layered it atop a pair of slim black jersey pants I've had for a few years. The France Mode patent heels I bought two years ago have only been out three or four times, and I love the way the ankle straps worked with the pants.

But by the time we tried one backdrop and then another in our small apartment, I was starting to question the proportions. Was it all too popsicle-on-a-stick-legs? Or was that a factor of him always taking the shot from slightly above? And what about the lovely swish and flow that softened the blockened volume of the silk top with its lovely feathered print...




Ugh! And would he not perhaps figure out how to snap the f**ing picture faster? He keeps saying to smile, but there's only so long a woman can pose with a smile on her face and look credible (this woman at least). I feel ridiculous because the whole proposition is ridiculous and who do I think I am. The gap between my vision of the overall outfit -- and, let's be honest, how I hoped I looked in it -- and what the camera shows me (and we all know it doesn't lie, but we might admit it tells a very selective truth). The reductive power of the (imagined) Gaze of the Other. . .

Meanwhile, and putting all visual theory to the side (as if one could after reading it for decades, living it for more), one loving set of eyes is working very hard to make the damn cameraphone (not even his, the dear, yet he's stubbornly sticking with the project, telling me what he sees, wishing that could be as important to me as what the camera shows. . . and it is, of course, but . . .


There are glimpses, at least. They will suffice. Almost 63, after all, with a PhD, four brilliant adult children, five delightful grandchildren, a marathon under my belt . . . a traveller, a gardener, a reader. I wanted "pretty" too?!

Well, perhaps, just a childish little part of me did. Hard to escape an entire ideology, y'know? an acculturation from birth. . .  But let's make do with "scrubs up well" and a sense of humour. And remember that the camera's not all that. Nor is the eye, for that matter.

So here you go. And mad props to my sister bloggers of a certain age who get in front of that camera regularly, with great aplomb (or who fake it spectacularly, at least). it's tough under those lights!
Please, please don't feel that reassuring comments are necessary. I walked out of the apartment in my mom's coat that Saturday night feeling very lucky, holding the hand of a lovely and loving partner, healthy, fit, well-dressed, and, you know, looking pretty good for my age. My feet hurt on the way home (it's a 30-minute walk, each way, but those shoes were worth it for one night). Nor am I looking for suggestions on how to improve the outfit itself or the way I'm wearing it or my makeup or my hairstyle. I'm just sharing a wee bit of my thoughts and feelings about the whole What I Wore, (in)Visibility, phenomenon. Just a wee bit. 

And now I've got to run because, having cleared and scrubbed and dusted every obvious and visible surface of my house and wincing at many of those along the way, I now have to hide all evidence of my shower, morning toilette and breakfast before making myself scarce so that a photographer can reduce over two decades of our home's harbouring our family life into a series of real estate images. . . which will allow someone to begin imagine living another life here. 

51 comments:

  1. Okay - I will offer none of the things you've asked not to be offered. I will, however, say that the space between outfit and camera is a bit of a Twilight Zone. Something happens to a perfectly good ensemble - perfectly good hair and perfectly good lipstick (my particular nit-picky thing for myself today)in that sliver of time/space. When I saw your floaty top my first thought was 'perfect for Madama Butterfly!'
    Sparking Joy all over the place down here!

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    1. Aw thanks -- in the end, I do think it was a perfectly good ensemble that got lost in that Twilight Zone. Yours was a perfect first response on a touchy post for me.

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  2. What comments would you have had, I wonder, if you had just posted the photos without your doubts? All I would have seen, and all I still see, is that you have bravery/self-confidence/carefree approach that I don't, and even your doubts are brave to me. I flee the camera, always have. My husband complains that there are no photos of me in our home (thank goodness, I take care that there aren't). It can't be an age thing, or even a British thing. Perhaps a very very Scottish thing of a certain generation, brought up being told "nobody's looking at you anyway" when we expressed teenage doubts about our appearance. I have obviously been hiding in a clump of heather all my adult life, not realising until I found your blog that "what I wore" was a thing, and going on, jaw dropping ever further, to discover more sartorial revelations elsewhere. Perhaps not having Facebook has sheltered me.
    So since you're airing thoughts and feelings, can I ask why you started doing "what I wore" posts? And is your attitude to them changing and why?

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    1. I wonder too, Linda, and I almost changed that paragraph to let the comments go in whatever direction after I read your question. But then I thought that "as was" I elicited this great response rather than the reassurances you might have felt you had to offer.
      That thing you think is possibly Scottish is something like the Canadian title Alice Munro used for an early novel/short story cycle. Who Do You Think You are? (the answer being, presumably, no one that anyone's looking at!).
      Your last two questions are good enough that I'll save the response for a future post. Short answer, though, yes, my attitude is changing but I do think there's a place for the WIW, particularly for broadening a range of representation of what we older women are up to and interested in -- clothes are part of that, for me at least. If you're interested, this might explain some of my thinking on the topic, a few years ago:http://materfamiliasknits.blogspot.ca/2013/08/keeping-it-real-what-i-wore-on-mountain.html

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  3. I always have felt "awkward" in photos. Monsieur does not really understand that if it takes too long, I grimace. The best photos of me are usually taken by my friend, Janet. Probably it's just being relaxed. Your shoes are lovely but I'm afraid I could not walk in them.

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    1. Yes, this is our problem (well, mine, really) the too-long waiting for the camera to click.
      I don't mind walking in the shoes, but my right foot (the larger one) gets pinched by the end of an evening -- it always swells a bit sitting. . .

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  4. I shouldn't say this..its probably mean...but you have given me a good giggle reading the post. Many years ago in one of my many past lives I was a photographer for a local paper. Sometimes we got to do fashion photo shoots and it's one of the trickiest areas to get right. Background. Clothes. Model. I think your other half did great. Love the top by the way! B xx

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  5. Floaty almost ethereal top which I quite like...I am envious that your husband will take your photos, mine is otherwise engaged so my selfies are it. Btw it takes quite a few attempts to capture a decent shot so you are not alone.
    Spring cleaning! The sun is shining down here and I hope the photographer can do you beautiful home proud.

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    1. Thanks, L. I'm grateful mine is at least willing to try occasionally, but I get self-conscious even in the asking. It's all a bit silly, isn't it?!
      The sun's shining here as well -- and showing me that the windows I thought I cleaned yesterday need some touch-ups!

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  6. I take quite a few shots and never seem to capture the perfect one, perhaps why I've given up on what I wore, but perhaps that is not it at all, as I'm mostly struggling with the whole what-I-wore-as-part-of-who-I-am thing. Words, photos, direct, indirect. All of it is like a puzzle to be put together. I quite like the cumulative effect of all the shots, a bit more of a whole picture is revealed.

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    1. This is it for me as well, Mardel. I do think that photos are part of it, but they're not enough. A puzzle to be assembled is a better way of thinking, and maybe the cumulative effect of the shots moves toward that. Yes, there are silly expressions and impatient ones and tentative ones, but those are all little truths, each one. . .

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  7. Ohhh, I can relate. It's the primary reason I now photograph myself with a remote shutter trigger most of the time. ;-) It makes for boring poses, though. But that said, I think we are harder on ourselves in photos than anyone else ever will be. We add our own subjective "filters," especially when viewing images of someone we know. We mentally adjust angles, calibrate the facial expressions with what we know of their personality, blur out distracting backgrounds or shadows. I think the dress is lovely, perfect with the pants, and those shoes...!!! They are fabulous.

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    1. If I were to do more of this (which I'm not! I'm impressed by what you do but it's not for me!), I'd go your route -- set up the technical system that works and then repeat poses, especially given the great light you have there.
      Thanks -- I actually still do like the outfit, and glad you agree!

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  8. But the camera does lie---pose a with the hip this way and the shoulder that way and you look totally different. Have the photographer taking the photos from a squat or kneed position and you look totally different! The camera only captures a 2-D image of what is really 3-D with constant movement, so it really is a lie!
    And I know you didn't want any suggestions, but did you try unbuttoning one more button on the bottom? It could show a little more leg and increase the bottom proportion somewhat??
    As for those shoes...they are the bomb---and totally worth a tiny bit of soreness---it went away, right? So good for you for taking a little time to look as marvelous on the outside as you are on the inside!! jodie
    www.jtouchofstyle.com

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    1. Thanks Jodie, and welcome! And that's a useful suggestion re the buttoning. I love the shoes and yep, thought they were worth a bit of pain. There's nothing quite like the attitude a pair of heels gives me, I must admit.
      I take your points about the camera although I chuckle a bit at the idea of getting my guy to try the photo from different heights and angles -- he actually was willing to, but OMG, the time he takes . . . ;-)

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  9. Hi, I am guessing the reason you aren't too pleased is that the contrast of the black with the rest of the outfit is too much now that your contrast (your coloring) has changed. If you wore tights or pants and shoes in a soft grey or grey/purple it would be wonderful. As we age our contrast changes. At 65 mine has and I think yours has too.

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    1. Thanks Anne, and welcome to the blog, Perhaps you're right. . .

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  10. Pictures are so still and people move, clothes float around, curls sproing out or settle down.....so that I think is why the static photo doesn't capture the charm of the original person.

    my story and I'm sticking with it.

    ceci

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  11. How pleasing it is to me that we have independently and recently reached the point where being able to feel that one "scrubs up well" is actually not only enough, but (as a relative of mine once said, perhaps apocryphally) an ample sufficiency. And I agree that the camera drains charm; moreover, I believe I can tell from the photos that you had a fine time in your outfit, and that this fact and your appearance were recognized and admired in the eyes of those who beheld you.

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    1. Ample sufficiency! We should all be so lucky, right?
      I did, you know, have a fine time in my outfit, and I actually like its simplicity (which seemed to this island girl a fairly sophisticated simplicity -- after all, I bought the top in Paris! ;-) very much. Thank you, Marsha!

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  12. Oh I feel your pain,so disheartening to have what you imagine will be a great looking outfit in mind,then the mirror(my self criticism?) doesn't reflect anything like.
    And I also feel your pain because we have just sold our home, and all that cleaning and keeping things minimal was exhausting!

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    1. Have you found your next home yet, Julie? Congratulations on selling your old one, and good luck with the next stage. I'm so looking forward to getting to that one!

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    2. Yes, we bought an apartment in a bayside suburb before we even put our house on the market!! What a recipe for stress that was. Moving in 3 weeks but we have guests for the next 4 days, then away over easter with the kids and grandkids, we live in interesting (busy) times. Hang in there, twill all be worth it in the end.

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    3. How did I miss this? Lucky you were able to buy an apartment before moving, but it sounds as if you've been living with stress for awhile -- it's almost over now, right?

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  13. Ceci and Jodie have express my thoughts. Your content with photos might be great with different angle ( from underneath)-because most photographer use it for fashion shooting- it elongate the legs,isn't it (yes,I visited" 100 hundred years of Vouge" exibition :-)!)
    But,who cares? You are happy,dressed well (I love the shoes,too),going to a beautiful opera,you smile,you talk,you laugh,you move and charm people around yourself-that's life and this is photo
    I like to have my photos,they document my life,my changes,ageing,happiness or sorrow,some situations and yes-sometimes they differ from my memories or memorized feelings-something to think about,too.
    Would I prefer to be a beautiful picture admired or person loved by those I love? I choose the second option ( but,both would be fine,too :-))
    I love the way you analize your thoughts (and photos) and share it with us
    Dottoressa

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    1. Thanks, Dottoressa -- I do know that of all the problems in the world, this is trivial stuff, but it's something many of us do care about, if we're honest. Then we brush it aside and go on with our life, especially if we are lucky enough to have admirers whose eyes are friendlier than the camera lens!
      And as for that lens, it's clear that my husband needs to practice getting into a squat and aiming that lens upwards -- I'll get him started on that! Ha!

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  14. My first thought was "so glad I'm not the only one!" Really great choice of outfit, love the floaty dress with slim trousers. My thought is that yes, in some ways the camera does lie, as does the mirror. Well, perhaps not lie as such, but it doesn't show the true picture as another's eyes would see it ie in this instance, Paters. By not capturing movement it's void of so much of your true self. Having said that, on the rare occasion I see what I think is a "good picture" of me I also think the camera "lied" :)
    Thanks for sharing this ..
    I hope the photographer took great pictures of your house and surrounding views.
    Rosie

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    1. Thanks Rosie! The sentence that really sticks out for me here is when you speak of calling the good pictures lies -- I've been known to do the same thing, such a waste, right?! We could learn, perhaps, to be kinder to ourselves, see our own beauty. . .

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  15. I can vary between looking great in a photo (even by my own scathing view) to looking gruesome via different light, angle and the quality of the camera and that's before we get to seeing my self on screen again after my acting gap of thirty years!!! Unless you are being professionally shot with the lighting and camera quality that brings, I think outside is always better. I've noticed that Une Femme usually takes her photos outside though that is in a warmer place. At least with your runners physique you may be spared the endless "but do I look fat in this" that plagues most of us! I've got a photo shoot for some new headshots tomorrow so my relationship with the camera is very current!

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    1. Interesting to hear from someone who stands in front of the lens professionally -- and has to deal with that documentation of aging you speak of. You must have to work to recognise that the camera doesn't know or reflect the whole story; you must have to consciously separate what it asserts from your fuller knowledge of yourself. At least, that's what I'd guess. And oh no, I'm definitely not spared the "do I look fat" nonsense, being a short, erm, sturdy runner with a very short waist.
      Good luck with your photo shoot!

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  16. Posing is so hard, almost as hard as taking the pictures in my experience - you both make a great team, looking at the results.

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    1. Thanks, A. I find the posing really hard, although I have one daughter I can get silly enough to relax into it with -- too bad she's way too busy these days with two little ones!

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  17. Oh god, ma, going out and realizing you •hate• what you have chosen to wear (no matter how you look to others, and realizing 99.9% of those others don't give a fig), is such a real/funny/painful moment- caught in the cycle of self-criticism and then critizing self for criticizing. So I am not commenting on the outfit, just on the feeling. Hugs and rueful smile from a friend.

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    1. It's so annoying, the self-doubt. Actually, the photo sometimes has me changing the outfit at the last moment, but with this outfit, I did know (for myself, at least, and you may disagree) that I still loved the outfit and the way it looked on me in the mirror, and while I was frustrated that we couldn't capture that, I managed to break past the self-criticism enough to get out the door still wearing it. A minor success!

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  18. Well, I can relate - I'm very self-conscious in front of a camera, which does not improve how I look in pictures haha. But I really appreciate your what-I-wore pictures - I love to see a real person looking good in a pretty outfit instead of an airbrushed model who is younger than my children wearing some unusual get-up that I can't afford and wouldn't have anyplace to wear anyway!

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    1. Thanks, Murphy! This is a validation I really appreciate, because I include the WhatIWore photos out of the instinct/specuation that readers want some of that. I know I like to see parallel offerings on other blogs, especially if they're part of a lifestyle that goes beyond retail shilling. I can't bear to do these posts often, but occasionally they make a nice change from too much writing, and if you like them, it's worth it.

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  19. I like the one where it is shot from above and you are looking down. Front on can be very unkind. Those shoes are gorgeous, almost worth the agony of walking in them all evening. These days, I do anything to avoid a photo which is rather sad. Ah well.

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    1. I do think there's some value in keeping ourselves in the photographic record, even (especially?) at our age. Oddly, it seems to me, the current move to include older models in advertising, laudable as it may be, has the unfortunate effect of making us think we should all be tall and slim and beautifully white-haired with gorgeous eyes and exquisitely made-up lips that part to reveal even, straight, gleamingly white teeth. And I'm not.

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  20. This post is exactly what I was searching for in a woman's blog in her sixties. I love these glimpses into real life. That familiar give-and-take with a longtime partner is comforting...and, yes, frustrating, too! Confidence that comes from years AND an open vulnerability that keeps learning. Your chic outfit is so current! I, too, do not care to have my photo taken. I think I look best in motion.
    Charlene H.

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    1. So glad you liked the post, Charlene, and glad to hear that it's worth including the occasional WIW post -- and I appreciate that you recognise and appreciate my "open vulnerability that keeps learning." I do feel vulnerable and I try to be open with that and to keep learning -- nice to see that be noticed.

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  21. Your Paris dress is lovely. I can see it worn in summer too, a buttoned dress with sandals or open over pale linen pants and a drapey tank top.
    A friends son recently married into a showbiz family. Choosing wedding outfits was a communal affair with the girls family bringing their professional expertise. My friend was fascinated that some beautiful outfits were rejected on the basis that they wouldn't photograph well. It seems the human eye appreciates some lovely subtle details in person that are lost through the lens of the camera. Perhaps the camera doesn't lie but it doesn't tell the whole truth either.
    I too, have reservations about the narrow "type" of older women in recent advertising, lovely as they are. I was pleased to hear of Isabella Rossellinis new makeup contract. She's a beauty certainly, but not a conventional one and a woman who wears her age gracefully.
    You have much on your plate at present. I wish you and your family well.
    Lilibet

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    1. Thanks Lilibet -- I have worn it on its own with sandals in the summer, and I would love to find a slim pair of linen pants to wear it with, just as you've described, over a tank top.
      I guess it makes sense to choose a wedding outfit based on camera-friendliness, but I think we all get flattened into conformity when we apply that test more regularly. . . and I'm so pleased to see IR as the face of Lancome again -- she really does seem to be aging credibly as herself.

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  22. Oh my... I laughed out loud at that bit of bleeped out profanity, Frances. I feel your pain, and frustration, and conflicting husband directed emotion. I'm thinking of my Christmas outfit pictures when Stu wielded the camera... and I had so many chins in one shot it was ridiculous. And he'd say smile and by the time he took the shot my smile had turned into a grimace, or I'd closed my eyes. And then when I looked at the shots I wailed, "Did you not notice that my top was stuck into the back of my pants like that?!" And then I shut up and we laughed about it. But the camera does lie, in a way. Made my lovely black Lida Baday dress look terrible when I tried to take photos of it for one post. And I felt so elegant and lady-like in it. Ah well. Who cares, right? Well...us... more than we should.
    Besides what an accomplished lady you are... I'm still in awe of that marathon!
    P.S. This is me not commenting on the top with the pants which I really like together:)

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    1. You're actually one of the bloggers I was nodding at with admiration for your stylish aplomb in front of the camera. Like "the other Sue," you have a set-up that works well, and offers good, predictable results. Were I to do this more seriously, I guess I'd try to set up with a tripod, etc. also . . . What a shah me about the Lida Baday dress -- I bet it's spectacular, but black is a bear to photograph.
      And yep, I think Stu and Paul might be related by camera. . . I can't believe the things he doesn't notice in a series of ten shots he's taken, quite proud of himself, that make the whole batch unusable -- and it's hard to complain when he's been so generous in a project that's not his at all.
      Thanks for adding to your "Who cares," that honest "Well. . . us. . . more than we should." because I do, and it's nice to know I have company -- and where does the "should" come from, anyway?!

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    2. About those "shoulds"... I remember a wise older friend said to me once, when I had used the "s" word and the "g" word one too many times, that getting rid of some of my "shoulds" would definitely help with that "guilt" thing. And where do all those silly shoulds come from? Now that is an interesting question, isn't it?

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  23. As one of those who's done more than my fair share of outfit posts, it's usually all about the light, the angle, and the background. Rarely do I discover by a photo that I don't like my clothes, I often discover that my photo is crappy;). The only time I take photos to heart is when a) they show me that fabrics don't suit each other (duppioni and tweed, oops) or when I see, and am forced to admit yet again, that I've got a nigh-on 60 year old belly and I've decided, on purpose, to keep it.

    Can I say I liked your hair and makeup?!?!?! <3

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    1. I'm guessing that your long lean proportions are reflected back to you in photographs as conforming more happily with the standards we're regularly offered in fashion shots -- my short-waisted, sturdy, short figure, on the other hand, not so much. . . And sometimes I like an outfit very much but the camera points out how different its proportions are from that which I've been "educated" to know are "not flattering." . . . Increasingly, I decide to ignore that "knowledge" but it can be insisitent...
      Absolutely! Do tell me you like my hair (makeup practically non-existent, but I did apply lipstick, a swipe of mascara, and a fingertip of blush...)

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  24. Love the shoes. I am now constantly on the alert for shoes with a small heel but which are reasonably comfortable to walk in. What a patient husband you have, taking all those photographs. Your comment about him taking photographs from a height reminds me of the time my lovely wee mum took a photograph of my husband and me. She is small, and stood rather close to us in our cluttered post-family-dinner kitchen. Result: a lovely photograph of dirty dishes in the foreground, a view straight up our nostrils and a foreshortened view of the ceiling which made us both look at least 9 feet tall. Yes the camera does lie! X

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    1. That's such a cute image I have now of your mum wielding the camera -- and I have a very clear picture of the result. Too funny!

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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