You see them on beaches and at swimming pools, at vacation landmarks and tourist streets, in front of beautiful gardens and gorgeous vistas… they are the happy Long-armers, struggling to capture a memory of place and time.
Carefully edited, the pictures can almost pass for third-party taken, but the faces are always just a little too close up, which makes the eyes kind of crossed looking and the necks too scrunchy. And, then there is that darned arm that, no matter how close you crop, really always reveals the Long-armer who holds the camera. When it’s a couple, it’s usually his–unless, of course, she’s the one with unusually long arms.
Last year Jeff and I went on a very romantic trip to a tropical paradise in the Dominican Republic. One morning, as we walked along the beach, there was a young couple sitting on one of those gauzy, curtained beach beds struggling with the long-arming. We passed by them and then I stopped in my tracks, went back, and said, “Give me that camera!” I stood back and took their picture–the bed with the gauzy curtains blowing in the breeze, the bright blue ocean, and the palms trees all there in the shot and no big Mr. Arm. They looked lovely and happy. But, on a whim, as soon as the shutter closed, I said to him, “Now give her a kiss.” Without missing a beat, he did. As I handed them back the camera, they immediately went to look at the two shots and the reaction was so sweet. You could actually see them light up when they saw their kiss.
Since then, it’s become a photographic mission of mine: Help couples make better photographs and add more kisses to the world. I always take the posed one they are expecting first and then give the surprise order. It’s a simple, little thing and it feels good to see the reactions of people when I command them to kiss in front of the camera. I get to get some of their love for that little moment.
Recently, a victim of mine turned the tables on us.
I’ve found that when I’m out and about now, I’m actually kind of on the lookout for couples for this mission. They are always smiling and grateful afterwards and I like the idea of that happy photograph living on in their photo albums and Facebook pages.
Interestingly, however, you can get it wrong sometimes. One Saturday I was running along Lake Carnegie in Princeton where I saved what appeared to be a couple from the long-arm shot. When I told them to kiss, they looked at me in horror, backed away from each other, laughed and said, “Oh, no, no, no… we are not like that!”
Aw, heck… Love or laughter…. it’s all good.
TRY THIS WEEK: See if you can put another kiss into the world.