Beardless me…

Every so often I get email from some utter jerk who says “put your beard back, you look horrible.” I ignore these people, because I long ago stopped caring about what others think of my appearance. I dress, groom, and dance in ways that make ME happy, and the rest of the world can go hang.

I needed a good “about the author” photo for the upcoming book, so I talked to my friend Scott, who is consummately professional in everything he does. He directs the Ballroom Dance program at UVSC, and his team’s many national and internation awards reflect his passion for exactness. He also has a very, VERY nice digital camera, and while he considers himself a hobbyist, I know better. I’ve seen professional photographers with less skill, less training, and FAR less gear than he has. He agreed to shoot some head-shots for me.

He took about 90 pictures. This was one of my four favorites. It’s not the one we’re using in the book, but it’s still far, far better than any picture I’ve had taken in recent memory.

I compared it to the picture I USED to have on the site, and realized why the jerks were telling me to put my beard back — the old photo with the beard was a better picture than the quick-and-dirty beardless photo I’d been using. It’s like the old axiom from my record-production days: The customer always knows when there’s a problem, but never knows what exactly the problem is.

31 thoughts on “Beardless me…”

  1. Excellent photo….
    but for m’self, the caricature you did for your LJ icon seems to hint more at the undoubted wit and subtlety of your work.

    1. a little like Jerry Holkins.

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought that. ^_^ Though better-looking than Holkins, certainly. ^_^

  2. that’s a great picture 🙂 i should paste in somehow the atrocities visited upon us at work ( for our id badge / online phonebook pictures. (thumbnail: terrible polaroids taken by a 4′ tall lady, so every one of people like me who are north of six foot are from this chin-up perspective that is flattering to basically no one). My love, , told me once that she fell in love with me the first time she saw my half-grin (the omg-world-is-crazy-so-lets-laugh-with-each-other one).

    (seriously though my id badge is the provable worst picture ever taken of a human being, ever!, and i’m not that photogenic to begin with so it’s the cross product of fugly ;))

  3. Your head is a lot more … round … in the photo than your icon. It’s a little unnerving. I like the half smile/smirk though.

    1. Re: …

      That’s the angle. From the side my head is less round, because the profile breaks it up a bit.

      (Of course, I also happen to know that a cartoony-round head looks like a cross between Charlie Brown and a cue-ball, so I took a little artistic license.)

  4. I love this photo of you – classy, professional and yet the smirk – kinda mona lisa-esque (dude, what is he smirking at??)

    I think it accurately represents the public image you portray through the comic, livejournal and open letters.

    Tell Scott he’s super talented and should stop being so modest!

      1. He’s also smirking because he used the phrase “He agreed to shoot some head-shots for me” with no intended bloodshed, despite his proclivity for violent stories. Taken by itself, that sentence could be refering to a generous hitman.

    1. Which isn’t to say that I can’t, I’m complimented on mine all the time (though the next time I hear “Brother Brigham” I’m going to start throwing punches).

  5. Personally, I think it captures your smartass personality perfectly.

    A minor quibble: It’s not the equipment that makes the photographer any more than it’s the pen that makes the artist. I’ve got an extensive collection of Olympus OM-series equipment, but I’m at best a serious amateur.

    That doesn’t mean that I don’t consider your friend a good photographer; far from it. All I’m saying is don’t let the equipment impress you. That’s what results are for.

    1. *nods* Our official wedding photo was taken on one of those little disposable 35mm cameras that you give out for weddings… it just so happened that one of our guests Had The Eye… and the shamelessness to stand on her seat to get the shot. 🙂 It’s all about knowing how to get the best out of what you’ve got.

      As for beards… ultimately, you’re the one that has to deal with looking at your face every morning…. and deal with all the whatsis to take care of it. These whiskers haven’t seen a razor in 18 years… but the womenfolk in my life seem to like it that way (save my aunt, who insists that all men should be clean-shaven in the Roman fashion). OTOH, I remember shaving enough to remember enjoying a good shave… when I could take my time. It’s when you can’t take your time that shaving’s a right royal pain in the neck…

      But, yeah. Ultimately it comes down to the person who lives in the face every day. (And, for what its worth, even though I’m a fan of whiskers, I think that particular face looks good without’em.)

    2. Elaborating a bit on this point: I’ve seen guys with meager equipment who could make it dance. I’ve seen guys with piles of expensive equipment who have it for show.

      Scott has a lean, functional collection of excellent photography equipment, each piece selected because it performs a specific function that he knows he needs. He knows how to use these fancy tools, and he has an eye for getting the right picture.

      He could shoot a great image with a cheap camera, but in the same situation he could shoot a spectacular image with his preferred tools.

  6. Hmmm

    It’s got that whole looking-over-the-top-of-the-glasses “You’re an idiot; I’m not” thing going on. Amoral, trickster library gnome — “Let’s see; you’ve had three overdue books, and need something on arachnids? I’m sure our expert down there, Miss Shelob, can help you find something…”

  7. Crooked?

    What sums it up for me is the fact that his glasses look slightly crooked. Whether it’s the glasses, a trick of the camera angle, or Howard’s face just being less-than-symmetrical doesn’t matter. What matters is that, with the smirk, one of two messages is being transmitted. Either 1) “I see the world differently than you do, and it’s amusing,” or 2) “Yes, something isn’t quite right here – but I don’t think it’s me.”

    On second thought, it’s probably both.

  8. I’ll admit, I still like your look better with the beard. Not that you didn’t have great reasons for shaving it off and not that I would ever suggest you ought to grow it back on account of me or anyone else. And not that you look bad without it. Just … well, you know what I mean. 🙂 That warrior-costume pic you have (had?) on your site is awesome. *swoon*

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