FROM THE STOOL

PICTURE

Running through vacant lots strewn with broken glass and rusty nails in my bare feet is my second favorite thing in the world to do, just after having my picture taken.

The proliferation of high tech, high priced, but simple to operate serious cameras, and the availability almost anywhere of inexpensive disposal cameras that actually work, have made photographers of everyone who can move and say cheese.

Add the near instant gratification of one-hour developing and it is virtually impossible to go anywhere without being asked by someone to pose for a picture. A simple walk, swim, bike ride, shopping trip is memorialized on film. All vacations, family gatherings, holidays, graduations, births, deaths, and even spur of the moment get-a-ways demand a permanent record for all who participate, save the deceased, of course.

Having just moved from a large multi-story home with full basement and attic to a spacious apartment with neither necessitated renting a storage facility filled almost exclusively with large cartons of seldom to never looked at photographs.

There is nothing more aggravating then trying to eat while various family members or guests ask you to move your head and say "fuzzy pickle".

Corporate America loves to hire professional photographers to take pictures of their executives, directors, important customers and trading partners whenever they visit headquarters, and especially at conferences, retreats and seminars. There is no one more infuriating and insufferable than the wildly over compensated photographer and his associates who style, light, and direct these business pics.

These Ansel Adams wannabe's feel obligated to take rolls of film to justify their charges no matter how much discomfort or irritation experienced by their subject for whom, ironically, in most cases, they work. They take perverse pleasure in manipulating a CEO to the breaking point by making a career out of a shot for the annual report.

The ultimate indignity is the large outdoor convention shot. In my experience, no one, save the Japanese delegation if there is one, ever uses this momento except perhaps to line their trash compactor.

Notwithstanding this picture is almost always an agenda item of its own with never less than an hour allocated for the shooter and his team to mold their subject matter, and if the group exceeds 100, often a great deal longer.

As conventions are almost always held in warm weather resorts, these sessions are ordeals, and depending on temperatures, life threatening. Ninety minutes of standing, clothed for a formal dinner, in the blistering desert or seaside sun, while the shooter shouts instructions, shuffles and reshuffles his sweat-soaked subjects, looking for perfection, is cruelty in the extreme.

Taking pictures is a global addiction. Walking the Ginza, Champs Elysees, Bond Street, Wall Street, or San Marco Square, requires consistent vigilance to avoid lousing up a fellow stroller's photo-ops. Picture takers seize temporary possession of any area that falls within the lens national monuments, entrances to public buildings, any and all pedestrian walkways.

Ironically, my wife and two of my three children put on their cameras with their underwear. Now that I spend much of my time with them, it is either smile or take off my socks and start running.