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Anatomy of a Photograph

by | Dec 15, 2014 | Our Work | 0 comments

Last week we sent out the latest Idiots’Books newsletter. Like every newsletter, the banner image featured a photo of Robbi and me. Here’s the one we used.

Screen Shot 2014-12-14 at 8.16.31 PM

I like it. Actually, I love it. In part, I love it because it is so surprising. That’s not what we look like and yet it must be since it’s us in the photo. But also it was surprising because five minutes before the photo was taken, I had no idea that I was going to be part of a glam photo shoot. No indeed.

As I often am on an average afternoon, I was on the phone having a conference call with the folks at my office. We were talking about a project. We were sharing ideas, critiquing work. That sort of thing. Suddenly, Robbi came over to me looking like a harlot and wielding eyeliner. It looked like this. It was terrifying.


The idea for the newsletter was that Idiots’Books had just gotten a makeover. In case you missed the news, we’ve just launched a new Idiots’Books site and Idiots’Books blog in addition to a brand new Robbi and Matthew online shop that sells all of our stuff, including the entire Idiots’Books catalog.

Robbi’s great idea for the banner image was that since Idiots’Books was getting a makeover, so were we.

And so, as my colleagues and I continued to discuss, Robbi started working on her greatest challenge to date.


That is, making yours truly look pretty.


I later asked one of my colleagues if she or any of the others were aware of my temporary distraction, but apparently, my contributions continued with their usual degree (or lack) of coherence.


There is a reason I did not embrace my inner goth in high school. It’s that my outer goth is so unsatisfying.


While I continued with my call, Robbi set her camera on a tripod and proceeded to set up the shot.


From my vantage, she was having a great deal of fun admiring herself. I’m not sure why she needed me.


But, eventually, I was invited to step into the frame. I put the phone on speaker and continued to monitor the proceedings.


We didn’t know exactly what sort of shot we were going for, and so we tried a few configurations, some of which were downright humiliating.


Some of which were simply odd.


But eventually we found a shot we thought we could work with. We liked the composition, the affect, the delicate balance of mascara and shoulder. But something was missing. We weren’t quite fabulous enough.


A few minutes with PhotoShop did the trick.


It’s amazing what a little bit of black and white and a whole lot of overexposure will do.

It has taken nearly five days to get all the eyeliner off. It will take the rest of my days to remove the stain upon my reputation.

But I do love this photo. I’m glad it exists. I’m glad that it’s possible for us to look like that, if only for a moment.





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