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Old 05-08-2004  
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Default Phobia of having picture taken

Hi. I'm not sure that I'm posting this in the correct spot, but I'm going to give it a go. The moderator can surely move it to the proper place if I'm wrong, right?

Anyway, I'm trying to find someone with the same problem as me that can give me some advice as to what works for them. I've had a phobia of having my picture taken since I was just a toddler. Actually, it started when I was a baby according to my mother. I would scream blue murder if anyone pointed a camera in my direction. In my toddler years nothing changed. My parents don't have very many pics of me during that time because the ones they do have show me mainly with red swollen eyes and cheeks because of all the crying. Elementary shool years were a little better, but not much. Teen years about the same. Twenties same. As long as I was out with friends, having fun, I could handle having my pic taken, but only if it was very quickly done. No posing, no adjusting, no stress. Family get togethers became a horror for me. I dreaded going.

I know some of the problem stems from the way my parents dealt with me when I was very young - they got very mad. Picture taking became a horrendous ordeal because my parents did not understand how difficult it already was for me, and they just made it ten times worse. :(

Anyway, back to the present. I'm in my thirties now. I'm okay with handling cameras, I'm okay with seeing the pics of me afterward (tho' 75% of the time I don't like them), and I'm okay with other people seeing the pics. It's the process itself that is the problem. My worst experience was just over a year ago. My boss decided she wanted pictures of the staff to put on the wall in our reception area (I work in an animal hospital). One of our clients is a professional photographer, and brought all of his equipment with him - backdrop, lighting, etc. I decided it would be best if I went first so that I didn't have to wait and wonder when my turn was going to be (negative anticipation not good). Bad decision as it turns out. He took forEVER getting the lighting the way he wanted it, not to mention my positioning. It was turn your head slightly to the left, now lift your chin just a tad, no not that much, now smile, that's not a smile, and it went on an on... When I saw the pics several days later I realized that even though I was trying to smile, I actually looked angry. Needless to say, no pic on the wall. Anyway, back to the story. I ended up in fight or flight - actual panic attack mode, and I've never done that before. I would like to NOT repeat it! I really feel for those of you who deal with this on a more regular basis. Anyway, I had to leave the hospital. I was shaking, nauseous, sweaty, I felt a migraine coming on, my heart rate was sky high, as I'm sure my blood pressure was, and I know I wasn't thinking straight. To this day, I just have to hear his voice in the reception area when he brings his little dog in, and my heart rate goes up. I don't even have to actually see him or be in the same room. It's too bad really because he's a very nice fellow. I just can't talk to him about it and why I seem to be avoiding him every time he comes.

I'm trying to desensitize myself by allowing only good (and quite quick) picture-taking experiences, but it doesn't seem to be making a lot of difference. It's still really difficult. I'm not sure where to go for help. I've never met anyone else with this problem, nor have I actually even heard of someone else with it. I'm sure there's someone somewhere... :?

Sorry for the long story. I just wanted to explain where I'm coming from. If someone has some experience with this and can give me some advice, that'd be awesome! I won't be on computer again, though, until Monday now, so won't be able to respond 'til then. Thanks so much for letting me get that all out!

"The miracle isn't that I finished, the miracle is that I had the courage to start" - John "The Penguin" Bingham
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Old 05-08-2004  
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Hmmmm, maybe you have a bad memory of a sonogram from when you were a fetus? :roll:

I think that there are a lot of people that don't like having their picture taken... why? Becasue it's usually either 'hit or miss' and it's usually 'miss' and someone laughing at you in the picture. :(

I think you are feeling much too guilty about the work picture, the guy that took the picture sounds like a professional 'wanna-be', and if he were a genuine professional, he would have had techniques at putting you at ease and making you feel comfortable and your smile would have been natural rather than forced. He is probably embarresed be cause he knows this, and that's why it may seem as if he is avioding you, he probably thinks you are disappointed in him.... make the first move as if nothing happened and it will all likely be forgotten! :wink:

Why not try getting a digital camera that takes 'timed' pictures and take pictures of yourself and try capturing your best pose, sides, etc., then hopefully, the next time someone wants to take your picture, your be prepared and hopefully have a bit more confidence and composure?
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Old 05-08-2004  
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Thanks for the suggestions, but as I said before, the problem is not with how my pics turn out. I've had some really good pics taken of me before - it doesn't make a difference. The panic has just gotten worse. And the photographer IS actually a professional. The thing is that I have trouble talking to people about this problem and so didn't give him the info he should have had. He's not avoiding me, I'm avoiding him. It's my fault really. People have "poo-pooed" me and my phobia so many times over the years, actually been condescending and not believing me (just thinking that I'm lying and really am too vain about my appearance in pics) that I'm now scared to tell anyone for fear that I'll get the same reaction. It happens over and over and over. I'm tired of people making light of it - that just makes it worse. I've had to deal with this kind of reaction my whole life. :( That's one reason why I'm longing for some help.

"The miracle isn't that I finished, the miracle is that I had the courage to start" - John "The Penguin" Bingham
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Old 05-08-2004  
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I can certainly sympathize with you, there are a lot of people that don't understand my 'people' or other phobias, and when I TRY to explain why, or the reasons behind it, they can't comprehend it and they are even more confused. Some of them have said that it wouldn't be a problem because they would be with me, which in itself proves they have no idea of what's going on with me.

I had a really good freind where I worked that kept begging me to do things with her and I kept refusing her and she felt as if I was just being a 'put-on' or nice to her at work (although I did invite her to my place to watch a movie, etc.) & I finally figured there was no other choice but to try to explain my phobias to her and she tried, as everyone else does, but just didn't understand. She begged me to go to a huge craft exibit-flea market type of event and I finally agreed but I was terrorized about it and when the day came, I did well until I got to the 'food court' & to make it faster, my friend suggested I stand in the long line for french fries and she would do the same for the sodas so it would be quicker....as I stood in the long line, a lot of people joined in the line behind me. There were people everywhere crowding through the mob and a lot of them were standing right in the middle of the food court eating, shouting, laughing, and it happened, I had to drop out of the line because I was having a full blown panic attack and it was one of the worst I ever experienced.... attempting to make my way to my friend, I just FROZE and stood in the same spot shaking. Everyone was gawking at me & she spotted me and led me out of the crowd, but she finally understood and never asked me to go anywhere after that. :cry:

The only thing I know to suggest to you is to seek the help of a professional to aid you in overcoming your fears. It certainly sounds as is it's not going to be a 'mind over matter' type of thing you are going to be able to work out on your own, unfortunately, and it seems to be getting worse instead of better.

There are a lot of professionals that treat anxiety, depression, etc., and have never experienced it personally, so they too, don't always have the perfect answers, suggestions, or medications. It sometimes takes a long time before you can get the correct 'fixes'. I would really try making this crystal clear if you decide to go this route: " People have "poo-pooed" me and my phobia so many times over the years, actually been condescending and not believing me (just thinking that I'm lying and really am too vain about my appearance in pics) that I'm now scared to tell anyone for fear that I'll get the same reaction. It happens over and over and over. I'm tired of people making light of it - that just makes it worse. I've had to deal with this kind of reaction my whole life. That's one reason why I'm longing for some help."

Let us know what you decide, and good luck!
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Old 05-09-2004  
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Marcia,

Here I was thinking I was the only one. Of all my SP angsts, picture-taking is probably nearly the most totally annoying manifestation, and has been since I can remember. The anticipatory anxiety involved is overwhelming.

Like you, we had to have our pics put up in a hallway frequented by staff and many visitors. We'd be warned weeks ahead (every year or two) that the photos would be taken - pure hell for me. A certain administrator (with less than enough to do) seemed to have this on a schedule.

I seldom get anything remotely approaching a relaxed smiling expression if the picture is posed and some setup time is involved - the anxiety freaks me out somehow.

In unposed, impromptu, 'action', or candid photos I frequently do fine - in fact have had compliments.

I don't know if there's any one magic-wand solution. One partial solution is 'action' shots - i.e. side shots of you at your work, for example, where you're not having to face the camera directly. I realize that's not always an option. If I know well beforehand there will be a picture-taking session, I've tried vigorous exercise to loosen up - which works only up to a point. A mild benzo can help, but I don't like resorting to that. Avoidance of course works, but isn't often an option.

I once did my own pic at home for the work bulletin board when all the photographer's pics turned out quite horrendously, however that was only possible that year because I knew the photographer fairly well and he slipped it in for me

Hope to exchange more thoughts with you Marcia, because you're honestly the first person I've ever run into I could even really mention the issue to openly.

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Old 05-10-2004  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anonymous
I can certainly sympathize with you
Holy cow, I'm sure you can. I've at least been lucky that I've never had the panic so bad that I've been frozen in place. Sounds like you've had LOTS of experience dealing with this sort of thing and know what to avoid. Thanks for sharing that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anonymous
The only thing I know to suggest to you is to seek the help of a professional to aid you in overcoming your fears. It certainly sounds as is it's not going to be a 'mind over matter' type of thing you are going to be able to work out on your own, unfortunately, and it seems to be getting worse instead of better.

Let us know what you decide, and good luck!
You're right. I've thought of looking in to talking to someone "professional". I just didn't know where to start and if it would be looked upon as a waste of their time when there are so many others with more important problems. I guess it's also a matter of my opening up and finding the courage to trust someone face to face. It's been a lot easier on the 'net! Doing it in person is another story. But I've been thru' "stuff" in my life before - stuff that has required courage on my part, so it's a matter of convincing myself that I've still got it within me.

I'm thinking my sister-in-law would be a good place to start. I've never discussed this with her, I guess because of the usual fear of what she'd think or say. She's always thought of me as a strong person (many people do), so if I can actually talk about this with her... And maybe she'd have a suggestion as to who to talk to. She was getting some counseling a little while back for some issues with my brother (who refused to go, but that's another story...). The more I think about it now, yes, the better that idea sounds. I usually visit with her every other weekend, so I think I'll maybe run it by her next time.

Thanx for the luck - anything is appreciated!

"The miracle isn't that I finished, the miracle is that I had the courage to start" - John "The Penguin" Bingham
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Old 05-10-2004  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hope
Marcia,

Here I was thinking I was the only one. Of all my SP angsts, picture-taking is probably nearly the most totally annoying manifestation, and has been since I can remember. The anticipatory anxiety involved is overwhelming.
Anticipatory anxiety - OMGOSH! Do I know that! And I thought that I was the only one! I'm sorry you've got it too, but it's nice to know I'm not totally alone in this! Wow, I'm still amazed there's someone else out there...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hope
Like you, we had to have our pics put up in a hallway frequented by staff and many visitors. We'd be warned weeks ahead (every year or two) that the photos would be taken - pure hell for me. A certain administrator (with less than enough to do) seemed to have this on a schedule.
My boss knows now that I will NOT be participating ever again. She does not totally understand, but realizes that it's not worth losing me over.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hope
I seldom get anything remotely approaching a relaxed smiling expression if the picture is posed and some setup time is involved - the anxiety freaks me out somehow.
Yes, same here. I end up looking either terrified or angry.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hope
In unposed, impromptu, 'action', or candid photos I frequently do fine - in fact have had compliments.
Yes, again. It has to be a "fun" situation with friends. No family stuff - too many bad experiences with past picture-taking there. But even with friends, it has to be a very quick shot. It used to be better before the whole professional photographer thing, but now, even with friends, it's difficult.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hope
I don't know if there's any one magic-wand solution. One partial solution is 'action' shots - i.e. side shots of you at your work, for example, where you're not having to face the camera directly. I realize that's not always an option. If I know well beforehand there will be a picture-taking session, I've tried vigorous exercise to loosen up - which works only up to a point. A mild benzo can help, but I don't like resorting to that. Avoidance of course works, but isn't often an option.
Yes, the action shots are a possibility, as my boss is getting a hospital brochure made up - one with pics of the inside of our hospital and the services we provide. But we've tried that in the past. Even if just my arms are in the line of "fire", I go into anxiety mode. I like the idea of exercise. Ever since I took up long-distance running, I've noticed an improvement in my overall outlook on things (endorphins are nice!). Maybe that would be an idea - go for a long run beforehand. What's a benzo? A benzodiazepine-type med? I wouldn't like to resort to that either. And no, avoidance is becoming more and more of a problem, especially now that my sis-in-law is pregnant. There are inevitably going to be pics required of Auntie and baby. And my driver's license is coming up for renewal in a year's time, too. It never ends.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hope
I once did my own pic at home for the work bulletin board when all the photographer's pics turned out quite horrendously, however that was only possible that year because I knew the photographer fairly well and he slipped it in for me
Hey, I did that, too, at another hospital I worked at. One of our receptionists was also an amatuer photographer, and since she was also a good friend, it worked out okay. She had me cuddling my cat - good idea. But that was several years ago, before things started going bad again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hope
Hope to exchange more thoughts with you Marcia, because you're honestly the first person I've ever run into I could even really mention the issue to openly.

Wow, I've never met another person with this same problem as me. I guess I've gone so long now without doing so, that I figured I just wasn't going to. In the back of my head somewhere, there was always the thought that surely there was someone else, and now I know there is!

Go ahead and reply here if you like or you can PM, too. Whichever.

"The miracle isn't that I finished, the miracle is that I had the courage to start" - John "The Penguin" Bingham
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Old 05-10-2004  
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Wow. I wasnt sure anyone else out there hated getting their photo taken as much as I do. Im only 18 years old. This fear became evident when I was around 15 years old. I was fine with gotten my picture taken by a family member or friend, but when I had to get my school photo taken, a got an unexplicable fear. I disliked the way I looked at the time, but most of all, I was afraid that I would get nervous having people watching me and that I would not be able to smile because of being so nervous. This turned out to be true and my photo that year was of me not even smiling at all. Family get together were horrible. I was embarassed just because it was obvious to everyone how afraid I was when everyone had to stand together for a photo. I have never been able to understand this fear or why it occurs. I also suffer from social anxiety disorder at the present time which is very painful. THats my story.
Julie
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Old 05-11-2004  
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Marcia - sent you a PM.

To Marcia, Julie & guests - I think one of the biggest breakthroughs in dealing with specific anxieties is at least knowing we're not totally alone. At least that somewhat decreases our anxiety about our anxiety

I'm quite amazed by this site, and would sure hate to ever lose it. I used to be on some mailing lists, but they're now pretty much passe.
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Old 05-11-2004  
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Hope, I sent a reply to your PM. Mentioned how to get a PM alert in it. For now, you'll just have to click on Private Messages in the menu list to check. Let me know if the alert ends up working for you.

"The miracle isn't that I finished, the miracle is that I had the courage to start" - John "The Penguin" Bingham
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