Monday, November 3, 2008

Look Here

There's a blog campaign going on called Faces of Bellingham. Lea Kelley, an artist by profession, keeps the blog to promote the beauty of the individual (and we have lots here). She goes around politely asking people she sees on the street if she can take their picture, and then posts their portrait on her blog. Recently, she developed a poster that features a mosaic of hundreds of Bellinghamsters that composes her own portrait. Now, I always hoped to be pulled aside by a strange woman who wants to take my picture, but I kept that to myself. Besides, I get terrible red-eye; the only reason my eyes are so blue in my senior pictures is they had to use a lot of airbrush. But I think Lea's is a fantastic idea all around, especially since she occasionally employs promotional contests. For instance, finding two portraits on her blog of the same person, who looks completely different. That's the one my roommate Jake won, the prize: a photo shoot!

After much deliberation, he decided to use his prize to complement our friend Andrew's farewell party. So, along with the mounds of barbequed burgers, guests could expect a professional photographer. Fortunately for everyone, Lea is a wonderful and funny addition to any dinner party. Somewhere between discussions about her own college experience and the supernatural, she suggested we take a few fun photos. We made human pyramids, and we hung ourselves out the upstairs windows like teenage girls within a five mile radius of Elvis Presley.

When Lea took my picture for her Faces of Bellingham blog that night, she took two. The first she decided had too much red-eye, so she covered the flash. "Look here, again," she said. This one turned out normal, and I was impressed. "The flash reflects off your retinas and causes you to have red-eye," she said. "It's just something that happens to some people, usually ones with larger pupils."

Suddenly, my life made sense. For as long as I could remember, I developed red-eye in pictures and didn't know why. Incidentally, I've also always been aware of the large diameter of my pupils, like if I had a nickel for every time someone said, "Your pupils are huge! Are you high?" It's even gotten me into trouble with University Police. It's a long story, but the short version is that I scraped up my car trying to turn around on an extremely narrow road in the Ridgeway Complex one Friday night. I did this because I am a poor driver, not because I was intoxicated. UP decided this was the case once they had tested my sobriety for half an hour. It was after the second breathalizer that the officer finally told me he wouldn't arrest me for driving under the influence. With as much effort as he was putting into the whole investigation, I didn't have the heart to tell him earlier that I naturally have pupils the size of a Japanese cartoon character. Just like I have one good ear. My left ear works quite well, and then there's my right ear. I like to think of this as my FDR ear: one too many illnesses and now he's in a wheelchair, but I keep him around because he's just so likeable.

I spent the rest of the night relishing in my own private revelation. Flash photography itself actually has a vendetta against me, and here I was thinking I was the perpetrator. It seems the camera just cannot capture my individuality. Indeed, the size of my pupils has been an asset in that I've never required dilation for an optometric exam--of which I've had plenty--for them to see what they need to. Although I have a different set of hangups concerning the optometrist, like when he decides he wants to test for glaucoma and shoot air into my eye. I still get nervous anytime someone points somewhere and says, "Look here."