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Once again the government reminds me that I am not photogenic

November 15, 2012 - Andrea Johnson
Abraham Lincoln's biographer was surprised when she discovered the stern-looking President was actually a jokester. Doris Kearns Goodwin, promoting her book "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln", said on one of the morning news shows today that it is probably Lincoln's long face that makes modern folk think he was so melancholy. Lincoln knew it too. Once, when a critic called him two-faced, Lincoln joked that he would hardly go around with "this face" if he had another one.

I thought of Lincoln this afternoon and how much our current electoral process relies on image. I wonder if he would have been elected if he'd had to go through three nationally televised debates with President Obama. Maybe that charming personality would have translated better to the TV screen than his looks. Lincoln was supposed to be a marvelous speaker, judging from the reaction to The Gettysburg Address, even if most of his photos seem sad.

I was still thinking of Lincoln today when I went to apply for a passport so I will be able to go to Canada next summer. I had my passport picture taken at the same time, which didn't end well. Once again the government has reminded me that I am not terribly photogenic. The passport photo looks like a mug shot, just like every driver's license photo I have ever taken. I've never been all that vain, but I sure would have liked the photo to turn out well.

I tried experimenting with my iPad to see if I could turn out a better one, since I 'm not too happy with the profile photo used for my blog either. I didn't get a great result there, either, maybe because it's harder than you might think to take a self portrait.

I probably don't have a future in politics, even if I were lucky enough to be as good a speaker as Lincoln. On the other hand, traveling with the passport might be fun and who's going to look too closely at that passport photo?


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One of my attempts to create a better looking photo than my passport photo.