Bae hasn't caught me slippin...
September 5, 2017 12:24 PM   Subscribe

I wish my SO would take more pictures of me. But I'm embarrassed to ask, and even more embarrassed to explain to him why it would mean so much to me. Is this my vanity speaking, or is it a reasonable thing to ask? How should I approach this?

I often see on social media photos of friends taken by their SOs. Many of them are totally candid. I imagine that their SOs were struck by how beautiful or adorable or happy they looked and felt compelled to capture that moment. Maybe this meme can help explain what I mean. The poor girl wanted the same thing I do - to be special in someone's eyes, and to be viewed in such a loving way and have that moment captured forever in a publicly demonstrable way. Unfortunately for her, she didn't have that someone or take into account the mirror behind her, and she and her photo wound up being the target of online ridicule.

I know, I know... deriving your self-worth from social media is bad, don't compare your life to someone else's highlight reel. But maybe I'd like to have my own highlight reel. And maybe sometimes I'd like to see how my SO sees me. And sometimes I'm just wearing a cute new outfit, or I'm having a really good hair day, and damnit I want to have that in a photo. I take lots of nice photos of my friends, family, and SO, and they're always very well received.

My SO shows me his love in lots of other ways, so it's not like I'm feeling neglected or taken for granted by him. It's just that this particular thing, which is vain and embarrassing, happens to mean a lot to me. I'm at a loss as to how to approach this. How do I deal with the shame I feel for wanting photos of myself, and explain it to him without him thinking I'm crazy and shallow?
posted by keep it under cover to Human Relations (31 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
You're overthinkin' it. Just ask him. He won't mind...he loves you!
posted by nosila at 12:27 PM on September 5, 2017 [12 favorites]

Could you frame is as wanting some pictures for memories (rather than just for showing off on social media)? I have talked to my partner a few times about that. I take pictures of them when we're doing stuff. I take pictures of the stuff we do. It would be nice to get a picture of me every so often without asking every time. They're getting better, but it's not 100%.

Also does he take pictures a lot in general? I know some of our imbalance is that I tend to take more pictures when we're just hanging out, and he tends to take a lot of pictures for projects but not candidly.

So yeah, ask!
posted by kendrak at 12:29 PM on September 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

This is a completely reasonable thing to want! That voice telling you this is a shallow, silly, or vain thing to want? That's the voice of internalized sexism (I'm assuming you are a woman, apologies if you're not). Tell it to shut up, and ask your SO to take more pics of you. It's so not an unreasonable thing to ask!
posted by lunasol at 12:31 PM on September 5, 2017 [6 favorites]

Oh man, this question made me realize that my husband literally never takes my picture unless I'm holding the dog.

By all means mention it to him, but you can't make someone feel struck by your beauty and moved to take a picture, some people just plain don't do that. Does he affirm your beauty in other ways? Does he make you feel desired and loved in general? Social media is toxic for many reasons, but I think the pressure to have a performatively great relationship on there might be the most exhausting one.
posted by cakelite at 12:34 PM on September 5, 2017 [4 favorites]

Keep in mind that even asking him might not change anything. Does he take pictures of other people/himself? My husband, bless him, has been completely unable to take pictures of me or of me with the kids despite me asking pretty much every other outing for the past seven years. He posted the stupidest picture of our wedding day on our wedding anniversary and even our friends made fun of him because he couldn't even be bothered to find one that wasn't terrible. Like contorted expressions mid-sentence terrible. He just... doesn't get it.

I've given up hoping he'll turn into the kind of significant other who prioritizes this (or even vaguely does this, really) and it's actually one of the sad parts of our relationship, for me. So ask! But know that if he isn't the type to do that he might just never be.
posted by lydhre at 12:35 PM on September 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

For what it's worth, if we are traveling or in a cool place and I want some pictures, I'll just take his and then make him take mine.
posted by cakelite at 12:36 PM on September 5, 2017 [4 favorites]

If it helps, you're not alone! I remember reading a food magazine several years ago and they had the chefs take pictures of their home life/breakfast ritual. One really struck me; the person had taken a candid photo of their wife, sleepy eyed and in pjs, curled around a cup of coffee at their breakfast bar. His note said that he made her a cup of coffee every morning and that's what was represented in the picture. I remember thinking, "I want that someday"--but what I meant is both the ritual and the photo capture of it. I think it's a perfectly natural thing to want to see a reflection of ourselves through our SO's eyes, and is something we see evidence of other people having much more with exposure to social media--so we already want it, and then we think other people have it and we don't, and then we feel weird about asking for it, etc. But lunasol is right--it's not vain or shallow, it's totally natural and an okay and good thing to ask for!

As for how to ask, because you do need to ask--you can have a global discussion where you just say, "hey, can you take pictures of me sometimes?" and then remind him to do it; you can start taking pictures of him and see if he reciprocates; or you can do it on a case by case basis and say "hey, the light in here is awesome--take my picture!" and then either pose or pose candidly :)

My person is naturally really good at remembering to take pictures, which include pictures of me, but sometimes what he thinks is cute about me and what I think is cute about me are not the same thing--it helps to have an open dialogue and be able to just ask your beau to take your picture. I mean, isn't that like #7 on the list of reasons why it's awesome to have a BF?
posted by stellaluna at 12:39 PM on September 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

Your examples are about photo-taking, but also photo-sharing. Do you want him to just take photos of you or to also share them on social media? Are these photos that you want to share to your network yourself? As part of the conversation you have with him, also communicate your expectations. Does he use social media to post photos of himself? If not, he may have have a different idea of what it means to take photos of your partner. Maybe he thinks that if he takes photos of you, you're expecting him to adjust them and post them on his feeds. If you just want the photos to post yourself, you should be clear about that as well.

For example, partner and I both take photos of each other. But, I'm the person who uses social media more so I'll ask her for photos of me that I'll post myself. She doesn't have expectations for me to post photos of her all the time, but will ask for nice shots I've taken of her to post herself on those rare occasions she wants to update her profile.
posted by homesickness at 1:03 PM on September 5, 2017 [4 favorites]

I'm just chiming in to say how much I relate to this question. There's this gorgeous couple I know, and he's a photographer, and so this woman's online presence is hundreds of absolutely gorgeous photos of her looking candid and dreamy and well dressed in beautiful locations.
My partner has never taken a photo of me nor will he allow me to post photos of him because of his body dysmorphia.
I find it really disappointing!! Like you say, I want a highlight reel!
In a way it's a type of love language thing. I want to be demonstrably seen by my partner in a way that he just didn't nessesarily value.
Sometimes I just make him take photos of me but in this way they are never candid, and I do feel self concious doing so.
posted by elke_wood at 1:05 PM on September 5, 2017

Is this a very new relationship? I don't mean to be insensitive, but I can't imagine not being able to talk about something so ordinary, and perfectly reasonable, with my partner.
posted by Vispa Teresa at 1:10 PM on September 5, 2017

To answer some questions, he does take photos - of his dog mostly. He has lots and lots of very cute, loving photos of his dog. The times when he has taken candid photos of me, have been when I'm asleep in some unflattering pose and then he shows me after and laughs at how funny I look. Or when I'm eating some huge burger or sandwich and struggling to open my mouth wide enough, and again he takes pictures for laughs. Even when I'm dressed to the nines for a special occasion, he hasn't been "moved" to take any photos of me. So maybe that's not so promising.

I take lots of photos of him and send him the ones that turn out really nice. He appreciates it, thanks me for the photos, and posts them on his Instagram or on Facebook.

The rare times I've asked him to take my picture, I hand him my phone or if he takes it on his phone I ask him to send it to me, so I think he gets that I want to post the photo myself.

And this isn't a very new relationship, but I'm super self-conscious of appearing to be vain, or high-maintenance, or attention-seeking. And I have a worry (don't know if it's rational or not) that he'll laugh at me and then take a bunch of terrible photos of me, and that will be the end of it.
posted by keep it under cover at 1:13 PM on September 5, 2017

fwiw, there are lots of pictures of me on social media that look like my boyfriend just snapped a candid shot of me looking amazing. They are the result of me shoving my phone in his hand and going

WAIT. Wait. *fixes hair*
Ok. Now. Wait, take some more. I need choices.
Ok, let me see.
HAHA I like that one, but ugh, can you stand further back? This angle is bad.
Ok take another one.
WAIT. Wait. *fixes scarf*

Ad nauseum.
posted by pazazygeek at 1:13 PM on September 5, 2017 [51 favorites]

But maybe I'd like to have my own highlight reel. And maybe sometimes I'd like to see how my SO sees me. And sometimes I'm just wearing a cute new outfit, or I'm having a really good hair day, and damnit I want to have that in a photo. I take lots of nice photos of my friends, family, and SO, and they're always very well received.

This kind of seems like a few different things that have all gotten wound up together in a big ball. Untangling the desire for a "highlight reel" from the feeling that there's a reciprocity lacking, from the feeling that you don't have a record of those times you're feelin' yourself, as the kids say, might help you zone in on what exactly you need to feel better.

An important thing to consider is: is your partner a good photographer? Does he know how to make the most of his camera(phone) and filters? Because if not, he could snap candids of you all day and you still wouldn't have a highlight reel. I say this as someone whose much beloved partner is a professional photographer, and a very good one -- but of objects, not people. And who holds the misguided belief that humans should be photographed like bridges -- from below, at wide angles, with no makeup or anything, apparently so they look the most possible like very zit-covered whales, and let me tell you, his pics of me do not end up on the social media, and they do not suggest that he sees me as a sexy person.

That said, I totally feel you on the envy of those couples who just seem to constantly exist in a state of glow-filter with no weird angles or what have you. They don't love each other more than you guys. Nine times out of ten, they just own really expensive DSLRs.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 1:14 PM on September 5, 2017 [16 favorites]

I often joke with my boyfriend that if I didn't take selfies of us and our son, people would think he was a single father if all they saw were our pictures. Every situation in which I want a picture either by myself or with our son requires me to ask him to take one - it isn't something he remembers on his own.

So... you can and should ask your boyfriend to take such pictures, but there's no guarantee that he will consistently remember that this is something you appreciate. If it's really important to you, you should make that clear. To me, as long as my boyfriend takes my picture when I ask him to, I can deal with him not making a point of doing it. YMMV.

Also, is 'slippin'' in that meme supposed to be 'sleepin''? Or is "slippin" a term kids use these days for something?
posted by Everydayville at 1:14 PM on September 5, 2017

I love taking photos and take tons of them but I have the skill for taking them when my wife is mid-blink or something similar and so the pictures of her that she is happy with is a pretty small percentage and she won't let me show anyone the rest. Generally this means that I'll take pictures of the kids or interesting things and only a few of her. Maybe your boyfriend has had similar experiences and so spends more of his time taking photos that he'll actually be able to share.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:29 PM on September 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

Many of them are totally candid.

I highly doubt this.

It's totally reasonable to ask your boyfriend (or for that matter anyone you spend a lot of time with who likes taking photos) to do a little photo shoot with you now and then so you have some cute pics to post on social media. It's not very realistic to expect your boyfriend to take pics of you without your knowledge, e.g. when you're sleeping. And imho it's a good sign that he doesn't, because in real life, most people who do things like that - and especially people who post them for all to see - are weird and creepy and often mean. Unless you know the woman in the meme you linked personally, I see no reason to assume it wasn't either staged, or taken for less than loving reasons. Same with the couples mentioned by stellaluna and elke_wood. I'd be shocked if those weren't the best out of 50 photos.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 1:43 PM on September 5, 2017 [11 favorites]

I don't love taking daily pictures, because for me, the quest for the perfect picture takes away from being in the moment. That said, if my SO asked me to take more pictures, I would certainly try. However, I would probably forget a lot, and would appreciate reminders. Also, if the request were to take pictures that would communicate to the world how I feel about my SO, I might kinda freak out. That's a tall order! I'm not an artist! What if I get it wrong? So maybe put a little less weight on it when you ask, at least to start out?
posted by pizzazz at 2:35 PM on September 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm super self-conscious of appearing to be vain, or high-maintenance, or attention-seeking

Man, that smacks of internalized misogyny to me. You DESERVE attention from your partner! You deserve to feel like he wants "lots and lots of cute, loving photos" of YOU. The older I get the more side-eye I give to terms like "high-maintenance" in general, but either way it truly isn't high-maintenance to ask your significant other to make you feel cherished in ways that are meaningful to you.
posted by DingoMutt at 2:59 PM on September 5, 2017 [7 favorites]

I would, on the face of it, not like this request. It does seem vain and performative and false in a way that I do not like. Those photos strike me as so...distant. Like putting one's partner on a pedestal to watch instead of engage with.

HOWEVER, your explanation, and follow up, of why you want this, is so sweet and human and self aware and honest. So if I was your partner I would prob feel mean about my initial response, even if still kinda holding those views, and I would def take your pics. So you know, even if he's like me I think you're ok. (I am female).
posted by jojobobo at 3:34 PM on September 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

+1 for pazazygeek 's description.

So, I LOVE photos of myself. Not even ashamed of it. It's not vain. I LOVE modeling outfits and makeup for instagram. It's part of my self-care to deal with disability and illness. I've also done photography my whole life.

My husband has also done photography. He even went to school for it, but he HATES taking photos of people. But there have been times we went out together early in our relationship and he took photos of me.

He now is my begrudging (though getting more happy about it) Instgram photographer sometimes. I usually use a tripod but sometimes we go out on a walk or something where I need another person to take the photo.

It's absolutely "Here take a photo of me! How do I look?" And he will direct what to do with his photographer eye (sometimes, though other times he's not as into it.) He also does better with an DSLR than a phone, he abhors taking photos on my phone.

I don't think you can MAKE someone want to candidly capture you if they don't already have an affinity for taking candid photos. I also highly doubt most of the images you see are truly candid. I also suspect if they ARE candid they're from someone who routinely does that type of photography or art.

I think you CAN totally just ask to go out and take more photos, and perhaps gradually they will be more into it, or you can sort of request something like "Hey, since you've been taking more photos, can you try to get some candid shots today in my stellar outfit?"

But I don't think you can just .. make someone take candid photos. And while I get where you're coming from, some people's brains and expression of love don't work that way. Separate wanting photos of yourself (something you can do by yourself or with a helping hand) AND how you want your SO to see you or compliment you or show you love. They are two different things here.
posted by Crystalinne at 3:52 PM on September 5, 2017 [4 favorites]

The times when he has taken candid photos of me, have been when I'm asleep in some unflattering pose and then he shows me after and laughs at how funny I look. Or when I'm eating some huge burger or sandwich and struggling to open my mouth wide enough, and again he takes pictures for laughs.

I have taken photos like this of my partners in the past. I didn't do it to humiliate them but because I thought they were adorable. Recent example: I sent a photo I took of someone asleep on my shoulder, and she responded "that's a very unflattering photo of me". I sent it because I wanted to share a happy memory, and to let her know I missed her, not to point out how bad she looked.

I'm not saying you can't get (or shouldn't want) your social media friendly pics... on the contrary, I'm suggesting that maybe where he is now isn't actually that far off from where you want him to be.
posted by danny the boy at 4:36 PM on September 5, 2017 [6 favorites]

I totally understand why you don't want to ask. Aside from thinking you're appearing vain, you also want him to take pictures of you because HE'S taken by your beauty. I'm guess that straight up asking him would probably, for you, make it feel less genuine and more like he's just doing it to appease you?

I think your best bet is just to figure out what his reasoning is behind not taking your photo. It could be something as basic as "I really suck at taking pictures of humans". It could also be something super romantic, like, you looking dopey is way more out of the ordinary in his mind than you looking super lovely. Or the photos remind him of how much fun you guys have together.

I'd probably bring it up the next time he takes a bad photo - not angrily, just like, "Babe, you only take photos of me when I'm looking dorky! What's up with that? I like looking pretty too, you know!" That'll get the conversation rolling and hopefully you can communicate that it's something that's important to you without having to directly order him to snap a photo.
posted by thebots at 4:45 PM on September 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

Does he understand that it takes just as many pictures to get an awesome picture of a human looking candidly great as it does to try to get a good shot of a dog doing a thing? Because in my experience, a lot of people don't, and they are often the same people who say "I don't look good in pictures" when the reality is that they don't let people take many pictures of them, and therefore the sample size is too small to usually get a good picture. If he's sort of clueless about photography of humans, you may want to say "I wish you took pictures of me as often as you do of the dog sometimes, and only kept the good ones." He might think that's weird, but that's literally how you get good pictures of humans.
posted by deludingmyself at 4:46 PM on September 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

i found this essay sort of heartbreakingly true - even though you're not at that stage of life where you're not in the picture because of kids, it doesn't change the fact that when one half of a couple takes most of the photos, that person is often left out of the memories. You can definitely tell him you don't want that to happen to you.
posted by Mchelly at 5:49 PM on September 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

I take lots of photos of him and send him the ones that turn out really nice. He appreciates it, thanks me for the photos

OK, do that and then say: "Now you take some of me"
posted by John Cohen at 6:15 PM on September 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

Can someone please post some tips so that the partners-who-won't-photograph will know what to do? Here's a few of mine:

1. Pay attention! Is a big moment coming up? Is your partner totally in the moment of their thing (cooking, hobby-ing, sporting, parenting) and looks great? Is this a day they and you might want to remember? Take a picture. Take more than one.
2. Did your partner yawn/blink/talk/move weird in the middle of your photo? Take another one!
3. Pay attention to the background and think about framing. Dumpster in the background? Find an angle where it isn't or wait for a better moment. Is your partner standing in a field of flowers? Don't zoom in on the face, get some context! As you line up the shot, take a second to scan the frame with your eye and see if it looks good. It doesn't take long and you can often get a better picture with a minor adjustment. Take more than one picture.
4. Take a damn selfie once in a while with your partner. Let them direct the selfie. TAKE MORE THAN ONE.
5. There are loads of YouTube videos about how to take good pictures. Watch more than one.

What else?
posted by amanda at 7:09 PM on September 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

If it helps that woman in the photo you used as an example took that and posted it as a joke. It was kind of a trend for a while mocking the fake "candids" that are all over Instagram.
posted by fshgrl at 7:32 PM on September 5, 2017 [5 favorites]

I'm in the same situation. I once heard that people take pictures of the things they're scared to lose, and it pops in my head every time my husband takes a pic of his food or new gadget. He only very rarely takes a pic of me.

He seems to be shy about taking pics of people in public, and isn't into photography - he doesn't have interest in framing, lighting, angles, etc. He quickly snaps pics and they tend to not come out well.
Also, in my case I'm just not very photogenic; I'm much cuter in action/in person.
I've come to realize that a partner into photography and capturing your beauty (whether you're photogenic or not) is a very precious and rare person to have in your life... Sometimes I really miss the two exes I had who did that for me. Oh well.

Things I've started doing to influence my husband to take more pics of me:
- Taking more candid or random pics of him. About 1/3 of the time he will return the favor.
- Taking selfies of us together. Not the best framed pics, but definitely better than nothing.
- When we're on vacation, I started casually talking about lighting and framing while I frame my pics, to interest him in experimenting.
- Make a big deal when he does take a nice pic of me!

Things I want to try:
- Learn my angles
- Watch YouTube videos about photography (for example, how to take good pics for Instagram)
- Take professional pics more often
- Some kind of casual Instagram challenge on who can take a better pic
- "Let" him use my camera on a trip or outing

Things I need to stop:
- Saying "no" at the times he says he's gonna take a pic when I don't feel pretty
posted by koakuma at 8:15 PM on September 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

I think that picture taking can be an important piece of emotional labor. Which is to say, you shouldn't feel guilty for asking him to do a little more. I'm sure if he's reasonable he'll be happy to oblige. As a broader note, this is particularly important within families, because it's often mom taking pictures of the kids, or taking pictures of dad with the kids so mom gets left out.
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 3:27 AM on September 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

Sometimes if I am very dressed up for a special occasion, my spouse will tell me that I look pretty. Every once in a blue moon, I don't have to nudge this along by saying "HEY SPOUSE, DON'T I LOOK PRETTY?" He never really takes photos of me spontaneously, but if we're travelling someplace interesting, he is at willing to take photos of me if I ask. I feel ya.

So, if your SO is, like, mine, not possessed of a photographer's itchy trigger finger to snap pretty photos of the people close to him, I don't you aren't going to turn him into that kind of person. And if he's not the kind of person who uses social media to earnestly document the schmoopier parts of his life, you are probably not going to turn him into that either.

But it is absolutely okay and good to say "hey, I want some photos of me, please take some now." BusyBusyBusy is right that this is an emotional labor issue.

Seconding that you also need to figure out for yourself whether this is more about the photos or the sharing of them. Those "candids" you see on social media aren't usually very candid. The romantic backstory of "oh, I just had to snap a shot of my wife because I was struck by her casual beauty and gosh I bet she'll hate this but I find her beautiful even with a mouth full of toothpaste" is a bit of fantasy on everyone's part.

The times when he has taken candid photos of me, have been when I'm asleep in some unflattering pose and then he shows me after and laughs at how funny I look. Or when I'm eating some huge burger or sandwich and struggling to open my mouth wide enough, and again he takes pictures for laughs.

Well, he sees you in your ordinary-life way and trusts that he could take a funny-looking picture of you for a laugh. If you're the sort of person who can giggle at that sometimes, then he's feeling and demonstrating intimacy with you. (For me personally, this sort of photo is actually a hard no; it punches me in all kinds of insecurity spots and I'm pretty much always humorless about it.) If he does it too much, you should say that it's too much and is making you feel bad, and you can try to help him gauge. You could try to suggest a trade-off with some funny pictures and some sweet pictures, but I wouldn't be surprised if he honestly don't get how that would work -- the impulses to snap photos come from totally different places.
posted by desuetude at 7:53 AM on September 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

I think I would add a word of caution, here - a lot of answers seem to be focused on the "bae doesn't take enough pictures" element (and they're not wrong - it's not "vain" or "high-maintenance" to want your own highlight reel and for your SO to shoulder more of the emotional labor of better documenting/memorializing your relationship, and openly asking for it is fine) and sliding past the kind of photos you want and why you want them.

Many of them are totally candid. I imagine that their SOs were struck by how beautiful or adorable or happy they looked

I have certainly had "candid" moments when I'm struck by how beautiful/adorable/happy/sexy an SO is when they don't know I'm looking at them.

felt compelled to capture that moment.

But at the moment that happens, I'm in the moment; I'm feeling those feelings, I'm having a personally emotional and intimate experience, it simply doesn't occur to me to interrupt that moment and reach for a phone or a camera and "capture" that moment.

in a publicly demonstrable way.

Even if I did capture such a moment, or wound up with that kind of photo more-or-less accidentally, deciding to turn around and publicly share that record of such an intimate moment over the worldwide web (because once it's out there that image is totally out of your control) would be another matter entirely. (I can safely say that no small number of the women I've dated would be absolutely against such public sharing.)

IOW, "please take more photos of me/us" is one thing - wanting your SO to take a specific kind of photo because they're having a specific feeling (which is uncomfortably close to insisting that they have to have that feeling), and then wanting them to publicly share said photo is, IMO, wandering into deeper waters of how each of you defines and experiences intimacy, and the extent to which you separate your private life from your public life.

Which is something that would take a more serious discussion between the two of you, and maybe a little thinking on your part about why that particular kind of photo, publicly shared on social media, is the thing that's bugging you.
posted by soundguy99 at 10:45 AM on September 6, 2017 [4 favorites]

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