Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Chronic Illness and Pain: Camera Shy?

Maureen Pratt Author PicWith apologies to the beloved Christmas tune, “It’s the most photographed time of the year!”

From now until the New Year, millions, if not billions of pictures will be snapped. Hours and hours of video will be shot. And you, like it or not, just might find yourself staring at the lens of a camera or video contraption, wondering things like, “Why do I have to be on prednisone and have such an ugly, round face?” or, “Great, I was up all night with all this pain and now they want a family portrait!”


Or, maybe you might run from the scene completely – camera shy to the core.

You don’t have to suffer from a debilitating medical condition to dread having your picture taken. I know many perfectly healthy – and attractive – people who shrink from the lens, so you’re in good company.

But there’s something about Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and all the other occasions til the beginning of January that brings out the inner Ansel Adams in people. Some relatives, friends, even total strangers simply must capture the moments on film. Camera shy or not, people are expected to join in.

In some ways, it’s nice that people take the time and make the effort to photograph precious events. I have recently spent many hours going through boxes of photographs, and there are many pictures I am delighted to have of relatives and friends who are no longer alive and of events that were happy and special.


But if you live with chronic illness and pain and feel you are “appearance challenged” in any way, getting your picture taken takes on a whole other dimension. Perhaps you’ve gained weight. Shed your hair. Had bad dental problems. Lost your confidence. Medical bills have sapped your financial resources, and you don’t have “party clothes” or the money to get your hair, nails, and makeup updates. Maybe, too, you are depressed, not happy about your situation in life, no matter how festive the time of year, and you know your smile doesn’t reach your eyes…even when you can muster a smile.

Perhaps, when the photographer says, “Cheese,” you’d rather say, “Bah! Humbug!”


I understand all of this. And I’ve cringed a time or two when the cameras come out.  Certainly, it’s okay to decline to be photographed. After all, it is your image and your prerogative.

But before balking, think about the occasion and the people involved. As bad as you might feel, are you with people you love and who love you? Are you grateful for the time God has given for you to be together? Are you surrounded by comfort? Affection? Laughter?

Would you, years from now, like to find a picture of this moment in your box of memories?

Sitting for professional photographers or being in the newspaper or television is one thing. Capturing a beloved moment, to revisit later, is another – and is often well-worth overcoming your inner camera shyness. If you can invite boldness, and get a copy of whatever scene is snapped, you might find that, on one of those really bad, bleak days to come, the photograph can invite  many positive feelings to help you through.

Blessings for the day,



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