“What do you call a dog with no legs?” I say as I try to get the couple to smile.
“Unlucky.” The man says.
“Doesn’t matter, he won’t come anyway.” I capture an image, but it is not really all that good.
I’m kind of a minimalist portrait photographer-I spent only a few minutes with my Subjects, and I tend to give them simple and easy to follow instructions. I have a handful of jokes that I tell, most of which are not really all that funny and tend to induce a groan rather than a smile. But they do often lighten the mood and people will relax and smile naturally after a minute or two.
Small children do like the whole saying Cheese thing-and I have a personal preferance for cheesy smiles anyway. I learned to juggle during my I’m going to run off and join the circus years and that tends to impress small children and a surprsing number of adults. Very small children like to see things fall off the top of someone’s head.
“Where do you find a dog with no legs?”
“Wherever you left him.”
My Manager is one of those good people just killing time until he can retire and leave this nasty business of telling photographers where to go behind him. He’s not a big fan of being silly or telling jokes-though he does expect us to take portraits that people will like.
Of course, not everyone wants to be smiling in a portrait, most men and a lot of women like to predent that they are posing for the latest version of American Gothic. A lot of teenages have that whole Angst thing going on and don’t want to smile for a picture either. But I can usually get them to smile for one or two shots-Just for Mom.
“Two worms were in a race. They ended up in a Tie.”
I tend to like slightly mean spirited jokes, but they are, you know, jokes. Some people don’t like the idea of a dog with no legs, or tell me about their own dog who only has three legs or two legs or tell me about that dog they saw on YouTube. But I am not really interested in real world dogs-I’m just trying to get them to smile.
“What do you call a cow with no legs?”
The fact of the matter is that I only have about five or six jokes that I tell on a regular basis and if someone really wants a joke for every shot-well, their out of luck. I have a lot of people tell me how hard it is for them to smile on command-and I can understand that to a certain extent. I smile all the time so I have no problem whipping out my genuine fake smile when the need arises. The worst people are parents, who look at their children and say-oh no, is that how she’s been smiling the whole time?
“What do you call a cow with two legs?”
From time to time I have someone tell me a joke, some are good, some are really bad, and almost all of them I have heard before. The ones I haven’t heard are still usually pretty bad. Jokes aren’t what they used to be. People like Jerry Stienfeld and Steve Martin have turned comedy into someone standing around making random comments for forty-five minutes and being paid millions of dollars a year to do so.
Prairie Home Compaion has a Joke Show once a year where they do nothing but tell jokes for two hours. There are a lot of great jokes there-and I can never seem to remember any of them. Of course, most jokes are a bit long and most one liners people have heard before. Still, I do love a good joke.
“What do you get when you cross a dyslectic, an agnostic, and an insomniac?”
“Someone who lays awake at night poundering the existence of DOG.”
I used to take Band Pictures and there are a ton of band jokes-muscians being a natural target of ridicule because they have some actual skills that most of can’t be bothered to acquire. Well, not musicans have talent-drummers sping to mind here.
What do you call a drummer with half a brain?
What do you call someone who hangs around with musicians?
How do improve the looks of a drummer’s car?
Take off the Domino’s sign.
I don’t get to use too many of my band jokes anymore, which is very likely a good thing.