There’s Just No Word For It

According to the internet, there is no word in the English language for hating to be photographed.  That really surprises me.  It seems like such a common thing, how can there be no word for it?  I know I suffer from this affliction.  But every time I talk about it, I just say I hate having my picture taken.  I think we need to coin a new word.

The most obvious word would be photophobia, but that’s already taken.  It means an extreme sensitivity to light.  While there are cases of stealing words and giving them new meanings, I’m not really comfortable with that.  I think we need something new.  Unfortunately, and this is another strange thing, there aren’t that many other words for being photographed.  You can have your picture taken, but picturephobia is ugly and unclear.  It might mean a dislike of having your picture taken, but it could just as easily be a fear of eight by ten color glossies.  You can take a selfie, but that only covers a small fraction of the issue.  So selfiephobia is out.  Other words for it, like taking a snapshot or a snap just aren’t common enough to be effective.  And snapshotphobia is even uglier than picturephobia.

Maybe we’ll have better luck looking at why we hate the experience of being photographed.  I can’t speak for everyone, but I’ll bet I’m fairly typical of the type.  A lot of it comes from the fact that I photograph badly.  I never look like myself in a picture.  I can’t smile on command.  My eyes are closed more often than not.  I react to seeing myself in a picture the way most people react to hearing a recording of their voice.  I honestly can’t believe it’s me in the picture.  Everything about a picture is uncomfortable for me.  Vampires are lucky.

So, where does that get us for words?  I’m not sure it gets us anywhere.  Maybe malephoto, but that could just be a bad photograph, not necessarily a person who photographs badly.

Perhaps instead of looking at what we people who hate to be photographed are, we should look at what we are not.  That’s actually easy.  There is a word for people who photograph well and like being photographed.  They are photogenic.  People like me are not photogenic.  What if that makes us antiphotogenic?  It is a bit of a mouthful, but it doesn’t sound too bad.  And it has the advantage of sounding like a real word.  Plus it sounds all official.  Saying that I don’t like getting my picture taken makes me sound whiny.  Saying I’m antiphotogenic makes it sound like a condition, something beyond my control.

I think I like antiphotogenic.  That’s how I will describe myself from now on.  I don’t simply hate having my picture taken, I am antiphotogenic.  Now the trick is to get others to use the word.  All the antiphotogenic people of the world should unite and use it.  Maybe, in time, it can reach the dictionary.  Then, when someone searches the internet to find a word for someone who doesn’t like having their picture taken, there will be a word for it, antiphotogenic.

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