Bride has a wandering eye

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by don_tod, Jan 7, 2010.

  1. I have a wedding coming up soon where the bride has a wandering eye ie they seem to be looking two different directions. She will look at you with one eye or the other but not both at the same time. How should I be shooting images of her? Any suggestions for minimizing look of the the wandering eye?
     
  2. Don -
    My response may seem kind of like a non-response - but here goes:
    I'd suggest talking to the bride and groom about it. Find out how they want it shown / handled. Certainly they are aware of the condition and will probably have ideas on how they want it handled.
    My guess is that they would consider it like any other physical feature and not want anything special or different done to cover, hide or change it. And unless they specifically ask for something - I would not just assume that they want it minimized, covered or hidden.
    Dave
     
  3. I feel like such an A-hole... but this question actually made me laugh.
    Seriously.. I think after a little while you may get a good idea of how her optics work. If you truly do get confused, just say "OK, look off into the distance towards the window" so that it seems like you're directing rather than mocking.
    She no doubt has some sort of insecurity about this issue, and will probably prefer to be shot from a specific angle.
    Good luck!
     
  4. I agree with David-find out if there is a problem before making it into one.
    On a side note, she has a "lazy eye" not "wandering eye" Your title suggests a far bigger problem.
     
  5. She no doubt has some sort of insecurity about this issue,​
    I know (and work) with a few people who have a "lazy" eye. None of them are insecure in any way, shape or form because of it. In fact the only people who are insecure are people that don't have that condition...
    Dave
     
  6. Actually lazy eye is not the same as wandering eye. The former is amblyopia--the inability to see detail. The latter is strabismus, where the eyes are not aligned. The eye that doesn't align can develop amblyopia. But the conditions are not the same.
    I've only photographed a bride or groom with wandering eye twice. Each time, I've noticed that the best angle is when the face is turned, and the eye that doesn't 'behave' is toward the back. I don't know if this is because it makes that eye work harder to focus or what. I've also, when I had the time, instructed the subject to focus on something farther away than the camera, and to one side and then slowly work toward the camera. Sometimes the best thing is to not have them look directly at the camera--it is less noticeable that the eyes are not perfectly aligned. I think you just have to work with the subject a little until you find the best angles and methods, particularly since there are different kinds of strabismus.
    You might also ask the person. Sometimes they know what they need to do to get them looking the best. In both cases above, the subject told me before I even began shooting.
     
  7. Candids & profile shots?
     
  8. Well, I don't agree with those who say to inquire further about it. Just ignore this and shoot her the same way you would any other bride. Everybody that cares about her knows what she looks like.
    Sometimes when you try to cover things up it only draws attention to the very thing you are trying to hide. Trust me - if this bothered her she would bring it up herself.
     
  9. RT--with some things, I'd agree with you, like moles or small facial imperfections, but I think people who have wandering eye are concerned about how they look in photos, because while you don't notice it much when you have a live, moving person in front of you, you do notice it when you are looking at a still image, particularly close up, where, for instance, a person could look very cross eyed, depending upon the severity of the condition.
    One of the people I photographed had a mild case. The other, more pronouced, and both brought it to my attention before I took the first image, requesting that if I knew how to make the condition look less pronounced, I should do so.
     
  10. I go w/ Nadine all the way. The nice thing is, that the "fix" for the appearance of a wandering eye is also just plain good posing for portraits. Bodies should be at an angle to the camera, not straight on anyway, so just be sure the "problem" eye is further from the camera than the good eye.
    It's because we know - even if subconsciously - that they back eye is not to be in the same position as the front eye because it's not in the same plane. Therefore, any difference in their exact focus point is less disturbing to the brain, and the problem is not noticed.
     
  11. both brought it to my attention before I took the first image,
    That's my point.. it was they who brought it up which is perfectly fine. My best man at my own wedding has a lazy eye. He looks to me just like he does in person. Things only seem more pronounced to strangers. And to that... who cares?
     
  12. RT--do you mean wandering eye? :^) See my post above. I see what you're saying, but two points--1) men are less concerned about how they appear in photos, so 'who cares?'--I'd say most women will care how they appear in photos to family, friends and strangers, and 2) I think if someone with the condition could choose between a photo of themselves that showed the condition quite plainly or one that downplayed the misalignment, they would choose the latter, but this is my opinion only.
     
  13. Ok. That's 2 females for and 1 male (me) against addressing the eye. I'm not stupid so I shall exit this argument post haste.
    But be forewarned ladies. Today it's just an eye... tomorrow you'll be trimming the arses of portly fathers and plucking ear hair from grandparents who have no idea where they're at much less care what they look like. :)
    Nadine, I guess by your definition my friend has the wandering eye variety. (But he calls it the other).
     
  14. Not trying to beat up on you, RT. Just expressing opinions and 'discussing', which is what this forum is about. I definitely understand what you are saying.
    Portly fathers and ear hair are fine where they are. And yes, the two terms are used interchangeably, but on researching, I find they don't mean the same thing.
     
  15. Hey, all is fine and I certainly didn't feel like anyone was beating up on me. If you say the gals would feel this way then I respectfully yield to your sensibilities. Besides, In these matters I'm just a lowly male. As long as my socks match and my fly is up I'm good.
     
  16. I do not photograph weddings, but I have photographed three people who have had a lazy eye. The trick I used was to illuminate the opposite side of the face with a flash, casting a slight shadow from the bridge of the nose onto the near half of the lazy eye. This will step down the tone of the sclera, the white of the eye.
    If you can tone done the triangle of the white of the eye between the iris of the lazy eye and the nose, the laziness of the eye will be less noticeable. This same form of lighting will usually put the pupil in a slightly darker tone, which also helps.
    There is probably a postprocess trick you could use, but I can't advise on those as I don't retouch.
    The goal is a mild shadow over a portion of the eye that will cause a viewer to tell that the person has a lazy eye. In a photo, it will be the difference in the shape between the two whites of the eyes near the nose that will prompt a viewer to pick up on eye alignment. The slight shadow would de-emphasize the trigger that would cause someone to notice the difference. This shadow would only need to be mild enough to get the person to notice the other side of the face a little more. The viewer just doesn't get around to scrutinizing eye alignment.
    The person photographed might not dwell on the presence of a small shadow from the nose.
    FWIW, I find chicks with a touch of lazy eye cute. And, some of these folks may not realize that they have it if it's just a touch.
    When I saw the title about the wandering eye, I figured it was another social situation. Good luck on the wedding.
     
  17. This hasn't happened to me with photography; but, if the person you have met appears to have a lazy eye because they have a glass eye, or a living eye which has been scarred and disabled by wounds or injury, then I would recommend to photograph the face as you would for anyone else, with no special attention to the eye.
    They know what they look like. Let the scars fall where they may. This would be out of respect for the subject.
     
  18. The title caught my attention. I think John Tonai thought what I did at first. That is, "wandering eye" meant she might find fidelity to be a challenge, if you get what I mean.
     
  19. I agree with RT. If she thought it might be a problem, she would bring it up. You could take a mix of photos. Some face-on and others with her looking away. I'm no wedding photographer, but it seems to me that obsessing about this minor problem is going to result in too many shots looking as if they were manipulated and unnatural.
     
  20. i've seen that problem before. a lot of Picasso's models had it.
     
  21. Actually, I think it was a very clever title (I'm giving the OP the benefit of the doubt and assuming it was intentional), and a rather interesting question to boot. And John's answer -- very impressive.
     
  22. I wholeheartedly disagree w/ the idea that if she is self conscious about her eye, she will bring it up and now you are off the hook for addressing the issue. People can be very self-conscious about their looks but will not advertise their discomfort. The pot bellied father of the bride is not going to tell you to please not take profile shots of him that will accentuate his build, the double chinned MOB will not tell you to avoid shots that accent something that bothers her etc. There will be silent praying that you do not embarrass them and it is up to you as a photography pro and caring human being to be alert to these issues that will show up in family albums for all to see for years to come. You have correctly observed what may be a critical issue for the bride. Be a responsible pro and don't ASS U ME that if she is concerned she will bring it up. That assumption is a cop-out. She has a lot on her mind and may be in the camp of "I pray he makes me look good." OTOH she may not care a whit, but you do, and you will be able to proceed w/ doing your job well if you have addressed your concern and it gets a full airing. Being a Critical Care nurse, I will add one further caveat. When you do bring up what may be a sensitive issue, pay attention to more than the words of her reply. If a person is really sensitive about an issue she will put on a brave face and lie ( I can't put it any more sensitively) about how important it is. Proceed w/ sensitivity and professionalism and she will love your photos.
     
  23. shoot it like you would any other bride. don't make a big deal out of it. that is the way her eyes are--so shoot normally.
     
  24. Unless it is brought up by the bride, I have to agree with RT Jones.
     
  25. I'll make a medical comment and give a brief piece of advice, but trust others as to how you would technically "cover up" the 2nd eye. Amblyopia=bad vision=lazy eye, but that isn't what this is. The eye is lazy becuase it doesn't see wll, but it doesn't move in odd or unexpected directions as a normal rule. Strabismus=wandering eye=misaligned eyes. This is what you are describing as the eyes don't move together and that is what makes us uncomfortable when we look at these people. We don't know which eye we should look at when the one looking at us shifts from right to left to right... There are some neurologic things that sometimes cause this also. It may well be that the bride doesn't want you to do anything special as far as photographing her and you will know that as soon as she tells you that personally. If in fact she tells you that, she will still be impressed that you were competent enough to notice and ask.
     
  26. I would avoid using telephoto lenses to capture facial expression especially when the wondering eye is closer to the camera. I would rather use relatively wide angle lenses to capture the moment in general. In the portrait session, I would romanticize the moment by asking her to look down, look away into the distance, close her eyes, relax, and smile, etc.
    Nicolas
     
  27. Please don't mention it to the bride, she WILL be insecure about her eye and it will do more harm than good if you treat her differently than your other brides. Anyone here who says a woman with such a defect will not be insecure about it is seriously out of touch with women.
    If she wants you to handle it differently, she will ask YOU. I would honestly just shoot her at flattering angles and photoshop the eye for important photos. I'm assuming the eye is in a normal position just as often as it is in an abnormal position - just let her think her eye was "behaving" when her most important moments were shot.
     
  28. My nephew had the “lazy eye” his entire life he is about forty years old now and two years ago had surgery to correct it. I went visiting at his house and one of the first things he said was “hey look at my eye I got it fixed”! I apologized for not noticing but explained to him that I have known him all his life and that I had gotten so used to his eye, that it was just a part of him and that when I looked at him I just didn’t see it anymore. I am sure the bride’s family feels the same way so although you may want to try and minimize her eye in the photographs I am sure to the people who know and love her it makes no difference at all.
     
  29. I know it has already been said, but I thought something way different when reading this title. I agree with everyone else who have already said it. Ask them what they are comfortable with.
     
  30. Some years ago, the actor Michael Caine did an interview in which he talked about proper camera "look" and how using one or the other eye affected whether or not the subject appears to be cross-eyed as a result. Depending on how severe your bride's condition is, it may be possible to direct her gaze in such a way to overcome the appearance somewhat, since it is likewise possible to direct the gaze in such a way that people with "normal" eyes appear abnormal on camera. Just a thought and something to consider.
     
  31. This may involve a bit more work, but where possible shoot "both ways" ie as you would normally and then as you would to minimize the effect of the differences in alignment between the two eyes.
    That way you may be able to solve the problem without drawing attention to it. The bride will then be able to pick what she truly likes afterwards without any suggestion of a problem. My concern with going all out in one direction is making the bride look different from who she really is, so the suggestion here is one of maximum choice as opposed to a specific look.
    I once knew a girl with a chipped front tooth that made her look so cute. After she had that tooth fixed she looked so plain (to me).
     
  32. My son has a soft eye.. When I shoot him, I focus on his straight eye and shoot from that side. If i get him right front to front, I kneel. Other than that, it business as usual.
     
  33. I've shot brides with lazy eye on several occasions. Simply be aware of it and you can often adjust the facial angle to eliminate or minimize it. There's no need to discuss this ahead of time, she already is well aware of how she photographs and unless she specifically asks about it, I don't see any need to discuss. Just do a good job, help her to look her best and don't obsess over it. Easy peasy.......
     
  34. Profiles and 3/4 views....
    DON'T bring it up to the couple unless they bring it up first. Your job is to make 'em look good no matter how difficult.
     
  35. Nadine said it. Pose the subject at a 3/4 angle with the problem eye further away. & I agree with the guys who advise you not to mention it. Just make her look OK.
     
  36. Unless the couple mentions it, I, too, would not bring it up.
    People generally want to look their best in photos. My job is to do that in a way that's as stress-free as possible for the couple. Anybody can buy a dSLR and take pictures that are reasonably in focus and exposed well 90% of the time. I earn my fee not only by filling in *most* of the 10% gap (I'm not perfect) but also by having the experience to know how to make people look better than the deer-in-headlights approach. :)
    Most Americans are overweight. Photos can accentuate this. I don't tell the majority of my clients that they're overweight and ask if they want me to minimize this. That would be ludicrous! I know that I'm overweight. When we last had a family portrait done, our photographer didn't point that out to me and ask if he should pose me in such a way to make us look better.
    Eric
     
  37. "Most Americans are overweight. Photos can accentuate this. I don't tell the majority of my clients that they're overweight and ask if they want me to minimize this. That would be ludicrous! I know that I'm overweight. When we last had a family portrait done, our photographer didn't point that out to me and ask if he should pose me in such a way to make us look better." -Eric

    Excellent analogy Eric. BTW, a 3/4 view of the face will not necessarily fix the problem, it depends on what direction the eyes are looking. You can position the bride and then simply tweak the head position just prior to taking the photo.
     
  38. Do all as you'd normally photograph but always keep in mind the photographic concern you have for the eye. It's your concern and just deal with it using the suggestions above but do it without creating angst. Shoot normally but also shoot some photos with the quiet intent to have the brides eye of concern be located as the far eye (2/3 view) ... but, all the shots you take don't have to be positioning the bride with the eye in mind.
    Just shoot but give them some photos where you've quietly planned the eye of concern on the far side.
    If they bring it up then talk Briefly and assure them you'll shoot some shots with their concern in mind but tell them to just smile and have Fun. Assure them that all will be done well and suggest the best way to handle it is for them to have Fun ... the smiles will out-shine the eye.
     
  39. I'm a little surprised at the disagreement over whether to talk to the subject or not. Like many things, I believe one should use judgement and not make this issue black and white. I don't, for instance, think that people who are slightly overweight generally volunteer that information, but I do think that people with strabismus generally would. Yet, I have had people who are overweight say they are, and ask me to be aware of that when I take their pictures. They fully expect me to tell them how to stand, etc., so they look slimmer.
    Also, in the course of taking someone's picture, it has come out, one way or the other, that the person has a concern about this or that. They may not volunteer information about that concern at the onset but in 'posing' someone, I sometimes do initiate conversation about a flaw. I rely on my intuition, whether the person would be open to it or not. In all cases where I have, the person was not offended--most were grateful and actually relieved that I noticed and knew what to do about it--issues such as double chins, crooked noses or teeth, one eye smaller than the other, etc.
    In other words, a little sensitivity goes a long way.
    I do agree with the person above who said that we, as photographers, have a responsibility to the client to help them look their best if we can, particularly for weddings, where the bride and groom generally want to look their best. This is not to say that a photographer should go overboard with constantly setting up forced poses or situations at every turn. Obviously, due to the nature of weddings, one cannot control a great deal of the action. However, if we know how to, we can certainly control what we can control, with or without conversation with the subject. To deliberately not make any attempt to improve the appearance of the subject when we can, to me, is shirking that responsibility. If the topic is not out in the open, one can still give directions that will place the subject in the best possible position.
    And David S. is right--there is no one way of handling strabismus. Putting the wandering eye to the back may not work all the time. In my two experiences with subjects having that condition, since they brought it up first, I deliberately had them turn their heads from one side to the other while focusing on me, just to see whether a certain head position would help. I also had them focus on other things beyond me and refocus. And obviously, you can't have the subject not looking at the camera in every picture, particularly if it is supposed to be a posed, portrait shot. Logically, one would try to provide a variety of shots, and control the appearance of the 'flaw' when one can and as one can.
     
  40. I'd just keep yelling, "Hey! I'm over here!". But that's just me. I don't recommend that you do that.
    Michael J Hoffman
     
  41. Two suggestions. First, rather than specifically bring up her eye, why not just brief with them and ask a general question as to whether there are any specific issues that you need to be made aware of?
    Second, can you run some studio or casual portrait shots before the wedding and run them by the bride and groom for comment? Before my wife and I were married, we had our photographer shoot some engagement photos in his studio. We reviewed the shots and I specifically selected and reviewed photos with him that showed me smiling the way I wanted to be seen in my wedding shots. This let him know what to look for when he worked with us on the formal shots on the day of the wedding. It worked quite well for all parties involved.
    --Ken
     
  42. I should add, to those who photograph with no or very little posing at all--one can still exercise some control by one's own positioning in relation to the subject. Taking a step to one side or the other (when one can) to achieve a 2/3 or 3/4 view, for instance, rather than stopping and positioning the subject. One also shouldn't forgo photographing the subject in a completely candid moment, just because it may make the stabismus worse.
     
  43. This has been an interesting discussion although my mind initially..ermmm...."wandered" when I first read the title :) Good advice generally, methinks. A few crude comments though. Even though made in jest, I don't think it's ok to make light of someone else's physical state, unless it's they themselves that initiate the humor. Sorry to go off-topic a little bit, I just felt strongly about that.
    John O'Keefe Odom, that's a very interesting technique I'll try to bear in mind if I ever I am in such a scenario.
     
  44. I was born with stabismus but it was surgically corrected at the age of about 2. My wife is a physician and says strabismus can be surgicallly corrected in adults as well. Her suggestion is that you set up the pose according to the direction that the "wandering" eye wants to look, and then have the bride look in the same direction with the other eye to match. She says the "good" eye is usually manueverable/directable. I would definitely ask her about it ahead of time. Tell her you can pose her in a way that minimize the impact or that you can shoot normally, whichever is her preference.
     
  45. Wow, Craig--that was simple and completely logical advice from your wife. Maybe that's why you can't solve this the same way--the wandering eye, I'm sure, tends to look in a different direction from person to person, and why having the subject turn from side to side while observing can tell you a lot about which angles look good.
     
  46. "Her suggestion is that you set up the pose according to the direction that the "wandering" eye wants to look, and then have the bride look in the same direction with the other eye to match...."

    Which is exactly what I do, you can tweak with small adjustments of the head till the eyes match-up. Easy peasy.............
     
  47. Yes, David, but the piece of information which is important is that the wandering eye 'likes' to look in a certain direction--I also have the subject turn from side to side, but it didn't dawn on me that the wandering eye has directional tendencies beyond the subject's ability to control it. Next time, it should be easier and faster for me to figure it out. Not to mention the same for people who don't speak to the subject about the issue. They can observe and figure out the best angles from afar.
     
  48. As someone who has strabismus (which has been surgically addressed, but I still have some asymmetry to my face), I'd make the following observations:
    1) The overweight analogy fails after a point because viewers are much more sensitive to symmetry (or lack thereof) than to figure variations.
    2) Photography freezes the micro moment. This isn't as obvious as it sounds: life is composed of an endless series of these micro-moments that are composited into the sum viewer experience. These micromoments taken in isolation can single out an unpleasant reality. Shoot people eating if you don't get this. You don't realize how ridiculous the act of eating is until you capture people doing it. It is your sometimes unpleasant task, and a test of your skills, to address this reality.
    3) Unless the bride has supreme self-confidence (or an utter lack of self-awareness), she certainly is aware of her condition and has some sensitivity about it at SOME level. She expects you to make her look good. If you hand her a lovely portrait with one eye shooting off-stage, it will ultimately ceremoniously hang in her closet. She may know she has the lazy eye, but I certainly wouldn't want such a picture commemorating the moment, much less my wedding pic.
    4) Ask her to show you some favorite pictures of herself. See how SHE thinks she looks best, stated or unstated.
    5) IF the bride seems reasonably confident and engaged, interested in the process, perhaps you will have an opportunity to say "As a photographer, it's my job to look intently at the world. I notice you have a bit of strabismus, and was curious how you feel about it, if it is a sensitive issue for you." You need to have a bit of this dialog somewhere. Do this with no one around. You don't want her b.s.ing in front of her mom, etc.
    6) If she seems generally sensitive, overly wired (you know the type), and you don't think you can discuss the subject, DO YOUR BEST TO MAKE HER LOOK GOOD. I'm gonna bet the subject that really doesn't bring it up may be the most sensitive. I'm also bald, I'm comfortable with it, but it doesn't mean I want pics that are a tribute to my dome.
    7) Shoot a lot. You'll find moments where she has better engagement and alignment than others. Some directions are harder for the subject to align her eyes in (either intentionally or passively.
    8) Straight on is the most precarious and likely to produce poor results.
    9) If you have a good dialog going with her, maybe even shoot some test shots before the wedding (I know, this is extreme...). Have her pose and ask her to look at you with the lazy eye. This is (I've never heard otherwise) the non-dominant eye, and by purposefully engaging it, you may find they align more photogenically. On the other hand, beware if she can't produce a relaxed expression while doing this. It's harder for some people than others, and not necessarily something extra you want to inflict on her wedding day.
    10) Loudly sing "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Strabismus!" This will either break the ice or find you out cold on the floor with the front door standing open.*
    11) Divert her attention to her big ears.
    12) Have her hold a Lab puppy over the lazy eye. +puppies -eye issue = win-win!
    I'll close with a story (not sure if it's true or not) a cosmetic surgeon once told me: Fresh out of med school, he started in with a new patient "I can really help with your ears!" To which she replied "I'm here about my nose." I guess, tread lightly and be sensitive is probably the bottom line with issues like this.
    Hope this helps, let us know how it turns out. Er, works out.
    *As a member of this club, I can make this joke, and I've been waiting a long time to do so.
     
  49. Thanks, Steve... :^)
     
  50. My wife has strabismus and I have to agree with Steve, especially on his micro moment comment. The fact of the matter is, the people that know her don't realize she has it. It's only when you first meet the person that you notice it, then you sort of forget that it's there. I don't even recognize it anymore unless I see a photograph of my wife looking directly into a camera without her glasses on. These insanely detailed, super megapixely cameras that we shoot with these days bring all the imperfections right up to the surface for everyone to stop and look at.
    I find that my wife tends to either take pictures with her glasses on, makes sure that a part of her bangs is brushed partly over the eye, or she tries to angle her face away from the camera slightly. She's very aware of it even though hers is a very minor case.
    If you need a way to start the subject, why not lie? :eek:) Say that you have a relative with strabismus and that you know from family gatherings that they only like to be photographed in certain ways and that you wanted to know if this bride felt the same way. After all, you want her to be happy with her pictures. And use the medical term. I don't know why, but it just sounds more polite. I notice that when my wife refers to it she always uses the medical term.
     
  51. And I thought Strabismus was a violin...
     
  52. Make sure the bride thinks you are happily married. Usually works.
     
  53. I am a male with mostly-corrected Strabismus and found this topic by searching for tips on how best to "hide" my condition in photos. There have been a few people who replied to this topic who either have Strabismus or know someone who does. I want to add my voice to the discussion, though it hasn't been breached in some time now. This will be difficult for me to write, but I feel it needs to be added to the conversation.

    Most people who suffer from Strabismus are painfully aware they have it. It can be crippling socially. As they say, the eyes are the "window to the soul". If that is true, then many of us who live with the condition consider our windows broken, the house in a state of ruin. We tend to avoid eye contact which makes meaningful conversation difficult, not to mention making it nigh impossible for strangers to trust us. For many, the psychological scars run deep. Can you imagine a life of painful isolation where you feel inferior to everyone around you? Or avoiding children because you know they will eventually pop "the question"? And please understand. This is not blaming the innocent child for not understanding that some people look different. It's about the crushing embarrassment brought on by the question itself. I learned to shave by feeling my way around my face to avoid seeing myself in the mirror. This is life with Strabismus for many.
    Most physical ailments are taboo to speak of in a derogatory manner. This certainly isn't true of Strabismus. In Hollywood, the condition is fair game. Mike Myers used it as a running gag in the movie "A View From The Top". Steve Buscemi played a cross-eyed character is "Mr. Deeds" named "Crazy Eyes". I won't bore everyone with an exhaustive list of characters who suffer from the condition or cite every instance of "cross-eyed" referenced with scorn, but I will say I have yet to find a single portrayal that casts such characters in a positive light. The characters are always unintelligent and often referred to in some way as being "crazy". Without fail the condition is played for laughs. I saw "A View From The Top" when it came out and waited for the theater to empty before leaving. I literally wanted to hide from the world. Or die. I didn't care which at the moment.


    Suffering with Strabismus is also a surefire ticket to having one's intelligence questioned. I've had people ask my friends or family if I could comprehend what they were saying or ask what was wrong with me as if I weren't standing there. One girl asked my nephew if I was "retarded". I shook my head, smiled, and replied that I was college-educated with an IQ of 170. I considered some snappy comebacks about her lack of social skills but elected to navigate the high road. I was once passed over for a promotion at work because the boss assumed I wasn't "all there because of my crazy-ass eyes" as he told a co-worker. Yes, I could have pursued a lawsuit but that would have meant drawing attention to my condition.


    Until recently I avoided photographs altogether. My friends and family have very few pictures of me. My son brought me out of my shell somewhat when he was born. I refused to allow my condition to rob him of pictures with his father. I still feel that apprehension when the cameras come out even though my eyes are mostly corrected now, meaning a medical professional can spot the Strabismus but the average person cannot.
    I wish such struggles were unique to me but unfortunately that isn't the case. I belong to two online groups dedicated to the challenges of living with Strabismus. In ten years of interacting with thousands of others who suffer from the condition, I've found an overwhelming majority also suffer extreme depression and other social disorders. I saw a survey once of over 1,000 Strabismus patients and a significant majority said they would trade up to twenty years of life expectancy in exchange for normal eye alignment. Think about how crippling the condition is for even one to make such a statement! Unfortunately, too many sufferers are suicidal or hurt themselves in some manner such as cutting, etc. I once considered gouging out my bad eye so I could cover it with a patch. That may sound insane but think about it. Those characters are often suave and debonair swashbuckling types, a romantic ideal. On the soap opera "Days Of Our Lives", the character Patch was portrayed as sexy and dangerous. I doubt that would be the case if he suffered from Strabismus. Comic relief would have been the best he could hope for.


    The condition clearly isn't a laughing matter. For many, it means a lifetime of alienation and deep wounds that never heal, always fresh like a scab that was violently ripped away.
    So to answer the question of how to handle a photography session when dealing with Strabismus, I would say do so very carefully. Even the most well-intentioned comment can crush a person's already low self-esteem. I don't believe pointing out the bride's condition has value in such a case. She already knows she has Strabismus. Drawing focus to it would take the wind right out of her sails on what should be a happy occasion.

    Instead, be discreet in positioning her in such ways as to minimize the misalignment. If you want to do her a REAL favor, pose her with some pictures in profile. Such shots would include bride and groom holding hands gazing lovingly into one another's eyes with the "bad" eye away from the camera, a shot of them kissing, etc. For many sufferers, a spouse is the ONE person whose gaze they trust. Use that to your advantage. During a summer day wedding or a beach wedding, you could even have a fun shot of the wedding party outdoors in sunglasses! Be creative! If suggested in a way that doesn't seem to draw attention to the bride or groom's eyes, I guarantee the shot will not only yield a very relaxed subject but produce a photo that would be treasured for many years.
    Someone mentioned using Photoshop to correct the alignment. No! No! No! No! No! Absolutely not, unless the Strabismus sufferer requests it first. At that point they've engaged you in dialogue about their condition. I had some pictures corrected once without being told. While I appreciated the straight eyes staring back at me, it was a painful reminder that there was something so terribly wrong with me that the photographer took it on themselves to "fix" me, lest I "ruin" their work.


    Most of all remain cognizant of the situation and respectful throughout. Wishing all you photographers the best!
     

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