Photograph Yourself In Your Prime

When I was still a teenager, I dated a girl whose family friends included the lead singer of a famous soul-music band from the 1970s. The guy, who we’ll call Randall, had since retired from the music scene, enjoying his years anonymously at a nondescript blue-collar job in the city. My then-girlfriend’s father, who worked with the guy, only learned about Randall’s glittering past two or three years into their professional relationship, when he’d requested some days off for a “reunion concert.” Randall’s former band members had talked him into getting on stage one more time.

Fortunately for me, my girlfriend’s father was looking out and—knowing that I liked that type of music—had the presence of mind to hit the guy up for tickets. He called me to tell me the good news, adding that all I needed to do was to show up. Not only would I get to catch the extravaganza, I would be “part of his entourage” backstage. In retrospect, her father was the highlight of that relationship.


The show was at a big venue in New York City, and I showed up early enough to hang out with Randall and his band members in their hotel’s lobby. Despite being decades past their prime, and several pounds overweight, these guys were absolutely electric. You could tell they had done this before. They were dressed to the nines, and emitted an effortless larger-than-life energy that drew stares.

I, on the other hands, couldn’t have been greener. I wore nothing more than a plain-looking pair of corduroys and an ill-fitting vintage t-shirt. Despite this, two different (hot) girls approached me with the flimsiest of excuses. One asked me what kind of music “we” performed. Another asked me where I’d gotten the shitty t-shirt I was wearing. At the time, I thought she really wanted to know and carried on about how I’d managed to get my hands on it.


The entire time we were sitting in the lobby, Randall was snapping pictures of everyone—and everythingin sight with a professional-grade SLR camera he’d been wearing around his neck. And, when I say everything, I mean everything. He photographed the empty concierge desk. He photographed the lobby phone. He photographed me. It was the weirdest sight: a guy wearing a sequin-covered, disco-king outfit snapping pictures. It would have made more sense if it had been the other way around—with people taking pictures of him—a fact I noted out loud when I finally got irritated enough at having his camera in my face to same something. “Randall, why on Earth are you taking so many pictures?” His answer struck me.

When we were in our prime, we performed all over the world. We performed in front of royalty. We once performed with Michael Jackson. We won awards. We performed in amazing venues that no longer exist. I saw my name in lights, which is a feeling you can’t imagine until you’ve experienced it. Do you know how many pictures I have from that time?

With his right-hand fingers he formed a number zero. “Not a single one. The only pictures from that world that I have are a few newspaper clippings.”

Some years after the Randall incident, I was at another girlfriend’s house. It must have been Thanksgiving, and a bunch of her family members were sitting around talking shit about the past. Naturally, the photo album came out. Bored, but intrigued at the prospect of spying something interesting or scandalous, I leaned in. On one of the pages I spotted the coolest cat. He had perfect hair, perfectly groomed sideburns, a beautiful (and expensive-looking) butterfly-collar shirt with a loud print, and a cigarette hanging loosely in his mouth. “Who’s that?!” I asked with genuine admiration for the guy’s steeze. “That’s Bryan,” a chorus of people answered. At hearing his name, Bryan—my girlfriend’s old, pot-bellied, balding father—walked over and said, “Pfft. I was the shit back then.”


Sitting in the corner, I couldn’t help but wonder: how many pictures like that–of me in my prime–do I have? How many moments have I missed? How many more years do I have where I actually can look my best?

Despite the fact that nowadays everyone carries a phone with a camera in it, and social networking enables sharing pictures with incredible ease, I’m astounded by the number of guys I meet who agree with me when I say “man, I have such few pictures of myself.” For all of the complaining that we do about female attention-whoring—and I’m among the leaders in that project—girls simply don’t have this problem. They spend half their day photographing each other, in every permutation possible, looking for the most flattering angle, lighting, and facial expression.

Needless to say, we don’t need to descend into the world of chick-level attention-whoring—Instagram selfies and 500 pictures in a single night out—but the next time you’re suited up, coming off a two-month workout binge, or doing something big, have a buddy grab a few shots for you. You’ll thank yourself for it later.

Read More: Meeting Melissa

19 thoughts on “Photograph Yourself In Your Prime”

  1. Reminds me of my first professional job. Went to the airport in corduroys, crappy shirt, and desert-style boots. When my well-dressed boss saw me he screamed “YOU AMATEUR!”. I have found that calling someone an amateur is about the worst insult.

  2. Reminds me of my first professional job. Went to the airport in corduroys, crappy shirt, and desert-style boots. When my well-dressed boss saw me he screamed “YOU AMATEUR!”. I have found that calling someone an amateur is about the worst insult.

  3. Makes sense. I recently chatted with my ex roommate from college. He had a bunch of photos from those days; partying it up, special events, etc and I’m glad he had saved all of them.

  4. What happens when they find out you no longer look anything like your old photo?

  5. Depends on how you define “your prime.” For chicks, the 20s are their prime, but they can extend this into the 30s provided that they take care of themselves.
    For guys, maybe the prime doesn’t begin until the 30s and then spills over into the 40s. Again, provided that someone takes care of themselves.
    Though I was in my physical prime in my late 20s, I didn’t know how to dress properly until within the past five years. Simply, I didn’t give a shit that much about how I looked or how I presented myself to others. I felt that my accomplishments would have been sufficient. Now, I can see that I was half-wrong. But, no one bothered to point it out. Nor did the Manosphere exist back then to indirectly point it out.

    1. It’s not just about your prime, but you get to see yourself grow as man. What you thought was cool is no longer cool and vice versa. Remember, you never know when your “prime” is until it passes.

  6. Great story Tuth. Unless I was overseass, I’ve been too cool for school when came to taking pictures (I was always future minded. I felt, “fcuk the present”. Yet know I’m in a more enjoy current moment, because tomorow is not promised, mindset. And I am realizing the value of posterity. I too am embarrassingly grateful when someone uploads old college-era photos to Facebook, because that time is lost. Glad someone had the sense to capture it.

  7. Social media has taught me that the vast majority of people don’t do shit. Look at the pics most people post on facebook, they are crappy flash washed out snapshots of people in some restaurant or bar. Please do yourself a favor and post pictures of yourself doing manly things – standing atop mountains, finishing a race, standing above your kill, etc. – and stand out from the crowd. Those are the pictures you will care about in the future.

  8. Very true. I have very few pictures of myself back then. Come to think of it, most fo the glory pictures I have were from a distance?
    Will have to correct, thanks for the article.

  9. This is actually very good advice. Quite profound, actually.
    “Rejoice, young man, in thy youth.”
    I believe this quote is from Ecclesiastes. It appeared in the opening credits to Oliver Stone’s film “Platoon”.

  10. I remember a rooshv article that implored its readers to film themselves and their partners having sex. I recommend this. I have a library of me, with hot girls, banging quief. I upload the video and sound and use them as ringtones and screensavers on my phone. Thanks, Tuthmosis.

  11. I take a lot of pictures. My friends would always get annoyed, but then would magically want to look at them when I posted them up. Pictures are great, just don’t be a 15 year old about it.

  12. As birthday presents for several girls that I really appreciated for booty calls, I gave them certificates for Glamor Shots, with the rule only that they give me two of their best shots. As time passes, and other relationships intervene, they’ve still never forgotten who gave them the photos of them at their best. They get back on the booty list when they’re in between relationships. A very good investment.

  13. I disagree with this…taking photos is for women and something you do so mom doesn’t get mad and has something to put in the family photo album.
    Who wants to be a sentimental pussy living in the past, “oh look at me in my glory days”. Live for today, make it a part of you, and move on. No need to dwell.
    If you have the time to break out the photo album and tear up over the “good old days”, then you’re not making forward progress.

    1. If you are a 20 something, take a chance and take those photos just in case you change your mind when you get older and would like to look back. If you don’t like the way you look now, take that picture anyway — then get fit so you can be even prouder of your hard work. If you don’t know where you’ve come from you can not appreciate how far you’ve come or where you are going — we can’t ignore the past — we can learn to live with it.

  14. Great points here. I’m 52 now, and I find myself frequently sneaking peaks at my pictures from when I was 22 and roaming the world on grand adventures.
    When you get older, you just can’t do this stuff. You look in the mirror and say FUCK!! FUCK!!
    Those pictures of you at 22 will really help you hold back the depression, because you can say “well, I didn’t waste my time at least”.

  15. I get it.
    This is extremely important.
    I also think its important to make homemade porn. We need to capture images of ourselves making love to beautiful women.

  16. Good advice, but some people take it too far. I hate every moment being interrupted by someone saying “Stop! Let’s take a picture!” It ruins the moment.

Comments are closed.