The embarrassing picture

March 14, 2024   ·   0 Comments

By Keith Schell

Newspaper editors have a wicked sense of humour. I think it’s probably because they have to deal with the same routine news stuff day after day, week after week, and year after year.

For weekly publications, it’s always pictures of Boy Scout jamborees or kids hockey games, who won the darts tournament at the local Legion, the local 4-H club winners, who won free oil changes for a year at the local garage, the local slow-pitch scores, and so forth. Things like these are the lifeblood of the weekly newspaper, all very nice and wholesome, and certainly very newsworthy for the average small town. And it makes the readership happy. After all, everyone likes to see their picture in the local paper.

But all these things might become very routine and humdrum over time for an editor who might like to sink their teeth into something a little more substantial on occasion. So the times when an editor does come across something a little out of the ordinary they can use, I imagine they do so quite gleefully.

For better or for worse, they say timing is everything. And that’s very true in the newspaper business. For a newspaper photographer, taking a picture at just the right time and in just the right way can produce a classic photograph of award-winning proportions. Or, by the same token, taking a picture at just the wrong time and in just the wrong way can similarly produce a classic picture with unexpectedly humourous results. 

Before I moved to the city for work, I was a member of our local small-town badminton club, playing every Wednesday evening throughout the winter.

Our local newspaper back then decided to do a human interest story on the badminton club, a kind of ‘what’s happening around town’ feature in an attempt to garner more interest and possibly draw more members into the club. A reporter was sent out to take a few candid snapshots of the action at the club one Wednesday evening.

The reporter spoke with the convenor of the club and then went around the gymnasium and took various action shots of different matches from different angles. I noticed the reporter but didn’t pay much mind to him and just kept on playing my matches.  

The next week when we brought our local newspaper home from town, our Mother sat down in the living room and started to read it in a quiet moment.

Was there a photo of the local badminton club in the paper that week? There sure was. 

Did they print the picture of the classic flattering action shot or the smiling group picture of the entire club assembled in one spot?


Our Mother burst out laughing and called me over to look at the newspaper. She told me I was in a picture. I knew what the picture was probably about. Hey, I got my picture in the paper this week playing badminton! COOL!

I looked at the picture. The badminton club photo our local newspaper ultimately printed that week, for all the town to see, was an action shot of a heated game in the foreground of the picture. But in the background of the shot was myself playing in my own match. The action in my game had stopped momentarily and I had to call a temporary ‘time out’ to adjust my personal accoutrements.

And there, in the background of that newspaper picture, as plain as day for the entire town to see, was me pulling a wedgie out of my crotch.

I was mortified.

OMIGOD! When everyone sees that picture, the whole town is going to think I’m ‘lousy’!

If our Mother was any indication of the general reaction to that picture, I’m sure that anyone who knew me got a bit of a chuckle out of seeing that photo when it first came out. 

Looking at me with a smile, our Mother asked me if I wanted to save the picture. Still embarrassed, I gave her an emphatic “NO!” and I threw the picture in the trash. Out of all the multitude of action shots taken on that night, our local newspaper editor, in his evil infinite wisdom, decided to go with the one-and-only picture of me in the background pulling my unmentionables out of my nether regions. Sigh. And while it was a less-than-flattering shot, I still got my picture in the paper that week so I guess I can count that as a win, I think. Hey, even though I didn’t think so at the time, any publicity is supposed to be good publicity, right? Maybe so, maybe not. I’m still kind of on the fence over that one.

With hindsight and maturity, I actually wish now I would have saved that picture. It would be good for a laugh nowadays had I kept it. When I have the inclination, I might have to go through the town news archives someday to see if I can actually locate that picture.

So beware the newspaper editor with the wicked sense of humour. You never know what kind of picture they might put in the paper at your expense. But keep your sense of humour about the whole situation and save your picture should it happen to you. You will survive the embarrassment and it will pass. And down the road you will have a good chuckle when you look back at it.  

After all, as we get older it’s kind of nice to reflect at times on the things that happened to us when we were younger and enjoy the occasional good laugh!   

Readers Comments (0)

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.