Posted by: kerryl29 | January 16, 2012

Care For a Bit of Whimsy With Your Images or What’s In a Name?

I know that those of you who have chosen to follow this blog (I’ll take this moment to say thanks very much to you collectively, not incidentally) expect installments about photography. It is, after all, a self-identified photography blog.  And since its inception  approximately 2 1/2 years ago, the only exceptions to this category of entries have been a few posts acknowledging award nominations.  The blog’s focus will continue to be primarily–if not entirely–photography-related.

I’m going to pivot, however, from this point of emphasis for a moment.  This entry–the one you’re currently reading–is going to head in another direction, for reasons that will presumably become apparent presently.  As I said, I don’t see this sort of thing becoming a topical trend, so if you’re hoping for more photography-related material, that will return in the next entry.  (The topic has already been selected…and everything!)  In the meantime, indulge me, if you’d be so kind.

A few days ago, in an extremely gracious acknowledgment post, a fellow blogger referred to me as “she.”  It was the fifth such reference–to me as a female–that I’m aware of in the blogosphere in the past few weeks, all of them by different individuals.  Why am I mentioning this?  Because–in a revelation that is sure to be a surprise to at least some of you–I’m a he, not a she.  I’m quite certain of this; the reality is starkly reinforced every time I prepare to take a shower…among other situations.

I make light of this because…look, I’ve been dealing with this sort of thing my entire life.  It is not the fault of my fellow bloggers that they drew an assumption; they join a long and (somewhat) illustrious list of individuals who have erroneously assumed, based on my first name, that I’m female.

One would think that I’d have become used to this–and in fact, I have, in a sense.  This was not always so.  When I was a kid, this first name business had the potential to turn me into a target.  Coupled with my stature–I was always the shortest kid in my class until I was in high school–I might as well have had a “kick me” sign permanently affixed to my body.  (I’m convinced that it was only my considerable natural athletic ability that saved me from a childhood of victimization at the hands of bullies.)  Now it’s simply an annoyance that has to be dealt with.  After all, it can be extremely awkward–believe me, I know–to have someone assume I’m a woman when I’m…well, not.  I’ve received some rather embarrassing unsolicited inquiries in this regard over the years, the details of which I will spare you.  Suffice to say that it’s to everyone’s distinct advantage that it be widely known in advance that I am, in fact, male.

In any event, this difficulty is, quite obviously, the fault of my mother for giving me an androgynous first name.  My mother’s early experience with the name “Kerry” came from the syndicated comic strip Kerry Drake, which ran in American newspapers from the mid-1940s into the 1980s.  The title character of the strip was a police detective who was certainly male so my mother, naturally, assumed that only men were named Kerry.  Oops.  In fairness to my mom, when spelled K-E-R-R-Y the name is more common among males than females.  But there are numerous other spellings, virtually all of them purely feminine.  Add it all up and you get…a mess.

For years I longed for an athlete with the first name “Kerry” to achieve superstar status, thereby (hopefully) solving my problem.  And there have been some candidates.  Kerry Kittles was an All-American college basketball player at Villanova, but his pro career fizzled.  Kerry Wood was a rookie pitcher in 1998, came a whisker away from a perfect game (a contest I happened to watch) and appeared headed for superstardom…but he mucked up his arm and, while he’s still pitching, won’t be remembered by anyone other than baseball aficionados like myself.  Kerry Collins was a star quarterback at Penn State and had a long NFL career (which included a Super Bowl appearance), but he never really achieved true star status as a pro.  Kerry Huffman had a 10-year NHL career but was never a star.  Meanwhile, none of the above individuals was likely as well-known as Kerry Kennedy…who was, of course, female.  Sigh.

I’ve tried to deal with this whole Kerry issue by occasionally using my middle name–Mark.  If you look at the banner of this blog, for instance, you’ll see it.  One of the bloggers who I delicately informed of this “I’m not a she” mistake apologized abjectly but mentioned that she had a friend whose maiden name was “Mark”…so, she told me, she had thought that Mark was my maiden name.  Argh!  It was a perfectly understandable assumption on her part, but…so much for my “ace in the hole.”

And so, my latest salvo…this blog entry.  I’ve concluded that this will memorialize my travails with the first name Kerry and, in the future (when needed), I can simply direct people here to explain my “hardship.”

And, in the interest of retaining the photographic theme of the blog, here’s a self-portrait, shot at Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico about four years ago.

As an aside, the story behind the making of this image is kind of interesting.

I set the shot up to be taken without a figure (which I did) and then I climbed up the ladder and asked my wife to trip the cable release when I gave her the high sign.  It went something like this:

I climbed to the point on the ladder that you see here and then said: “Okay, when I say…”

CLICK

“No, no, wait a second. Wait until I tell you to…”

CLICK

“Wait! Don’t…”

CLICK

“W–”

CLICK

It was a bit frustrating, but we ultimately worked it out [roll of eyes] and I deleted a lot of shots right off the card.

Back to photography next time, I promise.  Thanks for indulging me.

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Responses

  1. good one! like the humour…

  2. I sort of understand where you’re coming from, my name is Jerry, which can sometimes be a female name. But, I was always the biggest kid in the class, so I’m sure that I didn’t have it as bad.

    Later in life, I lived with a woman named Larri (long story) and of course when we were introduced to new people, it was as Jerry and Larri, and every one would assume I was Larry and she was Jeri, we had a lot of fun with that, age helps.

  3. It must have been hard for you as a kid… For me, it’s my last name that gives me troubles: Dendievel. In Dutch (Flemish actually) dialect it means the devil…

    • Yeah…I can see how that last name would be a problem.

      It wasn’t too awful for me as a kid; I mean, it could have been and probably would have been, but when the other kids got a chance to see what I could do athletically…let’s just say that it saved me a lot of grief.

  4. I’ve met lots & lots of females named ‘Kerrie’ over here in Australia – it’s quite a common name but spelt with an ‘ie’, and I only know one male ‘Kerry’ – a cousin, so I have to admit I initially thought you were of the fairer sex, but a quick check of your FULL NAME on your website set me straight. (I thought the spelling might be different in the US, as so many other words are).

    As I sometimes call one of my two brothers by the other brother’s name, I must be reaching a ‘certain’ age, where I might get the sexes mixed up too.

    In light of my failing memory and reaching a ‘certain’ age in the future, I would like to apologise in ADVANCE (just in case I accidently refer to you as a ‘she’ in the FUTURE). Or am I one of the five who referred to you as a ‘she’ in the past? If so, I apologise for my past error (as well as any possible future errors).

    Perhaps you could put Mr K. as your signature to help me out (in the future).

    And now back to the wonderful world of photography………….today is the first day in twenty months, I took my camera out and didn’t take one single photo!

    • Don’t sweat it, Vicki. Maybe I’ll start tossing my full name (middle name included) into a signature line on my comment replies or something.

      BTW, it’s not necessarily a bad thing to have your camera and not do any shooting. Sometimes it’s a help just to SEE.

  5. LOL, Kerry. In all of our exchanges, I assumed you were a guy. My sincere apologies to all those female “Kerry’s” out ther for my rash assumption :-). My son’s name is Taylor, and he deals with that from time to time. Heck, I know two Andrea’s, who go by the nickname, “Andy.” Perhaps I need to clarify, too?

    • Pat yourself on the back for being correct right out of the shoot, Andy. Oh, and I don’t think you need to clarify. 🙂

  6. Hehe, yeah that happens sometimes. I think, I didn’t assume anything. Great then, that I read this post of yours. 🙂 Nicely written, Kerry.

    • Thanks, Nandini.

  7. I enjoyed your good-spirit here, this morning. I thought the “Mark” was a dead giveaway…. 🙂

    • You nailed it, Scott. 🙂

  8. Hi, Kerry, Very well written. My mom gave me Dale as a middle name, and though I’ve known a few male Dales, everyone seems to think of Dale Evans, so I’ve been grateful a number of times that she didn’t give me that as a primary name. BTW, in our family, I’m the one who loves to set folks up for group or portrait shots and then shoot subtly away while they’re unprepared, off-guard, and natural. Afterwards, I frequently (usually) greatly prefer the candid ones!

    • Thanks, Gary. Yeah, I think you definitely benefited by having the potentially misunderstood name choice be your middle, rather than first, name. I speak from experience. 🙂

  9. LOL … I totally assumed you to be a female blogger. Well, I can use my average-familiarity with English names and American culture as my excuse. Too bad for those who cant use such excuses. 🙂 Unfortunately, my American friends and the people I know who have your name are all females. 😀 Funny how names can put us into a lot of trouble! eg: Juan De Hattatime (One day at a time) 😆

    Thanks for clarifying! It really helps. For some reason some people also think I am a female blogger, even if I’ve clearly spelled my name and is almost impossible for a female with my kind of name to exist. 🙂 And as far as I kno writing is gender neutral if they are assuming I sound feminine based on my writing style. lol …

    Cheers

    • No problem on the assumption, Elyas. You can add yourself to a very long list of people who have done that. 🙂

  10. Two facts obtained from the post:
    (1) neglectful readers are everywhere.
    (2) the writer of the post proved not only a photographer, but also
    a writer. That is turning an anecdote into an intricate, and yet
    ( ) story.
    …..
    Interested readers please fill in the bracket with favorable judgement…

    • Thanks, Tom!

  11. I read you “about page” on my first visit so I was never confused. Isn’t that what they’re for? No?

    • Yeah, that is the point. I always check these “about pages” too, but evidently a fair number of people don’t (or they don’t read them carefully, or they forget, or…something :)).

  12. Ah, Kerry, I’m sure I’m in there somewhere. Perhaps, a thumbnail portrait in the sidebar? Sure glad you have a sense of humor!

    • Thanks, Lynn. Maybe I just ought to change my avatar to a picture of myself. A portrait image in the sidebar isn’t a bad idea either.

  13. I count myself among those that have assumed you were female.*hangs head* I’m usually good about not assuming that sort of thing, too. However, in addition to never having known a male named Kerry before, your username led me astray. You see, my manager’s name is Kerry, her last initial is L, and up until a few weeks ago, she was 29. So it’s been hard for me not to picture her every time I see your username! I’m glad you posted this and, for me in particular, the photo helps.

    • Don’t sweat it, Mel…you’re in good company. Interesting story about where the assumption came from in your case (that’s one heck of a set of coincidences). I may have underrated the importance of an image…kind of ironic, when you think about it. 🙂

  14. Great story Kerry. It never once occurred to me that you weren’t male. When I was reading your story an image of Johnny Cash singing “A Boy Named Sue” popped into my head. Now he had a real problem. LOL

    John

    • Thanks, John. Honest–I almost included reference to “A Boy Named Sue” in my write-up!

  15. Being named Steven (and having a beard), I’ll grant that no one has referred to me as a she—except for people from places like China and the Philippines, where the languages of those countries don’t normally distinguish between he and she; native from those places who speak English are inclined to say he or she almost arbitrarily, regardless of the gender of the person they’re talking about. In your case, the suggestions to put a photograph of yourself in the sidebar are good—especially if you add a long beard to the picture.

    I see nothing wrong with an occasional post that deviates from your announced theme of photography, particularly since in this case it deals with the photographer. In my nature photography blog, I used New Year’s Day for a whimsical post that had no photograph in it: instead, I discussed some of the strange search strings that had brought people to my blog over the seven months of its existence:

    http://portraitsofwildflowers.wordpress.com/2012/01/01/some-fun-with-search-criteria/

    Readers seemed to like it, and no one complained that I hadn’t included a photograph.

    And speaking of photographs, I recognized immediately that the one of you was taken at Bandelier, even before reading your text about it, because I visited there in 1981. It’s a great place for photography, as is much of northern New Mexico.

    • I just checked out your linked entry–very amusing. (I’m left to wonder if the “people leaf” was an inquiry into Tolkien’s Ents.)

      Yeah, a beard would probably help my cause, but I don’t think I’m willing to go to that extreme…and I know my wife wouldn’t like it. But I really should try to find a decent self-portrait. I honestly don’t think I have one, though I should be able to rectify that.

      Re Bandelier…yup, quite an intriguing place to shoot, along with numerous other spots in northern and southern New Mexico. (White Sands is one of my all-time favorite shooting locations.)

  16. Excellent shot for your post my friend amazing 🙂

    • Thanks, Jake!


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