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Thursday, 20 December 2007


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Wow, that is so mean!

No examples of gooning, but my mother-in-law will not let a good group shot of the family go to waste simply because of the vagaries of relationships. She simply has a lab Photoshop the offending party out as if they never existed. Once she learned the technology existed, she made her move quickly and decisively on a number of "mistakes." For her it is just a function of moving on. I do believe she is not alone in rewriting photographic history to suit the status quo, so I believe there is room in our lexicon for another verb that describes this particular activity, and maybe for a noun that decribes the place where these poor lost photographic souls go. ch

Well there is the Far Side with the Cow family at the Grand canyon. Brother is giving the devil horn's - or whatever you call it - to sister.

(The problem is that it just looks like she has a bow on her head since it is hard to make a hoof look like the two finger gesture.)

I used to do archaeological photography, and one task we always had was to shoot group photos at certain points in the digs, as people were coming or going. Most of them were college kids, and somebody was inevitably "gooning," which is the perfect word for it. Finally, I worked out a little speech to the effect, "If I just go ahead and shoot this, somebody is going to be making a weird face and will regret it for the rest of his or her life, and it will also mean that we can't use the photo in publications commemorating the dig. So let's get all of that out of the way in the first shot, and then take the other ones straight." It worked.

Apparently it's the rage in Japan to flash a two-fingered "V" (what we hippie-era oldsters remember as a peace sign) above a friend's head when you are getting your picture taken. Maybe it's from manga or anime or other pop-culture art form. So at the end of a children's holiday science show that I photographed on my university campus two weeks ago, I asked the prof. if he wanted me to shoot his behind-the-scenes crew. He dragged them out, lined them up, and I pressed the shutter ... all well and good until I loaded the images into Lightroom and found that on my best shot, a white male crew member was making "bunny ears" over his Asian female crew colleague's head! I submit that this constitutes another form of "gooning."

Charlie, that's very Soviet. :>

A Three Stooges routine? A hand-sign like the "V for victory" hand-sign, held up behind someone's head? "Hmmmm! He gooned me! Wup-wup!"

There is a perfectly good and well-establish verb 'to gurn' in the UK, with the derived nouns 'gurning/gurner'. There are even gurning competitions. I point you towards Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Making_a_face) for further information (and there are many other sources).

Gooning and gurning are just regional variants, I guess. But then there are many goons, though few gurns.

"Anybody got any good examples of "gooning"?"

I stumbled upon this one while browsing a finnish photo site and found it funny:


Verrry interesting.

I immediately thought of "The Girners," a spread I saw in a magazine in the early 1970s.

It was apparently an excerpt from Neal Slavin's book "When Two Or More Are Gathered Together," which I can't find any photos from. The book is long out of print.

I did find a reference to the girners: "Anyone who girns is eligible for membership by sending a photo of him or herself girning to the Hollywood chapter. There are no dues. The group began when Gary Owens [the 'Laugh-In' announcer] organized a girning contest on local television. People submitted photos and the winner, 73 year-old Frances Sayer, swallowed her nose."

I remember the nose swallowing photo, but I always had thought that Ms. Sayer was an old man. She did look the part. And yes, it is hard to get your nose into your mouth. That is of course why it pays so well. I think you also need to remove your teeth, which can be a challenge for those who don't wear dentures.

I did find one sort of interesting photo at Mr. Slavin's web site, which you can see at http://www.nealslavin.com/neal%20slavin1/9B.html

No girners for now, but these boys seem to be having fun.

Funny - Gooning (or gurning) starts young here in Belgium. See:

The mother removing people is quite different in my family - my mother always wants to have everyone in the photo - one niece was missing so...

Yikes. I'm being really annoying with two comments in a half hour.

Eric Kellerman's comment compelled me to search for "gurner".

I found "Stems from ancient scottish traditions of having gurner competitions which were competitions in facial contortion to pull ugly faces," and then a video which demonstrates what you can do if you really want to. See "Toothless Gurner" at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h496r-YzPLw

Reminds me of my beloved Frances Sayer.


Back at the dawn of photoshop their was a company that provided the service you described, it was called " X your EX ". Their core business was to remove the unwanted significant other from wedding and personal photos. And as Eric said it does seem a bit like rewriting history. I suppose they are
" damnatio memoriae. "

Check out :



Early in Letterman's CBS show he repeated a bit several times in which one of the local reporters pretended to be giving a live-feed report from the street... just so the camera could pick up on whomever mugged for the camera.

Eric: Charlie's story is not only very "Soviet", it's also very corporate. It's very common, for example, for large international companies to create group shots of senior managers by using stand-ins and then compositing new heads on the suits for the final image. Local pro photogs were usually hired to head-hunt, taking care to get the lighting consistent with the group shot. (I have a past personal experience, as a subject, with this bizarre practice.)

And let's not forget Joe MCarthy's infamous Orwellian, pre-PhotoShop editing of people from a photograph to suggest Communist involvement...

To me Goon(ing) is the Goon Show of the 1960's.

Harry Secombe, Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
among others. An example of buffonery that
we shall probably never hear again, as it was
all on radio, before an audience.

However the index and middle fingers, displayed
behind an individual's head means to me -victory is at hand, V for victory???

The v sign means horns, which I believe in most Latin cultures indicates a cuckold. A man with a very popular wife is sometimes called a deer, meaning he has a multi-point rack.

I've just recently become part of a family with children and have some recent experience with "gooning" -- it's a good term. I have to agree with another poster that once they get it out of their system the following photographs are much better with more natural expressions.

Here's my recent collection, including one with me "gettin' gooned": http://www.flickr.com/photos/msisk/sets/72157603517796529/

No, no examples of gooning...

Adam, it is funny about McCarthy. As Eric says it's a very Soviet ie Communist practice. In fact, it was one of Stalin's legacies.

What's ironic, Beria, Stalin's chief henchman and certainly responsible for numerous instances of "photoshopping", was himself erased from photos with Stalin after Stalin's death.

It's still better than a poke with an ice-pick, though. :-/


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