While I visited Microsoft Research for the fellowship awards ceremony earlier this month, I was subjected to a barrage of photography. For those unfamiliar with the details, the fellowship covers my stipend, tuition and most travel expenses for two years and is worth about $100K (although I personally get less than half of that).
One of my advisor's older students, Filip, won the award two years earlier. He had previously commented a few times regarding the poor quality of his fellowship picture. While I think he looked completely respectable, contentment in one's image is something which must be found from within.
Having an undesirable picture stuck on a the internet (and a high traffic site at that) ranks near the bottom of my to-do list. And so on the night before the ceremony, between my daily stretching routine, ironing my shirt, brushing my teeth and watching TV, I spent about an hour and a half trying out different smiles in front of the mirror. The result? Well, see for yourself:
It's certainly not flawless, but I think it passes the test (especially when viewed thumbnail size on the fellowship website). Unfortunately, I was so drained from this endeavor that I couldn't muster up much of a smile for the ensuing group photo.
Ah well, you can't win 'em all...