He was uncomfortable in front of the camera, which was probably a major factor behind becoming a photographer in the first place. His shyness always clamped his mouth shut whenever someone told him to “say cheese.” For that reason, he hadn’t been captured on film in years. Besides that time he was fiddling with a camera that had a stuck shutter and he accidentally took one of himself, which he burned immediately upon developing the rest of the roll in his small water closet-turned-darkroom.
And now he was dating a fellow photographer. For the first time.
He always found himself with artists or models. Confident women who not only wanted to pose for him, demanded it. And, of course, as per his demeanor, he always complied. Whether he wanted to or not.
His timidity led to a cabinet full of photographs of all kinds of women. Most he’d never seen again, but some he’d come to recognize on the big screen in theaters, in advertisements and posters, even in the press. He sometimes wondered if they remembered him taking the photographs, many of which were nudes. Although taking off her clothing was never his idea. The more confidence a woman had, the sooner she would ask him to take nudes. And his work, well, it spoke for itself. Numerous shows in some of the biggest galleries in London, full page photographs in famous magazines, he had become rather well known for his work.
But now, this girl, all she wanted was a photograph of him. He didn’t know how to avoid it much longer. She adored him from the start; he could see it in her eyes after five minutes of conversation in which he’d probably said a total of fifteen words.
The two of them were loading film before heading out into Paris, ready to photograph La Ville-Lumière, the city of lights, on their first visit to the beautiful and historical city. They were dressed to kill, her in a beautiful black dress and the beret she bought along the Seine that morning, him in a button-down shirt and his favorite brown tie with little green and orange designs. He sat on the uncomfortable hotel room couch with ugly floral print and pulled back the heavy curtain to let in more light.
Something was wrong with his Pentax and the shutter was sticking (again) so he fiddled with it as she loaded film into her Anscoflex II. She giggled and curiosity got the better of him as he looked up and heard the click.
She smiled. “I knew I’d get you eventually. Quite a candid I just captured.” She flashed him her winning smile.
He didn’t know what to say. He wasn’t angry. And after a while, he had to admit he was anxious to see how it turned out.
Just a few words and pure magic happens in a flash. Lovely.
So much is lost in the age of digital images – so instantaneous and incosequential. This story captures the magic of light on emulsion and then uses that magic as a potent metaphor. Great story. Great storytelling.
another great story, from one of the photos I sent you! =)
So true! Taking a picture is a question of power and most photographers are indeed shy of that power exercised on themselves. 🙂 Thank yo for the story.