In the distance I spy a group of four girls: each with a phone in their hands, each on an unmistakable quest to snap that perfect picture. The one that has to be taken at least eleven times because Claire thinks she looks radiant in one, but Molly has “literally never looked worse.” Or, Kate might love the shininess of her hair but Tara thinks her earlobes look weird. It’s like tapas: no one’s going to love everything.
They begin delegating positions: Claire will hold the camera because her arm is the longest, which is part insult part compliment.
Claire snaps a few shots to the best of her long armed ability, and the four girls huddle around the results with a seriousness akin to our Founding Fathers, pouring over the Declaration of Independence.
“They’re not great.” Molly concludes. Which, coincidentally is exactly what Thomas Jefferson said when Benjamin Franklin asked for an opinion on some new, buckled shoes he was debuting.
I am now within earshot of the girls and I quicken my pace, cursing myself for not crossing the street or furthermore, leaving my house in the first place.
I am blatantly rushing past them, I can almost taste the freedom when I hear a high pitched voice, exclusively reserved for asking strangers for favors, “Excuse me, can you take a picture of us?”
The request hits me like the weight of a bad haircut and my mind races with excuses: I can’t, I have to rememorize the capitals of all fifty states. I can’t, I’ve been dehydrated for the last decade. I can’t, I’ve been saying I’m going to grow my own basil for the past three years but today is the day that I’m actually going to do it. I can’t…say no.
Because I’ve been there too. I’ve been that girl in a scenic locale with flawless make up and forgiving lightning, thrown at the mercy of the ranging photographic talents of passerbyers who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. We’ve all been there.
“Sure,” I hear myself respond. Basil is an overrated herb anyways.
Claire hands me her phone from an impressive distance and rubs her above average lengthed arm. They’ve both been through a lot.
They rearrange themselves according to “better sides,” and off we go.
I began to snap away and before I know it, somewhere in between Molly applying a second coat of lip gloss and Tara throwing her mane into an unprecedented bun, I feel my outlook begin to shift: I want to do a good job. I don’t want them to be burned the way I was burned…
It was summer 2013 and my eyebrows had finally grown back to their full potential when a friend and I found ourselves the recipients of two, gorgeous smoothies. Naturally, these illustrious fruit concoctions needed to be immortalized. We couldn’t take the picture ourselves as it was hard to get both our faces and strawberry treats into frame so we asked a woman walking by who seemed friendly enough.
“Excuse me, can you take a picture of us?”
“Sure.” She replied neutrally.
She took my phone and after a brisk count of three, took the picture and
handed the phone back to me.
There was no question of, “Do you guys want me to zoom in?” “Do you want to try one with you guys actively drinking the smoothies?” There was nothing. She took one picture. One.
I remember taking my phone, managing a “Thank you,” and defeatedly looking at the image. Just what I feared…unpostable. I nearly dropped my smoothie to the ground.
Kate’s shiny hair snaps me back. I am focused. They will get their perfect picture.
I will not ask if they would prefer I take the picture horizontally or vertically, I will take it both ways and they can decide which one they like better afterwards. It’s really none of my business.
I will do my due diligence and take candids, they may not know it now, but these will prove to be the most valuable. Even if they don’t make the first posting, they’re still good for a rogue #TBT.
I will not simply take one picture, hand back the phone and bid them good day.
I will not leave them stranded with two smoothies and the promise of what could have been. I will leave them with art.
Exhausted from posing, Claire and Co. assemble around me to check the pictures. It’s official; there is something for everyone. My clients are pleased.
“Thank youuuuu!” They squeal in unison. No, random group of girls, thank you.
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