After giving K a brief description of what I was after, namely photos of a relative stranger, and why, to fulfill requirements for an online photo class, she agreed to be my subject. K didn’t know if her boss would like someone taking photos inside the store, yet out in front was okay, and since there was another woman working, K took a five-minute break.
Even though I had already begun snapping away, she evidently still had some reservations.
A famous photographer in England” was my final pitching point.
K works at the local liquor store, and in that I make trips to said establishment on a somewhat regular basis, we are not complete strangers. However, we have never had a conversation, so I hope this doesn’t break a rule of the assignment. With that said, I have eaves-dropped on conversations she has had with others in the store, so I used what information I had to gain her confidence through a few questions. This also fulfilled another requirement of the assignment: get a story.
K is forty-eight years old. She lives in the next small town over with one of her two children. The other child lives in a nearby city. The two children are from a marriage to a military guy, a lifer now retired, whom she met while she was also enlisted. Four years in service to her country were enough for her, for, as she stated, she had a problem with authority. Upon her discharge, and while still married to the soldier, she took to wearing ripped jeans and the like to military-sponsored functions.
Portraiture is a new arena for me, excluding self-portraiture. Even within the latter context I am but a babe in the woods. Yet, what is immediately clear is the difference between the two. A “mirroring” takes place in both, but when the subject is the other, one must, to some degree and in some sense become the other. Despite her early reserve and the chilled air, as I turned the questions toward her and she told me her story, plus the fact that I made it clear I was listening, K became more animated (as I knew her to be from watching her in the store). There came a point in the encounter when we had reached a degree of intimacy from which I knew I could invade her private space for the close-ups.
Not the best execution, the idea an afterthought.
“Would you like copies of the photos?”
“They will be on the internet.”
“That’s fine. You’re only have my first name.”
“I probably won’t even use that.”
“Who’s going to care?”
“Right. It’s not like I took pictures of you nekked.”
We’ll be addressing that topic a few weeks further into this class. Meanwhile, here's a few more from today:
And with this image in my viewfinder, I knew the session was over.