Friday, July 5, 2013

The Photographer [Potentially NSFW]

Intended for mature audiences.  Possibly NSFW.

The light in the background interfered with his vision, but he knew exactly what he was looking at.  The figure was dark against the harsh light behind it although a scant area was visible against the shadows that covered it: the side of a woman’s breast and the upper portion of her thigh, curved against the barstool.  The photographer smiled, a toothy grin showing off his eyeteeth.  He snapped his fingers quickly across the camera’s shutter release with the camera pointed at an angle.  The flash went, subdued somewhat, but still rather blinding to the model.  She resisted the urge to blink.  The photographer flashed his toothy grin in triumph: “I think that’s enough for now.”
            The model climbed down from off the stool as the bright lights behind her were turned off.  She was a tall woman but slight in build.  The photographer’s eyes lingered over her backside as she reached for the robe lying just out of the shot.  He blushed slightly, turning his attention to his light meter while still watching her slip the robe on out of the corner of his eye.  Her breasts moved slightly as she closed the robe around her.  The photographer caught a nervous sigh in his throat, wheezing his breath out instead: he refused to let his professional fa├žade falter even slightly.    She moved over his shoulder and looked down at the camera as it hung from his neck: “Can I see how they turned out so far?”
            “This one is an SLR.  But I can show you the photos I took on the digital one.” He hunched over and walked to the nearby table, grabbing another camera off of it.
            “Wait.  You shot that last set with a camera that had film in it?” Her voice came out somewhat derivative and surprised, like she was unable to believe that there was a person left on the world that would use such an archaic technology.
            The photographer pirouetted abruptly, a slight scowl showing on his face.  He held up the screen from the digital camera: “I like to develop my own black and white photographs.  It’s more hands on.”
            “I’m so, so sorry.  I—it wasn’t supposed to sound so insulting.  I just don’t know anyone else who even owns one!”
            “It’s alright.  How do you like the photos so far?”  The model continued to click through the photographs, as she smiled, nodding her head in approval.  He pointed to the one she paused on, and half-whispered directly into her ear that it was his favorite so far.  It was nearly a work of a contortionist: her body twisting in on its self.  One leg was crossed underneath her body, while the other was propping her elbow up.  Her torso twisted towards the camera, and while one breast was obfuscated by her arm, as it moved toward her face; her back was arched just enough to give an inward bend, creating a shallow divot.  She remembered the photographer’s hands positioning her limbs after the initial confusing directions, and the final touch as he drew her hair across part of her face.  The lighting was subtle, and her body had been covered in shadows which lingered in each recess.  She smiled and nodded her agreement before handing the camera back.  The photographer watched her walk away behind the changing screen.  He shuddered, aroused at the thought of her undressing.  He did not attempt to hide it, because he knew no one could see it.
            Predictably, the only light in the darkroom was the bare, red bulb.  It would blink on occasion, but the photographer was too lazy to attempt to rewire it correctly: he merely dealt with the minor inconvenience.  His darkroom was a sanctuary, where he worked without his usual distractions.  His computer, phone, and everything but his camera and the film within were kept out of his darkroom.  The smell of chemicals and the slow hanging of photographs to develop were cathartic to him, the only reason he continued to work the way his father had shown him in his youth.  He pulled the first of the developed photographs out of the chemical bath, hanging it gingerly to dry.  In the dim, red light, he studied the photograph, the slow, contorting figure of the model, wearing nothing, drew his mind in.

            The ad placed on the internet was simple and to the point: “Established photographer looking for a female model.  Photographs for a figure study.  Nudity required.  Compensation will be discussed during a brief interview.”  The photographer had received a dozen responses through his e-mail during the following week.  The applicants were seeking one of two things: they were either young women who were attending a local college and desired the extra money that they assumed the modeling would provide or they were looking for their first tentative steps into modeling.  At that point, he was fine with either reason.  All he wanted was a female model willing to pose nude.
            He took his time looking over each applicant.  There were several who had neglected to include a photograph with their initial response to his ad, and he immediately went about plying them to send one.  He tried to explain to each that he just needed to have an idea of what they would look like so he could begin to organize the photo shoot.  By the end of the first week, while only corresponding by e-mail, he had already decided that two of the women who applied would not work out.  Neither of them agreed to send him a photograph before meeting them in person.  He had attempted to convey his professionalism to them, but neither would agree; he sent them both a simple message informing them that he would find someone else.  Predictably, they never responded.
            He was nervous when he had scheduled the first interview.  His portfolio was replete with figure and portrait work, but surprisingly, as had been pointed out on multiple occasions, he had no nude work.  It was his mentor, his father, who had suggested the figure study on the nude body.  “Versatility is key,” he used to say, and that phrase burned its way into the mind of photographer as he sat behind his makeshift desk in his makeshift studio.  He fidgeted with his notecards, waiting impatiently for the buzzer on the door to sound.  When it finally did, he rushed to answer the door.
            The picture she had sent when she had applied for the modeling opportunity did not do her justice.  Looking at it and then looking at the figure of alabaster beauty before him, the photographer knew that the photograph had been taken by an amateur.  The lighting of the photo did no justice to the soft features of her face, and her body was clothed in garments which tried, but failed, to illustrate the curves and contours of her body.  The outfit she wore before him now properly advocated for her body.  She would have been a perfect candidate, at least until she began to talk.  She was one of the candidates who wanted to begin a career of modeling: initially, the photographer saw no issue with this, and considered that it would not negatively impact any candidates.  However, her personality betrayed her beauty, and he knew how difficult she would be to work with.  Her willingness to model was punctuated by her entitled nature: she immediately began speaking of what would need to be done, without having ever been behind the lens of a camera.  The photographer remembered his father’s words while showing him how to utilize a model for figure studies: “If they demand too much, they are more worried about how they will look rather than how you will make them look.”  He dismissed her, and sent an e-mail to the remaining would-be models; none of them responded after he informed them they would no longer be interviewing with him.
            His pulse quickened when the buzzer to his studio rang through the silence.  He had begun to clean off his desk, which he had only just remembered about, strewing objects, prints, and papers about in a haphazard and frantic fashion: he was trying to cultivate that air of professionalism.  He was afraid that the initial impression would scare off a majority of the women he had communicated with over the internet.  His studio was strewn with objects that he had photographed: mostly garbage pulled from dumpsters or curbside in residential or commercial areas.  Lighting was the key to many of his works, but each bulb and stand was in an unorganized pile in front of the backdrop.  He was forced to ignore everything to answer the buzzer, and the butterflies that flew about his stomach drew his attention to the fact that he was unorganized.  That he did not appear professional, despite the clean, blue linen shirt and the pressed, red silk tie he had worn just for the interviews.  He paused, momentarily reflecting on these thoughts, before he pushed the button that unlocked the door three stories below him.
            The first would be model was not dressed for the four story walk-up, and the first words out of her mouth were a series of complaints addressed at the fact that the building the photographer’s studio was in had no elevator.  She was wearing heels, she said, and those were not meant for walking up four flights of stairs.  Immediately the nervousness he had felt just before hand subsided.  Within the first fifteen minutes of his conversation with her, the photographer knew that she would not be right for the position.  Her curt attitude, cut with a sense of entitlement calmed him down immediately.  There was no sense in continuing to interview her after he had asked about her pubic hair.  She gave a derivative snort, and answered in a sharp tone that she was shaven.  He nodded, blushing deep crimson, but her disdain for him continued.  Her eyes told what her mind was processing she was laying judgment down upon him, analyzing every bit of fat that hung from his waist, every awkward blush and jerky motion that his body performed.  She wanted to be a model, in the sense of fashion week in Milan, Kate Moss, and the like.  She had no interest in the art and less in the artist himself.  In the time after she left and before the next potential model arrived, he compiled a short, succinct e-mail to the woman he had just spoken to: “Thank you for coming in, but I will be choosing someone else.”
            It was a long afternoon with minimal promise by the time the last interviewee arrived at his studio.  He was tired, and his nervousness and shy attitude had long since dissolved in the face of several other difficult women.  Others were easy to ply, but they seemed too reserved, as if they liked the idea of posing nude when they had read the listing, but not when confronted with it in person.  Their nervousness hung in the studio like a miasma of doubt; it crept into the photographer’s head and had him question the whole project.  Many of the women would be willing to pose nude for him, but he knew that their hearts would not have been in it.  He desired that happy medium between subject and artist, dwelling romantically upon it.  His mind drifted towards thoughts of a beautiful figure, in a quiet repose of black and white, given life by Venus and crawling from out of the photograph, caressing him in her hands.  He desired the role of Pygmalion, like his father had achieved before him.
            He remembered hearing the story over and over again as he watched his father work in his dark room.  He would hunch over the chemical bins, and talk fast towards his son.  He would ramble about procedures and ideas he was having, unless he had been drinking.  Then he would tell his son the story of how he met his mother, a tale that engrossed the young boy and molded his own desire to experience love in the same matter: that Pygmalion desire to have an innate emotional connection to his subject.
            It had happened while his father had been attending Columbia University.  Unlike like his son, he was not a fan of figure work, instead focusing on buildings and scenery.  There was no sense in fighting it, his father told him, because he no longer could fund his already extended stay at Columbia; “I gave in,” he said, taking a sip of whiskey out of the tumbler placed above the chemical trays: “at the end of the semester, I talked to a guy I knew to set me up with some nude models.  I requested a woman.  Always request women.  Not just because of the beauty of the female form, but staring at dicks bigger than yours all day can really be a blow to your self-esteem.  And trust me, they’re always bigger.”  His son snorted in laughter, causing a sly grin to creep across his father’s face as he took another sip before stirring the chemical bath in front of him.  He paused to share some insight on the exposure process, momentarily drawing his son’s attention away from his story.  The boy stared into the chemical pool as the photo began to develop.  His father started talking again after another sip of bourbon, relaying to him the difficulty of finding a model, as he was facing competition from other artists working on their end of the semester portfolios.  He had little money, so he couldn’t afford to pay as well as some of the others.  In the end though, he managed to find one, and, after he sipped the rest of his bourbon, the father said: “It was your mother.  She didn’t so much walk into my studio as float, at least that’s how I perceived it.  And she was completely gorgeous.  I’m going to spare you the details of her being nude, but, I knew right then and there that she was the girl for me.  Like the gods of photography just pushed her towards me.  I had no money, no real job at the time, and worst of all, I was an artist.  But she took me anyway.”
            The photographer had been reliving that tale in his head as he waited for his final appointment, which was already 20 minutes behind schedule.  When he finally buzzed her intop his studio, he took one long glance at her, and had to do a double take to the photos she had e-mailed him: she looked even more beautiful in person.  He motioned her to sit down in the shoddy chair that was sitting in the middle of the small space, and began to ask her the questions he had, straining to make eye contact with her, lest his gaze linger on her other features.  He wanted to remain professional, even after his heart jumped into his throat when he first saw her.
            She turned out to be everything that he was looking for in a model, and perhaps even in a woman as well.  When he was going over his preliminary ideas, she spoke up nearly endlessly, professing her own would-be career as a dancer.  He began scribbling poses in his notebook as she talked about her range of motion.  Still in the dark room, the photographer closed his eyes as he remembered the first set of photographs he took of her, when he saw her completely nude for the first time.  He involuntarily shuddered as he remembered her body: the lean dancing muscle glistened under the lights, as she began to perspire.  He watched from behind the lens as droplets of sweat ran from the nape of her neck down to the top of her buttocks, as he stifled a whimsical noise at the sight of her posterior, rounded in what he considered perfection.  In the dark room, he worked his member almost subconsciously, as he remembered ever curve and crevasse of her body.  He opened his eyes slowly, and began staring at the photographs that hung before him in the low light, the entire time caressing himself.  Each one was in a different pose, but accentuated her figure in such an incredible way.  She was his Galatea, he was sure of it, as he surveyed every inch of her body, from her flowing auburn hair down to the thin wedge of pubic hair as it worked itself between her legs.  He imagined himself laying his hands on her sex, caressing it as he felt her breathe harder as her breasts heaved against his chest.  He slowly kissed her neck, moving up to a long, passionate kiss on her soft lips before he began a trail of kisses down to her nether reasons.  Alone inside in the darkroom, he began to shudder as he worked his had faster.  The shuddering intensified, as he ejaculated in his darkroom, staring at the pictures of his Galatea.
            He stood there, hand still grasping his manhood for a few minutes, as he calmed himself down.  He reached over to grab the paper towels that hung from the wall, carefully cleaning the seed which he had spilled on the counter.  He took a look down to see a few drops had fallen on the last photograph he had developed: he would have to re-expose it if possible.  As he composed himself, he realized that the next day would be his last day with his model.  As he left the dark room and filled himself a glass of red wine, he questioned his own integrity against his own desires.  It was well over an hour that he sat in silence in his studio, drinking through an entire bottle.  As he pulled out the cot from the corner, he decided that tomorrow would be the same as all the sessions that had preceded it; he would not act on his desire, regardless of his father’s success or his own want and need for the model.  He was still a professional, after all.