My office building is in a little cul-de-sac, with a brick courtyard, surrounded by gorgeous, old-fashioned looking heavy stone buildings with many interesting architectural details. There’s a little seating area with a bench and trees, a fountain kind of place with pillars, and it’s generally a pleasant little place to be–lovely to head out for five minutes, between jobs, and get some air and some sun, to eat a Hot Pocket, to not be indoors proofreading for a little while.
Almost every time I’m out there–heading in to work, heading out for sunshine, heading for a coffee break with E, heading out for the train–there are photographers taking photos of people posed in artistic ways. Some of them are people from my agency, taking new-employee photos, or stock photos of people to make mock-up ads with, or doing whatever weird creative agency photographic things they do. But frequently, there are your garden-variety professional photographers taking engagement photos of a couple in love, graduation photos of an uncomfortable-looking teen, or my personal favorite, wedding photos of a girl in a giant white dress, squinting into the sun.
Sometimes, too, there are news vans, and roving bands of news people
and their cameras standing around, a lone photographer taking pictures
of interesting architectural details, random people standing around
with media equipment, looking up at the sky and off into the distance.
This courtyard is a hotbed of image-capturing, and I’m not entirely
sure why, but it is so.
And my secret wish, when I walk by and around and sometimes,
unavoidably, through a mob of people ranged around their equipment or
subjects, is that they would stop. They’d look up from their important
photography- and video-related tasks, and stop in their tracks and
point at me dramatically and say “You! Yes, you! The ravishingly
interesting girl with the glasses and the coat! You are my muse! You
must be captured for all eternity! You are what I have been looking
for, all my life!” And they’d shoo away their original subject, and beg
me to let them just have a hundred frames, a half-dozen, just the one.
Or to share with the news crew my very important views on taxation
In my fantasy, I blush, I demure, I look eminently photogenic and
fascinating, and I walk away, turning down my shot at fame and
immortality, because I am not that kind of girl. But I will have had
that shot, and I will always remember fondly that I could have been
someone, in someone’s portfolio, or on someone’s TiVo, for even a
My secret wish allows me to not only be recognized for my Very Unique
and Beautiful Qualities That Shine Enough to Be Recognized by a
Perfect, Suddenly-Enamored Stranger, but also allows me to keep my
sense of dignity, mystery, modesty. I am longed after and pined for,
but I don’t actually have to perform. I am fascinating enough to be
coveted, but don’t need to follow through and possibly disappoint
everyone, including myself.
It’s never happened–probably it will never happen, for I am not Lana
Turner. I will never have to weigh my fear of failure against the
promises of a strange photographer offering me all her love and
admiration. But I will probably never stop slowing down when I see the
whole gang from the photography studio, the film crew, and wondering
what it would be like to be noticed.