DRUGS, GUTS & COMPLIMENTS
Updated: May 24
Thankfully, I have a gift for detecting insincere bullshit when I hear it.
But my 'bullshit alarm' remained silent when Grace asked, "CK, have you ever considered modelling?"
I was overwhelmed with confusion.
"Um, uh, uuuum, WHAT?!" I asked dismissively.
My response garnered equal incredulity from Grace. She seemed genuinely puzzled by my response.
"Why not?" she probed, offering a smile to ease my obvious discomfort.
Long before this particular exchange, one thing I'd realised about Grace is how perceptive she is. Remember, she's the only person in the history of time to call me out on my tendency to ask people never-ending questions in order to keep the discussion away from myself.
Given her natural intuition, then, would she accept my answer?
"Because I hate being photographed," I replied.
In truth, that is one of the reasons I've never considered modelling, but the primary reason is, of course ... that I'm not convinced there's a market for my particular breed of face.
Conveniently steering the conversation elsewhere, I started taking test shots.
Immediately, two unknown men approached us.
They stopped, said "alright?" and started watching us... or more precisely, they started watching Grace, intently.
Clutching an open beer can and under-dressed for even a public park, one of them introduced himself.
It was here that I saw a side of Grace I'd never seen before.
Without a flinch, she sat there, clearly an object of the men's admiring gaze, and began the most unforced display of chit-chat, laughter and cordial conversation you could imagine.
Trust me, in her position, I'd have morphed into a proper little bastard.
Why? Weren't you listening?.... because I hate being photographed, that's why.
Being photographed appalls me at the best of times, nevermind when subjected to surplus, uninvited eyes.
Who the hell were these guys?
Understand, neither of them oozed hostile intent necessarily, but given their public beer-swigging etc, I expected at least mild dismay from Grace, but nope, zero discomfort. In fact, as I continued shooting, the three of them spoke like distant friends, and all I saw from Grace were teeth.
Seemingly, the strangers' incessant (and somewhat banal) fluff worked to my advantage - giving Grace an actual thing to look at rather than the age old photography classic that is 'the distance'.
Moments turned into minutes, and as I showed Grace some of the images via the camera screen, I whispered,
"Are you okay, do you want to move to another location?"
"No," she said breezily, "I'm fine."
She was totally indifferent to any discomfort I was perhaps projecting onto her.
Don't get me wrong, the strangers' intrusion didn't cause me any great concern, not even when the conversation migrated onto their favourite drugs, but I'm fanatical about maintaining the comfort of the person I'm shooting, I always have been.
"Right, that's us done," I announced after roughly eleven minutes of ambling pleasantries.
"Great talking to you, take it easy," I said, pumping fists with the mystery men.
Grace did likewise and we walked away, heading towards a different bit of the park. As we strolled, we reminisced over our short-lived 'friendship' with Random Man #1 and Random Man #2. Their presence amused us, although on reflection, Grace was noticeably more accommodating than I.
Settled at out new location her jacket came off and her signature camera presence switched on.
I'm fascinated with the many unanswered questions this shoot birthed.
For example, watched by two unknown men, was Grace's composure indicative of an increasingly body-confident generation raised on instagram?
Or was her unflinching confidence because she is, after all, a former karate champion?
My hunch is that she was unaffected because there was nothing to be affected by.
I can't hep but think that through different eyes, this encounter could easily be characterised as 'the unwanted male gaze', yet here, an obviously gorgeous 23-year-old woman was more at ease with the male gaze than the 41-year-old dude she was with. Me.
Ultimately, whatever Grace was thinking, she clearly enjoyed beers that day too, given the "CK, have you ever considered modelling?" nonsense x
See our previous shoot here
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