“Thelma and Louise, but in the Buff”

What happens when you and the girl you mutually do not like get paired up for studio lighting?

One of you is bound to get naked.

When I heard the announcement that we were partners, I groaned, my stomach tight and uneasy. I had many judgments, ruthlessly believed I was nothing like her, had talked about her behind her back which she called me out on. I was pissed I had not said it to her face to begin with, putting that lesson in my back pocket which I hope to never relive again, mad I had not said the words to her face from the very beginning.

The worse thing about gossip is that the thing you wanted to say translates to nothing you said therefore what you really wanted to say never gets heard.

Gossip sucks.

I didn’t blame her for not liking me either, content to leave it there, and so of course, an intense portrait and lighting class where concepts and meetings, hours of styling and modeling for each other takes course, our photographs depending on our partner’s collaboration.

I was screwed.

I thought about how I was going to handle this partnership, my photography and work a fierce passion for me, and I knew it was my work or my ego that was going to suffer, or perhaps both, and so, I decided I had to package and sell the worst product ever.

I had to figure out how to make this girl tolerate me.

We met at a Starbucks, both noticeably on guard while I pitched her the idea of taking all the judgments we had of the other and making fun of them through our photographs. I thought she would be defensive and disagreeable, but she laughed, surprised me by jumping right in, our love to photograph suddenly started wearing down our defenses, and after many hours, I found myself surprisingly adoring this girl I had thought uptight, crazy defensive, and incapable of being actually real.

Second huge lesson to put in pocket is to never judge, not just because you may be their actual model for a shoot critiqued by everyone in class, but because most likely you will find you are always without a doubt, 100% wrong. And so, I fell in love with her actually, not in the bi-hopeful way, but the really amazing way, an unfolding of trust that happens when a person decides you are worthy of it.

She was nothing like I had imagined, fearless and fun in a feisty determined way, not to mention a far better photographer, an actual working one, with nice equipment and years of experience already on her belt.

I had not thought her an artist until she began pushing me as hard and harder when I pushed her, a broad slap to my confidence, asking me to require myself of exactly what I had once accused her of not being.

She wanted me to get real.

As a lover of fashion photography, she wanted me out of my converse sneeks and jeans, my comfort zone peeling away with a sick vomit feeling replacing it. I hate being photographed.

No, seriously. I really really hate it.

And so, she argued, she hated it too, and if I were making her be a trophy wife, raw and revealing in low light and maybe smoking to make fun of her uptight attitude I had once imagined, she wanted me to be sexy.

She picked out my wardrobe, dove face first into the shot gun wedding bride I had imagined in my mind, her passion for my photos just as important to her as her own. We talked and laughed a lot, argued even, and I suddenly couldn’t remember what in the hell I ever disliked to begin with, remembering only when she opened her mouth in class, like the time she discussed all the books our teacher had written in class.

I wanted to smack her and here I was drinking in her passionate energy, and at three in the morning in her basement, had a tight dress, a make up artist, and before I knew it, was cold and naked in a coat waiting for her to decide what to dress me in next, our idea as a logical IT guy would be a certain irony.
I know when she gets an idea in her head, the way her head tilts, her eyes sparkle, the fast way she moves and directs, crazy to get the idea out of her. Now I also know the next time her eyes sparkle to run like hell.

“Don’t move,” she said. I was confused, thinking I was watching her grab her camera to actually shoot me, right at that moment, which I knew couldn’t be it. I looked over my shoulder.

“I said Don’t MOVE,” she barked, her eyes darted right through me.

“FUCK YOU,” I at least think that is what I said, but I will just wing it for the story since I do get a little grouchy at 4 in the morning, cold and tired, in heels with a fan on me. It had not yet hit me.

And then it hit me.

“YOU want me to look like this, for IT GUY? ARE YOU NUTS?”
She told me to look up at the wall and back at her in three.

“FUCK YOU.” I know I said it then, but actually laughing this time, because she was dead serious.

“Just shut up and do what I say, cause that is hot, and that is what I want.”
I give her props for not giving me time to bail, cry, or even think, and I realized she had just pulled off the impossible. I was modeling nude in a coat for an audience.

How did she get me to do that?

I realized I needed to shut my mouth more and watch what I think I can’t learn from. It also helped the basement studio has no mirrors, the inability to not see myself was vital, and so fuck it, I thought.
And so Thelma and Louise were born, her being Thelma she demanded, because of the obvious brown hair.

We worked tirelessly, and I learned more about photography in those early hours of listening to her direct me than any snapshot I called art. Anyone who can get me in front of a camera much less take off my clothes is someone I have a lot to learn from.
Well, that was my attitude until the day of class, the adrenaline and moment were over and I was now seeing the projector I had forgotten was as big as the coming back of Christ, my heart pounding, my head suddenly feeling slightly dizzy at the realization of what I might see.
I think I thought it was going to be the worst moment of my life, but it actually was interesting to hear myself critiqued in her photography by people I respect, the person in the photographs seemed distant and foreign, an actual vision of a painting or piece of art in front of me.
I didn’t really have a lot of thoughts about it.
We had key and low light, three different backgrounds, great concepts, and had learned a lot about each other, the best part of the assignment.
No, by walking away with each other, I say we nailed it.
I hate it that I can’t show off my work, but she is nothing like me, Thank God, and I would like for that not to change. Not everyone can be a perfect failure, an imperfect duality of having the highs no one can touch, the lows no one dares to imagine, the life everyone wants to visit, but not stay.
There is only one Miss Obvious.
I doubt I even need to point that out, which is an irony, of course, coming straight from the woman who owns the name.

3 thoughts on ““Thelma and Louise, but in the Buff”

  1. it is amazing when we find beauty in people we never imagined we would love.

    perhaps the name you have given your ‘self’ is an intitheses, for you are not that ‘obvious’.

    i love that you think, consider and is honest with yourself – you are living life and perhaps it is a life people would love to ‘stay’ in, if only they could grasp that authenticity is the only kind of life worth living.

    You have that. šŸ™‚

  2. I’m not obvious? You always teach me! I love you for your feedback, it is too kind. It is the thing that makes me hate hitting publish worth it every time. I’m cringing on this one, which is why I knew I had to do it fast, while my heart was pounding and my head was not thinking šŸ™‚

  3. mmm, honesty is scary.

    i don’t mean to ‘teach’, i just enjoy what you write.

    and no, ur not ‘obvious’, ur more than even you can see, and i can say this and you could even believe it, for i am nothing of you & you are nothing of me and no one stands to gain or lose a thing.

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