Saturday, May 23, 2009

Posing Seniors

While giving a workshop one time, I mentioned a senior girl I'd photographed. I told the class that as I was taking her into the shooting room, she told me, "By the way, if you grab me by the ears to pose my head, I will bite you."
I stopped dead in my tracks. What an odd thing to say, I thought. And that's thinking something, because I was pretty sure by that time I'd heard it all, and thought it all.
So I asked. I HAD to ask her, "Why would you say such a thing?"
She calmly replied, "Because I bit a photographer once, and I think it only fair to warn you that I'm quite capable of biting photographers and already have a record as well of having done so."
I enjoy people who can express themselves so well, especially seniors. Now you have to know, if you don't know me, that I didn't normally enjoy photographing seniors. My attitude was that seniors are unformed humans. This fairly unpopular attitude got around schools until my senior load dropped from 500 per year down to around 15. I tried to make it an even lower and more perfect number, but somehow never could get it any lower than that, mostly because there are always some people like this particular senior that gain my respect.
I also didn't want to get bitten. I don't mind getting shots for things like that, but I hated the idea of having to take the time to go to the doctor, or the vet, or whatever.
So I asked.
"Why, may I ask, did you bite a photographer?"
She said, "He grabbed me and plopped me down on a posing stool as if I were a lump of clay on a potting wheel. Then he grabbed one of my ears in each hand and jerked my head around over my right shoulder. It hurt. Fred, I don't mind being grabbed. Sometimes, in certain circumstances, being grabbed has been pleasurable, but I had never been grabbed by the ears before. It wasn't pleasant. So I told him that it hurt. I told him that if he wanted me to turn my head a certain way, I would willingly do so because I was fully capable of following instructions."
"So," I carefully replied, "did that work, you telling him that?"
"No," she said, with lips that were beginning to lose their color. "The very next pose, he grabbed my ears again. OWW! I said, and that's when I bit him."
"Okaaaaaay," I said.
"So, now I'm telling you," she told me clear and simple sentences, "if you want my head a certain way, just tell me. I can understand English and I'm intelligent enough to follow instructions."
During her session, I never did get bitten, but I do remember several times saying, "I sure like the way your head is turned just now."
Anyway, during my workshop, I was telling the class this story. Just as I finished the story, one of the students raised his hand and excitedly said, "That's exactly why I use their cheeks instead."
For a minute I wondered why he was in my workshop, and then I wondered why I was even giving a workshop. But I remained calm. I put down my measuring tape (Why I was holding it, I don't know. I don't know why I do half the things I do.), and walked over, bent down, and bit him.