June 26, 2022

Adventures of the Young Photographer (18+)

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Adventures of the Young Photographer (18+)

“How ’bout this?” she asked as she coquettishly tilted her chin down, staring up at me with her oceanic eyes. My heart skipped a beat.

“P-perfect” I stuttered.

I looked at her for a few moments through the safety of the lens, soaking up the power of that gaze. Then I took a picture.

Normally, Dara Johnson wouldn’t have talked to a nerd like me. She hadn’t made eye contact with me for as long as I could remember. 

Although we were both nineteen, she just seemed older than me somehow. But I guess that was because she was Dara Johnson, the most popular girl in the senior class, Student Union President and lead soprano of the School Choir. 

She was a radiant creature and boy did she know it. But here she was, sitting before me, looking at me like a lover… or at least looking into my lens like a lover. That’s probably how she thought about it. But for me, my camera lens might as well have been the third eye. It had opened the world to me in ways I had never thought possible.

Before I had joined the camera club I had been a nonentity at the College of Health Science, but now the popular crowd knew my name, for the simple reason that they liked to have their pictures taken, and I was pretty good at it. 

My dad had given me an awesome camera, much better than the ones they handed out to the other kids in the club, and it had opened doors, on occasion, to the world of the popular. And now it has granted me an intimate moment with the great one herself. Allowing me to gaze fixedly at her glorious smile and cascading hair. Sigh. I was enjoying every minute of it.

Don’t get me wrong. Dara wasn’t one of those mean girls. But she was ‘above it all’ nonetheless. She had been elected Student Union President on beauty alone. She had some pretty mean friends, however, and the guys she hung out with were for the most part six-packs and chisel chins. 

She didn’t have a steady boyfriend so my nerdy friends and I assumed she was sleeping around with the popular guys. Any other girl and that rumour would have made her a slut, but everyone liked Dara too much to think of her that way. Instead, we thought anyone lucky enough to be touched by Dara Johnson was blessed by the encounter.

Not that Dara was perfect. Her worst quality was vanity, although somehow she made that sin seem adorable. She loved herself with such abandon it was kind of cute. Well… to me anyway. My nerdy friends might mock her a bit, but I knew they secretly wished they were one of those good looking boys who were invited to weekend parties at her parent’s mansion, about which rumours of wanton orgies abounded.

“Do I look okay?” she asked. “I want to look beautiful.”

“How could you not? Of course, you do. You look perfect,” I replied.

“I dunno… I’m worried about this stupid sweater. I only wore it because my mom gave it to me a few days ago. I forgot I was having this photo taken. It looks awful, doesn’t it? Sweaters make people look fat, don’t they? Tell the truth.”

“Well…”

In fact, I had no frame of reference to answer that question. What did I know about fashion? To me she would have looked beautiful in a potato sack. Actually, I liked the way the sweater accentuated the shape of her breasts. 

But is that the kind of observation you can share with a girl? My pause only served to confirm her bad opinion of the sweater.

“Fuck!” she shouted. “I hate this stupid thing! I don’t want this to be the way people remember me for the rest of their lives whenever they look through their graduation book!”

My heart sank. I thought she was going to cancel the photoshoot.

She huffed, “I want this to look good. The Student Union President shouldn’t look like crap, y’know. Do you have any outfits or anything?”

“I don’t know. Let’s see.” She followed me over to the photo studio closet. We looked through what was there, but it wasn’t promising. It was mostly overcoats, band uniforms and jackets. But then she saw something.

“Yeah, this is it!” She pulled something fuzzy out of a cardboard box on the floor. It was a weirdly shaped wrap, made of feathery white fur. I remembered seeing it used in some of the older graduation book. 

They used to put it on the girls for their senior photographs to give them an elegant look, as if they were all rising out of a white cloud, exposing their youthful shoulders and clavicles for the first time to the prying eyes of the boys, as a sign of impending adulthood (my interpretation anyway). But it hadn’t been used for years. Dara clapped with glee and ran back out to the chair she’d been sitting in. “This is awesome!”

She put the wrap over her shoulders, but her sweater was still completely visible. I’m not sure how it was used in the past, but no other clothes are visible in the fur-wrap shots.

“You need to make the fur tight around your neck to cover the sweater,” I said.

“But I want my shoulders to show.” She pulled out the neck of the sweater trying to expose her shoulders, but it just didn’t work. It wasn’t nearly stretchy enough. She looked ridiculous. As soon as she had one shoulder uncovered, the sweater neck would pop back onto her shoulder. 

She kept doing it again and again, as if somehow repetition would alter the course of the future. I casually reached over to the camera and switched the dial from photography mode to movie mode, and pushed the record button. I thought it would be amusing to show the guys in the camera club what an adorable dope Dara Johnson could be.

To my surprise, she said, “Oh, the hell with it. I’m going to take this stupid sweater off.” She snapped her fingers at me and commanded, 

“Turn around!” I thought she was joking. She snapped her fingers again and I realized she meant it. In shock, I turned away and all I could think was that if Mr Gbenga came in right now and saw her disrobing in the studio, he would have a heart attack. 

“Hold on,” she said. 

After a while, she said forcefully, “Don’t turn around, or I’ll kill you.” Finally, after what seemed like far too long a time to take off a sweater, she said, “Okay, I’m ready for my close-up, Joe”

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Written by
Dr. Deolu Oniranu-Bubble

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