International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes - From Our Archives
Life is defined by light and shadow
voice boomed, filling the large empty echo of the front of the photographers
shop. The bell over the door jangled as Jason and Catherine passed
through the doorway, causing Jason to look at the device. It was
a metallic monkey that struck the bell maniacally when the door
was opened or closed shut. It must have been spring-loaded, Jason
thought. Be with you in a sec. A disembodied voice called
out from the back of the studio.
Jason and Catherine
nodded in recognition to no one. Catherine turned and sat down on the
lavender chaise lounge against the window. Jason stood at the abandoned
front desk. Catherine fumbled through the abundant portfolios that littered
the small table in front of the chaise. Jason noticed that instead of
magazines, there were the portfolios. He thought it was a brilliant
business maneuver on the part of the owners of the shop, an excellent
marketing ploy. His eyes glanced at the many portraits that hung just
overhead along the entire length and width of the shop. Looking behind
him, the portraits even hung over the doorway, facing the customer on
shop beyond the front desk reminded him of a hair salon. Bright klieg
lights stood in the corner while track lighting blazed down from above
and in front of two large oval mirrors sat two identical salon-style
chairs, each with levers to raise their host up or down, given their
stature and degree to which a customers hair and make-up was necessitated.
Just as in a hair salon, there were a variety of multicolored hair care
products, hair dryers and large and small brushes. And just as in any
salon in New York or Beverly Hills, there were desserts, cappuccino
and water and fruit for those not in the binge and purge set.
studied the portraits. Captured for that moment in time were many of
the towns most beautiful people. There were a variety of gauzy,
dreamlike portraits of white, black and Latina women dressed like Greek
goddesses, adorned with laurels of flowers upon their perfectly coiffed
hair, long flowing tapestries of fabric wrapped around their shoulders,
all of the women sweetly gazing at their soon-to-be born offspring,
lovingly embracing their precious undercarriage.
turned to look at Catherine to point out the beauty of such a moment
but Catherine, who neglected to tell him she did not want children until
a month after they were married, remained oblivious, rifling through
a portfolio of half-naked women.
returned his eye to the portraits. He noticed that the studio apparently
did wedding photography on the side as there were many peculiar shots
of a lone brides looking lovely and pure but seeming alone and abandoned
at the altar.
were a few portraits of nubile-looking cheerleaders and graduate photos
from the local high school, all of them female, attractive with straight
gleaming pearly white teeth. One of the girls appeared in and overhead
photo and he wondered what the true story was behind her sad-looking
photos that looked down upon him were shirtless fathers cradling their
naked newborns in pride and picture-perfect families smiling in a variety
of staged poses, while other pictures were the other end of that spectrum
revealed sad housewives and their unsympathetic husbands in an apparent
attempt to reinvent themselves in soft glamour shots to capture a moment
that never existed. Jason noticed how the wrinkles, jowls and age spots
were deliberately softened and how the husbands had the displaced look
of hidden, embarrassed rage beneath their bloated countenances.
last sets of prints that he noticed were the most numerous. These likenesses
captured a young girl, obviously a model in many moods, many poses and
many locations. She had the look of the fashion magazines that one expected
to find in the shop, but did not.
some, the girl was nearly breathtaking, no striking was her beauty.
It was all in her large, dark eyes, how she played with them to the
camera. The fact that she had a symmetrical face, enhanced by full lips
and a stunning face framed by brown billowing hair only completed her
girl in the photo smiled at him, pouted, gazed sadly away and toyed
sensually with him. He quickly saw his favorite, a shot of her topless,
her hair blown out and wild, her hands covered in long, sparkly white
gloves, one of which pointed coyly and needlessly to her full lips,
her arms pressing down and covering her abundant breasts. It was all
marketing, he knew, but it worked, it had gotten his attention.
to that photo was a portrait of the same woman in a wedding dress, as
if to tell him she was unavailable and it had all been a taunt, she
was taken, not for him. There were others of her on the beach, holding
some lotion in her hand and another of her dancing in a square, clothed
in a traditional Spanish dress, the men around her looking far too greasy
and staged and slightly too effeminate for her wanting expression of
spoke of her in a marketplace, smiling and gazing up, holding an apple,
while another portrayed her on a terrace looking forlorn to something
just outside the frame. Next to that was another European-type shot
with her straddling a cycle in what appeared to be Milan.
noticed one or two shots of her with a young man and a posed one of
her holding her pregnant abdomen as in the other photos of the expectant
mother, her expression gleaming and wonderfully radiant. The portrait
was the only one with a title, which bore the phrase: Glow.
few shots near the back of the shop displayed the woman with varying
degrees of styles, long hair, hair up, hair short, hair curly and some
with hats. In one of the last shots, the model gazed out from her mid-thirties,
her looks taking on a more mature turn, her eyes losing that spark of
youth that was evident in the early shots near the front of the store.
He noticed the photos becoming softer, as they had with her subjects,
the lights less bright as if one endeavor to recapture a youthful vanity
before age and reluctant acknowledgment turned it all into parody.
felt a sense of sadness as he reached the end of the models open
portfolio. He wanted to know what had become of the gorgeous woman in
the images. Had she found happiness, had she continued on, well-past
her prime or had she vanished without a trace, without a smile, without
any story to tell?
I am the owner and principal photographer. Said the woman as the
curtain parted. Im sorry to keep you waiting.
no problem. Jason stated as Catherine closed the binder in which
she was looking and stood.
can I do for you two? The lady smiled.
looking to have our portraits done, you know, what I want to do is kind
of a retro look, like old Hollywood. Catherine sputtered in an
almost confrontational manner, the words coming quickly, as if rehearsed.
I can do that. The older woman nodded. Thats sounds
fantastic. She said as Catherine smiled and stood down, her direction
and ego appeased in eight words.
have such lovely hair and your eyes, very soft and yet theyre
fiery, like cats eyes. You would have been a star in old Hollywood.
The woman complimented Catherine and posed her head with her hand beneath
Catherines chin. It was an uneasy moment, Jason noticed, as his
wife was ill-at-ease with anyone touching her face. The woman continued
to exact her critical appraisal. Yes, quite the lovely young thing.
She said as any further confrontation subsided in Catherines delighted
had seen the woman somewhere before, she looked very familiar, but he
could not place her. She looked like a matronly society woman he had
seen at one of Catherines charity events. His eyes fell from her
and wandered around the room. She bore an uncanny resemblance to the
young model featured in the photographs throughout the shop, thought
think we can get you in a sarong for a shoot. I think that would be
a great idea. She said as Jack interrupted the conversation.
me; is that your daughter in these pictures?
me? She asked puzzled. Which photographs? She inquired
and gave a confused look to Catherine and shook her head. Catherine
returned her confused look and shrugged.
you mean that portrait of me and my son near the clock? She asked,
thats you? Jason asked, almost as confused. You look
So much what
Jason stammered. No, um, so much, ah, different.
were taken a long time ago, ancient days ago. She defended herself.
I have gotten older and put on a little weight since then.
not what I meant. Jason said, embarrassed. Its like
a Picture of Dorian Grey, but only in reverse. He tried to joke
his way out of it, but it came off as insulting.
pay no attention to my husband. Hes an idiot. Catherine
countered. Say youre an idiot, Jason.
will not. He spat.
terribly sorry. Catherine offered.
offense taken. The woman smiled and held up her hand and closed
the book at the front desk in which shed been writing. Lets
begin. Please follow me and I will take you through what I do and if
youre interested, we can go from there. She said and sauntered
into the salon with a diplomatic smile. They were offered tea and pastries
as they toured the studio.
shoot was an easy one for all parties involved. Catherine was an excellent
student and moved exactly as the photographers model asked her
to each and every time. All Jason had to do was look good, turn this
way or that and keep quiet. Nervousness prevented Jason from accomplishing
the latter. He made a few more flat jokes, one equating the shoot to
his prom picture. The woman did not react, but her eyebrow raised and
then lowered. When all was said and done, Jason and Catherine paid for
their session and went happily home.
month later, the photographs were sent to their home. Upon looking at
them, Jason and Catherine tossed their session into the trash. Jasons
eyes bugged out, his double chins were very apparent and Catherines
nose, back fat and breasts looked awful. It looked as if she had two
cheap implants instead of the expensive ones. The photographers
model had gotten in the last word. It was all light and shadow, as she
Grant March 2008
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