Sunday, May 06, 2007

Girl On Fire

The worst picture I never took was an experimental shot on the part of my wedding photographer who superimposed my face over my then-husband standing at the altar. I looked like a huge looming nightmare which I suppose is what photographers mean when they talk about "emotional truth." My mother and would-be mother-in-law both looked grim and trying not to be, the adult equivalent of the forced child's smile on Santa's lap. None of the pictures from this event were particularly inspired except the one of me dancing with my father, a shot that's hard to screw up under the worst of circumstances. My dad looks happy in the picture and thank God that one didn't capture the emotional truth -- his usually stoic self took to his bed for two days and cried after the big day. At the announcement of my divorce, a day I had dreaded, both of my parents, who liked my then-husband, looked happy beyond belief. I wish I'd thought to hire a photographer for that day.
Even though photography is my favorite visual art, I have a complicated relationship with it. My friend Hank actually punched someone for taking a picture of him entering a party. He spent the rest of the night trying to figure out who he'd hit (one of the problems of being blind and hitting someone in a fit of rage, I suppose) and feeling bad about it. He pulled a Sean Penn before Mr. Penn had! That's bad-ass! He hated pictures and said that if you were having a good time, nobody ever thought to bring out a camera. But I still love taking shots (it suits my personality -- even the word choice is aggressive, taking shots) as a way of understanding things. Still, I don't know how much reality one can capture, either as the photographer or the subject. Shortly after this picture was taken, the bubble burst all over my eye. I rubbed it into my contact for maximum pain and had to take the contact out, had to rinse out my eye and cursed a long time. I'd already burned myself in the torchy inferno that was my second birthday cake trying to get the camera to capture that perfect moment of wonder and awe before the wax melted into the frosting in little pools that resembled blood. It takes a lot of work to look natural, relaxed, and happy, but hey, that's an emotional truth that I've always known.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I came to New York to see what I could see -- and find the living part." Edie Sedgwick
Cocktail Hour
Drinking music suggestion: Back To Black Amy Winehouse
Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Sopranos night!


Susan Miller said...

I think that's why I've always enjoyed taking photos of kids. It's nice to get the shot before they are taught to hide the emotional truth.

Hope your eye is okay. Thank you for reminding us about the danger of bubbles.

Michelle's Spell said...

Hey Susan,

Thanks so much for the sweet comment on yesterday's post! I do feel sorry for David H. God knows, I would hate to be caught in my worst moments, like so many people seem to be these days. Life is hard and brutal -- some days it's the best you can do to roll around the floor drunk and attempt to eat a hamburger. I like your point about children's pictures. The best ones capture the soul in a way that's really magical.

Serenity's Prayer said...

Very nice last line. Actually, your greatest expertise always seems to lie in crafting a succinct and thoughtful and often warmly prosaic ending. Its those connections from the end and the beggining that are the nicest part of a great story. That's the skill that I try to emulate most, though my stuff looks like a glued-together spray painted Kmart vase compared to your clutch of Ming Dynasties.

the wisdom to know said...

Yes, nice warm prose, like I said. Little tremors arc over my back when reading lines like "shimmering jewels, money before you spend it, all possibility and no regret" or "I look toward the promise land. What I don't realize is..."
Inspiring pleasures to read and read twice.

TV Guide said...

Twenty-eight more days until the last day of the Sopranos!

paul said...


Botcholism e said...

wow, I was blocked, but now it worked...
Knew I wasn't a damn virus...

JR's Thumbprints said...

Those action photo never show the end result, do they?

The man who wrote too much said...

They drank, danced like ethers
moved arm and arm
back on belly
pelvae yin and yang
with the moon's tide
two sisters of the shores
a silhouette
in Detroit's tequila sunrise
dead reckoning
for thirsty eyes

I can't think of a title--the only thing I can think of is "a way you'll never be", which, while depressingly accurate, is saddly enough already taken. Kidding! But not about the taken part.

and if it wasn't enough, he said...

...actually, there wasn't much else to kid about, either.

the walking man said...

I'll bet that bubble in the eye thing hurt...but there are worse things to catch with your vision.