Terry Ratner RN, BS, MFA - nurse, writer, educator - click to return home
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Expressions

Take One, or Two, or Three ...

I had two photo shoots today; one at the Biltmore Resort and Spa and the other at the Biltmore Fashion Park. No, I'm not a movie star, fashion model or even a "want-to-be" actress. I'm just a woman looking for the perfect pose for the homepage of my website. I've sorted through photos saved on my computer searching for a "writer" look. I've rummaged through old picture albums, trying to find a handful that are worthy of my website, but nothing seemed to fit my "writing/nurse" theme.

I needed a photographer to take glamour shots (ha-ha) on short notice, so asking my husband, a restaurateur, seemed like the best and least expensive deal. In order to accommodate me, he had to forfeit his weekly Sunday bicycle ride with "the guys" so he wasn't very excited about our field trip, but grudgingly accepted the no-pay assignment.

If you're thinking he's the photographer of the family-wrong, he's the kind of camera man who cuts off heads, arms, hands and feet. He seldom thinks about what interference he might encounter with people strolling nearby, weathered furniture in the background, or clutter scattered close enough to the subject to be an irritant for the viewer. He doesn't pay attention to his model's attire; whether a low-cut sweater might be too revealing, if her nylons are wrinkle-free, or whether or not her hair is "picture perfect." And of course, he never announces when he's ready to take the photo. It's usually at the time I need to blink, take a deep breath, scratch the side of my nose, or say something important to him.

Models, and I use the term loosely, always have to look their best. We must inspect our makeup periodically; no shine on one's nose, a touch of powder and blush, lip gloss and liner, eye makeup evenly applied, mascara not caked, smudged, or smeared, and periodic inspection of one's lips for fading lip color. Remember, no sips of cool water-preserve your lipstick at all costs. What a pain!

Cameramen, like magicians, create impressions for their models. They have a knack for conveying a particular temperament through their actions and words. Photographers talk in soft voices as they focus in on their subject. If it's a sexy shot, they may say, "You're feeling playful, flirty, and mischievous." These are prompts for models so they can act the part. But what do I hear at my photo shoot? "Hurry up-this is the last photo. I'm hungry, tired, and bored." I must admit those words didn't put me in the mood for any particular pose related even remotely to my website, so I had to take the initiative and pretend I was the professional photographer saying the appropriate phrases. There I was acting out at the Biltmore Resort, hoping no one could make out the words as I tried to concentrate on a "mood" saying my lines and reflecting a particular persona.

"You're a nurse/writer/educator. You teach others how to tell their stories. Let me feel it in you smile, see it in your eyes, and every muscle in your body."

That's the best mantra I could muster on such short notice. So there I stood, acting and watching my husband take minutes to focus the camera, complain about the heat, and tell me he couldn't make out my image-that he was just blindly shooting pictures.

I managed to ignore him and kept repeating my chant. My dual role worked, but only to an extent. Most of the photos reflected a subject who glared at her photographer. I guess he did capture the moment. But all was not lost-out of 80 photos, two were acceptable shots.