Updated: Nov 25, 2020
Here is a fiction story I wrote about a photographer falling in love with all of her subjects.
I fall deeply in love with all of my subjects. I’m not talking about a simple “I love you,” like what you would say to your best friend of ten years or to your boyfriend who you think you can’t live without. I’m not even talking about the strong protective love a mother has for her child. I’m talking about 100% pure fascination, lust, and overpowering adoration for each person I photograph. I see them, photograph the most beautiful sides of them, and become utterly obsessed and in love with every curve, dimple, hair, smile, facial expression, everything that makes them, them.
My mother calls each week, worry fills her voice as she asks, “how are you doing today honey?”
I tell her I’m fine and she doesn’t believe me, while continuing to tell me I shouldn’t spend all my time alone.
“I’m not alone mom, I literally spent four hours today with Josephine photographing her.”
“B, you know I’m talking outside of work right?”
“I don’t have anything besides my work, you know this mom. Now I have to go okay? These pictures won’t develop themselves.”
“Okay B, just promise mom you’re eating your fruits and veggies? A mother only has one daughter, who consistently makes me worry.”
“Yes, yes I love you.”
It’s a weird feeling, being so consumed by the thought of another for a week straight. It’s like they get into your head and engrave in your synaptic endings until they just become normal with the way your brain thinks. You get up in the mornings and the first thing on your mind is their voice or the way their shirt hangs loosely off their shoulder. You see the shy look in their eyes before the real them comes out in photoshoots. You brush your teeth and think “Josephine has the cutest laugh I’ve heard.”
I go and edit the pictures, brightening up some corners or color correcting the background but I prefer to leave all their “imperfections,” right on the photo. I hate that bullshit air brushed look because no human on Earth looks like that. I’m in love with the real shit, not the fake plastic masks.
From the moment I do a photo shoot with someone, they’re on my mind until I do a shoot with another. And I know it would seem like I’m just a whore who goes from one person to the next but the truth is, I really do love all these people. I care so deeply for that week that I work on them, to where if I died, I would be content with having met the love of my life. My heart knows nothing of hate.
In their sad eyes or envious smiles, their rude remarks or troubled past, their self-absorbed personality or overly hidden emotions, I find the true person behind each façade. I see right through their comments or looks or expensive cars or bad taste in music because I see them. In every “bad” person there is someone crying to be let out.
Humans are born pure, with angelic innocence and it’s this cruel world that guides some down a wrong path. Yeah, you could say “it’s not an excuse,” but neither is just letting one go down a wrong path and end up in the endless circle of jail and drugs.
My subjects over the years have shown me what true and unconditional love is. You love all the scary parts, the mean parts, the crying parts or drunk parts, the angry parts and the happy parts.
My phone rings and I look down to see my reminder pop up. Bee Farm Today at 3.
I pop open the camera and put a fresh SD card in and type in my GPS the Bee Farm address. It’s almost 2 hours away but the farm is being used for some weird country wedding and they want me to take photos of the venue first. I usually don’t do weddings but this was a friend of a friend and I thought fuck it, I love me some love.
Driving through the Midwest can get quite boring when all the sides consist of wheat fields and the occasional creepy gas station pops up on the exit. After 2 hours of copy and pasted corn and wheat fields, I pull up to a half-broken sign that says Bee Farm, in huge yellow letters painted on 3 wooden planks. The road turned to gravel under the car tires and my car started to rock from side to side hitting the potholes.
I step out to breathe the humid midwestern air while my dress got caught in the hot wind. The trees are a bright green which surrounds the whole farm like a perfect cage. I see a wooden shack that has a welcome sign and walk towards it, my combat boots crunching the dirt ground.
The old school door-bell rings as I open the door to see him. His face, so structured yet not at all too symmetrical. Little brown dots cover his face and he has a beauty mark right above his lip in the right corner. His cupid’s bow glistens with sweat as he wipes his face with the bottom of his white t-shirt. His hair, oh his hair is the darkest shade of black that it would blend in with the night sky. Those red eyes meet mine with a faint smile.
“Hey, welcome to Bee Farm, I’m Axel. What brings ya in today ma’m?” He brings back down his gaze to the contraption he’s fixing or building, I can’t even tell.
“Hey, I’m supposed to shot some pictures for the big wedding, I talked to Marie about it.”
“Oh, yes the big wedding, for sure make yourself at home. Just go around back and you’ll see the big yard we have next to the bee houses.”
“Thank you,” I can’t keep my eyes from his. I know my looking makes him uncomfortable because he can barely meet my eyes. I turn around and head for the door, trying to focus on my job.
“Hey, wait,” he says just as I grab the door handle, “you didn’t tell me your name.”
I let out a little chuckle, “B.”
“B? Is it short for something?”
“Yup, but I don’t like that name so it’s just B now.”
The open field is so smooth and one shade of green that if I wasn’t standing on it, I would swear it was an ocean dyed green. The farm started to build the arch where the lovely couple will stand under and places have been marked on the ground where the log seats will be evenly spaced between. I take my camera out and everything suddenly looks 10x better under my lens when I can manipulate the perception.
I use the camera to scan the field and I land on him again. He took that contraption which I now realize is used to scoop all the honey off the combs. Pools of honey pour into the mason jars and flow out onto the table then the grass. SNAP. His brows furrow as he concentrates to not leave a single drop of honey. Change the aperture, SNAP. His eyes focus in, pupils tightening as the sun shines a ray across the right side of his face. He’s so beautiful. I don’t even notice myself moving closer and zooming closer to get a shot with the sun laying across his face. Oh his eyes, pools of honey, SNAP. It’s like all the honey from the jar overflowed until it blossomed this green field to gold and he was swimming in it. The honey, dripping towards me, closer and closer.
“Uhm, hi. Aren’t you supposed to be taking pictures of the venue?” Axel asked.
Shit. “Yup, exactly what I’m doing.” I can’t seem to put my camera down because this way atleast I’m hidden. I usually don’t do this without my subjects knowing, what happened?
“You sure? Because it looked a whole lot like you were snapping pics of me. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind some paparazzi, but-.”
“-Nope, uh I was uh trying to get pictures of the bees.”
A smirk takes over his face and I feel the tenseness of my muscles ease at the sight. I quickly walk closer to the bees to take pictures to prove my lie. The buzzing sound becomes permanent and quite uncomfortable so I start swatting and the buzzes become angrier. I stumble back and Axel catches me.
“They won’t hurt you unless you hurt them,” Axel says. His eyes gleam golden-red brown.
“That’s what everyone says,” I mumble.
His eyes fix on mine. Shit, did I say that outloud? I look at the field and start putting distance between us. My heart for the first time feels like it will explode, not with love but something else. It feels full to the brim, pouring out with feelings of shame, shyness, and confusion.
The ride home was hard and confusing, being in my house was worse and I couldn’t take my eyes off the pictures I took of him.
Focus B, you have to take pictures of a new subject, of Davina. Go to bed, get rest because tomorrow is early morning sunrise pictures.
The shoot with Davina was shit. I couldn’t focus like I usually do. I took pictures but didn’t feel anything, not a single ounce of even love towards her. For a moment I thought I was dreaming and it was a nightmare. I couldn’t get Axel out of my fucking mind with his red eyes or weird tattoo of a bird on his neck out of my mind. Anytime I tried to focus on Davina’s traits like her amazing laugh or clear broken heart that I would obsess to amend, I couldn’t. I found myself only consumed by one individual.
Everything I did reminded me of him. I ate an apple, I’d think of him eating an apple. I saw grass, I thought of the fields at the farm and then thought of him. I saw honey, I thought of him. I closed my eyes and I saw him. I put headphones in but his voice was replaying in my mind.
It was the day of the big wedding and I strangely felt so excited to see him. My heart was racing, my palms were so sweaty I couldn’t even hold the camera. The ride down had me jamming rolled windows and rock music filling the air that blew in.
I get to see him. Today’s the day and today I won’t freeze.
I find parking barely, even though it’s a farm in the middle of nowhere. This wedding being big wasn’t a lie. The place looks gorgeous. Who knew the green field could be transformed into something magical. The arch where the couple is to be married is overflowing with flowers of all colors and sizes.
I check the time and realize I’m late and need to meet with the bride to take some photos. I walk in the little side house by the field.
“Are all the guests out yet?”
“Not yet, but Liana needs help with the dress!”
“Where the hell are the earrings I set aside?”
Girls stormed left to right in this tiny house preparing for the wedding from makeup to hair.
“Excuse me, sorry, hi I’m B the photographer,” I say as I meet the bride and the whole posey comes to meet me, “you look beautiful.”
“You’re a charm, now honey you’re late and I need you to catch my sweet daughter’s wedding dress in this light with the cow-skin rug in the back before the sun moves behind those trees,” said the mom.
Great, momzilla. This is why I don’t do weddings.
The bride didn’t even look me in the face. For once, a person I photographed and I couldn’t see a single quality in her that I liked. Her eyes pinned on herself in the mirror, ignoring the little ring girl below her asking her if she looks cute. “Cute honey,” she says to the ring girl while never even looking at her. She holds her head up high like a goddess too good for her own people. A knock on the door shook me from my concentration with trying to take pictures of this self-absorbed girl.
And there I saw him. His dark tux gave him a whole different look from his country attire he wore last time. His hair was even slicked back but the one thing that didn’t change were those eyes.
“Axel,” both me and the bride say at the same time. For the first time, she looks at me in confusion and then at him in anger.
“Axel, dammit, it’s bad luck to see each other before the wedding,” she screams, “move move, out out out.”
“Jesus Liana, your mother told me I had to come in here to get pictures taken by the photographer.
“Well, do it outside,” she says and pushes us both outside.
Her? He’s the groom? I’m taking pictures.. of their wedding? No crying, no crying, don’t be that girl. You can’t just have your heart broken by someone you don’t know.
“I’m sorry, she usually isn’t like that. Pre-wedding jitters ya know?” Axel said.
Is he trying to convince me or himself?
“I didn’t know it was your wedding,” I said.
“Yeah,” he brushes a piece of hair that fell loose back behind his ear, “I tried to say it but you kinda left fast last time,” he smiles an assuring smile. Not one that says, “you’re a loser for running,” but instead an “it’s okay.”
“Could you turn this way for me?” I say as I gesture him to a spot which catches the house and the field. Half of his face is caught with a ray of light and the other in the dark. He looks so good. SNAP, SNAP, SNAP, the more I take, the more I fall in love; in love, with an almost married man.
"I really appreciate you doing this, Liana was freaking out because we couldn't find a good photographer," Axel said.
I smile, "you look different," I say while looking through my lens. I know this will make him chuckle and he does, which makes for the perfect view of who he really is.
The bell tolls and there goes my last few minutes with him before he is forever tied to that girl.
She walks down the aisle, head held high not even looking at the man who can’t take his gaze off her eyes. How can she not look into his eyes? SNAP. I see him fidgeting his hands from in front of him to behind him then to his sides, how nervously in love he is.
“Do you take Liana, to be your wife, through heaven’s graces and hell’s fires?”
“Do you take Axel, to be your husband, through heaven’s graces and hell’s fires?”
“I do.” SNAP.
“I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may now kiss the bride.” SNAP.
Is it just me or will the camera not focus? Or is it me who can’t see clearly? Why does everything sound so quiet, yet all the guests are on their feet and clapping? God I need to leave, but I can’t. I can't breathe. Why does he love her?
This was two years ago and I still haven’t stopped thinking about it. I avoid eating honey and apples and anything that reminds me of him. I avoid the country and farms and have a strict no wedding rule. My phone rings and I put down my tea and go outside of the café I’m in.
“Hi B, how are you sweetie? Did you eat today?” “Jesus mom yes, I’m at a café now working on some photos.”
“B, listen, you need to get out and doing things besides work okay? A mother worries about her only daughter.”
“I love you mom, listen, I got to go okay?”
I hang up and bump into someone walking back to the café.
“Oh, sorry I-,”
No wedding ring anymore? I examine his hand as he comes for a handshake and I can see his under eyes are just as black as mine.
Thanks for reading everyone! I appreciate each and everyone of you for taking the time out of your busy lives to read what I have to say. I pray my words can spark a thought, a lost hope, or a will to reach for the stars inside of you.
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