“Eyss! Snap us.”
There was no way this dude was talking to me. I turned to look around me – for effect – to see if there was anyone else towards whom the directives may have been hurled.
“You nah. Snap us.”
The way I looked down at the great machine in my hands and then at the two standing on the red carpet just across from me, I was sure a message had now been passed. “I am not some wait and get photo snapper, I’m an artist”. Because normal people received those kinds of messages straight up, no need for words. But not these two. They followed my gaze to my hands and when I finally looked up at them, they beamed me their biggest smiles and struck a pose.
The best way I could think of to pass my message across was to simply turn around and walk away. The look on their faces would be priceless, even if not seeing it was the sacrifice I’d have to pay to achieve the full effect.
But that’s not what I did. What I did left even me surprised, and when in the coming years, I would think of my actions in that moment many times, I would still be unable to explain it…
I lifted the camera to my face and took a single burst of three shots, then emphatically lowered it again to let them know I was done, but again, the message was lost on the couple. Without even a “thank you” or “let me see di pishur”, they were gone, allowing the actual celebs on. And I would never see them again.
It would be many many years later, almost a decade in fact, that I would hang up the first and only print of the second of those three photos in my friend’s gallery and let the world see what has become my defining piece.
The photograph which has won me awards and earned me international recognition and given me access to kind and presidents and world leaders and taken me to the farthest reaches of the earth was almost never taken.
This photograph of an aged man and his bent wife, arm in arm and dressed in simple clothes, looking out of place on the red carpet of a long forgotten event.