“I’m the Girl in the Picture…”

My wife disapproves of my love of photography. She is constantly offering dire warnings of what might happen to me if  I’m not careful. This is particularly true if I’m photographing young women or girls. It doesn’t seem to matter to her none of my photos are salacious or that I have the parent’s consent, or even if mom is present. Even a headshot will have her muttering, “you’ll get in trouble for that…”

When I first started photographing in public I would meet any objection with righteous belligerence . After all, legally I had the right to photograph virtually anything visible from a public space. I began to reconsider my attitude after an alarmingly bellicose redneck in Union county threatened to kill me if I didn’t stop snapping photos of a horse in his field (I have no idea why, unless he was growing pot or something else illicit…)

Now I stride up to anyone questioning why I’m shooting and glad hand them as I effusively explain why I want to photograph them, their fence, child, dog, car, silo  or whatever. One late Spring morning I found a straight line of small, motorized tricycles in various bright, primary colors parked outside an old shopping center in northeast Maryville. Being the arty photgrapher I am, I sprawled on the ground to get a more original shot of the line of sunlit trikes.

“Hey, what are you doing!!?” I looked up and saw a rather large man striding rapidly toward me. I struggled to my feet and greeted him in as cheerful a voice as I could manage. I told him the line of little vehicles was a marvelous subject for photography and I found them lovely in the early morning sunlight.

“Oh, I thought maybe you were from one of my competitors, “ he said as his face softened. He quickly warmed to my desire to photograph the line of trikes he proudly told me he had himself arranged. After watching me sprawl back onto the pavement and shoot another dozen or so shots, he offered to let me photograph anything in his store. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings so I spent a few minutes perusing his inventory of gimcracks and gewgaws.

Prowling through the staging area of the Christmas parade ten days ago I was worried someone would object to my photographing them, their float, car, pickup truck, wife or daughter. I imagined having to explain to someone, perhaps even a policeman, why I was there. Amazingly, no one objected. While I got a few, “I wish you weren’t doing that,” looks, mostly people would waive and smile for the camera. I even had a few folks insist I photograph them or their child.

I was fascinated by one particular teenage girl perched on a  Christian themed float sponsored by a Baptist church (the county boasts well over a hundred Baptist churches).  She, and the half dozen other girls crowded onto a flatbed trailer bedecked with Christmas regalia and yoked to a muscular pickup were dressed as angels in white robes, wings and little halos made from tinsel. After snapping a few shots of her and her friends, I noticed a middle-aged man calmly watching me. I strolled up to him, “you connected with this float?” He smiled and nodded; we talked jovially for a minute or so about his church and the parade. As I left I handed him one of my cards listing my Flickr site’s URL.

Fascinated by the church girl’s coloring and facial bone structure, I ended snapping a score or more photos of her later that morning, most from a considerable distance using my 70-300mm lens. You will find a set of the better photos and images here.

A day or so after I posted the shots, the quote which is the title of this post appeared under one of the girl’s photos. At first I was stunned. I wondered how she had found the photo; then I remembered giving the man my card. Oh my, I thought, I hope she’s not mad, or her parents don’t think I’m some sort of pervert…?

She had created a Flickr membership and I sent her an email, bracing myself for her response….

She loved the photos; yesterday, at her request, I mailed Maria (a fitting name given the season) a CD with all of my posted shots of  her. She had told me she and  her parents thought my photos of her  were, “just really great!” She even inquired if I would shoot her senior photos next year. I was both relieved and peacock proud.

As you might imagine,  I made it a point to share this marvelously heartwarming  story with my wife…

Here’s my favorite shot of the images I posted of Maria on Flickr:

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