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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Senior Pic

Emily asked me if I'd shoot her 'senior portrait.' I have friends who are real photographers, as in they get paid for it and do it for a living.

But here was an opportunity for me to shoot pictures of my lovely daughter without her accusing me of being a paparazzo and intentionally spoiling the shot, something she's been likelier than not to do the past couple years.

Plus, 'senior portraits' share a lot in common with prom dresses in that it's easy to spend way, way too much money on something that's not even really necessary. I take pictures of my kids every chance I get, it's not like her senior year would go undocumented but for this one portrait. I'd say it's slightly more valid to spend a few hundred on a real photographer to take a portrait than on a dress you'll only wear once, but that assumes you have a few hundred bucks that don't need to go somewhere else.

She said her friends were mostly having their senior portraits done at a couple of locations in Gardner, but my house is only a mile and a half from the West Bottoms, which everyone knows is the chonosynclastic infindibulum of the photographic world. I bike-commute through it and if I'm riding through there in the 'magic hour' light at the end of the day, it would be remarkable to not spot any photography sessions. Photographers and their models/clients outnumber hobos in the hour leading up to twilight unless it's raining blue cats, and even then you might find them on the middle deck of the 12th Street Bridge, some girl freezing to death in a cocktail dress but managing to look radiant for the camera.

So the West Bottoms it was. We hit Jerry's Woodsweather Cafe, of course. Saw a wedding going on at the Hobbs Building across the street, some mighty uncomfortable people there because it was freakin' cold. The high had gotten to something like 50º, but the wind was stiff and the temperature was falling fast by the time we got down there, on its way to 27º and a dusting of snow overnight.

Em had originally balked at bringing a jacket, but it wasn't long before she was wearing it except when I was pointing a camera at her. We went over by All Packaging's wall after another girl getting her senior portrait cleared out, then to a courtyard I knew because I'd shot Corinna in it one time, and figured it was sheltered from the wind more or less.

While we were in the courtyard, which is about as urban-decay as it gets, I'm warning Em to watch out for nails sticking up out of boards, there are bricks and mortar strewn in the weeds, not to mention quite a bit of broken glass, I screwed up.

Some birds took off, and not realizing what the sound was, I turned around to look. No big deal, but Em asked me what I was looking for, it was just birds and I was like, 'Okay, but you don't let sounds go unexplained in a place like this.' I didn't mean this to be a scary thing, it's just common sense, you're in the ruins of a building complex where homeless folks might have staked out a home, adjacent to railroad property that is patrolled by railroad bulls, it's not exactly a dangerous situation but you don't want to be snuck up on.

We were suddenly done with shooting in the courtyard. She wasn't having it, any more than she was having the train with the 'SCUM' tag on it as a backdrop. I thought it was perfect, a contrasty thing where you're playing with opposites but no, Dad.

So we went out to Kaw Point where it was even colder and even windier. Then we went downtown, where I tried to shoot her with the Kauffman Center in the background from the Summit bridge by the FBI building. When we were going through the Crossroads, she asked, 'Do a lot of hipsters live around here?' Well, maybe, but mostly they come here to eat. If they're real hipsters, they probably can't afford Crossroads rents these days.

The only real disappointment I had on this whole trip, there's a building with cool green doors that just beg to be used as a photo backdrop, but they're posted 'no photography' and that there's video surveillance. I tried unsuccessfully to convince Em that the green door with 'no photography' posted was the perfect background for a senior picture. I mean, what are they going to do, breathe on me? Disapprove of my taking a picture of their building from the street? Wet their pants in front of me?

Anyway, we had fun. And stopped at Foo's for frozen custard on the way back to her mother's house, which was the place to be since she had to be on shift slinging hash at 7:00 the following morning.

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