Monday, 1 June 2015

ALL GUNS BLAZING by Jennifer Balcombe

ALL GUNS BLAZING by Jennifer Balcombe

"You don't make a photograph just with a camera. 
You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, 
the books you have read, the music you have heard, 
the people you have loved."
- Ansel Adams
Once upon a time there was a beautiful little girl who we shall call Jennifer who grew into a beautiful young woman and fell in love with photography. When I say she was beautiful, I don't just mean lovely to look at but she had beauty in her heart. One day, her photography came to the notice of a man who, some years before, had decided that he wanted to be photographed by lots of different photographers. He started in the olden days, on the 7th day of May 2007 when he was only 56 years old and Jennifer was (and I am guessing here) about 18 years old maybe just starting to think about a career in photography. Well, what with one thing and another (and sometimes twice on Tuesday), the man happened to be writing a tweet on Twitter one day in the merry month of May 2015 and he came across a name of a photographer which the nice people who worked for Twitter thought he might be interested in because they knew he wanted to be photographed. 

Now it happened that the man whose name was oh, I don't know, Tim, was very interested in the work shown on the website of this photographer. The first portrait he saw was of a girl smoking a Camel cigarette. The face of the girl glowed in the soft light and the blue of the cigarette packet contrasted with the smooth colour of her skin and she was looking at the camera as if she really connected with the photographer. He decided then and there that he wanted to be photographed by this person. So he started to write an email "Hi Jennifer...." Yes, for it was the Jennifer of whom I have already spoken. She replied to the email the very next day and she said she was honoured to be asked by Tim to photograph him but Tim wrote back saying that the honour and privilege was all his which it was because as Tim had discovered she was a jewel in the world of photography because her photographs are like beautifully cut diamonds which glitter as they catch the light. For Tim, clicking on to her website that day was like he had found a secret chest full of treasure which he just wanted to dive into and swim around in like on a sunny day, he would have swirled around in the sea and seen the sun twinkle through the water as he laughed with joy. 

Jennifer asked Tim if he wanted to meet first for a chat or to go straight to the shoot "all guns blazing". Tim rather liked the sound of guns blazing and so it was that, on the first day of June 2015, Tim found himself in a street in Hampstead outside the door of the building where Jennifer lived. He pressed the bell and the door buzzed and opened like a magic door. He walked in and he heard Jennifer calling out to him in excitement from the stairs. They said hello and Jennifer showed him  into a room where a small set had been prepared with a simple black back drop. They talked as if they had known each other before which they sort of had in that Tim was born and had lived in North London until he was 13 and Jennifer was like the girls he had known at school and so there was an immediate empathy. Guns blazed and Jennifer took her photographs. Then another piece of magic happened. Jennifer had borrowed a film camera from a friend, Elena, so that, in addition to the digital photographs, she could also photograph Tim on film like in the olden days but older olden days that those which I mentioned before. However, the camera jammed and so Jennifer had to call Elena and ask her to come over to help unjam the camera. As they had to wait for Elena, they were able to spend more time together and catch up on the last 25 years during which they had lived their lives but had not known each other. 

Jennifer also had another film camera and again magic was in the air; instead of immediately looking into the back of the camera after each shot as she had done with her digital camera, this time each time after clicking the shutter she looked at Tim and when she did, she smiled and when she smiled, Tim smiled. And when Tim left, some time later and he had hugged Jennifer goodbye, he smiled again and he hop-skippity jumped down the street like a person does when he feels really happy. But the magic had not ended because the very next day some photographs arrived on Tim's computer and there he was in these beautiful pictures taken by the girl with beauty in her heart called Jennifer. 

And do you know? This sounds like a fairy story doesn't it? Well, it's not - there really is a man called Tim who was photographed in this way by a woman called Jennifer and there are wonderful photographs to prove it. Look, can you see them sparkle like jewels? Are they not beautiful?


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