I'm a photographer, self-taught to be exact.
At the moment, I'm working in my dark room to develop some pictures for my portfolio. The pictures are resting in trays filled with chemicals - one a mixture, another acetic acid, and the last with ammonium thiosulfate. That's one thing that I learned about photography. You have to wait. You have to be patient.
I have a confession to make. I don't like showing people my work. I know that sounds ridiculous. What kind of photographer doesn't want to show the world his work? Isn't that the point of photography - to catch a moment in time and share it? Well, I'm just embarrassed. You see, I don't like rejection. Not after I was rejected by Insight, a popular peoples' magazine. Their claim is that they only post articles and artwork from average, every day people. I got my hopes up, and I shouldn't have.
I remember being so excited, so eager when I met with the senior photographer of Insight. It was a dream come true. There was small talk at first and coffee. But then, I showed him my portfolio. I watched as his demeanor changed, and our meeting ended shortly afterward.
He claimed that I didn't have a photographer's eye, that my work was unoriginal - useless to the magazine.
I refused to believe him at first. One person's opinion shouldn't mean anything, but after hearing those words, I eventually accepted them. I didn't have a photographer's eye.
Photographers tend to have themes in their work. Some take pictures of nature while others photograph buildings or weddings. My work was cliched. It was a mixture of everything: puppies, couples, flowers, and sunsets. It was terrible - unoriginal. I was on the verge of giving up.
I found my photographer's eye despite it being in an untraditional way. My passion returned, and I realized what my theme would be: eyes. Hear me out on this. Eyes are the windows to human emotion. There's happiness, fear, anger, surprise, sadness, and so much more to capture in photographs. Eyes are the perfect subjects but not in the literal sense. It's not easy taking pictures of someone's eyes. Most people don't like getting their picture taken, and people are always on the move. I'm not some creep. After I photograph someone's eyes, I let them know about it, and I explain my project to them. Most people don't appreciate it, so a lot of my pictures are of frustration or surprise. Anger is pretty popular too. You know, I've felt so confident lately that I'm letting my girlfriend tour my dark room today. She's never seen it before, and I'm so excited to show her.
By now, my pictures have finished developing, and I pin them on a clothesline to dry. These pictures were taken in a local bakery. I love going there. Everyone is so happy, especially Sarah, a young woman that works there. We're familiar with each other because I frequent the bakery often. She's happy to pose for me if I buy a few sweets. It's a pleasant exchange. I'm just glad that she humors me.
Despite my recent confidence, there has been a few doubts in the back of my mind. It took me awhile to figure it out. It's my girlfriend. I take photographs of her often, but her eyes aren't as happy anymore. I don't understand why. I compared recent photographs to photographs of her eyes from a few months ago, and there has been a deliberate change. Something must be bothering her. I tried to ignore it at first, but it's starting to interfere with my work. I feel like it's because I've been spending a little more time with my camera than with her. She's always understood in the past though.
I cross over to a dark cabinet filled with developing equipment, lenses, and polaroids. I nudge an old camera aside and remove a giant, glass jar filled with preservatives. I set the jar on the counter and smile down at its contents. In the red glare of my safelight, I see two eyes staring back at me. I brush my finger across the surface of the jar and take a deep breath. It's a simple procedure.
Well, I wouldn't call it a procedure without all the necessary equipment. Trust me though. I've done this before with the senior photographer of Insight. He's how I got my photographer's eyes. And, don't worry! I found suitable replacements for him - twenty twenty vision too! I do regret the scarring though. I was a bit nervous, so I had a shaky hand when amputating them. To my knowledge, the procedure was extremely successful. I mean, look at me! If I operated on myself, I can operate on another person. I know it will work. With Sarah's eyes, my girlfriend will finally be happy again.
I hear footsteps on the stairs, and I smile as I hear a knock on the darkroom door. "Come in, sweetheart!"