School pictures come out around this time of year for many people. For the past 3 days or so I've heard nothing but, "Look how big he made my chin, I'm getting retakes!" Some people had pretty genuine complaints like their photos being off center and all, but the majority were bullshit. I've gotta feel bad for the photographer who has to retake a hundred pictures of girls who had a tiny pimple showing or a strand of hair over their ear.

I know that some things can be the photographer's fault, but a picture represents reality pretty accurately these days. As long as he did a decent job framing the shot, the rest is pretty much up to you. If you don't look good, too bad, its the way you are, live with it or get some plastic surgery. All the retakes in the world won't change how you look, if you want to look unusually different, go get some glamour shots or something.

She is a stab in the eye. Visual sensory input is nothing but the perception of light. Light reflected off the retina is blood red. This is the obsolete phenomenon of red eye, destroyed when they invented the preflash. The eye instinctually dilates, reducing the exposure to the light. The shot is taken before the subject can blink. All this happens in less than a second, which, in some cases, is the difference between life and death.

A camera is merely a humane gun. You point it, and shoot. In a riot, a camera uploaded to a live video-feed is more lethal than a concealed uzi. You are untouchable with a camera, as she is from the face I hide behind. You mouth off verbal gutturals, she shifts her position, fabric cloaking the skin, dressed to kill. Clothing makes nakedness invisible. My face is hidden behind the camera, my other eye shut, cutting the pain in half.

From beyond the barrier, she is unaware of anything but her own body, as I am aware of as much she is not. This is the barrier of social norm, the artificial breakable glass separating the role of photographer and photographed. The shutter snaps one more time. I mouth off the word to relax, and she does.

Do you know why the camera is pointed the other way, and not towards me? I ask. No, she says. You are beautiful, I say, as her lips tense, the telltale sign of the superasternal notch, the hollow at the base of the neck, collapsing onto itself. This is the area you look for in a fight. Eyes and body language deceive, but the notch never lies. I shake my head. All pretty girls should wear thick scarves. The kerchief brought over the mouth, concealing the nose and lower facial extremities, is not a fashion statement, any less than the sideways grip.

This is erotic geography, and I am throwing darts on the map. The paradox of movement freezes each dart in its position its space, each shutter snap in mid-motion.

I stop breathing. She had blinked. In a captured moment her eyes are closed, the mouth relaxed. The camera reverses itself, capturing the captor outside-in, falls to the floor, a voluntary snap.

When we were young we were told to stay still. This is why they don’t smile in those old photographs, it takes too much effort. Happiness does not last for an extended instant, but stops and resumes in predictable patterns. Show happiness and your face will be a vague undefined blur. The motion shot and smile detect removed much of this. A dead body videotaped only captures camera shake. A videotape of a dead body is a photograph. Paper is the long forgotten corpse of a dead tree, rotting along with flesh. But in the digital age, you are forever.



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