Smile on Three

A photo is worth a thousand words if I’m not the photographer.

My youngest sister opened a photography business. This job allows her to capture nature for posterity.

I accompany Sis on art shoots. We trek state forests, paddle lakes, and periodically, end up in a farmer’s field.

My job, on our adventures, is to take in our surroundings so we aren’t surprised by wildlife. I keep us from being eaten by bears. I also make sure Sis doesn’t fall into rivers or plunge to her death from a cliff while she concentrates on framing a shot. In return, if I ever become famous, she promises to shoot my publicity photos and make me look young.

Living your dream job sometimes requires taking side jobs to earn real money. To make an actual living from photography, Sis photographs kidzillas, high school seniorzillas, and bridezillas. There are a few nice families sessions upon occasion.

It was for one of the actual paying jobs that Sis asked me to go on a recon mission with her. A wedding reception would be held at the zoo with outdoor photos expected.

Apparently, you just can’t stand a couple in front of a Komodo dragon and say smile on three. It was November in the Northeast. Weather was unpredictable and darkness fell at five o’clock. Sis was a professional and planned not only for existing conditions, but also for things that might not happen.

Recon at the zoo meant almost no chance of being eaten by animals unless you breached a barrier. I could relax my cavewoman alertness for once and not have to carry a stick, pepper spray, a taser, and lunch. The zoo questioned my thinking on just which species should be restrained.

Sis values my unique insight in certain situations. While looking at the pachyderms, I asked, “What if you take a photo of the lovely couple and there’s poop in it?”

“I can make elephant dung disappear with photo shop. I can also take a photo of an animal today then put it in the frame with the couple.” Before I could think up a really preposterous question, she added, “The tool has limits.”

Near the polar bear enclosure, there was an exhibit and display that explained how bears were captured and moved.

“Wouldn’t it be cool if the groom climbed into the bear trap and the bride stood beside it?”

Sis gave me a look.

The night before the zoo wedding, Sis’s regular assistant, who knew her way around a camera, had a family emergency. Sis asked if I could fill in.

I remembered tales of Jurassic brides and said, “Sure.” We were invited to the reception which meant food I didn’t have to cook and cake. And Sis said she’d pay me.

Since Sis couldn’t be at the front of the church and the back at the same time, I’d have to use a camera during the ceremony. My husband said, “Your sister knows you take sucky photos, right?”

When Sis talks about resolution, I think of New Year’s promises I’ll never keep and not print quality. Shutter speed has nothing to do with how fast it takes to out run a carnivore. I do know now that if you snap a bride from a certain angle, she’ll look like a linebacker, (not fixable in photo shop).

She was desperate. I was needed to lug equipment, hold lights, and to fluff the bride’s gown. I wasn’t allowed to bring a stick, pepper spray, or a taser.

We got lucky. The bride and groom were an agreeable, young couple with no reptilian tendencies.

The couple’s favorite photo spot happened to be the polar bear exhibit. The groom took one look at the bear trap and climbed inside. Ha!

Though I enjoyed my day as a photographers assistant, the only focused photos were the fore mentioned linebacker photo and one of the groom’s mother as she bent over. Thankfully, my sister has more than enough talent to make up for my lack.

Considering this, I’ll continue to have my sister take my selfies. I prefer to keep us off of the menu and to live to write about our adventures. The pay may be terrible, but there’s just something special about nature in its natural state.

Published in Funny Times-February 2018

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