Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Studying Photography in Madrid.

At the beginning of the course I hid behind a large Puerto Rican Afro at the back of every class. It was because I am the only non latin foreigner in the entire college and the idea of having to address a large group in my newly learned tongue didn t appeal to me very much. Unfortunately however my ruse was discovered at a very early stage when that Afro was unexpectedly shaved off. And so now, as is the case for all, and much to the delight of my class mates, I am made to contribute with my face often turning redder than my hair.

The atmosphere in the college is fantastic and I love every minute that I spend there. Photography is the only subject studied and so around every corner you find huddled groups showing off, describing or mourning their latest images. As you might guess these students come from every walk of life. The males all look to me as if they have spent their lives in Espionage or Living with African Tribes, while the females, judging by clothes and hair colour, seem to have just arrived back from the Moon.

I have already learned an incredible amount. I m proud to say that I am never late for class, always sit at the front......and to the shock of my UCD friends....Mine are the notes that they all want to photocopy. Surprisingly many of the technical words bear no resemblance to their English equivalent. It is a relatively new field to me and as a result there are now many words for which I only know the Spanish version. Thankfully I rarely if ever have serious problems understanding, except for of course those times when I am extremely tired. This is a dangerous thing because what leaves the speakers mouth as "never ever" often ends up on my page as "absolutely always".

Yesterday was the most interesting to date. We had to do a three hour photo session with a professional model. It was not easy. I had never before seen a model at work . I must admit that it seemed a little absurd at first to watch this girl sitting on a stool, and as if like a robot, producing a different facial contortion every ten seconds. I never knew that a face could do so many expressions....and I couldn t help wondering about how many hours she must surely have spent in front of the mirror inventing new ones.

She was beautiful beyond doubt. She was also very good and successful at her job. Modeling is her skill and so her expertise lies in making every smile look personal and full of meaning. Perhaps naively I like to think that up until now when a girl ever smiled at me that she actually meant it. This therefore was a very new departure. But despite all that I have said, it was nevertheless intimidating to take so many close-up photos, while her deliberately seductive eyes gazed down my lens. I hate to admit that every so often when I returned after a pause, I found myself fumbling awkwardly with the camera as I momentarily forgot that the rest of my classmates, both male and female, were receiving the exact same practiced looks. It was a crushing blow each and every time for me to remember yet again that no she was not "stripping me with her eyes" and that the only thing on her mind was what she was going to spend her hefty fee on.

It was an excellent class and also an interesting insight into the world of modeling. I m not sure if I would be cut out for the job of a model. I think now that I might renege on that new billboard contract to model Tight White Speedos.