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Man, do I love my job.
I shoot photos of women all the time, and I enjoy every single shoot—from sweet grandmothers posing for the portrait that they sometimes seem to know will be the last, and cherished, image; to the prom girls living large and blowing a wad on Vogue shots to make their teeny exes weep. And then there are the nudes–thousands of them by now. I was the guy in art school who, though I pretended with the others that the nudes were just subjects, in reality I was turned on to the point of severe distraction every time we did them. It’s a wonder I ever got a shot properly composed or focused…
But bellydancers get to me like no others. The way they move was made for photography—slow enough to frame shots, fast enough for the spontaneity to come through. When I’m shooting a dancer, I like to see her with many different eyes, and to make that perspective come out in the shot. Sometimes I shoot as if I were the jealous competitor, wanting to soak up and memorize her every move, and yet not wanting to see her upstage me. Some I see and shoot as the newcomer, not really knowing what to expect, not sure whether I should be completely at ease or not, but gradually relaxing into the performance. Hell, some I even shoot as myself–the professional photographer–trying to capture the essence of the dancer herself rather than conveying anything I bring into the scenario.
And then there’s the guy-in-the-audience-who-just-fell-in-love.
I know that I shouldn’t shoot as that guy too much, but sometimes I do it anyway. Today I started off shooting that way, and I’m not so sure I didn’t end up being that way.
She was scheduled for an all-day session. Even for me, that can be too much of a good thing; but as soon as this girl walked into the studio, I knew it wouldn’t be enough. Before I shook her hand, I wanted to tell her to book another night at her hotel; that eight hours just wasn’t going to do it. Somehow, I managed enough restraint not to say that. Instead, I greeted her professionally. Sort of.
“Adam. Nice to meet you. Great day for a shoot.”
(‘Great day for a shoot?’… singing words there, Shakespeare…)
“Nice to meet you, too. I’m Rebecca.”
She was among the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen. Dark hair, dark eyes, maybe Persian (I don’t care if Iran on the outs with us right now—I still say they have the best-looking women on the planet), with gorgeous curves everywhere. She was not rail-thin, but she was in very good condition and, it was plain to see, proud of it. She was wearing a low-cut tight shirt, jeans, and heels—a casual knockout.
I welcomed her into the studio and showed her where we would shoot, where she could change, where she could get a glass of water, and where we would look at some of the photos on a large screen at my workstation. With the preliminary business taken care of, she brought her bag behind the shoji screen that was her makeshift dressing room and prepared for the shoot. When I heard the hollow clunk of one of her empty shoes hitting the floor, my imagination brimmed with images of what else might be coming off of the beautiful body behind the (oh so thin) screen. To distract myself, I checked my gear one last time, mindlessly going through the motions more than anything, until Rebecca emerged a few minutes later ready to kick ass and take names. I fired up the CD she had given me.
I could tell that this was not her first shoot. First-timers are usually uncomfortable, and it takes a good hour or so before they relax enough to look like themselves. First-timers spend a lot of time being the Consummate Professional Dancer rather than putting on a good show for the audience. It’s true that a lens is a poor substitute for a clapping, shouting audience, but I do try to add what I can to the ambience with encouraging comments and questions. People think photographers get subjects to look beautiful by saying things like “Work it, baby, give it to me,” but I find that a good set of questions does the trick nicely. It shows the dancer that I want to know who she is and why she dances, and the good dancers respond to that with their best stuff. Expressing who they are and why they dance is, when it comes down to it, why most of them do it.
With Rebecca, though, I didn’t need to say much.
As soon as she came out from behind eryaman arkadan veren escortlar the shoji screen, the performance began. She moved all around the studio with a silky veil trailing behind her, seeming to take the measure of the space and all that was in it, myself included. Her ready smile and penetrating gaze were perfect for the camera and made me a little lightheaded. The way she breezed around the room suggested that she would have a live audience in the palm of her hand before the first tempo change in her music. I have to see this girl at a live show, I thought, clicking away.
Her costume glinted and glimmered, showing off her goods to perfect effect. It looked as though it had been just about painted on her. Her fingers and toes flashed an expertly-applied crimson polish that played off her natural complexion. On her right ankle was a thin gold chain that whispered “pay attention to this part of me, too, and I’ll make it worth your while!”
From the moment she began, Rebecca seemed to be a flirt. Some dancers have a little bit of that in them, but for her, flirting seemed like the essence of her dance…and maybe (I liked to believe) of herself. I had to assume that she did this for any audience, though I could swear it felt personal. After the first three tracks on her CD, she paused to take a drink of water, and I took advantage of the chance to talk to her without the camera between us.
“You’re a great dancer. I do these shoots all the time, and I’m not kidding when I say that you own the room like the big shots do.”
“Thank you. That’s a sweet thing to say—but I’m sure you say it to all the girls!”
(Actually, I don’t)
“I compliment every dancer. All of them, even the beginners or the ones who probably should stick to their day jobs, have something worthy of a real compliment. But you, sister, own the room. You’re a joy to shoot.”
“Well, I might say that it’s all in the audience…but you’d probably tell me I say that to all the girls, too!” She was grinning at me over the rim of her glass. I had the silly adolescent urge to make sure never to wash that glass again.
“Not at all. I can tell you know what you’re doing, and it makes it easy for me to dance well. It’s always easy when there’s a connection.”
Well, woof. I’m sure she meant a professional connection, the mutual respect between two artists, etc etc. The ring on her finger (sizeable rock, hard to miss), not to mention Allie, my “serious” girlfriend whose voice Rebecca had surely heard on my voice mail greeting, said that the odds were that’s what she meant. Though I wanted to believe that her smile meant otherwise, I told myself to assume only the most honorable of intentions.
“Shall we continue?” I asked, gesturing toward the center of the room.
The next number was a drum solo, and for a few minutes, anyway, I let the flirtation take second place to the work. She moved beautifully, completely isolating different parts of her body, and giving the illusion that she was the drummer, that she was not listening to the music but creating it. Waves of shimmies rolled from her hips to her belly to her gorgeous breasts, complemented by sensuous arm motions that were at once totally isolated from the shimmies, yet undeniably related to them, too. Like any work of art, this dance was a cohesive whole, with every part expressive and integral.
We continued in the same manner, shooting a little and flirting a little, throughout the day—a day which, to my chagrin, was passing much too quickly. She started calling me “Flash,” which would have irritated the hell out of me had anyone else said it, but coming from her, it was endearing and oddly sexy. I made a couple of innuendo-laden remarks that were probably out of line, and both times I inwardly cringed a little, expecting her to take offense and tell me to back off—but instead, she replied in kind and, if anything, upped the ante. As the flirtation escalated, I found myself anticipating the costume-change intervals almost as much as the dances—just knowing she was stripping naked behind that flimsy little screen, and flirting with me while she did it, was about all I could handle. Parts of me were seriously considering exploding.
In point of fact, it actually was more than I could (professionally) handle, because etimesgut escort bayan just at the precise moment when I figured that the turquoise costume was off to make room for the red one, I took a tone of mock regret and made the comment that very well could end a career.
“I have to tell you, Rebecca, it seems a shame that we’ll never have any photos of what you’re wearing behind that screen.”
Holy shit. I could not believe I’d just said that. The hard-on that had lately threatened to damage my jeans suddenly subsided. Visions of the harassment suit, the vengeful husband, the outrage in the dance community, and about a thousand other things, none of them good, flooded my brain. In the shock of my own idiocy, I almost missed the quiet rejoinder that sailed over the screen.
“Well, Flash, it would seem that the camera’s always out there when the good part of the show is taking place back here.”
My heart rate, already high because I thought I’d just sentenced myself to prison, soared now for an entirely different reason. The railroad spike between my legs pounded its way right back to the forefront of things. My next words were unequal to the momentous precipice I had just reached.
“Ah. Well, do you mean I should sort of hand it over the screen? Or maybe push it back there? I could use a pool cue—”
“—Flash, I don’t know the first thing about that camera. It’s pretty useless without a trained operator.”
Holy shit. Have I said that already? My hands started shaking so badly I put the neck strap of the camera over my head, lest I drop the thing on the floor and wreck the shoot of a lifetime. Even in my near-apoplexy, though, I retained at least a shred of common sense.
“If you’re not kidding about that, you need to come out here. I’ll take your picture any way you want out here, but during a shoot, that’s your space back there. It’s your little piece of sovereign territory, and I don’t step into it.”
So then, just like that, it happened. She stepped out from behind the screen, a veil over her beautiful shoulders and down over her curves, and nothing else on her except that tiny anklet. She walked slowly, eyes locked on mine, to the chaise longue I keep near the wall. She put one knee up on the chaise, raised her eyebrows in the briefest of gestures, and shrugged the veil onto the floor.
For a good thirty seconds, or maybe it was thirty years, I was unable to move. Finally she gave me a little grin and gestured with her head toward the camera, which I noticed still seemed to be hanging around my neck. I swallowed hard, took a couple of breaths, and raised the viewfinder to my eye. Then I paused.
“You really are stunning. I promise, I won’t keep any of these shots for myself, much as I’d like to—I’ll give you the memory card with all of them, and—”
“Flash, shut up and take my picture now.”
I began snapping wildly. She wasn’t dancing now, exactly, but she still moved with an incredible grace. And she still flirted—man, did she ever. She turned her back to me (o beautiful ass) and gave me a little half-smile over her shoulder that just had to be for me and not just for the camera; she lay down on her belly on the chaise, propped her chin on her hands, and winked at me, one foot playing in the air. She turned over on her back and held her breasts as if presenting them to the camera. Or to me. It occurred to me that, other than the handshake at the beginning of the session, we had not touched, despite the incredible intimacy of what was taking place. Finally, she broke the spell.
“All right, playtime is over. I suppose I really need to get back to work, don’t you think?”
I knew better than to press my luck…at least too much.
“It’s your call. But don’t you want to take at least a quick look at this, the potential damnation of your political career?”
She laughed and wrapped the veil around herself again.
“Sure, Flash, I’ll have a look. This way we can put to rest the burning question of whether or not I’m Playmate material.”
“I don’t think there would need to be much question about that. I can send these in if you like.”
“Give me that!” She playfully grabbed for the camera.
I made a point of showing her these shots on the tiny screen sincan escort bayan of the camera itself rather than on the computer. I told myself the main reason was to reassure her that these shots wouldn’t go anywhere without her explicit say-so. But the real reason I did it was that the small size of the screen forced her to sidle right up next to me to get a close look. I tilted the screen just a little bit away from her—not enough to be obvious, but enough that she took hold of the camera and shifted it toward her. Her fingers touched mine when she did that (yes!), and my pulse quickened again. Her hand stayed next to mine on the camera. We flipped through the pictures, she giggling, me admiring, both genuinely enjoying the moment. She shifted her weight slightly, causing her leg to lightly touch mine—but rather than recoiling, as I assumed she would, she held her ground. It raised goosebumps all over my body and dialed up a low ache in my nuts that would probably remain with me for a week, if not forever…. She tilted her head close to mine to see the screen better, her hair lightly brushing my cheek. My attraction to her was overpowering, and I wasn’t sure what to do about it. In the span of a second or two, I contemplated my options and desires, and decided that, more than anything else, I had to know.
Funny how, in this giant room, I now focused with the greatest intensity on the three millimeters or so between my hand and hers on the camera. I had to know. Slowly but deliberately, I closed that gulf until we were touching.
Funny, too, how the rules of the flirt work. We could tell our own mental flirt-lawyers (I have one, and I’m pretty sure she does, too) that the business with the legs was purely circumstantial. The cover story was that we were both concentrating on examining the pictures (and never mind that they were nude pictures of a scandalously flirtatious woman), but this business with the fingers proved motive, means, and opportunity. I felt her thumb twitch into mine, solidifying the touch, and her breath caught a little. I could hear that because my own breath had long since departed for who-knows-where. When her breath caught, the veil slipped again from her shoulder, partly uncovering her breast with its nicely erect nipple. She didn’t move to cover it.
Funny, finally, because despite the bold eroticism of the images on the tiny screen in front of us, it was that small touch of our hands, that supposedly inconsequential contact, that was more electrifying than anything else that had happened thus far. That tiny bit of me touching that tiny bit of her (and staying touching) meant that, whatever else happened, we were a we for at least this one delicious moment. And being a we means at least contemplating, if not any more than that, having heart-pounding, sheet-ripping, screaming-orgasm sex, which I surely was doing as I stood at this mind-bending crossroads. I wondered if she was thinking about it too.
I could have held that position a lot longer, and I think she could have, too, but we both seemed to realize that we now had a choice, one fucking humdinger of a choice, not to put too fine a point on it, to make.
And she made it. With what I sincerely hope was the greatest reluctance, Rebecca dropped her hand from the camera and turned to look at me. Despite all the flirty joking, she spoke quietly and seriously.
“Adam, these are beautiful. I don’t want you to trash them. Print them, and I’ll come back sometime to pick them up. Don’t email them to me, for God’s sake! And. Print a couple of them for yourself if you like. They can’t stay on your computer—shit, you weren’t kidding about their being the ruin of me. But you really are an artist and it’s reasonable for you to keep some of your work. And…it was a lot of fun, too. God, I can’t believe I did that!”
As she said the last sentence, she grinned broadly, demurely tugged the veil back up over her shoulder, and resumed her role as the bellydancer. I resumed mine as Flash. She shimmied back to her sovereign territory to put the red costume on.
The rest of the shoot went as the first part had—almost as if nothing extraordinary had happened. To my eternal wonder and great good fortune, she picked up the flirt just as she had before—and now I knew that it was personal, by the way—and we swallowed up the remaining time in the shoot.
I didn’t want her to leave, but once she was changed back into her street clothes, she was obviously ready to move on. She gave me a great smile and a just-slightly-lingering hug, and then she left.
That could be the end of the story….but….
She had said she’d be back for the photos…
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