Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Burntcore's Week 15 Entry: Behind The Lens


Picture 1

Picture 2

Burntcore's Choice: Both

Behind the Lens

We had been friends since grade school, drawn together like magnets. She was always the prettier one with naturally tan skin and glossy black hair. I was all knees and elbows with wispy blonde hair. My mother told me I would grow up to be a breath-taking beauty. I tried to believe her. If I was going to be a beauty, my friend was going to be gorgeous.

As we grew, we both grew into our own individual beauty. Marcella stayed true to her classic beauty, enhanced with high cheekbones and expensive cosmetics. My wispy blonde hair darkened into a dirty blonde and I was blessed with blemish free porcelain skin. I hardly ever wore make-up, I didn’t feel the need. And yet, we were friends. She was the ying to my yang. We still giggled over the same boys, sighed over the same shows, and dreamed of fame and fortune bringing our art to the world. How we wanted to go about it was different.

She was born for the stage and screen. She was one of those few talented people who could act and sing at the same time, not one of those actresses that tries to do a musical and relies on studio magic to make her voice sound good. Marcella was in every play and every musical the Drama Club put on in high school. She did prose in the Speech and Debate Club. She even got parts in the community theater during the summers.

What did I do? I captured memories and moments. I catalogued Marcella’s growth as an actress with my camera lens. I froze little moments in time of life and things around us with my Canon. I found beauty in a single leaf laying on the sidewalk, in a puffy cloud floating across the sky, and the great moments in my friends’ lives where they were their best, like Marcella when she was on stage.
Marcella was born to be in front of the lens. I was born to be behind it. I did not envy the attention she got. I got my own accolades as my photography won awards and earned me a scholarship to college. Marcella went to college as well but she really didn’t plan on finishing. She was using college as a staging ground for her professional career. All she needed was to attract the right people and she’d be off to stardom.

After a few years of doing the bare minimum in college, Marcella found her big break. She was cast into a major movie, and while it wasn’t the lead starring role, it was big enough to get her noticed. After that, I didn’t see her for some time. We still talked on the phone and texted and sent emails but it wasn’t quite the same.

While she was filming, I landed my first internship. It was grunt work but it was at a major photography house that dealt mostly with models and art pieces. I wasn’t sure yet if I wanted to be freelance or be attached to a specific company. That decision would be best based on the type of photography I wanted to pursue. The kinds of pictures found in the National Geographic were quite different from the ones found in the National Inquirer.

Marcella regaled me with stories about filming and all the amazing people she had met. I shared stores of getting coffee for the photographers, water and cigarettes for the models, and still trying to learn the ins and outs of professional photography. I think she was getting the better end of the deal. Her picture was splashed across glossy magazine covers from events and places she had been. I bought every one I saw, pleased that my friend was being so successful.

One day I laughed at the absurdity of it all when I saw a spread of Marcella’s. She was covered in head-to-toe designer clothes. Her hair and skin were perfectly made up to the nines. No one could deny her allure. I looked down at my own ‘collection’ of clothes. I just grabbed what was comfortable and clean out of my closet. I was lucky that day that I actually matched. I still didn’t wear make-up, and my wispy hair was tied back in a lose knot. Ah, opposites we still were.

I had my admirers in college; sure, as I was still fairly attractive, but definitely not like the kind of horde of people that followed Marcella devotedly. I decided that I liked having my freedom.

By the time I graduated from college, Marcella had become a household name. She was hailed as the next Hollywood bombshell. My friends from talked about her, amazed and impressed that I knew her. Yet, our friendship remained. I hadn’t seen her in well over a year but a week did not go by where we didn’t speak to one another. I looked forward to when we could see each other again.

Our next meeting was unexpected as it was awesome. I was still trying to find a company to get full-time work so I was operating as a freelancer. She told me that she was going to be visiting New York to do some PR work for her next film. It was supposed to be pretty hush-hush so she wouldn’t be swamped with fans. I told her I was holed up in Boston on assignment so I could surprise her.

It was perfect. It was a beautiful late summer day as I sat on the steps of the American Museum of Natural History. Tourists were coming and going all around me, ignoring this slight blonde girl on the steps. I idly played with my Canon camera, a significant upgrade from the one I had as a child, as I waited for Marcella.

My patience was rewarded as a white limo pulled up to the side of the large marble and granite steps of the museum. The car stopped by a section of the stairs that were roped off from the rest. A handsome man in a well-tailored suit popped out of the driver’s side and quickly opened the passenger door of the limo.

Out stepped the gorgeous Marcella. I quickly aimed my camera and began taking photos of her. I had no intention of selling them. I wanted to see if she’d recognize me there, despite the few years that had passed since we had last seen one another. People coming and going from the museum noticed her arrival and whispers were heard.

I kept my spot on the steps, snapping away. The sound of my camera and the light reflection from my lens finally got Marcella’s attention as she walked up the stairs.

“Elena?” she shouted, her face breaking into a bright smile.

“Maybe,” I hollered back, rising and taking a few more pictures.

Despite her fancy shoes and her designer dress, she hoped the ropes and ran over to me. I laughed merrily and tossed my camera in my bag as she nearly bowled me over with a hug.

“You told me you were in Boston!” she cried, not releasing her deathgrip on me.

“I was. Yesterday,” I replied drolly.

She finally let me go and looked around, noticing the crowd we had gathered. Now I was the one in front of the lens and not behind as people with camera phones took pictures of Marcella the movie star and her friend.

“Good Lord, Elena, let’s get out of here before they think we are a couple,” she teased.

I laughed again as I grabbed my camera bag and followed her into a private entrance of the museum.

“So, how is Rob doing? Have you worn away his British accent yet?” I teased, as the door shut behind us.