The Photographer

Submitted into Contest #144 in response to: Write about a character who’s pathologically camera shy.... view prompt


Contemporary Kids Creative Nonfiction

The Photographer

Little Mary's mother had laid the special dress out on her bed. It was a special dress for a special little girl on a special day. Little Mary was going to have her picture taken. The Photographer wasn't just any old random photographer. It was her dad. Little Mary's dad had just taken up photography as a hobby and wanted to practice his hobby by taking a picture of his favorite subject, his precious baby girl.

"Who's ready to get her picture taken by daddy?" Mary's mother entered the room and picked up the little dress from the bed. Mary didn't understand all details involved. She just knew she had to look at daddy and smile when he told her to. And she had to stand still. Mary was young and full of energy. Standing still would be a challenge for the young girl.

"ME!" Mary squealed. She raised her arms and her mother put the dress on over her head. Mary's Mother fastened the back, for her daughter and smoothed out the wrinkles.

"Would you like mommy to brush your hair for you?" Mom asked.

"I don't know." Mary responded.

"You don't know?" Mom asked.

Mary nodded. She'd always been a shy girl. Mary loved attention. She was just awkward around people, sometimes. Mary was overexcited by the whole experience of getting her picture taken.

Mom shrugged and knelt to brush her daughter's hair. Mary's hair was currently a honey blonde color that would darken as she got older to be a really pretty maple color. Mary remembered when her dad first brought home his camera.

It came in a heavy case with a sturdy, reinforced handle. When the case was opened there were roles of extra film, attachments, straps, lens cover and the camera. It looked like a lot to Little Mary. The most interesting thing in the case wasn't the camera. It was a small tower like thing with a clear window on one end . It was the electric flash unit. It produced a bright light used to help the camera take a picture of the desired subject. Mary liked the flash 'stick' as she called it. She wanted to play with it, but her dad took it away from her. The Flash Stick was expensive and her dad was concerned that she'd break it. He promised that if she was good, she'd be the first picture he took with the nice camera.

Mary had been good all month. She kept her room clean. Helped her mother with chores around the house. She didn't bother her dad when he was resting so he could be alert for his very dangerous job guarding people at the prison where he worked.

Mary's mother knelt to brush her hair. "I wish I was better at doing other people's hair, I'm sorry if it doesn't look right." Her mother apologized.

"You don't have to be sorry, Mama." Mary replied. "It's just hair."

Mary's mother stood to appraise the child in front of her. "Well, you do look cute."

Mary smiled and pretended to curtsy. Her mother took Mary by the hand and led her to the area where her dad was going to take the picture. A little rocking chair with a doll had been set up against a wall. There was no other decoration. Dad wanted to keep things simple. He had put together a tripod to hold the camera steady for the picture. He wasn't in the room, yet. Dad was getting film for the camera. Mom and Little Mary approached the staged area.

"Now, you have to sit in the chair and hold still." Mary's mother instructed. "You need to listen and do what your daddy says so that the picture comes out nice." She picked up the doll that was sitting in the chair.

"OK, Mama. " Mary said as she sat in the chair.

Mary's mother handed her the doll. "Hold this, please." She said as she arranged Mary in the most adorable position possible. "All you have to do hold still and smile when daddy tells you to." Mary's Mother repeated herself.

"I know, Mama." Mary said. "You said that already."

"Did I?" Mom asked. "Don't mind me, I am just nervous. The picture is going to be fine and when it's developed we'll send a copy to Grandma."

"Yay!" The little girl cheered. "Grandma!"

Mary's Mother offered a watery smile to try to encourage her daughter. "Remember, be good and do what Daddy says. OK?"

"I will!" Mary whined. She was getting tired of her mother repeating herself. She was also nervous. Mary started to fidget.

"Oh!" Her mother fussed and smoothed away some more imaginary wrinkles on the little girl's dress. "Hold still. If you move during the picture, it'll come out blurry and not be good. Ah!" Mary's Mother licked her thumb and then used her thumb to wash away a smudge on the child's cheek. Mary squirmed to avoid her mother's thumb, but was unsuccessful.

Mary's Father entered the room. His camera was already loaded with film. He placed his camera on the tripod and checked the scene through the viewfinder. "Willamina, you're in the shot."

Mary's Mother jumped as if she had been electrified. "Yes, sir, sorry, sir." She apologized and ran out of the room.

Mary's Father checked the scene, again. "Much better." He brought his hands up to hold the camera. "Hold still, sweetheart. This will only take a second. Say 'cheese'. "

"Cheese!" Mary grinned wide.

There was a click. The electronic flash unit flashed and whined EEEEE. “That was it, Mary.” Mary heard more clicking as her father wound the film in the camera to move the exposure along. “Just a few more pictures to make sure we got the shot I wanted...” There was another flash and whine and more clicking and then a few minutes after that more flashing and whining. “There. All done. That wasn't painful was it?”

“All Done?” Mary blinked stars out of her eyes, confused.

“All done.” Daddy picked up his camera. He walked away from his daughter.

“Can I see it?” The little girl asked. Her father stopped dead in his tracks. He glared at the child's stupidity.

“Not right now.” Her father told her. “The film has to be developed. You can go with your mother to take care of that. And then we can send the picture to Grandma. You like grandma, don't you?”

Mary nodded her response.

“Very well, then.” Dad said. “I'm going to find your mother and send her back to take care of you and get you ready to go to the one hour photo place.” He left the room.

Mary's mother returned and wrapped her arms around Mary, giving her a big hug. “I'm so proud of you. You did very good for daddy.”

Mary was still baffled. “But all I did was sit there and then daddy made a click with the camera and there was this bright light and a little EEEEEE...” The child rambled on.

“I know. I know.” Her mother listened to Mary babble. “Let's get you changed and while we're waiting for the film to develop, we can have ice cream. Just because you were such a good girl for daddy.”

“Ice cream!” Mary shouted. She took her mother's hand and exited the room with her.

May 06, 2022 16:42

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Hope Linter
23:17 May 13, 2022

Many interesting undertones in this story. Good job. I enjoyed the little girl character POV. I don't know if at her age she'd have that vocabulary level.


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Chris Morris
18:53 May 09, 2022

This is a sweet little story about a little girl who I could imagine in my head as I read. One thing to watch out for - I thought you were quite inconsistent about when you were capitalising "mum" and "dad" and their variations. My own rule for when I'm writing stories/scenes with parents in them would be to capatalise them when they are being named as such, and don't capatalise them when you're talking about them as being a parent (eg, "I went to the cinema with Mum" vs "I went to the cinema with my mum"). Well done on your submission, I...


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