The Gold Coat

Sometimes life is just… life. One has plans, but life has other ideas in mind. Those who can adapt to the ever changing swings of life, tend to fair better than those who can’t.

Now, to be clear, it’s hard to measure subjective fairing in an objective way. So, for the sake of this piece, let’s just say that the ability to adjust is very important and beneficial.

for example, after writing this post and finding the most eloquent ways to phrase things… a file error meant I lost the entire set of pieces… so, instead of being mad… time to create something new and better

A Gold Coat.

Years ago, in an effort to live more comfortably outside of my comfort zone, I endeavored to photograph a few people outside of the area in which I knew them. For my church friends, that meant scheduling a photo session outside of church activities. For school friends, it also meant finding ways to get to their homes to do photos of their lives.

I got as far as the church friends but was having a serious issue with my internal dialogue to ask my friends from school. Not that they would have said no or anything, but I just couldn’t bring myself to ask. Back then anyway.

Instead of giving up, I decided to ask someone at work to meet me for a photo shoot. Little did I understand I was asking of myself to take a galactic sized leap outside of my comfort zone.

With a degree of trembling, I looked about work to find someone who was open minded enough to entertain the idea of me doing a shoot with them. To my surprise, that was not as difficult as I thought it would be. A lesson that seems to show up every so often.

One day, this lady walks down the hall from our department wearing what could only be a metallic inspired gold coat. The buzz around the fellas was instant. She caused several to swivel their necks and shake their heads. They knew they had no shot of getting a word of hello out of her. (you know when a lady has that out-of-your-league vibe)

This, of course, fascinated me. What was it about this woman that made many guys with “great game” felt they couldn’t say hi? I had to know. Well, not really, but part of me wanted to know.

Without appearing too star struck, I found a guy who was willing to share some details about who this lady was. Turns out she was very selective of who she socialized with and guarded her personal space tightly. She was on a mission to improve her station in life and wanted no distractions from those not motivated to move ahead.

My angle would be to ask for a few quick photos of her coat in the parking lot and call it a day. But, that proved way more challenging than I thought.

For starters, this woman was all about getting her business done and moving on to the next item on her task list. Very calculated in her movements, one saw this was a skilled professional who just got things done quickly.

When the old adage of dress for the job you want got batted around, images of this lady in the gold coat immediately came to mind. Most of her peers took advantage of the relaxed dress code to do as they pleased. Only two in her department looked like they wanted the next title above theirs. She seemed the most eager to move ahead.

In due time, after lots of self-conscious stumbles, a friendship started to develop. (I’m keenly aware she will read this and laugh… as she probably has no idea of my nervousness back then…) While I had no reason to try to impress her, other than to ask her to model for my camera… something about risking a “no” messed with my nerves.


Take One

The day of the shoot, I was a bit too inside my own head. I was worried about making a mistake. I was worried she’s had modeling experiences and would judge me to be an amateur. I was worried I’d not capture the coat perfectly. Worse, I was not fully convinced my last test with this type of reflective surface had taught me all I needed to know to get the exposure and lighting right.

Plus, in addition to being nervous, the sun was playing peek-a-boo with the clouds. My initial light test came out OK, but not wow good. A few compensations later, the actual photo session took off.

My friend was really sweet and angelic about the whole thing. True to her character, she was relaxed, pleasant, funny, and enjoying the shoot. Me, well, I was a wreck.

Either the photo was poorly composed or the background had something wrong with it. Once that was fixed, I cropped out her head due to hand shake, or I improperly metered the shot.

Worse, my confidence was being shaken to the point of nearly being stirred.

While the breeze made for a chilly day, my nerves had me sweating as if in the middle of an intense heat wave. I had to back up, breathe, regroup. I was burning through the minutes of my appointment at an alarming rate. I had to create something beautiful that I could give to my friend as a thank you for her time.

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