Updated to add: Teacher Tom, or anyone else who might have read this and gotten the wrong impression .... I did not at all think this young woman was "trashy" looking ... in fact, I wrote that very thing below. She was adorable .... just so much older looking than twelve that I was taken aback. And promptly stuck my foot in my mouth about it, which is about par for the course for me. :)
Tonight, I attended the second in a six-week series of classes I am taking at the local vo-tech to learn portrait photography. Tonight's session was about learning to use studio lights and the proper camera settings for traditional studio photography, as well as letting us "practice" posing a model. That's something I have struggled with every time I've ever taken photos for someone else .... we show up, I've got my camera, and they say something along the lines of, "So, tell me what you want me to do or where you want me to stand or sit and what should I do with my hands" and I look at them like they've grown a second head, or like they're speaking a foreign language because truly, I have no clue where to even begin.
Tonight, the instructor brought his daughter along to be our model. The first half of the class she helped him with the computer, viewing images we had all brought in to be critiqued ... then he had a photo session with her, to show us how he would do it as a professional if she came into his studio for portraits. Then we all got to practice with her.
When he was preparing to start his session, he told us how he likes to visit with his clients, especially if this is their first time in his studio, and develop at least a little bit of rapport to help them feel at ease. So while he was putting up the backdrop, and meter-testing each light, and syncing the strobes, he was sort of half-handedly asking her questions as if he didn't know her .... again, just to give us an example.
He started with the standard, "What's your name?" and then "How old are you?"
Now, she had been in the room over an hour already, and although she hadn't spoken much, I could clearly see she was in high school. Not very tall, but with a fairly-developed figure, nicely styled hair, and a full face of makeup. I wouldn't have *guessed* college, but definitely at least driving age. So when she replied, "Twelve", well, I about fell over.
"You're kidding," someone else in the room asked. "You're twelve?"
(Clearly, I wasn't the only one taken by surprise.)
"Yes," she said.
And I said, "Really? Twelve? Are you kidding?"
"No," she repeated, "I'm really twelve."
And then the thought that went through my brain was, "Holy cow, my daughter is twelve, but she doesn't look NEAR as ...." except unfortunately I realized, because everyone had turned to look at me, including the girl, that I wasn't actually thinking those thoughts in my brain, but that they were in fact coming out of my mouth. OUT LOUD. IN FRONT OF EVERYONE.
So I immediately started scrambling for an adjective I could use that wouldn't sound judgmental or mean-spirited. I mean, she was a cute girl, but what I was really thinking was, "My daughter doesn't look near as ......" What? Slutty? Trampy? Old? Developed? Mature? Because she didn't look slutty OR trampy ... she just looked so much more .... so much more ....
"Pretty!" I finally exclaimed. "My daughter is not near as pretty as you are."
And the lady sitting next to me turned and said, "That's not a very nice thing to say about your own kid!"
So I started back-pedaling, and trying to fix it, only it was clear I was just digging myself in deeper.
"No, I mean, she's pretty, too, it's just that she doesn't look so .... um ..... so .... grown up, is all" I finished weakly. Really, there is no good adjective to describe what I was thinking.
And her father, my INSTRUCTOR, heard the whole thing.
POSSIBLY she was so fixed up because she knew she would be having her picture taken twelve hundred times tonight.
POSSIBLY my daughter is a little behind the times, considering she is also twelve and wears no make up at all.
POSSIBLY I will soon be receiving a big fat "F" in Portrait Photography this year.