North Vancouver, 2018

North Vancouver, 2018

Writing Prompt No. 107

This was the fifth country he’d visited in as many weeks.

Work was going well. The small darkroom he’d set up in the back of the van was adequate if a little cramped. Washing the prints outside wasn’t ideal but if he could camp by a stream he used the clear water that ran off from the mountain to wash his prints.

The outside of the van was perfect as a travelling gallery of his work. He was managing to make a good living from selling his photographs at local fairs. Sometimes he would set up a portable outdoor studio. A simple backdrop of white or black depending on how he felt that day, a tripod, a couple of reflectors to direct the falling light here and there. A few minutes to take a portrait, an exchange of money and a promise that he would post their final picture to their address anywhere in the world.

The most memorable picture he’d taken so far was of the woman who led a snake on a lead with a collar around its neck. He wasn’t comfortable with the snake on a lead or the snake in general but he made the composition work as best he could, moving around his customer firing a few test shots waiting for her face to relax into a smile.

Often the portraits were of children hustled into position by belligerent parents determined to see their offspring in the best most flattering light. Often the children were shy and difficult to photograph. He had a number of tricks to try and make them laugh but the parents wanted a perfect social media smile. Occasionally there would be one child that would pout and posture and flick the finger.

It was all a far cry from the Instagram following he’d built up showing an endless scrolling feed of perfect people on fashion shoots in Europe. He’d tired of the work, the vacuous behaviour, the demands on his life. When he’d quit, the fashion world mourned. And then forgot about him a week later. His Instagram followers dwindled disinterested in his experiments in the old ways of photography.

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