Thursday, January 29, 2009

How To Have Your Photo Taken & Waste A Whole Day

An example of how difficult it is to take a photo of ferrets.

Years ago I had ambitions to publish a book about my life with my deranged pets. This book never saw the light of day sadly, but I read all the how to get published books I could find and tried to do all that they suggested. After reading the books of tips for new writers I decided that it would be a good idea to send the publishers a photo along with the manuscript (something else I learned from one of the books – a book isn’t a book until it’s published). Now I HATE having my photo taken. When someone requests a photo of me for one reason or another I have to delve into Bec’s or Joshua’s wedding photos to find one where the photographer actually snapped one with my mouth closed and eyes open (almost rare enough to be worth money!).

I was so relieved when Bec was married because the photos of me at Joshua’s and Frances’ wedding are of me in my canary suit. In case some of you are picturing me with a fake beak and feathered wings as the mother of the groom I had better digress here and tell you about the canary suite. The now famous canary suite was a big mistake. I decided to make my own clothes for the wedding and spent weeks trying to find just the right fabric for the suite pattern I had chosen. Finally, with only a few weeks to go, I was talked into buying a bright yellow linen fabric at an exorbitant cost. As soon as the fabric was washed and hanging on the line I knew I had made a huge mistake. I felt quite faint standing there, looking at acres and acres of bright yellow fabric, but I had spent more money than I should have and was committed to making that dress. The result was that there are just too many photos of me in that dress (three photos as far as I know and all teetering on the brink of the garbage bin). When Bec was married I chose a beige wool fabric and I was almost pleased to have my photo taken, just to have something of me in something other than the yellow horror.

Now, back to having my photo taken for the publishers. I thought that seeing my book -sorry, manuscript (I’m doing my best to get the terminology down pat) is all about my pets, it would be a good idea to have a few of them rally round and be photographed with me for moral support if nothing else. Now those of you who have been keeping up with my life at Marrar tales will know that Billy is non-compatible with most of the other livestock and the ferrets are non-compatible with any other life form at all, with the possible exception of me. Posing the ferrets with anyone, or Billy with the ferrets or the cats was just too traumatic to contemplate! No, it was obvious that a happy group photo was out of the question and I was going to have to have separate photos taken with various pets and choose the best.

I did contemplate taking photos of the pets and leaving the author out all together, but Justin provided wiser council, suggesting that the publisher might think Billy wrote the stories and send him a contract. So all that was left to do was get the camera, round up the various pets and start clicking. It was Justin’s job be photographer for the day (there was no way I was going to transport the sparring menagerie to Wagga for a professional photo session). I carefully made up my face and checked for Billy marks on the clothes I was wearing, found multiple evidence of St Bernard drool and changed into clean clothes. I was as ready as I was ever going to be.

Justin and I decided that photographing Billy first was the best idea because he was ever present and hard to get rid of. I held Billy by the collar and smiled for the camera. Then came the first problem. Billy is a large dog, but he’s not 5 feet 3 inches when standing on all fours and therefore his head was no-where near mine. The option of having Billy stand on his back legs and then tower above me was not at all appealing so I crouched down to Billy’s head level. Billy immediately saw this as an indication from me that I was now ready to play the “knock Rosemary to the ground, stand over her and distribute drool”, as described in an earlier story. I’m sad to report that Justin was of little help here. He tended to stand there holding the cameral and laughing before rushing to my aide. Each time I would fight my way to a crouching position and pose Billy for a photo, Justin had to stop laughing and return to his post before he could click the shutter. By the time he had focused the camera I was once again on my back and my clean clothes were looking decidedly drooled upon. This called for sterner measures. Justin and I decided that, 1. He would stop laughing at my plight, 2. He would stay exactly where he was with the camera focused and ready to click as soon as Billy and I were both upright at the same time. Finally the photo was taken. Billy looking particularly handsome and most of the drool on my shirt was hidden by his body. Most of the grass stains were on my back and therefore they too were camouflaged.

Next I decided that Shadow would be photographed. Shadow, I thought, would be a piece of cake. She is such a little dog that I could pick her up, pose her and have it all done in nothing flat. The first problem arose when I tried to move Shadow over to the small green patch in my garden. For some reason Shadow preferred to be recorded for posterity sitting under the spare carport, behind the bag of fertilizer and amongst all the bits and pieces stored there. I have always thought there was something suspect about Shadow. She is always suspicious of strangers and often acts like she is trying to avoid the authorities. I don’t know anything about her past before she came to live with us as a very pregnant stray, but I suspect links with The Mob. After much negotiating Shadow was dragged, I mean persuaded, to come over to the pretty bit of garden and smile for the camera.

Billy immediately moved into show dog mode (forgetting that he had eschewed that lifestyle forever) and recognised a photo opportunity when he saw one, or it could have been because I was once again close to the ground. Whatever the reason, there I was holding Shadow and trying to convince her to smile for the camera, while she did her best to hide her face in case the photo ended up on a police most wanted poster, when I heard the thundering sounds that indicates Billy is on his way somewhere. I removed my attention from Shadow just in time to take the full force of Billy in my midriff, at approximately the spot where Shadow was burrowing into me trying to avoid be photographed. There I lay clutching Shadow and trying to fend Billy off with the other hand. I knew if I let go of Shadow I’d have to start the negotiations all over again. Fending off Billy definitely takes more than one hand so once again Justin rushed to my aide. After a few more abortive attempts to photograph Shadow I got the brilliant idea to be photographed with both of them. The plan here was to get Billy looking at Shadow and persuade Shadow to remove her head from my midriff. In the end I manoeuvred Billy to a sideways position and quickly lifted Shadow from behind his back, yelled “Take the photo now!” to Justin and that was that. Shadow waddled off as fast as her four little legs could carry her and left me with no doubts that her photo session was now over unless I wanted a contract taken out on my life.

Before any more photos were taken, Justin and I formed a council of war to plan the assault. First we dragged Billy to the laundry and locked him in. Billy was having so much fun with our photo activities that he was extremely reluctant to leave the scene. He hunched down and indicated that he was going to stay put and no amount of gentle persuasion would shift him. He was perfectly correct. The persuasion we used was far from gentle. With Billy in the laundry, Shadow skulking in the carport muttering dark threats, and the cats nowhere to be seen, the ferrets were the obvious choice for next in front of the camera. Rounding Albus and Miette up was a piece of cake compared to getting Shadow front and centre. All I had to do was bang on the side of the ferret cage for ten minutes in an effort to wake Albus. I have long believed that Albus is manic-depressive. He divides his time between sleeping the sleep of the dead and ricocheting off the walls in a mad frenzy of activity – there is no half way for Albus. Needless to say I was more than happy for Albus to be in his depressed mode. A ferretty smile would have been nice, but taking the good with the bad, I preferred a subdued Albus to a smiling, manic one. I knew I could rely on Miette to sparkle for the camera. Miette trades on her cuteness at all times. With both ferrets firmly grasped I once again knelt down with their bottoms resting on my knee, the better to hold them. After a silent prayer of thanks that Billy wasn’t going to come crashing around the corner and mix it with the ferrets, Justin and I turned our attention to adding the ferrets to the photo count. Alas, we waited that second too long. Albus came out of his funk, looked around at the acres of grass and plants and did his level best to do “the ferret thing”, that frenzied happy dance I've mentioned in earlier posts, while firmly held in my grasp. There is absolutely no way the real “ferret thing” can be done while your tummy is encircled with a determined hand, so Albus squirmed and pushed with his front paws while doing his happy dance with his back paws, knowing that I was handicapped, with my other hand out of action holding Miette. He finally gained his freedom and headed for the undergrowth. Luckily he failed to include Justin’s presence in his escape plan.

Justin swooped down and gathered up the fleeing ferret. He handed Albus to me with stern words to hold onto Albus tighter this time. I countered with the fact that if I held onto Albus any tighter his little pink eyes would pop. Justin’s attitude by now was “Let them pop! I want to get out of here!” So many frayed nerves, and an entire film later, I have not one usable photo of myself with the pets. The girl at the photo lab knew which photos were mine as soon as I returned to pick them up. She made a few comments about the size of my dog, diplomatically refrained from mentioning those photos where I’m far from at my best, and politely suppressed her giggles until I was gone.

I am thinking of sending the whole lot to the publisher in the hope that they will prove the truth of my stories and possibly getting me some sympathy


ozjane said...

What a noble soul that is holding those furry monsters.
When you only see the fur you could almost be sucked in that they are nice to stroke.........almost.

Rosemary said...

But they are nice to stroke. It's difficult to stroke them of course because they flow out of your hands like sand, but you can get a pat or two in before the whole body has flowed out of your hands.

The noble soul is my daughter Bec - another ferret lover in the family.