6 May 2013

Lights, camera, action

'Would you mind taking some photos around my flat for my blog?' I asked my ever-obliging, freelance photographer boyfriend, Pete.

'Sure, no problem. I'll bring my kit over next weekend,' he replied, ever so obligingly.

'I don't need many. It shouldn't take long,' I assured him. I thought all I had to do was open a few doors and drawers for him to shoot the precision-arranged contents. Minimal time involved, minimal disruption caused. 

How wrong I was.

His first target was my drinking glasses. Easy enough - except the cupboard is so near the sink that Pete couldn't position the tripod straight on. You can't show off neat lines, if you're coming at them from a 30-degree angle.

'I could move them to the other half of the cupboard,' I offered, hoping he'd say, 'Don't worry, I'll work something out.' I was less than keen to re-order my world just to demonstrate how orderly it is: the prospect of putting things 'right' later was daunting.

'Thanks,' he said.

That was only the start of it. I had to remove the top shelf of the fridge - and its contents - to photograph the one underneath. I had to shift the vacuum cleaner to open the door wider for the tripod - which then knocked the rubbish bin out of position. And, somehow, in the middle of all that, I bumped a still-life-perfect bowl of fruit and turned it into an ordinary, jumbled pile of apples and bananas.

Then there were the props. We needed something white to reflect more light. Pete rejected the pillowcase I offered - too floppy - so I left that on the bed and dug out a file with an A4 notebook in it. That was too small, so I abandoned it on the living room floor.

And so it went on.

By the time we'd finished with the kitchen, my flat looked as if it had been burgled, and we still had the living room - now also covered in Pete's camera equipment - bedroom and bathroom to photograph. 

Photo: Peter Gettins Photography

At this point, I realised the photo shoot had turned into an 'exposure and response prevention' (ERP) exercise. In ERP you have to face your fears until your anxiety reduces, without giving in to your usual compulsions. In my case, the fear is disorder and the compulsion is putting things straight. By facing your fears and not responding to them, you get used to them and the fear and anxiety subside - it's known as habituation.

I'm not sure I was facing my fears, so much as having them thrust upon me. Still, I managed to carry on with the shoot without clearing up as we went along, so I'm counting that as some kind of success.

Pete told me afterwards was that the afternoon had been 'fun'. I confess, it'll be a while before I'm ready to have that much fun again.

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