Photographer and photo

I just read in a German newspaper that Hugh Grant acted belligerent when asked by a photographer for a photo in his residential neighborhood. Since I wasn’t there I don’t know what exactly transpired. I can imagine that some people were present who witnessed this incident.

This article reminded me of a few incidents where I had been asked for a picture and an event where I had asked someone for a picture.

I described already in my earlier posts the close-up taken from me at the UW dental clinic and how this incident in connection with the treatment from Dr. G. served as mocking and humiliation.

Here I would like to mention an occurrence that lies back almost 11 years. It was in the year 1996. At that time I worked at Microsoft in the quality assurance department of the Microsoft localization group. The incident I’m writing about definitely accounts for one of my ‘not so common experiences.’

One of my former colleagues, Dagmar, who had switched groups within Microsoft and was working in the Access localization group, invited me to the Office party because I had worked closely with the Access group during the localization process. And I accepted enthusiastically.

At arrival we were handed a one-time camera and some fictitious chips to play on staged gambling tables. We didn’t know why we received the camera but the reason for it became quite clear after a while because Bill Gates showed up at the party.

We noticed that female Microsoft employees constantly asked him for a picture with him. And picture after picture he patiently complied. Later we heard that he had just come back from Japan and there he had been constantly asked for having a picture taken with him.

Dagmar told me that she wanted a picture with him, too. And she asked me to be her photographer. And I complied, but I was neither knowledgeable about cameras nor the ones that you throw away after one-time use.

She also thought that I wanted a picture with Bill Gates, but that wasn’t the case. I’m actually a shy person, most times I’m an introvert, and I’m not the photogenic type. I don’t like pictures taken of me. But besides that I had another reason why I didn’t want a picture with Bill, but I keep this to myself. I only want to say here that the reason for not wanting a picture with Bill was not based on any resentment towards him.

When I took the picture of Dagmar and Bill, I just pushed one button on the camera and that was the trigger. After I had taken the photo Dagmar started to whine and told me that the flash had not gone off. I just knew that I had to press a trigger, and I had done this.

But her whining made me feel uncomfortable, and to make sure that she would get her picture with Bill Gates I decided to ask him for another shot.

Therefore I followed him while he was constantly asked by other female employees for a picture. At some point I plucked up my courage and approached him and asked him for another picture with Dagmar. The way of me approaching him was a bit unconventional because many people always surrounded him.

While I had followed him I snapped at the opportunity when he stood with his back an arms length away from me. To get his attention I just tapped him on the back of his left shoulder. And Bill turned very slowly around so that he could face me. I asked him for another picture with Dagmar, and he patiently accepted.

At that point I was pretty nervous. Firstly, I barely knew cameras nor did I know the camera I had in my hands, and secondly I felt overwhelmed by the whole situation.

When I took the second shot of Dagmar and Bill Gates, the flash didn’t go off again. I didn’t know what was wrong and I felt very uncomfortable. This time I had paid attention and I also had noticed that the flash had not been working.

After Bill noticed, too, that the flash had not gone off, he walked towards me and stopped at about a foot length in front of me. I had the camera in my hands and I was looking at it and I couldn’t believe that I was in this awkward position.

Bill asked me in a quiet manner to hand him the camera, which I did. And he looked at the camera while we both stood facing each other less than an arm length away from each other. While we stood so close to each other I had a kind of yoga-meditation experience that I had not known of. The overall awkward situation and the yoga feeling that I had experienced for a very short moment caused me inwardly more turmoil and to release this pressure I pulled the break by doing something that wasn’t really appropriate. At that time I just reacted to my inner turmoil.

While all this was going on I had noticed that another man hurried towards us and when this guy reached us, I took the camera out of Bill’s hands, handed the camera to the guy next to us, said to him “you do it”, and turned around and walked away.

I don’t know what was going on behind me, in that moment I just had to remove myself from this situation. Sure, the situation could have been handled better, but it wasn’t. And I’m certainly not proud of having acted this way at that time.

When this happened, many Microsoft employees and guests witnessed this incident. For quite some time I was reminded in subtle ways of this situation. For example, one time when I came home in the evening a neighbor blinded me in my car with a very bright flash that just went off when I passed by his house. Though I didn’t work at Microsoft anymore, I lived just around the main campus.

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