The blog of photographer and musician, Kim Ayres

Not photographing...

I met a few well-known people this past week (as in people I've heard of), and several more well-known in particular circles (as in people I haven't heard of but other people have). But I didn't photograph any of them.

Despite the fact my official Wigtown Book Festival pass said:

Kim Ayres
Photographer


which gave me access to them, I didn't actually get round to taking my camera out of the bag slung over my shoulder, at any time.

My purpose at this year's event was to chat to authors to see who might be up for being photographed as a literary character for the Wigtown Book Festival 2015 calendar (see last post about the 2014 calendar, now available). I exchanged contact details with those who expressed an interest and the plan is to arrange the various photo shoots over the coming months.

I've never been awestruck by people I recognise off the TV. When I see them in the flesh they are just a familiar face - rather like seeing someone who works in the post office or supermarket - I recognise them, but I'm aware they would have no idea who I am. I don't think I've ever understood why anyone would want to go up to them and ask for their autograph.

I can, however, understand the curiosity. Are these people real? Are they anything like us? Or are they a weird alien breed the rest of us mere mortals have no hope of relating to?

By my (admittedly limited) experience, they appear to be just like any other random group of people you or I could meet - some we will relate to, others will feel a bit awkward around unless we discover a common ground, and the rest we will stand there not having a clue what to say and be wondering how we can release ourselves from their presence without causing embarrassment.

Part of this comes from our own ability (or lack thereof) to mix with a wide variety of people, and part comes from theirs. But there is one who has the most amazing people skills I've ever experienced.

Whenever I've seen Joanna Lumley in a documentary I've always been amazed at the way people are utterly charmed by her - not just reacting to someone who is pleasant, but going all gooey. And after her talk at the Festival, the queue at her book signing was huge - by far the longest of any of the authors over the entire 10 days. And not only did everyone want their book signed, they all wanted their photo taken with her - each person handing their phone to the person behind them asking if they would be so kind.

When I met her in the Writer's Retreat - a sort of "green room" for the authors and VIPs - she was every bit as pleasant as you would expect, but it was when she got up to leave that I was hit by the full force of her spell weaving ability.

She touched me lightly on the arm, said something... - and unfortunately I have no idea what, because I was completely caught up in her gaze. She looked at me as though I had 100% of her attention and I was important.

And I started to go all gooey.

It took a few moments for me to compose myself but by then she was heading off and I was left with reality slowly seeping back in, desperately hoping I hadn't said anything stupid.

Not that my daughter cared about any of this. For her the really important person I got to meet was James Morton, runner up in the 2012 Great British Bake Off. Meg was gutted when he didn't win in the final, but beside herself with glee at the idea I might get to photograph him for next year's calendar.

Although it would have completely ruined any air of professional pride and integrity, I think she would have preferred it if I'd handed my camera to the person behind me to get a photo of me and James together...

7 comments

allencapoferri said...

I love the way you explain that. I've met people like Joanna too, guess we all have sometime or another. Although I think my first feeling of the people TV would be as you said in the earlier paragraph...some weird alien breed.

savannah said...

i've noticed that the people we meet that "stay" with us are those as you said so eloquently,
She touched me lightly on the arm, said something... - and unfortunately I have no idea what, because I was completely caught up in her gaze. She looked at me as though I had 100% of her attention and I was important.
and make us feel that way! xoxoxox

Kim Ayres said...

Allen - I think it starts off that we see them as "other". Then when we meet them, we realise they are human, like us, but the only thing we know we have in common is the fact they've been on TV. We haven't been on TV, only seen them on it, and saying "Hey, I've seen you on TV" we realise is a really lame opening line...

Savannah - it's like the old comment, "people will never remember what you say, but they will always remember how you made them feel". And certainly, in that moment, she made me feel uniquely special, even though she'd never met me before. That's a damn fine skill to have and one I'm probably going to spend years trying to work out how to do it :)

Guyana-Gyal said...

I love the way you write about your experiences, with such ease, yet with such insight into yourself and others.

Even I have heard of Joanna Lumley from women's mags, I don't remember what she does, it's something to do with tv, but I remember her name, and I remember that she's quite beautiful.

Haha, yes, I think Meg would've loved a quick, non-professional photo of you and her hero.

Pat said...

I missed that bake-off but Meg has excellent taste.
I've always liked Joanna but she really won me over after Ab Fab.
You are in good company - Prince Phil is also a fan.

hope said...

This just made me grin from ear to ear.

Kim Ayres said...

Guyana-Gyal - if I get to do a photoshoot with James Morton, I'll be sure to get a photo of the 2 of us together for Meg :)

Pat - she made her first impression on me as Purdy in The New Avengers, but yes, she was outstanding in Ab Fab :)

Hope - :)

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