Beauty tames the beast

I was talking to a very pretty woman: she sat with her hair the colour of slightly burnt cream against the light; behind her shoulder was the back of a couch striped in black and pale orange. What she had to say was — as always — intelligent and animated;yet, god help me, what I thought was “That’s a perfect background. Why didn’t I bring a camera?”

This is, I think, the lasting worth of photography. It makes you — at least me — look at the world as it would be if I weren’t human. My normal order of noticing things about pretty women is

  1. eyes
  2. face
  3. movement
  4. body shape
  5. nothing
  6. nothing
  7. nothing
  8. nothing
  9. oh is the house on fire?
  10. nothing
  11. clothes
  12. adjacent furniture

Obviously, certain clothes and certain suroundings can jump right up the salience but in general that’s how it is. I react like this even to clothes advertisements, which is one reason why they are wasted on me. I always look at eyes, then faces. Only very very much later, if there is absolutely nothing else to read, do I notice what the model is wearing, if anything.

But the camera has no interests in life. It will see without looking at all. Sometimes that way it sees more clearly.

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