"Ok, can you just lean your chin on your fist and stare about..." I stick my leg out as far as I can without falling over, "... an inch or two above the top of my shoe?"
The model quickly moves and poses motionless. Katila is my favourite model, not just for her amazing figure, stunning looks and grace, but because she was a true artiste, she knew exactly how the photograph would develop and posed accordingly; sometimes going against my direction. I tilted the camera 30 degrees and snapped, I turned it back, I moved to each side, each shot was flawless.
"Perfect darling. Now get changed into the third outfit and we'll make magic happen again." She goes back to the team of make up artists and wardrobe team and they bustle around her. I turn to Hannah Jones the magazine editor in chief who was funding this shoot.
"Looking good - six more shots and we'll be done right?"
"Yes, although I'm not too sure about the first one, she looked like mutton dressed as lamb."
"That's your team for you, but what I say is 'It's not the subject of the image, it's how well you take it'. And anywho, I can take a few extra so you have a choice for the spread."
"Can you do that for me then?"
"Of course love. I adore my job and any excuse to snap the beautiful Miss Katila for a moment more."
"Yes - I must say I quite agree with your choice of model, she isn't as thin as we'd like her but editing can sort that out."
"You will not adulterate my images."
"Fine, she can be a model for the everday woman, I'll take a few hundred off your tab though."
"You're cruel, and I knew you'd do it anyway because you complained about the first shot. You're completely fierce, I couldn't do your job."
"It comes with the territory, you'd learn quickly." Her phone starts to ring and she's gone. It's good that my gorgeous vision of a model comes out of the changing rooms at about the same time. That red military jacket looks so good on her - must ask how much it costs for her birthday, but must ask in 'secret'.
* * *
I love the dark room, it gives me time to collect my thoughts after a long day of dealing with the likes of Hannah Jones and her team of slapdash make-up and wardrobe. I take each finalised image out fo the solution and hang it to dry.
What in earth is that?
On each photo is a superimposed image of a boy clutching at his throat. Ben.
Ben was my brother. Note the use of past tense. Ben was 7 (and a half as he'd have said) when he died. He choked on a mint humbug boiled sweet on my 9th birthday at the party in front of twelve of my closest friends and my family.
They're the only ones who knew exactly how he'd died. He had a severe peanut allergy and my firend Ally and her mum had just arrived. her mum was chewing a handful of mixed nuts, a few of which were peanuts.
He was sucking on the humbug when he went into severe anaphalactic shock. Mum got there in time with the anti-histamine injector but he was already choking. Uncle Denny was giving him the Heimlich Manoever and lots of people were screaming and crying. Jake's mum called 999 but in the end it was too late. He had died seconds after they arrived and the pronounced him dead after much CPR and mouth to mouth.
Every second of that day replays in my mind when Ben shows up. He superimposes himself on every photo I need to develop rather than uploading it to my computer. He sits on the end of my bed at night like when he was alive. No-one I know can see him and they can't see him on my photos so I don't have to worry about that. Well I do, but not about having to retake the shots.
I decide that it's time for bed and run back into the house from my studio slash darkroom slash shed. Ben is waiting at the foot of my bed, with a book and a cup of tea, not that I can read it to him. I have tried.