I couldn’t quite process what it was that I was seeing. It was clear what I was not seeing, which was Ms. Stone in her grey Louis Vuitton pea coat. My usual instructions were on pause as I took in the image before me.
Beyond the camera, Ms. Stone removed a small piece of lint and smoothed down her coat as she waited in the awkward silence. I felt the light touch of fingers on my right shoulder blade, which jolted me back to the moment. Her agent was peering at me with concern. “Is there a problem here, Lorenzo?”
I stammered and pointed at the display screen of my Nikon D6, wondering if we were looking at the same thing. “What the hell is that supposed to be? Is that some kind of joke?..” We were.
I didn’t know how to answer this, so I addressed Emily instead. “Ms. Stone, could I ask you to please step out of the light tent for a moment?” She looked at me as if I was a stranger approaching in the dim light of a Chicago street lamp as she stepped out and walked to stand beside the agent.
I toggled back to the camera view and saw white, as I should have. “I’m sorry, my camera seems to have glitched. Go ahead back in. We’ll try the same pose again.”
As she walked back into the tent, she appeared on my screen like normal. My heart was picking up rhythm as I anticipated pushing the button again. Ms. Stone took her place and painted on a beautiful smile, though I was astutely aware that her emotions were not in sync. I could relate.
I closed my eyes and inhaled deep as the shutter clicked. When I opened my eyes, there it was again; that horrendous thing, that incomprehensible creature. But where it had been focusing off to its left in the first image, it was now instead looking right into the camera… right at me. Rage and hunger glistened joyously in each of its eyes.
Tears began running down my cheeks. Emily saw the fear on my face and it was immediately mirrored on her own. Before she could move, I snapped one last photo, and it brought on a new level of terror.
The image before me was of an empty light tent.