THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

EllynAnne Geisel Headshot

Photographing Julia Child

Posted: Updated:

Arriving twenty minutes early for my interview with Julia Child, I bided time snapping pictures of her front door with my new camera. Satisfied the flash was working and the film advancing, I thought to read the manual on setting the self-timer, but dismissed any need-to-know, figuring whoever answers the bell will take the photo of us. Julia Child herself opened the door, and I closed it. No housekeeper in sight to later press into service.

The patio where we settled was a serene oasis, vibrant with plantings and comfy outdoor furniture. Seated across from one another at a small table, we conversed about my apron journey of three years, the storytellers whose apron memories I'd collected, and her personal apron story. In case my tape recorder failed to capture every syllable of her priceless recollection, I took down her words on a little notepad, utilizing a sort of frantic shorthand I hoped to God would later be decipherable.

Between nibbles of a simple luncheon, Ms. Child complimented me on my interview preparedness, noting I hadn't asked the usual media litany -- What's the funniest thing that ever happened to you? What's your favorite restaurant? What would be your last meal on Earth? She gave a little head shake at questions fueled by intellectual laziness. I preened or something close, for Julia Child had specifically noted I was not of that ilk. Then, with a glance at her watch, she mentioned ever so graciously she needed the afternoon to prepare for the evening's lecture. It was time to take my leave.

Oh, Ms. Child, might I please take a picture of us?

She looked at her watch; I knew to hurry things along.

I balanced the camera atop a stack of magazines, peeked through the viewfinder, centered Ms. Child within the frame, pressed a button I thought must be the timer, then raced to her side, stooped so our heads were even, put my arm around her shoulder, smiled to beat the band, and...nothing. No flash, no film advancing.

On the third try, Ms. Child suggested we postpone further photography attempts until the evening engagement, when she would make a point of posing with me. This time, I opened the door, and she closed it.

I despaired the lost opportunity, for I'd had the camera a week already and there had been time aplenty to practice using its gadgetries. Like the interview that had Ms. Child shaking her head, laziness was at the heart of my picture-taking debacle.

Rather than wait until after the lecture and battle the hundreds wanting their own photo moment with Julia Child, I stayed outside the auditorium, hoping to see her before she entered the building. Curbside when the limousine pulled up, I rushed to Ms. Child's side as she exited the car; I pointed to our pants and squealed Pink! Then I pointed to my friend, her camera at the ready.

2009-08-11-CopyofExpertClickSIZE_Julia_and_E.jpg

I wanted to tell Ms. Child that I'd learned my lesson, and I'd work hard to deserve her accolade. Instead, I took her arm, smiled to beat the band and said, "Cheese!"

From Our Partners