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Access is a funny thing.

Sometimes you’re barred from a situation where access is assumed.

"Of course I'm welcome here," I'll think to myself right before someone who clearly dropped an entire vial of power acid for their power trip intervenes.

Then there are the times where I'm surprised by the level of access I am granted.

I recently had an assignment for a health story about OrthoCAD, a virtual system that eliminates the need to store plaster models of patients' teeth and speeds up the process for installing braces. When I heard that we had access to a patient who was getting braces installed, I was skeptical. I pestered the reporter to make sure she double checked this fact.

The minimal amount of confidence I gained from her assurances withered a bit when our patient subject walked in.

"Dammit," I thought. "She’s hot."

You'd think that would elicit the opposite reaction, but in my experience, attractive women are among the most difficult subjects. They can always find something to hate about a photo.

"I look fat."

"I look cross-eyed."

Or my favorite reaction after a peek at the back of the camera:


Clearly, this is the biggest downfall to digital photo technology.

Compound this general reaction with the fact that I was going to be photographing this girl while her mouth was comically stretched open, lying helpless on the dreaded dentist’s chair.

Fortunately for her, none of these ran with the story:

I'll refrain from republishing her name here, but there is an unsettling creepiness I dig in the first two that I just had to share — an oddness that's amplified by the sunglasses shielding her eyes from the LED curing light used to set the cement, shown in the third picture.

"Wanna see what that looked like?" I asked her after the procedure, curious as to how she'd react.

Curiously, she didn’t really.

I'm not sure why she didn't, but the non-reaction was a relief and it was a nice reminder that every stereotype has its exceptions.


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