There’s More To A Picture Than Meets The Eye in ‘Photo Op’

Photo Op

“There is more to the picture than meets the eye.” 

So goes ‘Photo Op,’ a 2015 short film written and directed by Dave Solomon (‘Mr. Holmes,’ ‘Side Show’). It is produced by Ashley Kate Adams and Harris Doran and stars gay actor Randy Harrison (‘Queer as Folk,’ ‘Such Good People,’ and ‘Bang Bang You’re Dead’) as the lonely Brooklyn photographer who photographs people, especially couples as his subject.

This 10-minute short has won the Dark Side Award at the Art of Brooklyn Film Festival, the Audience Award at the SENE Film Festival, and the Award of Merit at the Best Shorts Competition. It was also shown at multiple film festivals such as the Palm Springs International ShortFest, the SOHO International Film Festival, the Flickers Rhode Island International Film Festival, and the Wicked Queer Boston LGBT Film Festival among others.

If you wanna know more about this film, keep on reading. Warning though, spoilers are abundant here!

Brooklyn is cold despite the sun making its appearance but people seem to enjoy it with lovely and happy couples loitering on the streets, walking their dogs, drinking their hot beverages, and kids having fun on the playground. One person seems to appreciate the abundance of people as the sound of click after click can be heard as he takes photographs of the people in the park. He does look lonely however upon seeing couples, if not almost envious.

The photographer ends up in a quaint coffee shop where he spots a handsome guy reading a newspaper. He finds a spot by the bar, still in view of the guy whom he observes keenly. A waitress approaches the photographer and notes that he is becoming a regular to the point that she has his order memorized: mac n’ cheese and peppermint tea. The photographer starts to confirm his order but changes his mind to just getting the tea. 

The waitress gets to preparing his order and the photographer promptly looks back at the handsome man who notices him before going back to reading his newspaper. The memory of a happy couple enters the photographer’s mind as he stares at the stranger. His peppermint tea gets served and the waitress asks if she can get him anything else. The photographer asks if they have a newspaper and the waitress answers affirmatively, they do have them at the front of the store. The photographer smiles expectantly at her and the waitress awkwardly tells him she’s gonna go and get him one.

Photo Op

When the waitress leaves, the photographer takes a sip of his tea and continues staring at the stranger who, once again, notices him and throws him an awkward smile. The photographer smiles and gathers the courage to sit on the table directly in front of the stranger which the waitress comments on as she brings him his newspaper.

The photographer opens the newspaper and focuses on the news that said “Second Brooklyn Man Still Missing.” He scans it and promptly folds it close, choosing to stare at the stranger yet again who seems upset over something as he bends over, head leaning against his fisted hands on the table. The photographer brings up his camera and takes a photo of the man who hears the shutter, instantly glaring back at him. The photographer apologizes but the damage has been done and the man is furious. 

Suddenly, a memory resurfaces again, with the photographer taking pictures of the stranger with another man. Back to the present, the photographer apologizes once more to the man who has gathered up his things and has made a move to leave the shop. The photographer starts to say sorry, he says he doesn’t usually do that, he has seen him there before, and introduces himself as a photographer. He says he doesn’t mean to disturb the man, it was just a beautiful shot, and the man looked beautiful. The man says a quick thank you. The photographer then shoots his shot and asks if they could go out sometime. The man shows him the ring on his finger and says sorry before leaving.

This upsets the photographer who immediately cries as soon as he gets home. He is visibly shaken as he chucks his things to the floor but tries to maintain his composure. He brings out the newspaper he acquired from the coffee shop and opens the lights in the room. A wall of pictures is unveiled.

The photographer cuts out something from the newspaper and saunters to one side of the wall which reveals pictures of a man taken secretly from different angles and places, a poster of a missing person, and newspaper clippings. The other side of the wall reveals a cluster of pictures of the handsome man from the coffee shop. It is revealed that the handsome man and the missing guy are a couple. He tacks the clipping he cut earlier next to a picture. 

The photographer looks down to the floor and a masked man is revealed tied on a chair. The photographer removes the blindfold. It is the missing man. The photographer looks at the ring on his finger and forcefully removes it from him despite his struggle. He puts the ring on himself. The photographer backs up, takes his camera, and snaps a picture of the man. Click.

 

Writer’s thoughts:

Who else got the creeps? There’s no other word to describe it other than amazing and even that feels like an understatement. It’s a simple story with a wonderful twist. You have to give props to how they built the character of the photographer and the mood of the film as the viewers get unsettled as the minutes go by, especially the moment the photographer closes the door on his apartment and shows his tearful face. Randy Harrison really sold the psychopath stalker character so simply yet so well. Next time a photographer takes a photo of you, run! Kidding!

 

Watch ‘Photo Op’ on GagaOOLala.

 

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