Ned wasn’t impressed. As far as he could tell, in the half-light that fell through the small, high windows, the Saint-Sauveur Cathedral of Aix-en-Provence was a mess: outside, where his father’s team was setting up for a pre-shoot, and inside, where he was entirely alone in the gloom.
He was supposed to feel cool about being by himself in here. Melanie, his father’s tiny assistant, almost ridiculously organized, had handed him a brochure on the cathedral and told him, with one of her winks, to head on in before they started taking the test digitals that would precede the real photographs for the book.
She was being nice to him. She was always nice to him, but it drove Ned a bit crazy that with everything else she had to deal with, Melanie still – obviously – made mental notes to find things for the fifteen-year-old tag-along son to do.
Keep him out of the way, out of trouble. She probably knew already where the music stores and jogging tracks and skateboard parks were in Aix. She’d probably known before they flew overseas, googling them and making notes. She’d probably already bought a deck and gear on Amazon or something, had them waiting at the villa for just the right time to give them to him, when he looked completely bored or whatever. She was perfectly nice, and even cute, but he wished she didn’t treat him as part of her job.
He’d thought about wandering the old town, but he’d taken the booklet from her instead and gone into the cathedral. This was the first working day, first set-up for a shoot, he’d have lots of chances later to explore the city. They were in the south of France for six weeks and his father would be working flat out almost the whole time. Ned figured it was just as easy to stick around the others this morning; he was still feeling a bit disoriented and far from home. Didn’t have to tell anyone that, though.
mayor’s office, in the city hall up the road, had been predictably excited that they were here. They’d promised Edward Marriner two uninterrupted hours this morning and another two tomorrow, if he needed them, to capture the facade of their cathedral. That meant, of course, that any people wanting to go in and out to pray for their immortal souls (or anyone else’s) were going to have to wait while a famous photographer immortalized the building instead.
As Greg and Steve unloaded the van, there had even been a discussion, initiated by the city official assigned to them, about men going up on ladders to take down a cable that ran diagonally across the street in front of the cathedral to the university building across the way. Ned’s father had decided they could eliminate the wire digitally if they needed to, so the students weren’t going to be deprived of lights in their classrooms after all.
Nice of us, Ned had thought.
Pacing back and forth, his father had started making crisp decisions, the way he always did when finally on location after the long buildup to a project. Ned had seen him like this before.
Barrett Reinhardt – the publisher’s art director for the book – had been here in Provence two months ago, preparing a list of possible photographs, emailing jpegs back to Edward Marriner in Montreal, but Ned’s father always preferred to react to what he saw when he got to a place he was shooting.