In a Father Brown detective story, a man is dead. It is clear that he has been killed. There were two guards at the door who knew the man was inside. No one entered, no one left. Father Brown, a priest with detective instincts, keeps asking Finally, the guards acknowledge that the postman had come, but no one else.
The murderer disguised himself as a postman, knowing that no one would notice him.
Many small businesses provide services which no one notices. Bill Heins is one of those people. He is a photographer, the kind that shoots senior pictures and portraits and large group pictures. He works quietly, thoughtfully, graciously.
He sets up in the lobby of the church, ready to take pictures of children in their choir uniforms. Parents hover, he waits, and then talks to the child about how to sit.
While sixty singers file onto the platform, he stands quietly, watching, planning. His wife, Anita, works her way slowly across the front row of children, adjusting uniforms. Bill waits and then directs the children, one by one, group by group, row by row. As he aligns the children, it’s clear that he has experience with groups.
And he does. Before he started taking pictures, he directed high school choirs.
He never yells. He never demands. He simply gets them ready and takes pictures. And then, last shot taken, he packs everything and disappears down the aisle.
I never think of him as a small business owner. I really don’t think of him much at all. Formal pictures are, for me, a necessary evil. In an age when everyone can take pictures, who really notices a quiet guy who shows up, shoots, and leaves.
Even all of us who have copies of his pictures. We look at the choir picture and hear music. We look at our high school seniors, stopped, looking at the camera, smiling and think, “I love that smile, I love that kid.” We never think, “I love Bill.”
Which means that he’s been successful. An invisible shooter.
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