I like to have friends with skills I don’t have.
How to change a tire.
Brew a really good cup of coffee.
Those things come in handy.

I also have quite a number of friends who are amazing photographers.
And since I have ridiculously cute kids, they keep me and my house in studio quality prints. Usually for the cost of dinner or a bottle of wine. Sometimes even less.
I am spoiled. Completely. I know.

So when one of these super photographer friends asked me to “model” for her I agreed to whatever she wanted. As long as I got to keep my clothes on.
She talked about this shoot for months.
Her “vision”. Hair. Makeup. Accessories. A dress. Lighting. Location.
All very artsy. And over my head and I was pretty sure she had pegged the wrong model for this shoot. I am more of a baseball cap kind of girl than what she was describing.
I just told her to tell me where and when to show up. And to expect me to be a bit awkward behind the camera but that I’d try my best.

She has shot my family dozens of times and it always feels weird to be smiling and posing, but she never fails to get great shots and is usually done in 15 or so minutes. Which is good because my kids are done in 10. And my husband is done before she even starts.
I was chatting with a friend who had done it a few weeks before hand, and she was telling me that she shot for almost 2 hours.
In the sweltering heat.
And I think this is when I started to worry.
Two hours of sweat and fake smiling and I could already see the makeup running down my face. But I owe this girl for more than just pictures, but for things like picking up my kids, flea bombing my house and having pizza sent to my house when I’m sick. So I can sweat and smile and stand on my head if she asked. Plus I’d already gotten a new dress out of the deal.

I am also into doing things that are outside my comfort zone. Because they usually teach me something or at least give me a good story to tell. And trust me wearing someone else’s spanx were totally out of my comfort zone.

So we started the morning early. In hair and make up. Now my routine takes me somewhere around 20 minutes. And that includes blow drying my hair. I figure, that routine could use some improvement. And that things like eyeliner might add a smidge more time to the routine.
I was so wrong.
2 hours, 2 cups of coffee, one set of fake eyelashes and about 2 million bobby pins later, I got out of the chair and got my dress on.  I suddenly wished that I remembered to do things like wax my eyebrows or paint my toenails. And that maybe I should start some kind of skin care routine, like every other girl over the age of 12...and wondered if they even sell Noxema any more.

Then we headed off to her location. And it is August. In Texas. Which means well over 100 degrees. But it was surprisingly less sweltering than I expected in the shade. Now I read magazines and occasionally watch TMZ….and I have seen photo shoots on TV. And they always look glamourous. Like they are just bouncing around posing, smiling, turning their heads with loud music in the back ground and some hot photographer guy telling them which way to bounce and smile.

Again I was wrong.

I needed lots of specific instructions. And she had to tell me where to put every finger.
(and by the way I still don’t know what the heck dancer hands are!) She told me how to put my feet, legs, chin, eyes, nose, arms….all to bring out the best lines and sides and make me look less fat.

But those pictures in magazines all look so natural and easy. And maybe for the sticks posing it is. But in real life, I was leaning and jutting and folding hands and lips in the most unnatural ways. I’d lean and prop and stick things out and suck things in and pray that she’d get her shot before I fell over or was blinded from the reflector shining light directly into my eyes. All while trying to look natural. And relaxed. And praying that I wasn’t getting sweat stains on my dress so I could wear it to school next week.

And I’m exaggerating a tad. But my point is this.  Everyone knows all those magazines are photoshopped. That hair and makeup and good editing can go a long ways.
But my perception about the rest of the  process and the end product were still way off.

She got some good shots. I learned a little more about the process. And I mean less about photography and more about life.
My friend will take a 100+ shots, just hoping for 4-5 good ones.
20 bad shots for maybe one good one. And she is a professional. She is really good at this. And 5 out of 100 is really what she hopes for.  A 5% success rate. And that is a good day.
I wish I could give my self that kind of grace in other areas of my life. Allowing, even expecting to do it wrong over and over again, before eventually getting something I am proud of.  And that what often looks easy and natural, is really the equivalent of holding a yoga pose for a long count. Things are not what they seem.  Easy and natural, usually comes from effort and sweat.
And to never underestimate the power of spanx.


katy said...

Loving these pictures -- they are truly amazing!

And I've been obsessed with this Mumford and Sons song for about the last week now. It's on repeat. Great stuff.

Ann Kroeker said...

Wow, love the sample photo. Even more, I love your storytelling and then, even the little postscript thoughts you slipped in, about grace and hard work and easy/natural vs. effort/sweat. And Spanx...borrowed Spanx, no less. Crazy. Wonderful.

Words Of Wisdom said...

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