I love having friends that shine at skills I do not possess. Friends who can bake, spell, brew a perfect cup of coffee, organize a closet and know how to set up a website come in handy.
I have a few friends who are professional photographers. They have tried to teach me some tricks, but I generally leave the shutter speed and aperture to them. I have pretty cute kids, and they keep my house filled with studio-quality prints, usually for the cost of dinner or a glass of wine. I’m completely spoiled.
When one of these talented photographer friends asks me for help with a shoot, I agree quickly. I thought she just needed help with a shoot—someone to carry the camera equipment or hold up a light. Instead, she wanted me on the other side of the camera; she needed me to model for a project she was working on.
She talked about this shoot for weeks, including her vision, hair, makeup, accessories, outfits and location. The descriptions were artsy and hard for me to imagine. My general “vision” is jeans, a baseball hat and a soft t-shirt. However, this is a friend I would do almost anything for. So, I told her to tell me when and where to show up, to expect me to be a little awkward but that I would promise to try my best.
I also love the challenge of trying things that are outside my comfort zone. They usually teach me something or at least give me a good story to tell. Trust me, wearing someone else’s Spanx is totally out of my comfort zone.
It’s Good to Try Things Out of Your Comfort Zone
We started the morning early with hair and makeup. My normal routine takes me somewhere around 20 minutes (and that includes blow drying my hair). Two hours, two cups of coffee, one set of fake eyelashes and about two million bobby pins later, I’m finally camera-ready.
Next, we head off to her location. It is summer, in Texas, and well over 100 degrees. I worry that by the time we finish I will be a puddle of makeup and bobby pins. I read magazines, occasionally watch TMZ and I have seen photo shoots on TV. They always look glamorous. Beautiful people just bouncing around posing, smiling, turning their heads with music in the background and some bearded photographer just clicking away on the camera catching it all. It looks fun and more like a party than a photo shoot. I could not have been more wrong.
I needed lots of specific instructions. It was not breezy or a party; it was mostly just awkward.
She told me how to put my feet, legs, chin, eyes and nose just so—as to bring out the best lines and sides and make me look slim and sleek. Everything was chosen with purpose, and I thought maybe I had been standing wrong my entire life.
The pictures in magazines all look so natural and easy. Maybe for the professional models 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.
I did all this while trying to look natural and relaxed. At the same time, praying that I was not getting sweat stains on my dress so I could wear it to school next week.
Most people know that magazines and Instagrammed photos are photoshopped or filtered. I know that hair, makeup and good editing can work miracles. But still, my perception about the rest of the process and the end product were still way off.
I Need a Lot More Grace Than I Usually Give Myself
The pictures were stunning. She found my best angles but still managed to capture who I am. I learned a lot more than I
expected, and I mean less about photography and more about life.
My friend saw something from the beginning that I couldn’t see. She saw a version of me that I had never even imagined. She found my best and brought it out. It wasn’t easy work, but it was worth it.
The most surprising part was how many photos she took. She easily took over 100 photos, all just hoping for four to five good images. That is 20 bad or average images for every good one.
Even 5% Is Still Winning
She is a professional who is incredibly talented, and I found it shocking that all she is really hoping for is about a 5% success rate. Five good images out of 100 and she calls it a good day. I wish I could give myself that kind of grace in other areas of my life. Allowing—even expecting—to do it wrong over and over again before eventually finding a version of myself that I am most proud of.
I get frustrated with one mistake, misstep or careless word. I forget that what often looks easy and natural on others might be really hard work behind the scenes. My modeling career may be short lived, but I will keep the pictures of that kind of grace for a long time.
Here are some more great things that can come about when you look at the glass half full: What Does Optimism Bring to a Woman’s Life? – 184