Never-mind what I’m going to do. Just say go.
It’s a photo shoot kind of day. I get to play creative director with a photographer and his team, the client and his phone, the subjects and their individual issues. It’s a strange kind of fun. The whole point is to create a perfected reality with style, life, freshness and beauty while standing in an echoing, cavernous grey loft space with this one highlighted area in the middle, where all eyes are focused and all expensive camera equipment is aimed. Minutes fly by like hours, as minuscule lighting alterations are made. Everyone on set drinks more coffee and eats more dessert products than they fully realize because there’s so much in-between time to kill, while not letting any energy fall flat.
There’s lots of small talk – smaller than small really. Lots of left-field suggestions and abstract observations – “I want shadows that remind me of Capri…”, “Work with the fabric, do something that says hieroglyphic…”, “We’re looking for beautiful, but ugly beautiful…” It’s a peculiar game of make believe for free-range grown ups, and I get a major kick out of it.
Over the years, I’ve had the unique pleasure of playing every part in this scene – photographer, stylist, model, creative director, gofer – and it’s always interesting… even when it’s not, if that makes sense. It’s the taking something or someone fairly normal and styling the hell out of them, lighting the magic into them, teasing the attitude through them, pouring the beauty all over them and then letting what happens happen. When every member of the group is talented and on, it’s impressive and surprising and Hollywood glamorous. And the end results are something! I highly recommend it.
In creative director role, I’m kind of the dad – the buffer between talent and client, confidante to both, the editor’s eye, the biggest cheerleader and harshest critic. I’m supposed to exude an energetic calm or a calm energy depending on what everyone individually needs. The words beautiful, fabulous, genius, oh my god, perfect get used frequently followed by varying amounts of aural exclamation points. It’s all about helping everyone to realize that they were selected for their part in this circus because they were the best and aren’t we lucky to have them. I love it.
A lot of people hate to get their picture taken and are convinced they only take bad photos. Well, I’m not related to any of those people, but that’s another story. If you ask me, everybody’s beautiful, they just might not know it yet. So, why not get the little boost you need? I’ve always thought that everyone should have a movie-star-black-and-white-creative-directed-carefully-lit-8-by-10-portrait of themselves to drive away insecurities, bolster confidence and stand in on those days when you’re just not feeling it. The truth is people look their best when they’re breathing and laughing and expressing themselves and moving. A still photo is already a stilted representation of a subject because no one is totally still, ever, until they’re dead.
And until that day comes – and you won’t care anyway – here are a few tips to remember next time you sense a camera in the vicinity: no outdoor photos at noon; no back-lighting after 20; no straight down, overhead lighting after 35; no photos taken from below eye level after 40; no fluorescent light ever; delayed action cameras are not your friend because everyone looks terrified or confused or constipated; always edit candid shots if you can before someone posts them in the land of social media, and if it slips by anyway and you don’t like it, get it the hell down – you had a bad day. It happens.
And if you’re still not comfortable having your picture taken, shake your head, close your eyes, take a deep breath, open your eyes again and be yourself. That should do it. Ya know why? Because you’re beautiful. Just being you. Take my word for it.