Saturday, November 17, 2012

My First Photo Shoot

Yesterday I wrote this post about how I came to have a photo shoot at a Hindu temple.  I felt more fretful than that post would have led you to believe.  I worried about the fact that it wasn't my place of worship, and that we would offend somehow.  I worried about all of us making it there for our appointment time--down here, there are so many traffic-related obstacles.

But most of all, I worried about how I would look.  I thought about what I'd wear, about make-up, and I worried about how my hair would look.  I keep waiting to outgrow my adolescent wish to be so  beautiful that I take everyone's breath away, but I suppose it makes sense, given the culture I live in.

We had permission to take pictures on the outside of the temple, so I also worried about the weather.  What if it rained?  What if it was beastly hot, and I couldn't hide my tendency to sweat?

Eventually I convinced myself to relax.  I told myself that I'd be working with a professional photographer who had a vested interest in making us look good.  And for the most part, I was right.

I was also lucky:  we had good weather with a slight breeze that kept us cool, but didn't make it impossible to keep our hair in place.  I wore the right outfit almost completely by accident; we coordinated colors, but not much beyond that.

I wore a swirly, longer skirt, which was great, since most of our photographs were taken with us sitting on the concrete floor outside the temple.  I'm glad that I didn't know in advance we'd be sitting on the concrete, so that I didn't have to worry about that.  It was tough, sitting on the concrete and holding poses for as long as we did. 

But the photographer had it worse.  He had to lay on his stomach to take the shots.

Throughout the photo shoot, I thought of all the articles that come out that tell us how to look better when pictures are taken.  Of course, I read those articles and can never remember what to do when it's time to take a picture.  It probably wouldn't help unless I spent hours practicing.  And why do that, when I so seldom appear in pictures that will matter in any lasting way.

I'm not sure that the pictures that we took yesterday will matter in a lasting way.  It will provide a nice illustration to the article, should that article ever appear.  I wrote it almost a year ago, for a planned publication date of May 2012.  I'm thinking that if the magazine has commissioned pictures, that it will use the article and the pictures--but it may not.

I'm most grateful for my friend, who not only got us clearance to photograph at the temple, but who agreed to appear with me in the pictures in a national magazine.  Not every friend I have would do that.

It's also interesting to watch a freelance photographer in action.  I've always loved the idea of being a photojournalist, and I think that our photographer comes from that background.  He talked about his journalism background when we asked him if he'd Photoshop us into beauty.  He said that he comes out of a work environment, newspapers like the Miami Herald, where Photoshopping would be grounds for firing.  He told us of going to news conferences and wishing that he could move certain objects that were in his way, like a Coke can--even affecting the scene in that way was taboo.

Watching the photographer working reminded me of how difficult the job can be.  There's lots of equipment, much of it heavy, and wires/cables/cords.  There are the circumstances that one can't control, like weather and setting and the limitations of your subjects.  And of course, there's the instability of the job market. 

So, our photo shoot was fun, in a grueling kind of way. It's not as glamorous as it looks--always a good thing to remember.  Our photographer was patient and gracious and personable.  We had the advantage of a beautiful day spent in peaceful surroundings that brought a deep contentment. It was more than worth the temporary pain from sitting in strange poses on a hard floor, more than worth the anxiety that I always experience at the thought of having my picture taken.

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