Marilyn, move your (admittedly gorgeous) ass over. Some of the rest of us wanna play, too.
Y’all, I had my first “real” author photos shot recently, and I’m feeling the need to step outside in my flowy white dress and find a street vent to stand over. But only if Jessica Arden Blakely is there to pose, light, and capture the photos. That woman is a photographic magician-genius, and I hereby proclaim myself her Number One Fan. Only not in a creepy Annie Wilkes way, you know.
I emphatically do not love the camera. Oh, I fake it, that’s pretty much required, but I don’t love it. I barely tolerate it, and that’s only because I do love having a visual journal of the amazing life I’ve been privileged to be a part of. But whenever I see myself in photos, I’m like, ugh. Me. Sigh.
For this particular photo shoot I had decided to… dum, dum, dummm: wear makeup. Another weird cultural practice I’m not familiar with. I mean, I have some — after all it comes in the most clever and curious packages! — but I rarely use it. I’m a “blush is enough” (and only on date night) (assuming I remember) kind of gal. I love makeup, just never learned to use it.
And of course, I work from home; I don’t know which “smokey eye palette” goes with “no pants.”
But for this shoot, I did it. It was a two-prong offensive (can we use fight metaphors? Because I find that helps.). First I asked my stunning co-author Sonja Foust — who had just had her own portraits shot by Jessica (they’re awesome), and her makeup looked fab. In fact, it regularly looks fab on her video channel.
After I carefully studied her links, my first reaction was: zOMG do I get to wear false eyelashes? Like, I had visions of Katy Perry and Jennifer Lopez (not Kim Kardashian; hers looks like Mr. Snuffleupagus’s), and yo, they come in colors, don’t they? This could be fun. Except for the excruciating pain of repeatedly poking myself in the eye and the high probability of super-glueing my eyelids shut. But hey.
Sonja nixed the falsies.
The makeover, however, she encouraged. So despite my terror of ending up looking like Cyndi Lauper in the 80s, I went to Ulta and sat myself bravely in The Dreaded Makeover Chair. And after some very polite questions — “Do you actually want your eyebrows that shape?” — I got waxed, primed, and wholly beautified. And spent a fortune, bitches; damn that shit’s expensive. But, all thanks be to Liza Minelli (I’m SO fixated on the eyelashes!) and Joan Collins (see what I mean?), it was worth it.
I mean, I went home immediately and washed every smidgen of it off. The newly-waxed eyebrow shape remained, of course. But then I carefully re-did it all, in my own version. And it was… okay! In fact, I kinda…sorta… Yep, I definitely liked it.
So after a paranoid Skype with Jessica, who would be photographing me IN MAKEUP, I was down to figuring out wardrobe. This was to be a real live photo session, y’all, not just some kinda snapshot one-off and done.
So I chose my “wardrobe.” And what can I say; black does it for me. Actually, gray does it for me too. Would you believe I actually own 9 plain black shirts (and 7 gray ones)? Most of them are identical. But c’mon, I’m not a total fashion loss — I have a sparkly tank top that’s sort of…gray and black. With little bits of um, some other color, I forget which.
Black shirt and jeans, check.
Black and gray and something tank, check.
When Jessica got to my house (dawg, she comes to your freakin’ house) — which I had frantically vacuumed — she calmly approved my “wardrobe” and started looking around and nodding. She told me the house would work great, there were several spots to shoot in, and we were off and running.
I’m sure she took photos of my dumbass “pose for the camera” smile, but she also repeatedly helped me to relax, and took photos when I wasn’t freaking out, and cracked jokes, and promised me everything was looking fabulous. She told me how to sit, where to stand, when to look where, and get this…
We even drove up the street to the abandoned salvage store and shot a few photos there. Kewl, no?
The whole thing took just over an hour and a week later I received a link with 25 amazing portraits. I barely recognize myself. And I’m thrilled. Now I have shots for my books, my websites and client work, my LinkedIn, and all the fun places I want to put a bio picture, too. I feel so totally legit.
Want a zillion self-esteem points?
Call Jessica Arden Blakely.