My good friend, Stacey, talented writer and photographer, agreed to take some head shots to use for my “social media presence,” you know, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Yik Yak. I need to be ready with a media kit if my writing career takes off and my submissions get picked up by Huffington Post, the New York Times or Fox News Online. Hey, a girl’s gotta dream. We met for this exercise a year ago, but I recently updated my hair style so, naturally, I needed to digitally capture the new me. After rifling through my closet, and building a mountain of discarded shirts, skirts, flats and flip-flops on the bedroom floor, I selected just the right outfit for my Norma Desmond close-up. Then I headed out to our agreed upon location.When I spotted Stacey approaching, I motioned to a pathway behind the coffee shop parking lot.
“Same bench as last time?”
She fiddled with her camera strap then looked up. Wait? What was that look? She sized me up like Giuliana Rancic on Fashion Police.
“Yeah, sure. But take off that sweater. It doesn’t work. Too bright.”
Damn. I rejected a navy sweater, a denim jacket, two shawls and a caftan. Why didn’t I bring them all? I knew I couldn’t argue with her well-established eye for color and exposure, not to mention her know-it-all attitude. Nevertheless, I couldn’t imagine enduring this photo shoot in such revealing attire.
The Right To Bare Arms
“No way,” I protested. “My blouse is sleeveless, and I hate my arms.”
I slipped out an offending appendage from the blinding garment. “See?” I said, wiggling my generous underwing.
“Don’t be silly,” she said, ripping the cardigan from my vice-like grip. “You look fine.” Easy for her to say, a smart-alecky ten years my junior, oblivious to the sadistic sag preparing to ravage her youthful tautness.
Ms. Bossy sat me down and started snapping, positioning me this way and that, head tilted, looking up, straight ahead, or off toward the distant strip mall.
After we clicked our way through scores of shots, she joined me on the bench and started scrolling through them on the camera’s two-inch display screen. How the hell am I supposed to select from that microscopic view? I thought. I grabbed my readers and leaned in.
“I like that one,” I said, squinting to avoid the flabby wing flap.
“No, I’m slouching in that one.”
“Your smile’s nice in that one.”
“That one’s not bad.”
When an image of her teenage son sinking a lay-up on the basketball court at his high school gymnasium appeared, Stacey tapped the OFF button. “That’s it,” she said. “I’ll email the ones you picked.”
“What do I owe you?” I said, following her to her car as she loaded her gear.
She climbed in the driver’s side and rolled down the window. “Don’t worry about it,” she said, waving me off with a well-defined triceps.
A couple of days later, the pictures arrived. I opened each shot on my computer. On the big screen, I discovered, it’s impossible to avoid the bare blubber. But, aside from the slack-skinned limbs, the photos looked good. Excellent from the photographer’s point of view – in focus, proper lighting, no shadows, appropriate positioning of subject – middle-aged, J.K. Rowling wannabe, absent discernible muscle tone – the only negative was, well, said subject, me.
Out of the Mouths of Babes
Nonplussed, I forwarded them to my even more youthful daughter for a second opinion. “I like the third one,” I typed into the message field, “where I’m looking to my left. Also, the one where I’m gazing off into the distance. What do you think about my arms? Ugh.”
Days later, Kristen replied. “Mom, seriously? Hire a professional. You really could use a little retouching. Love you. xxxooo.” Her keen sense of diplomacy comes from her father’s side.
Which brings me to my burning cheeks and oozing blister. Suzan, the pro I hired after my sweet daughter’s not-so-gentle nudge, led me up and down Main Street for an hour at dusk in nearby Pleasanton’s quaint downtown district. She snapped yours truly with a variety of backgrounds, in a multitude of angles, poses and expressions.
The results were breathtaking. As promised, with her expert retouching and soft focus lens my face looked just like a baby’s butt. At least I think that’s the look she was going for.
Eat your heart out Kim K.