The camera does not love me, and the antipathy is mutual. I balked at the idea that I needed a PR photo. Shouldn’t my words stand for themselves? (I suspect if I looked more like Keira Knightly, I might feel differently.) Anyway, I put the questions to friends on an online forum, expecting their support and sympathy. I got a chorus of support, all right. For the opposing position.
Resigned, I set out to figure out how and where to get the photo done. Now, let me say at the outset that if you are in this situation yourself, you probably want to follow the common wisdom and hand over some money for a professional photographer. I’ve tried that a time or two and got pictures that I didn’t completely hate. (See above re. my relationship with the camera.)
I do, however, have an amazing friend, Julia Jean Murton, who is not a professional photographer but easily could be. Julia had previously taken one of the few pictures of myself that I actually kind of like. I contemplated using that photo, but it was intended to impress a gentleman I was romantically interested in at the time, and the look says ‘come hither’, not ‘come buy my book.’
Julia also sells Mary Kay, and though she cannot apply makeup to someone under Oregon licensing laws, she is very good at telling me what to do and over the years has even managed to train me to follow directions. (Another aside, if you are in this situation and are not fortunate enough to have a fabulous friend who is also a makeup wizard, it pays to get your makeup professionally done. And let the makeup artist know that the occasion is a professional photo shoot. What works in regular daylight simply doesn’t stand up to the bright lights of a photography studio. If you check out my photo in the ‘about’ section, it looks like I’m barely wearing makeup. When I went straight from the shoot to the barn to clean stalls, the barn owner’s kid couldn’t stop laughing. In the plain light of day, I looked ready to front for a heavy metal band.)
So, we got my face painted on, we reviewed an assortment of clothes and figured out what would work (flattering but not distracting, not too formal nor too casual). Time to accessorize. Julia surveyed the selection of jewelry I had brought with me and decided that none of it was quite right (Again, what looks good and what looks good on camera can be two different things. If you are not blessed with an outstanding eye, find someone who is.), so we started digging through her boxes of bling. We ended up trying about half a dozen options. The wine-red necklace that I thought would perfectly compliment the green of my shrug was all wrong; the purple necklace she picked out that I loved but thought would clash turned out to be perfect.
So, now to find a place to take the picture. After surveying options, we decided that the one perfect place that had proper lighting was. . .the bathroom. Yep.
A black tablecloth slung over the shower curtain rod covered up the distracting bright-patterned shower curtain, and in the photo looks like the standard backdrop a professional might use. We carefully angled the chair I sat on so neither the toilet, the sink nor the towel bar were visible in the shot. We both kept on breaking into giggles at he absurdity of the situation. . .and this was even before Julia broke out the wine.
I think the wine showed up the same time as the floor lamp from the next room (because she couldn’t get the lighting right with just the skylight, the flash, and the bathroom ceiling light.) It was definitely before we lit the candles to try to warm the light. I’m not even sure how much wine I drank, because Julia kept refilling my glass. (She said she was trying to get me mellow enough that I stopped glaring at the camera. I maintain that I was not glaring at the camera. And if I was, it started it.)
It took us hours and about 70 shots (that’s photographic shots, not alcoholic shots, I hasten to add), but the final result is. . .not too bad. Julia wants me to point out that the photo was neither photoshopped nor airbrushed, and she would probably add that I am, too, pretty.
It’s a nice photo, anyway.
Writer-person is working on a blog post about PR photos. Really, PR photos are easy. You just have to be born beautiful like me.